12 October 2012

The Miles Don't Walk Themselves

Recently my friend Tom and I decided that we needed some time in the mountains and what better time to go than in the fall.  Not having spent much time in the Olympics I was open to pretty much anything.  A friend at work suggested the Seven Lakes Basin, so without any previous bias it sounded good to me.  Just because the hike was labeled as 'strenuous' and 'High Divide' was in the title there was no reason to think that it would not be a successful hike, that and the fact that I haven't been backpacking for like eight years.

So after a couple weeks of planning it was time to hit the trail.  We decided to spend the night at a state park a little closer to the trail head so that we could get our back country permit and get hiking at an earlier hour.  Alas the best laid plans. We got a late start from camp and got a little lost trying to find the permit office, so we didn't make it to the trail head till around 11.  Knowing that we had a ten mile hike ahead of us we were eager to get moving.

The first part of the trail was an easy .8 miles to Sol Duc Falls.  Along the way we say our first wildlife,

and then the falls.

With that stretch done we were loose and ready to put the miles behind us.  After 3.8 miles we were ready for lunch and what better place than Deer Lake to take a break.

After a quick 30 minute lunch, it was time to strap on our packs and get moving again.  Here is me pondering the trail ahead.  What could I be pondering you ask?

 The fact that the ridge in the distance had to be crossed and it looked high and steep.  But it stood between us and our destination at Heart Lake, so it must be crossed.

After we got on the backside of that ridge that trail flattened out a bit as it contoured around the mountain.

But then we hit the switchbacks.  While I understand the purpose and intent of switchbacks, I do not enjoy them, especially when they are steep and short such as these. 

The trail continued in its relentless up, and we continued on.  Looking forward,

 and looking back where we came from.

After a few more miles we passed Seven Lake Basin. It's pretty desolate and wide open, while I was glad that we weren't stopping here, part of me wished that we were. 

Since we got a late start we knew that it was going to be a challenge to get to camp before it got dark and with about 2 miles to go the fog started rolling in so the spectacular views from the high divide, while I am sure they were there and magnificent, we could not see them.  Can't you just imagine the sweeping vistas?

Finally after 8 hours and 15 minutes on the trail we made it to Heart Lake. Hooray!  After dropping our packs it was time to pump water, sent up tents and make dinner.  It was a fantastic dinner, if i do say so myself, chicken and dumplings.  Who says you can't eat gourmet meals in the backcountry?  Since it was dark and foggy when we made it to camp we couldn't appreciate how nice of an area it was.

From a Ranger we met on the trail we learned that there was a herd of elk around the lake and with the rut going on there would be some bugling.  All night long we heard them, sometimes it sounded like they were right outside the tent.  Lucky for us they were all on the other side of the valley.  See the little tan jelly beans? Those are the herd.

We woke up to a beautiful clear bright day, perfect for the hike out.  Since the day before was ten miles of up, today would be 8 miles of down.

It is gorgeous country, great weather and there were very few people, what more could you ask for?  Was it a strenuous hike?  Here is the trail profile, you be the judge.

Would I do it again?  Absolutely! I'm ready to hit the trail again tomorrow, just maybe not this one again, just yet...


Courtney said...

Okay, that spider freaks me out!! You definitely had some beautiful views for your hike. I'm glad you (overall) enjoyed it.

Jenny Moore said...

That spider is creepy!
Glad you had fun although I think you're nuts! Grandpa B would be proud!!!