Olympics Mountain Range Traverse

July 2003, Olympics National Park, Washington


It has long been a goal of mine to traverse the Olympics - starting on one corner and ending up on the other.  The opportunity came up this past summer and we decided to go from Quinalt to Marmot pass over the course of 6 days, some on trail, some not. Gretchen and I headed over to the OP (Olympic Peninsula) mid day on Friday evening. Left our car at the Marmot Pass Trail head and then drove around to Quinalt with my cousin Jess and her husband Frank. Had dinner in the rather posh Quinalt Lodge and registered for the back country permit. Mild mosquitos in the Graves Creek campsite, which was pretty empty despite warnings of popularity. Weather was fantastic - and forecast to remain that way. We were packing 6 days / 5 nights food and ready to go. The rather rough map shows the overall route.

Day 1: Headed up the Enchanted Valley trail. There was a warning about the suspension bridge being out 12.5 miles up the trail, but we hoped the water would be low enough to make the crossing easy. some flies in the woods, easy walking, but heavy packs, and lots and lots of walking. It's 18.3 miles to Anderson pass, and another half mile down to the destination campsite. Saw one small black bear which quickly bounded off. At the river crossing it was already 4pm, and we were tired of swatting flies so we pitched the tent for lunch without bugs. River crossing was well flagged for a route which eventually detoured over a couple logs so no wet feet even. Entered the "Enchanted Valley" very beautiful place, waterfalls down the north wall, flat grassy plateau, several tents, and still too many flies. People coming down from the pass said "no bugs up there" so we pressed on. The last grind up to the pass was tough, finally creaked over Anderson and down to the campsite / shelter. Saw another, larger bear shortly before the site, but the site was deserted except for a large deer which hung out for a while. 8pm on arrival, 5000 ft of vertical, 19 miles. long day. don't recommend it.

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Day 2: trouble walking in the morning, and usual pack sores, but loosened up once underway. Weather continued HOT and still, wind would have been nice, bugs were Ok, and we headed for "flypaper pass" above Anderson glacier. Mostly easy walking except the last 400 vertical ft on snow which climb at 35-40 degree angle. Snow was soft enough for easy step kicking, just slow going. Left packs at the pass, dropped around on Eel glacier and up to the summit. A little nerve-wracking as it was very crevassy and we had no glacier gear whatsoever. Great summit! Back to the pass, picked up our packs and headed for an inviting green plateau, which turned out to be Iceberg Lakes - our intended destination. Reached that by 6pm, much more civil, and high camp at 6000 ft. Very nice.

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