Monday, June 15, 2015

Skyline-North Fork Quinault loop, Olympic National Park

At 47 miles and 11,000-12,000' of gain, the Skyline-North Fork Quinault loop is an Olympic National Park classic. Alpine lakes, miles (upon miles) of ridges and basin traverses, difficult trails, old growth and wildlife; it ticks all the boxes for a great trip. It is, however, quite hard (at least for me)...

The Three Lakes and first part of Skyline Ridge trails to Kimta Peak are in very good shape. Beyond Kimta, until reaching the Low Divide, the primitive trail lives up to its name. No route finding issues (besides following dueling sets of cairns through the "moonscape"), just technical and slow with a few sketchy steps. Seems like blowdowns have been cleared in the last couple of years as well. The North Fork Quinault trail also was more technical and slow than we expected, and with quite a few crawl-under or climb-over blowdowns. The ford is a nonissue (shin deep).

Big thank you to Richard for joining me on this one.

Bridge felt like overkill, though the debris flows suggest otherwise; North Fork Big Creek
North Fork Big Creek
World's largest Yellow (Alaska) Cedar

Bear Grass out along the entire route
Three Lakes
Tarn along Skyline Trail
Tarn along Skyline Trail

One of a group of three male elk
Chomping grass, near Three Prune Camp
In the very-well-marked "No campfires beyond this point" zone...arg!
Headed toward Kimta, with the Queets River
Mt. Olympus massif from the south
Pacific Ocean under a layer of fog
Queets River
At the northern end of Skyline Ridge (west bump of Kimta Peak)

Puppy Dog Richard's boundless energy is always evident
Turning east below Kimta Peak, headed for the old burn at right
Wonderful spring just before the burn
Working through the burn...
...and then the "Moonscape"; with Mt. Noyes, Mt. Seattle and Mt. Christie and the Low Divide in the middle
Dropping to Seattle Creek, with Noyes and Seattle
East face of Point 5689'
Looking back at the north-eastern section of what we traversed
Mt. Christie, 6177'
Quinault side of the Low Divide
It takes a lot to beat this one up
North Fork Quinault "ford"
Up and around easier than Richard's beta; 
Racing the sun down the North Fork Quinault River

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Possibly the hardest hike I have ever done, took us 5 days