Olympic Mtns. Traverse
~ Hamma Hamma to the Dosewallips River ~
Anderson Massif © Ken James McLeod
Whitehorse Creek way trail was about as steep as it gets for a trail, in fact one section is a rock climb and not a trail at all, but it is doable. After negotiating the "rock cliff" eventually, we (Mark Boyle, Glen Lee, and I) topped out at Lake of the Angels, which is a rather beautiful gin-clear alpine lake situated between Mt. Skomomish 6,434' and Mt. Stone 6,612'. The lake and surrounding terrain befits its name, simply grand! From here, the way route continues over the crest divide (where we encounterd two mountain goats that barely wandered but 30 feet from us) and skirts under Mt. Stone on talus slopes towards the pass above Hagen Lake, where one encounters the Great Stone Arrow, so called by the rocks placed in the heather pointing the way as a directional sign. Here, we took a much needed break from the grind of toting heavy 5-day packs. And I really needed one, having worked the previous night thus attaining little sleep. Lunch was had, too. However, onward we trekked to my disdain, for Hagen Lake looked like an inviting camp to me . . . one where I could catch up on some much needed zzz's.
Enter Mt. Hopper Way Route:
We traversed the ridge high in the alpenland between the Skokomish River, Hagen Lakes, and climbed over Mt. Hopper 6,114'. The view into Elk Basin and the Crazy Creek drainage was spectacular, ceratinly an elk paradise by the sign we saw. Along the route, several times, I had to sit down and take in the grand view of the desolate drainage and the wild surroundings at hand: Mt. Skokomish stuck out like a sore thumb! Onward we trekked, to First Divide 4,688'. . . a pass or divide at the head of the North Fork Skokomish and the Duckabush River drainage. Here, we encountered a real trail of all things.....grin. Several nice camp sites were located here on the pass and I at this time really needed a "rested" overhaul. But Glen wanted to go on and was insistant on doing so, and downward we hiked into the valley of Home Sweet Home, where finally we made camp just shortly before dusk . . . it had been one long "ass" day! Before dinner was had, we investicated the Home Sweet Home shelter in the middle of the meadow, and I think we all understood why it had its name. Soon, we entered the dreamland state, each in his own tent.
Morning came all too soon, but with an extrodianry sunrise of Mt. Steel. After breakfast we were off running into the Upper Duckabush drainage. I felt like a million dollars from the nights rest and was clicking away the miles with my companions hot on my heels. Several miles up, we forded the river and hiked the trail up to Marmot Lake and Hart Lake. At Hart, we encountered a Ranger who was wacthing an elk herd with his binos. Good conversation was struck, unlike most park rangers I've met, some just seem to be only interested in telling you where to camp. This fellow however, an older man, was content on "feeling" the land as we were. From Hart, we continued onto LaCross Lake Basin where camp was made. Our camp however, was one filled with wildlife . . . bears! In all, we counted about eleven black bears around camp feeding on the ripe huckleberries. Though they were all around, they didn't bother us. That evening, we saw the herd of elk the ranger had been wacthing, and two bulls sparred with one another. During the night, we heard no bears but we knew they were there. I clicked on the light-weight radio I brought and then listened to the famous Art Bell show talk about spooky things, which added to the "chill" of the environment. In the morning, we climbed the surrounding ridges and peaks for views of the massif Mt. Anderson 7,321', which is the hydrographic apex of the Olympic Peninsula, with all waters flowing into Hood Canal, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Pacific Ocean. And, the bears roamed around . . .
Our initial plan was to traverse the high ridges from LaCross Lake Basin to White Mtn. 6,400' and then climb Mt. LaCross 6,417' to beyond and intersect with the West Fork Dosewallips trail. Instead however, on the following day in the late afternoon, we climbed up the ridge above LaCross and took a steep way trail down into the East Fork Quinault drainage via the O'Neil Pass-Anderson Pass trail. Near Lightning Creek, we made another evening camp and built a nice fire to warm ourselves by, as the weather had turned sour with rain. We even had some booze left for the evening "happy hour."
In the morning, we were up ready to continue on, and the weather was half bad. We intersected the East Fork-Enchanted valley trail and climbed steeply up to Anderson Pass at 4,464'. Here, a great view was had looking down into the West Fork Dosewallips to the expanse beyond of Mt. Constance and Warrior Peak. Onward we trekked through sub alpine forests and passed the Anderson Pass Shelter known to hikers as Camp Siberia because of the cold winds that sweep down off Anderson Glacier. Here the roar of the West Fork begins to deafen ones ears. We passed Honeymoon Meadows where the flower show was fantastic, then Diamond Meadows Camp and Big Timber Camp, and soon we were at Dose Forks. In the lead, around a bend, I spooked a black bear on the trail not ten feet from myself, it climbed up a tree as I yelled "bear." Beyond, our final destination was reach at the Dosewallips Station and trailhead, where we had left the other vehicle. As we neared the parking lot after about 35 miles our legs felt like rubber and our feet tired and sore . . . down at the river we dunked them in the cool "heavenly" water of the Dose.
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