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timmy_t

[TR] Olympic National Park - Bailey Range Traverse + Carrie, Pulitzer, Olympus 7/28/2014

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Trip: Olympic National Park - Bailey Range Traverse + Carrie, Pulitzer, Olympus

 

Date: 7/28 - 8/3/2014

 

Trip Report:

My brother and two friends and I hiked the Bailey Range traverse in Olympic National Park recently. We did a loop trip in 7 days, and we climbed Mts Carrie, Pulitzer, and all three summits of Olympus along the way. Instead of dropping a car at the Hoh River trailhead for the exit we climbed back up to the High Divide via the Hoh Lake trail, then hiked back to the Sol Duc trailhead to our car. This entailed an annoying 4200'+ of elevation gain on the last day but it was cool to make a loop out of the hike.

 

Here's our approximate route (in yellow) and camping spots (the red dots)

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My wife and 6-month old son and my friend's wife hiked with us a bit beyond Sol Duc Falls to see us off.

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We camped the first night at Sol Duc Park, as there were (predictably) no spots available anywhere on the High Divide, and we didn't leave early enough to make it to Boston Charlie's. Here we're passing Heart Lake just below the High Divide on the morning of day 2 of the trip.

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Junction with the High Divide trail where it heads out toward the Bailey Range

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Descending the Catwalk. It's funny that it has such notoriety, because there are many sketchier sections of trail over the next day or two -- steep, loose, unsavory gully crossings on both sides of 11 Bull Basin, for example.

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We saw a couple mountain goats during our lunch break at Boston Charlie's Camp

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We missed the supposed way trail up Mt Carrie, but we dropped packs after traversing halfway around the peak and scrambled up to the summit. Here's the summit ridge, looking back toward the High Divide. Two of us followed the rocky ridge and two of us stayed low and crossed the snowfields.

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On the way down from the summit we saw a herd of mountain goats cooling off on a snow patch

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Much of the rest of the day was steep sidehilling through beautiful wildflower meadows

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Here's sunset from our campsite in Eleven Bull Basin (notice the silhouetted guy in the top right). We could see down the Hoh to the Pacific, very cool

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The third morning we had more steep sidehilling, more unfun gully crossings, and some steep downclimbing

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This was a tiring day. Even with maps, route descriptions, warnings, and GPS, we managed to drop into the Cream Lake Vortex. Next time we will definitely stay high, or possibly go around via the back side of Stephen Peak. We had lunch near the wide inflow to Cream Lake, and Kevin found these antlers near the lake

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We took a very quick dip in Cream Lake; it was COLD!, wow

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After skirting the lake and following a small stream we located the gully that led toward Ferry Basin and followed it up, then traversed right to a beautiful campsite near a waterfall that fed Lake Billy Everett. This was my second-favorite campsite of the trip (after the eventual Camp Pan). We saw a black bear near the lake, the second bear sighting of the trip.

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The mosquitoes at the lake were thick

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So the next morning we fled the Lake Billy Everett scene

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We climbed above the lake on easy benches toward Upper Ferry Basin. Here Brennan is hiking past a tarn beneath Mt Pulitzer. Just above this spot we ran into a party of two who were on a 12-day trip from Dosewallips to the Sol Duc, the only people we saw on the traverse besides a group camped at Boston Charlie's.

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We dropped packs and scrambled up Mt Pulitzer. Here's Ferry Basin from the top, with Stephen Peak (above Cream Lake) in the background and Mt Carrie on the left

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Near the Mt Pulitzer saddle, with Olympus in the background: we're trying to figure out where we came from, and where we should have gone, on the Cream Lake section

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Kevin surveys the Goldie River Valley area from Mt Pulitzer

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Most of day 4 was spent on easy up-and-down snow and rock travel along the spine of the Bailey Range, with amazing views in all directions

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We made camp below Bear Pass and above Dodwell-Rixon Pass that night

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The next morning, day 5, we dropped into the Queets Basin

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Once we started traversing beneath cliffs the route was very difficult to follow, and very bushwhacky. We were crawling on all fours beneath slide alder, then scrambling up a very steep wooded hillside trying to find our way to the Humes Glacier. I wonder if it's possible to stay low and follow the river up? At any rate, eventually we took a snack break in this "beautiful hidden basin" (guidebook description) before dropping to the headwall beneath the Humes

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We had lunch here, at the Humes Glacier terminus

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Then we climbed the right side of the Humes up to Blizzard Pass

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And dropped 600 feet down to the spectacularly-situated Camp Pan

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This is the Hoh Glacier from Camp Pan, and the headwaters of the Hoh River

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From Camp Pan Brennan looks up toward Mt Olympus with the Hoh Glacier below

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Hoh Glacier cracks

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These snowy ledges are the descent route from Camp Pan down to the Hoh Glacier

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The next morning (day 6) we woke up @4:30am to this Camp Pan sunrise

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The sunrise a few minutes later

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We roped up (finally) and headed out on the very gentle Hoh Glacier. After a little crevasse maze section we topped out on the Hoh Glacier near the Middle and East summits of Olympus

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We dropped packs and scrambled up the East Peak of Mt Olympus (Erik is singing Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker": "Your love is like a tidal wave", in case you were wondering)

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From the East Peak summit we saw these two 3-person rope teams on the Snow Dome far below

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We hiked back down the loose rock and snow to our packs and made our way up and over the top of Mt Olympus' Middle Peak. The downclimb from this summit features very steep, very loose rock, and it was very unpleasant. We did it one at a time.

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We stopped to melt snow on the upper Blue Glacier, then headed toward the true summit, the West Peak. The other 2 parties had arrived shortly before us so we had to wait our turn on the summit rocks.

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Brennan, Kevin, Tim, and Erik on the summit of Mt Olympus

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We still had a long way to descend but we enjoyed the perfect weather on the summit, and Erik brought along a summit orange which he shared. Here's the Blue Glacier's icefall on our descent from the Snow Dome

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Crossing the Blue Glacier was strange, with moulins and noisy running water just beneath the surface of the ice

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Finally back on real trail, at the moraine trail above Glacier Meadows

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We dropped all the way to a small campsite on the Hoh River a couple miles above Lewis Meadow, reaching camp @8pm. The next morning (day 7) we turned right at the junction up to Hoh Lake, where Brennan hugged this tree.

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4000' of climbing later we had lunch and a swim at Hoh Lake

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We crested the High Divide above Hoh Lake, then headed back into the forest and out to our car at the Sol Duc trailhead. The only casualty was Kev's hiking boot: the sole started separating from the boot on day 2, so we used some cord, sleeping pad repair glue, and duct tape to keep it together.

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Thanks for reading!

Edited by timmy_t

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Great TR. I was atop Mt. Olympus last Sunday and was wondering about alternate rtes to the long plod up the Hoh.

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The ultimate Olympic loop, IMO. Thanks for sharing your trip. The photos are very very nice as well; what kind of camera did you take?

 

I have a week off (finally) in mid-September and your TR might make me change my plans.

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I took an Olympus (ha!, of course) OM-D E-M5 and a few good prime lenses.

Edited by timmy_t

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