Post subject: June 4th-10th Valhallas, Olympus and vicinity
Posted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:40 pm
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:40 pm Posts: 533
So this is my perspective of Jason and my 7 day trip out to Mt Olympus and the Valhalla’s for a much better written report check out Jason’s version at http://www.cascadecrusades.org/SkiMount ... cs2009.htm Jason was kind enough to let me use his photography which can all be purchased at alpinestateofmind.com
It had always been a goal of mine to make it out to Mt Olympus the highest point in Olympic National Park but for one reason or another I never made it out that way. Jason Hummel and I had been communicating back and forth about putting together an epic trip in which we would head out to Olympus and climb deep into the Heart of the Olympics via the Valhalla’s a remote sub range.
Day 1 Welcome to Olympic National Park.
Right from the start I knew it was going to be brutal as there is nothing like going to a trailhead in preparation to climb an 8000 foot peak and seeing that your starting elevation is at around 600 feet. We packed our bags as light as we could minimizing our gear only to necessities which included shelter, clothes, food, rope, harness and our ski/snowboarding gear. We were fortunate in the fact that the trail was very well maintained and flat for the first day slowly rising to 2’500 feet over a 14 mile stretch. Along the way we ran into two groups one was a group of over 20 students taking a 23 day course on outdoor education from Itica University in New York and the other group was a party of 4 that just so happened to be from the East Coast as well. We slowly hiked up the relentless trail deep in the Heart of one of the last remaining rain forests in the Northern Hemisphere surrounded by lush green vegetation along the way. The mixture of the late afternoon sun and the weight on our backpacks took its toll on us as we started making a routine of taking breaks every 3 miles to rest and refuel on water and Calories.
The day seemed to go forever but we kept a reasonable pace of around 3 miles every hour before finding a camping spot which provided a the necessities for a good nights sleep (a flat space and a fast moving stream for water). The first night we found ourselves in the company of the 4 East Coasters who were impressed by the fact that we were lugging our gear for over 18 miles in hopes of skiing some sick lines. We shared stories by the fire of our outdoor adventures as we soaked up some much needed rest and relaxation before going to sleep as we were well aware that the next day was going to be another brutal day of hiking up relentless switchbacks to our potential base camp for the rest of the trip on the upper flanks of the Blue Glacier.
Day 2 The land of Glacier and Rock
We were awoken by the East Coasters getting there gear ready and the Blazing heat of the Early morning sun. Jason and I took our time eating breakfast and packing our gear as the east Coaster hiked off towards the Blue Glacier. We had finally made it to the steeper part of the trail raising 2000 vert in 3 miles compared to the 14 miles the day before but were happy at the fact that soon we would be getting some much needed weight off our backs and would be skinning instead of hiking. As we were hiking the scenery changed dramatically from dense forest into the rugged mountainous environment with the occasional snow patch slowing our progress along the way. When we had registered the ranger had somewhat tried to deter us by mentioning that there was a severe washout on the Trail making progress almost impossible but once arriving at the washout we felt confident in our abilities to cross it and after a few careful steps we were past the worst that the trail had to offer and back on the well beaten path.
After around an hour of hiking the trail we reached the Glacier meadows campground which was abandoned and covered with about a foot of snow. We were stoked as we knew from here on we would be skinning instead of hiking and better yet we were getting into alpine so we wouldn’t have to deal with bushwhacking which can dramatically slow down progress. With a renewed energy we skinned up to the massive banks of the Blue Glacier moraine and got our first view of the Mt Olympus incased in a world of Ice. I was surprised how flat the lower flanks of the Blue Glacier was before steadily rising into huge seracs fields then flattening once again on the wide open slopes of the snow dome. I dropped down onto the blue Glacier first and skinned the wide open area with Jason a few minutes behind snapping pics along the way before we regrouped at the base of the steeper slopes that would eventually reach the snow dome
Once we finally made it to the snow dome I was fascinated by how wide open and flat the blue Glacier was as I had never seen anything like it and felt like I was in a different region of the world jokingly telling Jason that I felt like we were in Antarctica skinning across a ocean of ice. Once reaching a high point we threw off our packs and discussed what to do next and where to put up our base camps. While skinning on the snow dome we had noticed a seasonally abandoned research station situated on panic peak which would provide both shelter and solid ground to put up camp and was perfectly located to access the infinite possibilities of ski lines, this would be the perfect place to call home for the next few days. The sky was seemingly clear so Jason and I decided that before setting up camp we would skin up to a low col and take in our first view of the Valhalla’s which seemed almost impossibly far away but we had our first unobstructed view into the remote region. That night we were greeted with one of many amazing sunsets over the Pacific Ocean throughout our trip as the sun slowly fell behind the horizon leaving us with nothing but the night sky and heads full of aspirations for the next few days.
Day 3 A world of Jagged Rock and an Ocean of Clouds
The next morning we woke up to low clouds in the valley and knew that a jaunt out to the Valhalla’s in the clouds was a recipe for disaster, so our itinerary for the day would have to change. We had a perfect unobstructed view of Mt Olympus’s west summit from our base camp so we decided it was a perfect opportunity to tag the summit and hope that along the way the weather would clear out so we could run deeper into the heart of the Olympics and tag some additional summits. It seems that the climbing route was a long detour around Crystal pass then up Five fingers peak before reaching a low col separating Five fingers from Olympus’s true summit but being skiers and looking at the path we decided to bootpack up the headwall instead cutting off well over 3 miles of useless hiking. After skinning about two miles and 30 minutes across the flat open slopes of the snow dome we found ourselves at the base of the Mt Olympus’s prominent headwall. We quickly transitioned to cramponing as we shared the duties of putting in a bootpack straight up to the last 300 feet which would require some 4th class rock climbing skills.
Once arriving at the base of the rock summit pinnacle we dropped off our skis and debated the idea of roping up for the 4th class scramble. It was evident that both Jason and I were weary of roping up to each other, me with little rock climbing experience but trusting my skills and Jason thinking I was crazy for wanting to do it in snowboard boots. At first it was an easy traverse along loose scree but with good hand holds along the way we were able to make it across with no problem. It started to get a bit dicey with a 20 foot stretch of exposed 4th class climbing up the southern face of Olympus with over a thousand feet of exposure below us but with a few carefully placed foot and hand holds we were standing on the summit of Olympus looking down on a Sea of clouds that had over taken the world around us. After some quick celebratory photos we were repelling down the North face of Olympus and back into our comfort zone on the steep snowy slopes. The day was still early and we had come way too far to spend our time hanging out at camp so we decided to Head east up Five fingers a sub peak of Olympus and hopefully find some potential ski lines that would gain our interest. After a quick 15 minute climb we reached our high point and quickly noticed a potential steep line running off of the middle peak and after exchanging a few words it was obvious that it would be our next destination.
I dropped onto the huge wide open slopes of Five Finger peak first as Jason snapped photos along the way making wide open turns all the way down to the flats of the Blue Glacier. Jason decided that he would take advantage of the upper slope but instead of dropping onto the flats he would traverse along the slopes so he would have better access to our next destination the northern face of the middle summit of Olympus. Before long I found myself cramponing up the lower slopes traversing over to where Jason had started kicking in steps. The upper slope of the Middle Peak was steep ranging an average of about 50 degrees but with a few careful steps and placements of the Ice axe I found myself meeting up with Jason once again on the ridge around 100 feet lower then the summit proper. We had two options to gain the summit proper either we could traverse onto an Icy 55 degree slope with nasty exposure or climb the ridge which was bare rock so we carefully climbed up the exposed ridge or after a few minutes we were standing on the summit of Mt Olympus’s Middle Peak.
Jason skiing down the five fingers
Jason on the summit of The Middle Peak
Jason tested the slope first with a few careful turns he let me know it was soft enough to make turns yet firm enough to hold an edge so he gave me the green light to drop in. Jason was right it was perfect conditions and I ripped down the slope making hop while he snapped photos. The ride down was a thrilling 55 degree slope with cliff bands and bergshrunds surrounding us. I chose to wrap around the shrund but Jason being the adventures person he is ripped down the slope with some amazing tele turns before jumping the shrund all together without a second of hesitation. We were both stoked that the conditions had worked out so well for us and the clouds had slowly dissipated leaving us with pure unfiltered sunshine.
It was getting late in the day so we started heading towards Crystal pass, Jason once again taking the high route while I had to switch over to skinning to gain the pass. From the pass it was another one final low angled run on the snow dome back to our camp passing along our old tracks from the past two days. We joked that the snow dome was becoming our own personal trail network with tracks heading in every direction. While skinning back at around 6p.m. we made an observation noticing that there were hundreds of thousands of little black specks on the glacier and with after closer examination we realized they were actually Glacier worms and they were everywhere we looked. We skinned the 2 miles back to camp amazed at the millions upon millions of worms that infested the glacier wondering “had we been eating these worms when we were melting down water”. Once at camp I made a quick observation that the worms stuck to the Glaciers but none were found on the seasonal snowpack, so we deterred from melting down glacial snow and stuck to the snowpack for the rest of the trip. That night we had one of the most brilliant displays of colors from the sunset over the horizon and the sea of clouds as we stood near the summit of Panic Peak. The day had been quite eventful but it seemed that the weather was deteriorating leaving us with the unavoidable question of what are we going to do the next day if the weather is bad?
Day 4 deep within the abyss of clouds
My alarm started going off around 5 A.M. to prewarn me of the sunrise that was about to take place over the eastern skies. I looked outside of the tent to notice that the weather had changed for the worse and visibility was less then 50 feet. Feeling disappointed I went back to the warmth of my sleeping bag to get some much needed rest. After around an hour of sleep I heard a random noise I hadn’t heard in days, it sounded like a person talking far in the distance but we were so far in the middle of nowhere I told myself that I was just imagining it. After a few seconds I heard it again and jumped out of the tent as fast as I could to see a group of 5 climbers over a mile away heading towards Mt Olympus singing “He got the whole world in his hands”. Being the joker that I am I started singing it back but with the extended chorus of “Shut the Hell Up” after my response it was dead silent.
By then both Jason and I were wide awake pondering what we were going to do for the day. The weather wasn’t cooperating and we had already tagged both Olympus’s west and middle summits and the Valhalla’s were out of the question with no visibility. We sat there for over an hour with hopes that the clouds would clear up and we would be able to tackle a worth objective. To our surprise we noticed a skier heading to our camp he was a volunteer ranger who had the intention of climbing Olympus but decided to stop by and say hi before doing so. We let him know of the route we had taken the day before and how it saved countless hours compared to the standard route and he let us know that there was some partial clearing off to the east. After a half hour long conversation he was on his way we were left pondering what we were going to do for the day.
I had wanted to tackle Mt Tom but we had a perfect view of its upper flanks smothered in clouds so it was obvious it wasn’t going to happen. Jason had came up with a alternative plan to head east dropping down to Glacier Pass then skin up the Ho Glacier leaving us with the possibility of tackling the eastern summit of Olympus thus completing a sub project of getting all three of Mt Olympus’s summits. We dropped down 1500 vert to Glacier pass and were happy to find that it was the last remaining area not overtaken in the ocean of clouds. From Glacier pass we dropped down onto the Hoh Glacier and made a long traverse slowly gaining altitude along the way. Throughout the trip pollen had become an issue slowing down our descents and causing us to lose the stickiness of the glue on our skins. After around a mile and a thousand feet of vert our skins were useless and we had to resort to bootpacking instead. The occasional cloud would head up the valley obstructing our view here and there but at that moment it was only temperately. After making a quick bend up the glacier we got our first view of the aesthetic peak aptly named Athena. Both Jason and I looked at each other and without a single word it was obvious that this was a worth objective for the day.
Jason skinning below the Serac Ice fall of the Blue Glacier
Jason skinning up the Hoh Glacier
We were able to bootpack up to a low col and dropped our skins off leaving the sticky side exposed to the afternoon sun in hopes that the glue would retain some of the stickiness lost earlier in the day. From the ridge we traversed around Athena’s owl a sub peak of Athena proper then climb up the final few hundred feet on Athena’s steep northern face to gain summit proper. Jason took the lead climbing up the 55 degree slope kicking in perfect steps and taking in snow conditions for our decent along the way. Before long Jason was sitting on the summit proper as I was climbing the last 100 feet yelling down in excitement that the summit registry had only a few recorded ascents with the earliest entry dating back to 1958. By now we were enveloped in the massive cloud layers that had came in while we were climbing the face and our view was limited to around 10 feet. From the summit proper we would get an occasional break into the valley but by no means would we get the panoramic view I was hoping for. After a few minutes we made the decision that it was time to head down and get back to camp before things deteriorated even more.
I strapped into my board and patiently waited for a break in the clouds while Jason sat near the summit getting ready to snap pics when the moment arouse. After waiting for around five minutes we got the window so I dropped onto the 55 degree slope being extra cautious not to expose myself to potential sluffs. With every turn I would hear wet slides ripping into the valley below leaving me amazed by the raw power echoing through the massive valley. Once arriving at our low point all visibility was gone and you could barely see five feet in front of your face. I started hiking around extra cautiously retracing our steps back to our skins but before long Jason took the lead. We had got our first view of the Hoh Glacier the day earlier from the Middle summit which was at the head of the glacier so our thought was we could head up to the head of the Hoh and retrace our tracks from the day earlier back to camp. Luckily Jason had examined the Glacier earlier in the day and took some recon photos so we were well aware that we wouldn’t have to negotiate any crevasses and as long as we kept heading up and after a while we would eventually reach the Middle summit. It’s a surreal experience heading up a glacier in a complete with out with the only things visible to you being your partner in front of you, his bootpack and hundreds upon thousands of Glacier worms surrounding you. After about an hour of climbing we reached the head of the Glacier and were able to find our tracks from the day earlier.
We were going to have to drop onto the North Face of the Middle summit again but this time we would have limited visibility, fortunately we were well aware of what was below us. We carefully made turns down the steep slow making sure we skirted around the Bergshrund this time while I chose to followed my track down and Jason followed his high route. My skins were still completely useless so I resorted to bootpacking on my old skin track and before long I reached Jason who had been patiently waiting. Once we were ready we were horrified to find that the climbers from earlier in the day had boot packed on our tracks but in a sense it was humorous seeing them follow our turns compared to going straight up instead. We carefully retraced our track all the way back to camp with the dreaded fear that we had one last day to tackle our main objective and the weather was by far the worst we had seen on the whole trip. That night we went to sleep with the faint hope that the weather would change for the better as we set the alarm for 5 A.M. and fell asleep buried in the abyss of clouds.
Day 5 A gift from Ullr himself
I was unmotivated being skunked by the weather day after day and all I wanted to do was throw my alarm off the highest cliff I could as I got out of the tent. When I got out of the tent I was in total disbelief as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and all of a sudden we realized that our hopes and aspirations for the day were going to come true. We threw our gear in our bags as fast as we possibly could and in no time at all we were heading to the low col that was our gateway into the Valhalla’s.
We had studied the topo day in and day out for 4 days and tried to scope out the unnamed glacier off the southern face of Olympus but time after time we were denied by either other mountains or clouds. I had a obstructed view of the glacier from the West summit of Olympus and swore there was a ice cliff so I decided to make a high traverse to find out long behold I was right and it seemed completely impassable. Luckily I was still high enough to traverse to what looked like a long steep chute off to our right hand side. After some close examination we could tell that at least the upper half didn’t cliff out but we would have to drop in lower to find out off it did actually go all the way through.
It was still early in the day and the snow hadn’t softened yet so we gingerly made turns down the steep chute. At one point I lost an edge and started sliding down the gut of the chute but with a simple self arrest I gained control once again. As we dropped lower we were happy to find that the route went down into a lower angled valley below us. Once we finally reached the valley we were amazed to see that the route we had almost took ended in a 300 foot Ice cliff with no possible routes around. We were both happy to be on a lower angled slope and started to take advantage of the better snow condition unexpectedly heading towards a massive waterfall. Jason was skiing below me when all of a sudden he stopped and told me to stay put as he checked our route. He up climbed and did a traverse around some rocks looking for a way through and after a few minutes of searching he yelled up that he had found a small ribbon that would allow us to get lower in the valley but I was going to have to up climb to access it.
The snow was still somewhat firm and steepening so I felt I more secure cramponing over to the small ribbon, so I carefully traversed over to a ledge on Glacier carved rock and slowly switched over to crampons. Once I had crampons on I walked over to the ribbon and kick stepped the long traverse down to the lower valley. Once in a safe spot I looked up to realized that I had been on top of a 300 foot waterfall and we had found the one way through the massive cliff band. After catching our breath and eating a quick snack we decided to push on towards our destination and rode down a low angle gully engulfed by massive rock walls on both sides towards the South Fork of the Ho river. We were able to ride the gully without and obstacles in the way dodging the occasion boulder strewn about in front of us and before we knew it we were on the valley floor.
From the valley floor we had a perfect view of the Herbert Glacier and its massive Ice cliff to our east and the steep sided canyons of the South fork of the Hoh to our west. We were stoked that we hade made it this far but we knew all to well that we were only half way to our destination so we pushed on following the banks of the Hoh down stream towards the Valhalla’s. The valley reminded me of the Fjords I had seen in New Zealand with massive steep canyons that shot up 3000 vertical feet with numerous waterfalls in every direction and a lush green color, I could see why they had called the area the Valhalla’s. Earlier in the day we had spotted what looked like the only climbing route that would take us to the high alpine and after some close examination we found our route. After a few thousand feet of up climbing we were standing on the massive high alpine Glacier across the valley from the Valhalla’s checking out what seemed to be a deceivingly easy route. Once gaining the separating ridge we found that there was yet another obstacle, our route down was a massive rock wall with inconsistent snow that was beautiful yet unnerving. This seemed to be the theme of the trip as we carefully found dead end after dead end but soon enough Jason excitedly yelled up to me that he had found a route down through the maze of dead ends. I followed him for aways but soon enough he yelled up to me that there was a ten foot gap in the snow and that the route was impassable. By this point I would not be deterred by a ten foot gap and after examining the rock walls around us I found a potential route to regain access into the chute. We had to carefully traverse the steep eroded slopes with loose foot holds with only some vegetation to hold on too but soon enough I found myself back on the continuous slope that descended into the valley below. I ripped down the gully stoked that we would finally make it to our final destination without anymore hurdles but right when I put my guard down I noticed that the final thousand foot gully had melted out and too steep to down climb.
Had we come this far just to have to turn around?
I couldn’t conceive the though of going this far and having to turn around so I hiked down aways scoped out all of the potential routes into the lower valley until I found the one single spot that would lead us to the base of the Valhalla valley. Once we were in the Valley we were overjoyed by the fact that there was a good possibility we would succeed in our mission. The Valhalla’s are a place of splendor and endless beauty with cascading waterfalls and massive rock spires jutting out of the Geri-Freki Glacier I found myself wishing we had more time to hang around but time was becoming a concern so we kept moving at a rapid pace. Earlier in the day we had agreed that the steep North face of Hugin appeared to be the finest of the peaks and more than a sufficient ski so this was chosen to be our final destination. As we climbed the Glacier we watched as clouds engulfed the high peaks above us leaving us with only a small hope of a clearing once we reached our summit. The Glacier was relatively low angled until we reached the base off hugins headwall where we transitioned to Crampons and before we knew it we were engulfed in the clouds with no visibility. I have always felt close to Norse mythology and my mind hand a long time to ponder in the dead silence so I secretly wondered if this was some cruel joke that Loki was playing on us, here we had worked so hard to get into this beautiful landscape only to have our views obscured by clouds. Relentlessly I kept climbing not allowing the weather to discourage me from our summit bid and before I knew it Jason and I were celebrating victory on top of Hugin the 2nd largest of the peaks in the Valhalla’s.
We spent a few minutes on the summit but knew that we had only made it half way so we quickly got our gear situated and dropped down the steep north face of Hugin into an abyss of clouds. Are endorphins were running high as we made high speed turns down the face and below the clouds on the glacier passing numerous waterfalls along the way until we arrived back to Kilkely Creek. Our stoke was so high at the moment that we didn’t care much that we were unaware of a route back up but soon enough we were kick stepping up the steep slopes once again. Were both were exhausted and starting to show signs of fatigue slowly climbing up the never ending steep slopes switching bootpacking duties back and forth trying to keep a steady pace. We were able to find a ridge that gained us access to the high glacier across the way from the Valhalla’s after a nontechnical 1500 foot climb straight up the snow covered slopes. We kept climbing until reaching a high point and after closely examining the slope it turned out to be the summit of the bowl we had originally traversed across earlier in t day. We carefully rode down the slopes and soon enough we were able to find our ascent tracks. After a sigh of relief we knew that we had a long yet unobstructed path all the way back to camp.
It’s amazing how long you work climbing a face when it takes only a few seconds to ride back down it at this was another case of that. We rode down to within a few hundred feet of the Hoh River and to our surprise we found a black bear at the bottom of our route. We both wondered if we were the first humans the bear had ever encountered but once it noticed us it became frightened and ran off down the rivers banks. Once we arrived at the banks of the Hoh we put our gear on our backs for the brutally long 1000 vert we would slowly gain over what felt like 4 miles before pushing up the final 3000 vert in what would feel like over a mile straight up. Both Jason and I kept a consistent pace as we followed our decent path crossing the river, creeks, gullies and endless moraines before reaching the massive waterfall that had almost ended our progress much earlier in the day. It had seemed like days since we were at this obstacle but in fact it was only hours. We donned our crampons for the long unnervingly exposed traverse across the waterfall before reaching the low angled slopes leading up to the steep chute that separated us from our base camp.
Both Jason and I had become lethargic not wanting to waste any energy communicating as we climbed the steep slopes toward the col that was our gateway back to our base camp. The sun was setting on our backs as we slowly watch the sunset alpenglow transition to dusk leaving us with a small timeline to push up the chute before being surrounded in darkness. We both had headlamps but didn’t want to waste the time and energy taking them out as our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness. We were fortunate in the fact that the clouds had given way to a perfect night with a full moon illuminating our progress as we kick step up one foot in front of another. The climb was punishing and felt like hours as we continued climbing with the eerily silence being smashed every few seconds by the noise of our feet kicking into the hard snow. Soon enough we had made it to the col and all that separated us from our food and warm sleeping bags was a 3 mile long decent down the flat snow dome. All of our previous descents on the flat snow dome had left me bootpacking for the last 2 miles and I felt this wasn’t going to be any different as I strapped into my snowboard. The snow had firmed up quite a bit in the hour or two of darkness and left us with a smooth fast surface to work with and to my surprise we were hauling down the flat slope. It was an amazing experience I will never forget straight lining the slope until reaching a sketch crevasse where we would make a few turns to slow down before crossing the snow bridges illuminating in the glow of the full moon and as soon as we knew it we were back at camp celebrating a successful yet brutal day.
Day 6 from the high alpine to the low lying forest
To celebrate our accomplishments from the day before we rested well into the late morning but we knew we would have a long monotonous day ahead of us as we would have to hike a minimum of 15 miles throughout the day. Even worse are food was dwindling leaving us with a few packets of Oatmeal and top ramen to share between us. We had exhausted our recourses and it was obvious that our time among the glaciers had come to an end so we packed up our gear and said our final goodbyes to Mt Olympus. We ripped down the steep upper slopes of panic all the way down to the low flats of the blue Glacier I feared losing momentum and having to hike on the flats so straight lined the last thousand feet keeping enough speed to ride all the way down to the massive moraine walls. After a quick scramble up the moraine I was descending our final thousand feet of continuous snow all the way to Glacier Meadows. Once at Glacier Meadows we were greeted by the huge group of people from Ithaca once again. After chatting for awhile they offered to give us there extra food. In there minds it was a symbiotic relationship as they would lose extra weight and we gain calories but to me it felt like Christmas. We loaded up on all sorts of sweet snack foods ranging from Hot chocolate to yogurt flavored pretzels, I felt like a king after eating top ramen for 6 days but after a much deserved hour long break we were back on the trail.
The whole trip in we kept telling ourselves “at least our packs would be lighter when we returned” but in all actuality they felt heavier then when we started. By now we had seen enough of the lush rain forest and all that was on our minds was heading back to civilization so kept moving forward until our feet wouldn’t allow us to move any longer. We decided to camp at the Olympus Ranger station which would leave us with a final stretch of 9 miles for the final day. We camped next to the North Fork of the Hoh allowing are feet to soak in the water and rested on the soft vegetation of the forest floor taking in the warm weather we had been so distant from for the few days. Finally we weren’t battling the wind and cold temperature we had become accustom to so we just relaxed and got some much needed sleep.
Day 7 Welcome back to Civilization We could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We were 9 miles from the car, running water and an endless supply of snack foods so we pushed forward even though our bodies were screaming in agony. We used landmarks as reference points as we would happily yell to each other “Only five more miles, then four and so forth”. We knew we were near the trailhead once we started seeing people with day packs and were getting the standard questions that we have become some accustom to “ Why do you have ski’s” in which we would reply “to go Skiing”. Once we arrived at the car we celebrated with some warm sodas we had left inside the car while throwing our gear in the back and transitioning to clean clothes wondering when would be the next time that either of us would have a epic like we had just endured.
I backpacked the Hoh once and have real fond memories of it; I also remember thinking about the approach to ride those glaciers and realizing that it would be a long ways away.
I also backpacked Ozette (i think?) and loved that place too; like 30 miles along the ocean (set up a shuttle). killer whale petroglyphs and all; the campsites were straight-up swiss family robinson style; with rope ladders and rope swings that swung you out over the ocean; dope.