Jul 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm #1305656
I'm leaving for my first real backpacking trip in a week and an half, and I still haven't decided where to hike. I'm meeting a college roommate who lives just outside of Seattle and is an experienced backpacker – for at least 3 days I'll be backpacking with him, and for the rest of my week there I'll either be on my own or he will join me, depends on his interest level. Alternatively, I suppose we could do a single longer trip and then I could spend a couple of days checking out the city. It's wide open at this point. Dates are: flying out on 31Jul and flying back 08Aug.
There is so much to do out there I am overwhelmed with the choices, and some advice from those of you who know the area would be very welcome. I think my friend must be getting a little soft, because he said "6-8 miles a day is plenty if you aren't routinely lugging a pack with overnight gear…" I'm thinking that even though I don't hike often, 10 per day should be no problem unless the conditions are extreme. His pack will probably be 30-40 pounds, so that might have something to do with it.
He has pointed me to the following site and said that some of their weekend trips would probably be a good 3-day trip for us – well, maybe so if there are side trips. Side trips may be a good idea if his pack is heavy. I'll get stir crazy if I only hike four hours to the next camp and then have little to do.
Here's the type of thing I'm looking for:
-hiking that is tough enough to feel like I earned those views,
-loops are preferred to out and back (though if we are going together a car drop might be possible if it doesn't kill too much time?)
-trailheads within a few hours drive of Seattle so I don't spend too much time on the road (I will have use of a car)
-relative solitude – I don't mind passing some people on the trail now and then, but I don't want to be in a high traffic area.
I think of myself as being biased toward the mountains, but the "Toleak Point – Third Beach to Oil City Traverse" on the Olympic Coast sounds good, and my friend has not done that yet and is interested in it. So maybe that could be one trip.
Then I need to get my mountain fix. How about some of the wonderland trail? "Indian Bar – Cowlitz Divide (Wonderland Trail)" I can't tell if that is a small section or if I can make a loop out of it.
I know there are so many great opportunities there, so I'll be inclined to trust you if you tell me that I'm looking at overrun/overrated areas and you have better ideas.
About me: This will be my first real backpacking trip, so my skills aren't that keen yet but I'm up for doing a few days solo if I have a good idea of the route and the range of conditions to prepare for. I don't want any sissy hiking, but I probably shouldn't put myself in any really extreme conditions yet. I'll have map and compass and I have some basic skill with them, but maybe shouldn't stray too far from an established trail marked on a map. (Now, on the coast, I imagine it is hard to get lost).
I've probably left out a lot of important factors, so fire away. And thank you.
-StephenJul 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm #2008257
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
wta.org is good
nwhikers.net is another good site
Olympics are nice but not relative solitudeJul 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm #2008290
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
As Jerry said, WTA is a great site/association. A yearly hike my girlfriend and I always do is the Third Beach to Toleak point hike along the Olympic coast. It's 7 mile hike in, or you can go all the way to oil city road, but would need two cars.
It's a great coastal hike with a mix of forrest and nice sandy beach (especially at Toleak) and lots of wildlife. The tent sites are right at the tree line, but you can also pitch right on the sand if tides permit.
You can make a longer trip out of it too by starting father up north, you can even do ozette lake to Toleak point… But you do have to time the tides right. And the north beaches are very rocky and an ankle buster.
We just did Marmot Pass and it was an amazing spot to sleep, right on the ridge at 6200 feet, and you can continue to hike for several miles up/down the ridge and also go up Buckhorn mountain to get some crazy nice views. Not a lot of solitude where we camped out, at 5.3 miles it was within day hiker range, but there are many more camp sites along the ridge that stretches for miles (crazy seeing such flat meadows onto of a ridge) so you should be able to find solitude if you put in more miles. Steady elevation gain of 3000+ ft, more elev/steeper once you hit the ridge.
Walking south away from our camp on the ridge at Marmot Pass
A word of warning about Marmot Pass: not many sources of water once you get up there, the Quilcene River is nearby, but you'll have to go back down 3/4 mile from the ridge and hike back up to get water. We were lucky to have snow left on the ridge so we just melted that, but with how warm it's been, I doubt there'll be much, if any left.
Got some trip reports/pics on our blog (me+gf initials are AN + AL, don't worry, it's SFW). http://analonthetrail.blogspot.com/?m=1Jul 23, 2013 at 11:00 pm #2008950
@snapyjohnLocale: Pacific NW
Saw it in backpacker magazine. We did it last weekend and a little snow on the trail in spots but it was beautiful scenery. You can do it in two days but there are lots of side trips.Jul 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm #2009252
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
I have always wanted to do a coastal hike, but never got to… If you can do that, do that.
Regarding Mount Rainier NP:
If you're going to break things up into several hikes a fun one is hitting all seven peaks on the Tatoosh Range, south of Paradise. This can be done in one day, supposedly, but I never succeeded in doing so. (Though this was before I went UL.) You definitely get views, and I saw mountain goats there several times. It could easily be an over-nighter though it is within MORA so you'd need a backcountry permit, but they aren't hard to get since they reserve a lot for walk-ins. The route is in the "75 Scrambles in Washington" book, which is in general good resource for routes that lack hordes of amateurs to harsh your zen thing. You leave your car in Longmire and hitch to Paradise to start the hike. Thus it isn't a true loop, but it's close. Also, there isn't really a trail for most of it, per se. You follow Marmot trails. Thus I've never seen crowds except on the trail up to Pinnacle Peak at the start and on the Longmire Trail at the end. But if you're not up for routefinding you might not want this one.
In general though I like Sunrise more than Paradise. You start higher, and the crowds aren't as ridiculous, and the views are awesomer. It's just a hair harder to get to. You could easily make a loop out of the trail system around there, perhaps with little out-and-backs jutting from the loop. There are many options- just get a MORA map and pick a route. (Though many of the Sunrise trails are on GoogleMaps terrain view if you zoom in enough, if you want to make a quick check.) Anything around Sunrise will have wicked views. Starting at the Sunrise lot and making a loop down along White River and then back up comes to mind, but it is vigorous. Making a day trip of hiking out and back the Burroughs Mountain trail gives particularly stunning views, but hike ALL the way out- most tourists stop at First Burroughs, but there is actually a trail past all of the Burroughs peaks to the cleaver beyond (I forget it's name). There is a set of switchbacks from hell down off Burroughs into the White River Valley, then you follow the valley downstream a bit and there is another set of switchbacks back up onto Sunrise ridge. In itself that would be a rather short hike, but it can be combined with the other trails in the area.
Another more solitary one would be parking at Mowich Lake and making a loop into the Carbon River Valley using the Spray Park Trail, Seattle Park Trail, and the part of the Wonderland Trail along Carbon River and Ipsut Creek back to Mowich Lake. You'd probably even hit some snowfields, actually. The views are, again, spectacular on the southern part of that loop. (But then, it's hard not to have great views in MORA.) The northern part is river valleys and wooded draws, but Carbon River is in itself quite scenic. Again, zoom in GoogleMaps terrain view and you can see the trails marked. If that loop is too small you can make it bigger by adding the aptly-named Northern Loop Trail further east around Lake Ethel, Skyscraper Mountain, and Mystic Lake. This will again hook you into the Wonderland trail back to Mowich lake.
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