The story of this trip actually begins back in 2014. After doing a section of the JMT a year prior Bob, my long time hiking partner, and I decided to do the complete JMT trail. We did all the preparation: training, food drops, etc. After the second day, I noticed Bob moving a bit slower. He was reluctant to divulge that he was in pain initially since he knew we had prepped and taken the longest amount of time away from work in our careers. By the end of the day, it was clear my friend was struggling. We made the decision on the third day to abandon the trip and head back to the PNW where I’m from. After some recovery time, we decided to take a trip to Olympic National Park. Our plan was to Hike the High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop. Bob and I grew up together in the Midwest. I moved out west after college and despite the distance our friendship has remained strong as we have taken a backpacking trip together every year (2020 being the exception).
While I had never done this trip, I’d heard enough good things about this loop that I was excited to experience it with my good friend. I’m proud of where I live so I was excited to introduce the area to my good friend. Unfortunately for us, the weather didn’t cooperate. We had rain and fog so thick you couldn’t see any of the neighboring peaks. I forgot about this loop in the years since that trip since it wasn’t a very memorable experience.
Fast forward to 2022, wildfire smoke had captured much of the Cascades but the Olympics in their westerly position on the peninsula were an exception. Clear skies and good air quality was in the forecast. I packed my backpack and grabbed my camera and set off to see this area for a second time. What a difference with good weather! While I’ve spent most of my time hiking in the Cascades, I’ve under appreciated the Olympics. What a mistake. The diversity of this park is truly unique. For this hike, I started out hiking through rainforest. As you hike through the rainforest it seems like such a healthy environment with its old growth forests and lush green plants. Then as you ascend into the alpine area you experience the glaciated mountains. It was as if I was experiencing this hike for the first time as everything seemed new. You know that feeling of gratitude you get after an amazing experience? Well, that’s how I felt after this trip. Now, I have to bring my friend so he could experience it as well.