|Scott taking in an incredible view|
Day 4 -8/28 “Trail over Gut” – to somewhere near Ferry Basin
We awoke to sun and quickly decided to make it a relaxing morning and dry our gear. Within minutes we had “trashed it up” backpacker style, stringing our wet gear over tree limbs and bushes surrounding our camp. As we sat around watching our gear dry, Nat came over for a morning visit. He was planning to bushwhack his way down to the Hoh River and out so he could meet his friends in another 2 days. We talked more about hikes we had taken around the area as this was his first time through the Olympics. Nat was surprised at how remote the Olympics are compared to parks like Glacier. He had hiked there in Montana and Southern Utah and recounted how it was a “human experience”. There were so many designated camping areas setup to hold large numbers and a requirement to hang everything in your pack on a bear pole. He said that it was quite a site to watch “destination hikers” lit on spirits trying to hang their gear on a pole at the end of the night. He had also section hiked the PCT in the Sierras and talked about the waves of hikers and group dinners. He hiked a 25 mile day with one group just to see what it was like. But all of his past experiences now paled in comparison to his trek through the Olympics. We were entertained by his stories and glad to share some of our own beloved Olympics. With Nat’s general description of the trail up ahead, we felt somewhat more informed to take on the Bailey Range. We didn’t speak further about the “white out conditions” Nat had encountered hoping that the worst of the weather was behind us.
|There are trails to follow on the traverse|
|Gravel bar seemed like a highway as we left Cream Lake|
We were set on making it out of the valley up to Ferry Basin and possibly further – but it was mid-day by the time we left. After packing up, we stopped by to say farewell to Nat and headed out what we thought might be the trail up through the valley, only to realize after losing the trail in a meadow of bear grass that it wasn’t. We doubled back for the first time that day and headed up the creek bed using footprints as our guide once again.
We kept picking out foot prints here and there, until there were none. From there we went with Tim’s research of the area and general gut. It proved out once again, after tracing back and forth a few times through the woods and across the creek, Tim found signs of trail leading up and over some boulders and into a lush-green ravine. We took a short rest on a sunny rock and then made our way over to follow a thin trail all the way to the top. The ravine was filled with plants, flowers and barely a trickle of water coming down through the rocks. The trail followed the creek bed made up of stair stepping rocks. After all our harrowing climbs, it was to me, a pleasing sight – pleasantly cool, tucked back in the shadows, out of the full mid-day sun.
I had come to love the uphill climbs and the focus on every foot step to avoid a misstep and possible injury. Compared to hiking with a heavy pack down a well trodden trail where all my thoughts end up on the weight and what muscle is sorest. We were having such an amazing adventure up to that point, I had rarely thought about my pack or my physical aches. My mind was always working and thrilled at every well placed step that overcame the threats of disaster or worse.
|The path to Ferry Basin|
|Lake Billy Everett|
As we crested the top of the ravine, the trail opened up to a broad valley and Upper Cream lake. We spent some time looking around for some indication of where to go next. After so much bushwhacking below, Scott’s attention, and mine, quickly went to the well-defined trail off to the right of the lake heading up the side of the hill. Tim continued to scan the surrounding hillsides from atop a knoll over-looking the lake for any signs of other trails heading up toward the Bailey Range but nothing looked certain. So he decided to go with our urging and we headed up the well- defined trail. Once we reached the next plateau, we agreed it was indeed the start of Ferry Basin, scenes around us matched photos of the area. But almost immediately the trail became hard to find again.
Recalling some of Nat’s description of the area, we picked out pieces of trail and headed toward the river, past the lake, and made our way alongside a stream paralleling the peaks above. Tim’s gut was telling him we needed to be on the other side of the stream and heading up to the peaks above us, but we kept pushing on finding more pieces of trail. The trail would wear thin and then reappear across heather meadows and then fall away again to reappear further ahead. At the end of the last meadow, we came upon a small pond and a good-sized campsite and thought about stopping as it was late afternoon and we were at the end of the basin. Tim was still unsettled and scouted ahead across the stream. It wasn’t long before he called us over to take a look. He had found another pond with an amazing view of the Olympics, including Mt. Olympus. We sat there on the edge of the hill side to take in the spectacular view but the guys couldn’t stop deliberating over the maps.
|False Hellbore along trail above Lake Billy Everett|
Tim was still feeling we weren’t in the right place but I was already mentally picking out a spot for the tent and another to eat dinner. Scott and Tim decided to scout further ahead to finalize their decision on where we needed to be, and I headed to the pond. I noticed when we arrived that it had a perfect shallow edge that I was certain meant the water in the shallows had warmed in the sun to exactly the right temperature for feet and head. I quickly got out my soap and suds’ up my head. There is nothing like a lake water (or pond) shampoo. The guys returned shortly and to my disappointment decided after looking ahead, we were not on the right trail. They wanted to pick up and go back to the other camp site we had passed so we could head out early in the morning.
All of us were somewhat disheartened that we had to back track the next day, but Tim couldn’t rest, until he was absolutely sure where we needed to go. As the sun set, while Scott and I were setting up camp and getting ready to make dinner, Tim headed off in the direction of the peaks across the stream and up the hillside. He hadn’t said a word, but I knew he wanted to look over the ridge above to confirm the suspicions he had all day long. Tim came down thoroughly convinced we needed to double back to the top of Ferry Basin and head up from there into the Bailey Range. Now he could rest, but he still did not feel like eating.
|One of many beautiful streams|
It was a pretty sunset that night, turning the hillside across the stream pink and then red. Scott seemed to be feeling better at dinner and was not ready for an early night. He took his camera and headed up the nearby ridge to look back over where we had come and soak in the view. The air was taking on a crisp winter feel. Tim was already settled in and so I followed. We talked for a bit about the day and played a slide show of his photos. I had shaken the feeling of a bear coming into our camp. And it wasn’t long before we fell asleep. During the night though, Scott heard noises that he thought was a bear near our camp.