Monday, August 13, 2007

Rubber Meets The Road: Monday

Ok, a break from wedding pictures for a bit. Some of you are probably annoyed with me for not posting more about our recent backpacking trip in the Olympic Mts., so for your sakes I will continue the story. Refer back to my first post on this topic for an introduction.

We were awake bright and early Monday morning--well it wasn't exactly bright but it was early :) . Daniel and Stephen were already packed and ready, so after breakfast we headed Walmart. While Daniel went searching for new windshield wipers I headed for the outdoor department to get earplugs--if there was to be snoring I wasn't about to go out into the wilderness without protection. Anti-snore activists like me must comprise a niche market because Walmart didn't bother to stock earplugs. Anyway, the Bittner's Jeep was soon equipped with wipers and we took a westward highway toward Aberdeen.

After passing through exciting little towns like Humptulips :) we found the Quinalt ranger station, purchased our permits and told them our route, names, contact info and such in case anything went wrong. Thankfully they informed us that the Quinalt River ford was flooded due to all the rainfall and would be impassable that afternoon, so we just decided to reverse our route.

It was really interesting to watch the terrain as we wound along the river. Massive ridges rose almost straight out the ground and towered above us, the old-growth forest hosted huge pine and cedar trees and some beautiful waterfalls.

You had to be careful not to get too distracted though or you would be at the mercy of the potholes, which dotted the road like reverse molehills on a lawn. Finally we located the trailhead and got ready.

We came on the tail end of an unusually wet week, and since we began at a relatively low elevation we had to deal with flooding for a few miles. We stopped briefly at Irely lake, but pushed on so that we could arrive at camp before nightfall.

Irely Lake

That was probably the hardest 7 miles we hiked, since we were all running on low energy and were not in very good shape, facing switchback after switchback up a steep ridge. Our stock of energy and health bars suffered serious casualties. Here are some snapshots of the group.



Daniel (Berkompas



Daniel (Bittner)

We knew that our campsite was located about 4,000 feet up in an alpine meadow, so along with the occasional "Are we there yet?" (from Stephen :) we kept asking Christopher how high he thought we'd climbed--not that it mattered because we certainly hadn't hit any meadows yet. Eventually, Daniel (Bittner) concluded that we must be close. "I see grass. That means meadow. I see rocks. That means meadow." Soon we did arrive at the Three Lakes campsite. It was more of a subtle marsh than a meadow, and we were fortunate to secure the premier camping spot on a bit of high ground before other hikers started to arrive. We set up camp successfully, but since we were in a fragile high-elevation ecosystem they didn't allow fires, and the gnats were seeking our lives, so the evening wasn't as cheery as it could have been.

The plant life was beautiful

It was great to enjoy eachother's company, eat good food and soak in a stillness and tranquility that you just don't find anywhere else. God is good to give us places like that.

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