Deer Park to Gray Wolf Loop
June 1-8, 2015 Hike
When The Trail Began...
Roaring Winds was calm, while Maiden and the surrounding peaks faded in and out of the meandering clouds. This ethereal beauty would last two days which was much more welcome than the predicted rain. Your persistent attention to words and photographs as the narration unfolds will be required if you wish to continue.
As we planned, Philip and I reached the trailhead at Deer Park for an easy 4.5 mile hike to Roaring Winds. The Grand Ridge (Obstruction Point) Trail would lead us along a forest of sub-alpine fir, lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock as our footsteps carried us across Blue Mountain.
After rounding Maiden Peak we soon reached the saddle where our backcountry permit gave us big brothers permission to set up camp for the night. Roaring Winds was calm while clouds faded in and out.
For water, all that remained were two small patches of snow I doubt will survive the month. Roaring Winds seems destined to be a dry camp early this year. The lack of snow is an echoed story heard relentlessly like a viral video; we would experience snowless passes throughout the remainder of our hike.
After performing the LAD (Location, Angle, Direction) dance, the time had arrived to persuade my shelter towards its duty. But first, I programmed my Fujifilm X-T1 to capture an image every second 450 times; to be used for a tent pitching time-lapse. In the end, 450 shots was not enough and I resolved to try again tomorrow.
Philip and I watched the clouds move through the valley as we melted snow and ate dinner.
The surreal experience misty alpine mountains invoke within me are just as pleasurable as the grand panoramic views of a clear blue day. For this reason, the morning filled me with joy as the rainless clouds journeyed across the mountain tops. Day two was dawning.
Today's destination was to be on the ridge above Gladys Lake because we did not have a permit to stay at any of the lakes in the valley. Philip melted some snow for water during breakfast; I had melted snow the night before. We then packed up and, in a state of childlike wonder, began our second day in the direction of Obstruction Point.
Before leaving camp we had the excitement of being visited by a snowshoe hare. Only one patch of white remained on the top of its head and was quite brave for a hare. Hopped about four feet from me and stopped for a moment. After visiting Philips camp, our visitor decided it was time to show us how fast it was and burned paw down the trail in a cloud of dust.
I couldn't help reflect on that one patch of white on the hare's head. It was such a mirror of the snowfall this year and how little is left in the Olympics as well as the rest of the Pacific Northwest. Seems to me the white has melted away early this year to be replaced with their summer camouflage.
Arriving at Obstruction Point was strange, it was the first time in years that I've seen the parking lot empty.
A few pieces of information manifest themselves at Obstruction Point. First, visibility was too poor along the ridge for me to confidently navigate it to Lake Lillian. The second was doubt that anyone would be camping at any of the lakes tonight; unless they were traveling by way of cameron. We decided the safest route would be to skip the ridge and hike grand valley instead.
We met with the most snow we would experience our entire hike, as we traversed Lillian Ridge along the Grand Pass Trail, shortly after leaving Obstruction Point. It wasn't until we reached the ridge junction that we made the final decision to hike the valley instead.
The pace was comfortable all the way to the lakes. In fact, the pace was perfect throughout our hike. This was the first time Philip and I hiked together but it seemed like we had been exploring together for years; I had a great time and hope he wasn't just accommodating an old man.
After a short rest at Moose Lake we continued up the trail towards Gladys Lake when we met a couple heading to Grand Lake. The first hikers we met on the trail so far; they left the same day we did from Deer Park but were hiking in the opposite direction and exiting Hurricane Ridge instead of making a loop of the hike.
With the exception of the couple that passed us, all three lakes had no hikers. Philip and I decided to take our chances and camp at Gladys Lake; setting up camp on the hill away from the lake.
Deer visited, dinner was cooked, and night was approaching. Sleep was just around the corner but first we had to search the hillside for bear. With excitement we saw one in the distance, knowing for certain the black spot was foraging. I decided to attach my 200mm lens to get a closer look and discovered what we were looking at was the famous bear bush. The one that keeps your attention by appearing to move around the hillside, playing mind games, until it reveals its true nature.
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Keywords: backpacking, deer park, gladys lake, grand lake, grand valley trail, hiking, journal, moose lake, obstruction point, obstruction point trail, olympic national park, roaring winds, travelogue
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Our Journey's Flow...
FamilyDeborah, Tim, and Jessica