Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Day 79: Hayden Pass Hump

August 27: I woke up and hit the trail at about 8:00. I had a thousand-plus foot climb to Hayden Pass, the views becoming more impressive the higher the trail ascended. Then it was a long, slow descent down toward the Elwha River.

The far side of Hayden Pass had trees, but a large wildfire burned through the area a few years back so impressive views were still visible through the burned out trees.

Hayden Pass is out there somewhere!

Further down the mountain, outside of the burn area, I was just surrounded by trees and with nothing particularly exciting to report.

Then my route connected with the Elwha River Trail. Most of the time, the Elwha River wasn't visible through the trees, but I did occasionally get views of it when the trail ran up alongside of it.

My campsite for the night was Elkhorn Camp, but a couple of miles just before it I was passing through some huckleberry bushes when I heard something large moving in the bushes. Probably a deer, but I stopped to get a better look when I saw a black furry movement through the brush. A bear! It was a bear!

I backed away quickly--I was maybe 10 feet away when I first noticed it. The bear was on a narrow strip of land between the trail and a cliff over the Elwha River and I didn't know if the bear realized I was even there with all the noise it was making in the bushes. I didn't want to startle it or "trap" it between me and a cliff!

So I backed away, giving the bear plenty of space to leave. But I couldn't keep going forward without approaching much closer to the bear than I felt comfortable with, so I pulled out my camera and waited and watched. "Hello, bear!" I said, trying to let him know I was in the area.

The bushes became silent for a bit, then there was movement again before the bear stepped out directly onto the trail and took a good look at me. "Hi, little buddy! How are you doing?" I took some photos.

The bear comes out of the brush and onto the trail.

He then turned his head away and moved across the trail into the brush on the other side and away from me and I switched to filming a video. I watched him for a minute or two, bushwhacking through the brush and seeming to stop occasionally to eat some berries along the route.

A couple of times, he poked his head above the brush to look back at me, making sure I wasn't doing anything particularly worrisome, then continued on his way.

And before too long, the bear was gone and I continued hiking. What a beautiful creature!

He paused on the trail to get a better look at me, but it also gave me a chance to get a better photo of him! =)

A short while later, I reached a trail junction marked with a sign that said, "Campsites." It was a little sooner than I expected--both my map and GPS showed my campsite another half-mile ahead, but Elkhorn Camp was the only campsite in this area as far as I knew so I figured that must be where I was supposed to camp and followed the side trail to a lovely campsite adjacent to the Elwha River.

I had covered 15 miles, but arrived in camp at an early 4:30 in the afternoon. It was just an easy day of hiking. Mostly downhill, the trail was in good shape and despite a couple of long breaks of over an hour, I still arrived in camp relatively early. If I wasn't constrained to my permit schedule, I'd have continued hiking further.

And after leaving camp first thing in the morning, I hadn't seen a single other person all day which surprised me. Even my guidebook warned that the Elwha River Trail was busy with people, but I--quite literally--saw more bears than people on the trail! I was in a popular national park, but where were all the people?! Not that I was complaining.... but it seemed odd. Did something happen that I didn't know about to keep people out of the park? Did a forest fire break out somewhere up ahead and that area of the park had been evacuated and I knew nothing about it? Where were all the people?!

In any case, I set up camp, but I didn't have much opportunity to enjoy the warm sun as it headed behind a tall mountain about a half hour after my arrival. Oh, well.... That's the problem with camping at the bottom of deep valleys.

And that marked the end of another day of hiking.....

I continued finding Leaf People on the trail.

View from near the top at Hayden Pass.

And this was the view over the burn area on the far side of Hayden Pass.

I saw a couple of these along the trail, noticing a delicately balanced rock. Which, I first, I thought were probably by accident. But after seeing several of them over the last few days, always located in areas where big leaves were not to be found, I suspected it might be by the same person making the Leaf People. This was their Plan B when they couldn't find suitable leaves. If it was deliberately placed like this, it's a lot more subtle than the leaves!

The Elwha River Trail does follow near the Elwha River, but most of the time I couldn't see it through the trees.

Remann's Cabin, an old historic structure preserved for posterity.

View from my campsite along the Elwha River. =)


KuKu said...

I was hoping to see the video of the bear. Great photos of it, BTW. Scary to stumble across while trying to continue on the trail!

Ryan said...

For premium members that virtually walk the trail on -- there is a bear video to be enjoyed. ;o)

Anonymous said...

I don't remember mentions of leaf people east of the Olympics. They certainly would have come in handy for those bushwacking sections that you traversed.

Karolina said...

Beautiful views!!! 🤩