Friday, December 11, 2020

Day 83: Bushwhacking the Bogachiel

August 31: It rained lightly during the night, but that didn't cause any troubles. By morning, the skies were clear and blue again.

I packed up camp and on my way out, stopped by the creek feeding into Deer Lake to pick up water, but a deer and two fawns blocked my way. I watched them for several minutes before they wandered off and I could get water.

Deer and two fawns. It seemed somehow fitting to find a family of deer at Deer Lake. =)

On my way out of camp, I saw a couple of people on the far side of Deer Lake that were fishing. I didn't realize it at the time, but they would be the last people I'd see all day. I would be leaving the busy Sol Duc loop route that most people followed and head out into the less-traveled areas of the park.

The trail out of camp was rugged. Very rocky with lots of big ups and downs--and the brush along the trail was very wet from the overnight rain. The lower half of my body wound up looking like I had been through a torrential downpour. I was glad to be wearing my waterproof socks that kept my feet warm (although not entirely dry).

Eventually the trail descended steeply down to the Bogachiel River--which the trail would largely follow downstream until exiting from Olympic National Park. The steep sections of trail were now behind me--but my difficulties were just getting started....

Mount Olympus, fading off into the distance.

I took a short snack break at 21-Mile Camp, and starting from that point, the trail had clearly not been maintained in many years. Lots of blowdowns slowed my progress. Those were mostly an inconvenience rather than a real problem, however. The section of trail near Hyak Camp was where I struggled a lot more. The trail was severely overgrown and became essentially a bushwhack. I completely lost the trail at one point and had brambles trying to rip my clothes off. I only lost the trail completely once, but I definitely cussed more than once!

My legs got bruised and scratched as I continued onward, ever so slowly making progress. I can't say that this was a surprise. My guidebook warned that this section of trail was in bad shape, and when I called the ranger station to arrange a permit, he also warned that this section of trail hadn't seen any maintenance in years and was badly overgrown.

So it didn't come as a surprise--my only question was how bad it would really be and how long it would take for me to get through. And it was definitely bad! Much worse than I had hoped for, but about what I expected.

The shelter at Hyak Camp was so overgrown, you could barely see it through all the brambles!

As for how long it took me to get through... about three hours. About three hellish hours trying to fight my way through about 3 miles of the forest.

Just before 15-mile camp, the trail crossed the Bogachiel River on a high bridge that seemed in remarkably good condition given how badly maintained the trail had been. And having not seen a single person for hours and unlikely to see anyone anytime soon, I decided... why not? And peed off the top of the bridge. There was no one around to witness my indiscretion. ;o)

A short while later, I rounded a bend in the trail and arrived at 15-Mile Camp and the end of my hellish bushwhack. The camp included an old, wooden shelter that had seen better days, and I stopped for a rest pulling out my groundsheet and tarp to dry in the small meadow in front of it. They were still wet from the rain the night before.

After about an hour's break, I packed up and hit the trail again. This time, the trail was in excellent condition and I moved quickly and efficiently. Life was good!

I continued onward until reaching Flapjack Camp and my designated campsite for the night, not having seen a single person since leaving Deer Lake that morning. The campsite was nice, situated along the shore of the Bogachiel River, but the bugs in the afternoon were a huge nuisance and I hoped they'd go away once the sun went down--which they did, maybe an hour after sunset.

I watched Netflix during the evening before calling it a night and falling asleep. It had been a long, hard day, and I hoped that was the last bushwhacking of the PNT. As far as I knew, at least, there was no more bushwhacking ahead. *fingers crossed*

I'm drying out gear in front of the 15-Mile Camp shelter. I never really found a clear location in the sun to dry out gear and this was pretty much the only place I found all day with enough open space to lay out my gear to dry--even if it was still in the shade.

The toilets at Deer Lake.... poop goes into these containers, which are then helicoptered out at the end of the season. So yes, the park service picked up my poop by helicopter! =)

I had trouble getting photos of the deer family at Deer Lake because it was so early in the morning and the light was so bad. The fawns were absolutely adorable, though!

At this point, the trail was becoming difficult to get through. See the trail? It's right through the middle of that brush. Yeah, I couldn't see it either!

Cobwebs were easy to spot covered with rain from the night!

So many blowdowns....

So many brambles....

This was a particularly insidious blowdown! The trunk of the tree fell directly along the length of the trail and with all the branches sticking out, it was super difficult scrambling to the far side of the blowdown.

I may have taken the opportunity to pee from this high bridge over the Bogachiel. =)

This was my view of the Bogachiel River from my campsite. =)


Unknown said...

Can't imagine how you stay on course when the trail disappears from unmaintained tree falls.

KuKu said...

Bushwacking & blowdowns. Ugh. I hate it when you have to deal with those. Nice photo of the spider web!

Anonymous said...

Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms!! Oh MY!!!