Hiking Olympic National Park
by Erik Molvar (Falcon Guides)
© 2015 Erik Molvar/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
The ascent began at 0945 and was a nice gradual hike for the first few miles that passed by the river to the left and up to Mystery Camp where multiple camp sites were available. The next few miles ascended more dramatically as the small striped (squirrels?) and red grasshoppers ran around and wrestled to the sides of the trail. There were a few scenic openings from the treelines that added to the mystique of the forest and next to the scree fields. Rockfall seemed continual throughout the year but we were lucky not to experience any. After the scree we again entered forested area that proved to be one of the most amazing campgrounds that had access to river water, flat tent sites, boulders for climbing and all around rest spot. Once back on the trail to the summit we ascended past very large rock cliffs and more boulders. A short field (many wildflowers) gave view to the summit and an alternate shortcut route. We took the traditional route to the summit, the fog was immense even though the sun was shining. The descent was quick as we jogged/ran most of it to save time. Total time to summit was 4 hrs, descent 3 hrs. Strenuous dayhike (blisters), better spent over 2 days. Ryan W. Link
On Saturday August 13 we left the trailhead at 10:15 am.
The trail is well maintained and the first 2.6 miles went fast through beautiful mature forest. At 2.6 miles we reached Shelter Rock Camp which has enough room for at least 10 different camps and good water even this late in the summer. Then the hike gets steeper and the day being pretty warm was tougher for the next two miles. When we began crossing rock-falls we had really hot sun beating down but also wonderful views of the surrounding peaks.
Marmot Pass seemed much farther than 2.7 miles away but by 1:30 we reached a well watered and sheltered camp area with lots of spaces available. Then I left my wife (hot and tired and not going a step further) to go up to the pass. It was only about 20 minutes for me alone and worth the work because the views were outstanding. I continued on to join friends to the top of Mt. Buckhorn where the views were even better. With views of Hoods Canal and Mts on three sides I have seldom been so pleased with the views at the end of a tough climb. The way out took just a little over 3 hours and though very tired we all agreed it was well worth all the work.
This hike is one that can be accomplished nearly year-round. It is usually covered in snow from approximately 4,000 feet, however its location in the rain shadow provides some of the best access in Washington. Water is available along the trail until you reach Boulder Shelter. From Boulder Shelter to Marmot Pass it is very dry.
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