Dungeness Spit, Washington State

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Dungeness Spit is a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) long sand spit jutting out from the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula in … Washington, USA, into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. …

Dungeness_National_Wildlife_Refuge_aerial

Some say it’s the world’s longest naturally occurring sandspit.

Diana and I wanted to visit the New Dungeness Light, in continuous operation since 1857.

Dungeness_Lighthouse_Sequim

It’s fairly easy to find the trailhead from the highway near Sequim.

Sequim map

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Here’s the light station at 34x zoom.

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It was a long but interesting day hike.

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There was a family of volunteers manning the lighthouse. Father had scheduled this week about 6 years ago when his youngest daughter was age-2. Children must be at least age-8 to stay out here.

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We didn’t catch much sea life. But there were a couple of interesting things out at sea. :-)

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see more of our full resolution photos

related – Washington Trails – Dungeness Spit

High Divide Loop (7 Lakes Basin)

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

I was en route to hike the Cape Alava to Rialto Beach “Shipwreck Coast” on the Olympic peninsula end of June.

But when I dropped by the the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles on the way to the trailhead, Rangers informed me that famed High Divide Loop (7 Lakes Basin) was open early this year. Winter had dropped very little snow on the high peaks.

I instantly changed my plan. You can hike the Shipwreck Coast almost any time. But the High Divide Loop window is time limited. Late July to mid-October most years.

The High Divide Loop is very weather dependent. I arrived during a heat wave. Blue skies. Quite rare in the high mountains of the rainy coast.

It turned out to be a good call.

Rick Mt Olympus

AT A GLANCE

  • the jumping off point (and best finish) for the High Divide Loop is Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic National Park
  • 20.3mi (32.6km) including sidetrips to Lunch Lake and Bogachiel Peak
  • must carry a tent and be completely self-sufficient
  • cumulative elevation 5200ft

On the advice of a Ranger, I booked 2 campsites:

  1. Deer Lake
  2. Sol Duc Park (near Heart Lake)

Circuit map

I started with the day hikers heading up to Sol Duc Falls.

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High Divide - 4 High Divide - 2

It’s a steep up,up,up from there to Deer lake. Nice campsite. But it did have mosquitos. I was happy to have carried my mesh bug shirt.

Deer lake

The Park was extremely dry while I was there. Normally you get wet feet on this hike. Boardwalk helps.

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I used the instagator technique to keep pebbles and dust out of my approach shoes.

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This was my first glimpse of Mt Olympus next morning. I was very pleased the skies stayed clear. This summit is usually cloud shrouded.

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Though the old growth forest trails are tranquil, it was fantastic to get above the tree line.

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I love the bear grass, but wildflowers were less prolific than expected.

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I stashed my pack on the ridge and dropped into  into 7 Lakes Basin for some day hiking.

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It is marvellous.

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Climbing back up to the ridge I continued to one of the most famous viewpoints in the Olympics, Bogachiel peak.

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The ridge walk above the basin is fantastic in clear weather. You look down on the many-more-than-7-lakes.

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I was exhausted and dehydrated by the time I finally dropped down towards Heart Lake.

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Rangers there told me where I could find good water. There was none on the ridge. :-(

I had been counting on melting snow. Unfortunately I found no snow.

With relief I set up my tent at Sol Duc Park campsite. Washed my feet. And took an hour siesta.

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In the late afternoon I made a long day hike past Cat Basin campground to see what my guidebook claimed was the best view of Olympus. I wasn’t disappointed. :-)

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Next morning was an easy downhill exit through old growth. Very mellow.

If you’d like to see 7 Lakes Basin and Mt Olympus for yourself, check our new information page.

restoration of the Elwha river

The Elwha Dam was a 108-ft (33 m) high dam located in the United States, in the state of Washington, on the Elwha River approximately 4.9 miles (7.9 km) upstream from the mouth of the river on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

It was taken out in an effort to restore the original habitat, especially for fish breeding.

Looks pretty good in 2015. I did a short day hike from the viewpoint.

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You didn’t want to be downstream when the floodgates were unleashed.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related:

• World’s Largest Dam Removal Unleashes U.S. River After Century of Electric Production

Olympic National Park’s newest attraction is made out of an old dam [Photo Gallery]

my hiking gear 2015

by besthike editor Rick McCharles

I’ve not changed my system much over the past 10yrs. Here’s how it works.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. (Packing my pack. 2009)

That up-to-50litre pack (.54kg | 1lbs 3oz), a Granite Gear Virga, was named by the Gear Junkie in 2007 on the list of Greatest Gear of 5 Years.

Using a therm-a-rest as a backpack “frame” was first suggested to me by Kraig Becker, of The Adventure Blog and Gadling.

Granite Gear Virga backpack with Therm-a-Rest frame

Granite Gear Virga backpack with Therm-a-Rest frame

therm-a-rest

I’m just packing for the Sunshine Coast Trail starting next week. Five days minimum. Probably more. But with chances to resupply.

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Sleeping system: MSR Hubba tent, down sleeping bag, silk sleeping bag liner, 3/4 length therm-a-rest, dry bag stuff sack “pillow”, headlamp.

Outdoor clothes: unlined long pants, wicking t-shirt, Gortex jacket, long brim baseball cap. Two pairs of long socks. Two pairs of quick dry underwear. Two bandanas. One Buff. Well tested approach shoes.

Camp clothes: Wool t-shirt. Fleece. Crocs. Tent socks.

Food: Large bear bag, spoon, stove, extra fuel canister. (Start with 5 days grub. Mostly coffee, candy, instant mashed potatoes, instant soup, tuna in a bag.)

Drink: Water bottle, 2 litre soft drink bottle, purification tablets.

Entertainment. Paperback, plenty of audio books on iPhone.

Photography. Camera, extra AA batteries, MacBook Air with power adapter.

Toiletries: Toilet paper, lighter, disinfectant gel, Camp Suds.

Personal items in hip pack: Cash, sun screen, note pad, pen, asperin, mini-toothpaste, mini-toothbrush, mobile phone, etc.

fanny-pack

related – my gear 2007 – besthike editor

Jasper vs Banff: Alberta National Park Showdown

Intrepid Escape:

If there’s one thing Alberta Canada is known for, its the stunning National Parks in the Rocky Mountains, an area surprisingly accessible to the UK and Europe. In one corner of the ring we have Jasper, the smaller town but larger National Park, with over 11,000 square kilometres of intrepid wilderness. And in the other it’s Banff, with 6,600 square kilometres to explore, but rich in history and a larger more vibrant town. Both Jasper and Banff are UNESCO World Heritage sites, but which one is best? …

Jasper vs Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

Jasper vs Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

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Click here to see the winner. :-)

Hiking wise, I’d say Banff is superior. Scenery is slightly better in Jasper. But access and logistics are superb from Banff townsite. It’s the jumping off point for one of our top 10 hikes in the world – Sunshine to Assiniboine.

Thanks Alison.

Top Australian bushwalks

From mountain traverses to sand islands and outback tracks, these are the best long Aussie bushwalks. As chosen by Australian Geographic in 2010.

1. LARAPINTA TRAIL

Larapinta

Larapinta

2. THORSBORNE TRAIL

3. AUSTRALIAN ALPS WALKING TRACK

4. FRASER ISLAND GREAT WALK

5. WILDERNESS COAST WALK (Mallacoota to Wonboyn)

6. OVERLAND TRACK

7. EASTERN ARTHUR RANGE

8. WESTERN ARTHUR RANGE TRAVERSE

9. CAPE TO CAPE TRACK

10. SOUTH COAST TRACK