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.
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:
- Deer Lake
- Sol Duc Park (near Heart Lake)
I started with the day hikers heading up to Sol Duc Falls.
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.
The Park was extremely dry while I was there. Normally you get wet feet on this hike. Boardwalk helps.
I used the instagator technique to keep pebbles and dust out of my approach shoes.
This was my first glimpse of Mt Olympus next morning. I was very pleased the skies stayed clear. This summit is usually cloud shrouded.
Though the old growth forest trails are tranquil, it was fantastic to get above the tree line.
I love the bear grass, but wildflowers were less prolific than expected.
I stashed my pack on the ridge and dropped into into 7 Lakes Basin for some day hiking.
It is marvellous.
Climbing back up to the ridge I continued to one of the most famous viewpoints in the Olympics, Bogachiel peak.
The ridge walk above the basin is fantastic in clear weather. You look down on the many-more-than-7-lakes.
I was exhausted and dehydrated by the time I finally dropped down towards Heart Lake.
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.
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. :-)
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.