hiking Obstruction, Olympics WA

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

The famed 7.7mi road from the Visitor’s Center to Obstruction Point trailhead 6150ft (1875m) was CLOSED for 2013 due to budget cuts. Lucky us.


A road’s a road.

But this CLOSED road is a wonderful ridge walk.


Non-stop magnificence.


Once departed the Visitor’s Center at Hurricane Ridge, I saw only 3 other people over 2 days. Two of those were trail runners.

Starting late in the day, I decided to stop at an unofficial campground near the P.J. Lake Trail turnoff. A nice quiet spot but one without water. We’re too high here.

Next morning I arrived Obstruction Point Campground.


It’s nothing but a parking lot with a toilet.


No water. But I found a nice snow melt runoff stream nearby. No mosquitoes. 🙂

On the bright side, it was nice to stash pack with food in the biffy. Away from critters.

Ridge hiking out of Obstruction is unbelievable. I’ll let the photos prove my point.



avalanche lilies
avalanche lilies



I made an afternoon scramble of Moose Peak, a highlight.

Ptarmagin must be the stupidest birds on the planet. How do they survive?


This dumb mother was doing a terrible job of protecting her new chicks.


The only other hiker tenting at Obstruction that night was from Denmark. With the good weather report, he’d bought gear at REI and driven straight to Hurricane Ridge.


Found himself in Heaven.


Next morning I enjoyed coffee with a superb vista.

I’d hoped to take the GRAND Ridge Trail in the direction of Deer Park. … But Rangers had warned that it was probably impassable without an ice ax.

Rick on Grand


After making an attempt to climb over the steep snow. And under the steep snow. I gave up.

But I’ll be back. 🙂


more photos

running the West Coast Trail

My longtime friend Greg Kolodziejzyk:

I’ve always thought that a person needs to do one thing every year that scares the crap out of them. I’m very happy to have checked that item off my to do list for this year!

I just ran the West Coast Trailsolo.…

Helen and I arrived at the Gordon river by 5:45 am on Sunday morning, and I quietly slipped the cheap $29 inflatable dingy into the dead-calm Gordon river in pitch darkness by the light of the rental car head lights, and my triple A battery powered head lamp. …

… “What the hell am I doing here?” was the question I was asking myself as I started to struggle up the extremely technical trail at 6:15 am by the light of my little headlamp. It was so dark, and I could only see a few feet in front of me – and, it was TOUGH going! The first section is a 600 foot climb through roots, mud, fallen tress, jagged rocks, boulders, puddles – yikes! …

The west coast trail either runs inland through the forest, or along the beach, or both. By both, I mean either, as in the hiker or runner must choose. Sometimes a beach section is faster if the forest trail is muddy, or log strewn, or excessively hilly, or requires climbing up huge ravines by a system of numerous ladders

… all of which are exhausting and time consuming. Sometimes the beach sections are difficult due to soft, unrunnable sand, sea weed covered slippery rock shelves, impassable headlands due to high tides, or just downright dangerous with evil surge channels that must be vaulted over. Each time I was faced with the forest or beach option, I had to weigh the pros and cons, dangers and advantages, then commit to my decision and go. …

Read the entire trip report on Adventures of Greg

He survived, in case you are wondering. Here celebrating — and recovering — next day.

Helen and Greg

Watch the 7min video of Greg’s run.

barefoot running backlash


There had to be a downside to running in bare feet.

Science of Sport:

Vibram shoes named in lawsuit: The danger of barefoot running

Vibram Five-finger named in lawsuit – zealousness, unfiltered advice creates more problems than it fixes

The main problem seems to be heel strike impact force.

related – ‘Born to Run’ author helping search for Boulder ultrarunner Micah True

True, better known as Caballo Blanco, went missing while out on a run.

GoLite Tarahumara Sandal Shoe

Tarahumara Sandal Shoe — GoLite Footwear’s Tara Lite running shoe is said to have been inspired by the Tarahumara tribes of Mexico, a native group known for their distance running skills who wear minimal thong-style sandals.

What makes the GoLite shoe unique is its flat, “zero-drop” heel, flexible sole, and a soft upper. The kicker: Inside the shoe, separating your big toe from the rest, there’s an internal sandal post that keeps your foot from moving too much and helps the flexible shoe fit snug.

The Tara Lite will come in men’s and women’s models for $115.

Gear Junkie

Shwatka Lake Trail, Whitehorse, Yukon

In a desperate last minute attempt to get into shape for my 14km leg of the Klondike Road Relay this weekend, I ran a leisurely 20km on a warm, sunny Fall day in the Yukon.

I’d done it years ago on mountain bike. But running is slower. It gave me more time to enjoy the scenery.

Highlight? …

For sure the Rim Trail along Miles Canyon.

Miles Canyon overview looking southerly 2450

(The last time I was at Shwatka Lake was for the Mock wedding in 2007.)

Gary Robbins – records WCT, ECT

The East Coast Trail stretches for 340 miles along the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, while the West Coast Trail runs for 47 miles along Vancouver’s southwestern shoreline. …

Recently, endurance athlete Gary Robbins set the daunting goal for himself to attain speed records on both of these trails, starting in Vancouver and the WCT on August 4th.

Running North to South, Gary completed the entire 47 miles in just 10 hours and 8 minutes, which does indeed establish a new record for that route. Of course, that was just a warm-up for the much longer, and more challenging ECT, which he began on August 20th and completed on the 22nd, finishing the entire route in a blistering 35 hours and 17 minutes. …

The Adventure Blog – Endurance Athlete Sets Speed Records on Canada’s East and West Coast Trails

Wonderland Trail in 63hrs

Dr. Jeni McNeal and Dave Adlard, founding members of Team Adventure Sports Week, along with an unofficial support crew of Rick McCharles of BestHike.com completed the 94 mile/47,000 feet elevation Wonderland Trail in 63:03, June 25 – 28.

The two carried their own gear, and took only a few hours sleep time in completing what some have said is one of the fastest unsupported, July circumnavigations yet. Almost 10% of the trail was still snowed in, requiring route finding and snow travel. Most hikers completing the trail require 8 – 12 days to finish.

They climbed and descended more than 20 peaks on the famously difficult trail, with elevation changes equivalent to climbing and descending Mt. Rainier from Paradise Visitor Center almost three times. They also encountered bears along the trail.

The two burned almost 33,000 calories each, and drank more than 50 liters of fluid total in temperatures ranging from 33 – 89 degrees.

Their journey began at Reflection Lake on July 25 at 10:40 am, and finished at 1:43 am on July 28.

“This was one of the most psychologically and physically demanding tests I have done since starting Adventure Racing,” said Adlard. “This is a really tough trail that demands a lot from all participants.”

The trail is notoriously uneven, with steep, overgrown and narrow sections that make forward progress difficult in many places.

Team Adventure Sports Week is training for the five day Desert Winds Expedition race in Lake Mead, Nevada, Sept 18 – 25.

Read Dave’s detailed trip report & gear list (PDF)

speed hiking the Wonderland Trail


Dave and Jeni completed near 100mi of Wonderlandness at 1:47AM, Wednesday, July 28th. Mission accomplished!

I’ll post Dave’s detailed trip report and photos as soon as available.

=== original post:

by site editor Rick McCharles

I’m support team for Dave and Jeni in their attempt to complete the 95mi circuit of Mt Rainier in 3 days.

It started well. They ran the first 6.1mi in record time. Here they are staging for the remote west side of the mountain, the last time I saw them in the past 24hrs.

Wonderland Trail speed hike

I rendezvous with them tonight. … It could be ugly.

I’ll be posting photos from this adventure on flickr.

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