I started the 36-mile hike in the Olympic National Park with overcast skies above (a park that Congress designated 95% wilderness protected, hey, they do get it right occasionally). Crossing my fingers in hopes that the skies would hold, I started my adventure up the North Fork Quinault River with dry trails below my Inov8 390 GTX treads.
The hike started smoothly, with a stroll up the North Fork heading to the Low Divide. But before reaching the Low Divide a river ford was required, I was worried about it because the ford was going to be a potentially deep one and dangerous. See tips from Backpacker on how to ford a river safely.
After unbuckling my hipbelt on my Baltoro 70 pack from Gregory, a 2008 Backpacker Editor’s Choice winner, I found the safest place and proceeded to cross the river bracing myself with my trekking poles. The ford was successful, but powerful, with the water hitting about 30” high.
With 16 miles down and the Skyline Ridge ahead, I was ready to put the trees behind and see some open sky. The Skyline Ridge, is pretty incredible, above treeline and travelling from cairn to cairn. Unfortunately, I got a close up view of the sky. The clouds had descended and the rain began, what else can you expect being in the Northwest. Good thing I had a Gregory rain cover to keep things dry in my pack. I’ll have to visit this trail again in better weather.
The high point along the trail was Kimta Peak at 5400’ and bear canisters are required along the ridgeline, I did see a black bear, but it was pretty far away. If you can, plan to do this trip in August.