February Trip on the West Coast - ONP

1:31 a.m. on January 6, 2012 (EST)
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I am planning a week long (8 nights) hiking trip on the west cost of Washington State in the Olympic National Park.  From the Hoh river to Shi Shi beach.  It's not a super long trail, about 45 to 50 miles long.  A lot of beach hiking and some overland travel. 

I will have a food pick up about a 1/3 of the way.  Their is nothing at the half way point.  Weather will be varied, unless I get real lucky and hit a dry patch.  Chance of snow is very low, in fact if their is a prediction of snow or real heavy rains, storms, etc.  I will just delay the trip until their is a break in the weather.  So even though it's winter it won't be a winter trip in the traditional meaning. (Snow and the like)

I think I have enough gear but would really like some comments and suggestions from more experienced hikers or anyone who has hiked this kind of trip.  I am planning on wind and rain, lows in the mid 30's and highs in the 40's.  Hopefully not rain all the time, but it is the west coast!

Gear List:

  • Tent:  Walrus Arch
  • Tarp:  10' x 8' or so
  • Sleeping Bag:  SlumberJack Latitude 0-F (3.85lb poly fill)
  • Air pad:  Synmat 9 pump DLX
  • Pack:  Kelty Red Cloud (65L or 6500 cu. in. not sure which-but it's plenty big)
  • Water filter:  MSR Mini-Works
  • Stove:  Optimus Nova - White gas, with wind screen
  • Cooking:  8" fry pan and 2qt pot with pot cozies
  • Sleeping clothing:  Paradox Merino Blend base layer (Costco)
  • Shell:  Columbia Titanium jacket, Water proof Rain pants
  • Insulation:  Polypro bottoms and tops
  • Pants: Hiking pants/shorts combo
  • ....

Lot of other stuff and then the 10 too.  My main concern is mornings and river crossings.  I normally take "water shoes" to the beach but that is in the summer time.  I have some good sandals too that I can take.  I will  need something for the 2 bigger rivers.   Warm in water socks?  Rain Cover for the pack?  Other things I am missing?

All comments are welcome. 

Wolfman

4:55 p.m. on January 6, 2012 (EST)
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More often than not you will be packing your gear wet every day, Sham wows are a must. You must plan to get wet. You might look into a light weight bivy like the SOL. My main worry is getting my sleeping gear wet. I know that down here on the Oregon coastal area the lows can dip into the teens. And there is snow on the top of the coastal mountian range, sometimes droping the white stuff on the beach.

12:10 a.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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Mike are you talking about a SOL Emergency Bivvy?  Like these at REI.  It not much weight and looks like a good idea.  Do you have problems with condensation?  It would not cover my head if I tried, so I am not too worried about breathing in to it.  So I should be fine, right? :)  

Any suggestions on clothing, all my warm winter clothing is work related and is cotton, not something I want to take to the beach in the winter.  

Also, do you use a pack cover?  I have never used one, trash bag yes, poncho yes, but not one of those pack covers.  It seems like the bottom would collect any water that was running between you and the pack?  Any thoughts.  Given your location and area of choice, I was hopping that you would chime in. :) 

Wolfman

6:32 a.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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I'm picking up that bivy just for an emergency hopeing never to use it. I have learned that the winters out here are very wet. Last year my canyonlands tent started to leak after 3 days of non stop rain. What if I had been out for 5-6 days with no way to dryout? The one thing you can count on is not drying out.

Cotton!? Really? Youve got guts! :) I'm not into ponchos becouse of the winds out here. I wear dry ducks, a full size suit. They have not failed me. But one must not do any real bushwacking in them as they are real light weight and can tear easly. I allso renforced them with duct tape where the shoulder staps and hip belt rub.

Yes I use a pack cover. But I have an external frame backpack. I have had no problem with it getting wet. With an internal frame that might be a differant story.

Condensation? LOL All the time. Did I mention a Shamwow? You will thank me later.

Like I said the real trick is to stay dry. If you get wet you will stay wet the whole trip. Thats not much fun. Crossing creeks I take off my shoes and socks. Ya its cold, but better cold than cold and wet.

I'm hoping others will chime in on how to keep dry too.

PS I hope you dont have cotton socks.

11:26 a.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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Do not trust any pack in the Olympics to keep things dry that time of year.  Dry items will require sealable plastic bags, or those dry bags kayaker use for their gear. 

I would suggest the most hard core rain gear you can find, and add a umbrella to the kit.  The umbrella will help keep water out of the tent, while entering and exiting, and also allow you to remove head gear while hiking.  I would also bring a tarp and cordage to use as a dedicated cooking fly, a place where you can arrange your gear, and provide a space to hang out that is more roomy than a tent.  A snorkel may be nice too, but not mandatory...

Ed

3:53 p.m. on January 7, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks Ed, I had forgoten about my dry bags. I just pack and dont think to hard about it anymore.

4:14 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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mikemorrow said:

Thanks Ed, I had forgoten about my dry bags. I just pack and dont think to hard about it anymore.

Hey you PNW types and your tolerance for all that wet weather have my greatest admiration.  I am so spoiled with comparatively dry So Cal and Sierra weather.  The Olympic National Forrest is a must visit for any intrepid nature lover, but I'd schedule my trip for late August, early September, when there is minimal rain.

Ed

11:30 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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I use dry sacks to have my stuff stay dry. The added weight is less than the added water weight of wet stuff, I am sure.

6:31 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks Everyone!! 

OK so lets see...

Sham Wham...  I think you are talking about those orange or blue "Towels" that suck up water like crazy!  I got a bunch of those way back at a trade show, and finally tried them out last summer, man they work great, SO much lighter and easier then a beach towel.  So check on that, I will probably bring two just in case.

Water proof stuff sacks and or trash bag lined stuff sacks.  Double check mark on those.  Although I don't think any of mine are actually water proof so I need to add that to my shopping list.

I was originally thinking of using my internal frame pack, but now I am thinking that I will probably use my external frame pack.  It's easier to carry the food bucket (Not a bear can, just a 3 or 5 gallon bucket with a lid.) And it's easy to hang from a branch or lean up against a tree, or something and keep it off the ground.  But either way I still need a rain cover. 

ED, you don't know what your missing!!  It's so peaceful and quite, well except for the pounding surf and the beach logs smashing up against other logs or trees.  But not a soul in sight!  Last summer I went to La Push, beach 2 with my son over the 4th of July weekend, we were there for 5 days.  I have NEVER in my life seen so many people and tents on the Beach!  Given it was GREAT weather and it's a very short trail, about a mile, but I think I counted over 75 tents setup.  And their was 3 or 4 large (20+) groups also.  Good thing it's a big beach!  :)  But it was fun none the less, just got to do more people watching then usual!

Mike, Actually just about all my socks are wool, every time Costco has them I buy several bundles, probably not the greatest sock, but they keep my feet warm until I wear holes in them.  :)   And as for Cotton, that's just my work clothing, a lot of Carhart and other heavy canvas stuff, it's great at keeping me warm, but I don't work outside a lot, so I am usually not dealing with the rain.  I would never that that stuff out camping, it's too heave dry, I would hate to deal with it wet!!  

I also think I will pick up one of the SOL bivy's just to be safe, my tent has never "Leaked" but when she's all zipped up condensation can be and issue. :)

Now I just got to figure out some clothing and food!  Any suggestions on 'in camp' warm clothing for wet environment?  I was thinking a wool sweater but I'm not really sure about paints, I don't want any Down stuff, no good if it gets wet. 

Wolfman

5:31 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Wolfman said:

..ED, you don't know what your missing...

Oh but I do.  I just prefer visiting when there is time out for some dry periods.  No tick list is complete without a trip to this grand park.  I have gone mountaineering in the Olympics a couple of times, and thought they were everything you claim, and then some.  There is something special starting a climb from a seaside beach trail head, culminating with views from snow capped summits that include both the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. 

Ed

2:49 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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UP DATE ON TRIP PLANNING

Schedule start date; Friday, February 10th 2012

Scheduled end date; Saturday, February 18th 2012

Start at the Oil City road off Hwy 101 south of Forks WA.  Hike the road in to the Hoh river trail head (Oil City) and continue north along the beach and overland trails finishing at Shi Shi beach and then hike out to Neah Bay to catch the buss back to Forks WA.   My plan it to park the truck at Forks for the week. 

Resupply at La Push on day 3 or 4 and catch a boat ride over the river or a car ride to Mora Campground, if both of those fail, it's a 10 mile walk.  :(

I have three major creek / river crossings.  They all depend on weather and/or tides to cross.   Mosquito creek, crossing at low tide.  Goodman creek (River) the trail crosses about a mile upstream, and it all depends on river floor.  From knee deep to over your head!  Although you can bush whack higher up the river for a lower crossing.   And Finally the Ozette River, which is either a low tide crossing, still waste deep, or a hike around of about 5 extra miles. They will all be an adventure to cross!!  And if not safe, I will do something else.

Tides start low in the morning and move back in time about an hour per day, so for the start it will be early rise and get moving!

I have not worked out food yet, but I'm not to picky, no freeze dried stuff, but stuff like instant mash patios, rice, chicken and tuna, etc. 

I think I have everything I need for gear, I am working this weekend to make sure and do a test run on my sleeping set up.  I will have to use my walrus arch for this as my new tent will not be here until Monday. :(

I plan on posting a gear list and weights later this weekend for you all to pick apart! :D  Or at least give some suggestions. :)

Wolfman

This is the weather forecast for the beach, not looking to good. :(

La Push weather forecast

6:33 p.m. on February 4, 2012 (EST)
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Wolfman,

I lived in Forks for 4 years.  Good luck with the rain!  I wouldn't also hesitate to bail out in La Push if the weather is not looking good.  I spent too much time looking for hypothermic, lost people in the park at that time of year.

 

http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_Forks1E_Forks_WA_February.html

3:10 a.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Can't get lost, just head west!  :D  OK, I know that not really funny.  But I am planning on wet weather and I have spent a fair amount of time on the cost and hiking in the PNW, although not in February.  I think it will be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it.  And will bail or detour if needed.

The two things I am most worried about is the river crossings and tide surges or just overall high water.  From what I have read and seen, the area between Hole in the wall and Sand Point can get very rough and just had to travel on.   The other areas I am not so worried about.  

Although "worry" is probably not the right word, more of just unsure what it will be like.  :D

Wolfman

8:27 a.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Please come back and file a thorough trip report with pics here! 

I swore on my last TN/NC trip that I was living in Olympic NP as I got caught in a 153 hour rain event.  It bites.  I know nothing of the real Olympics but I would look for a "window" of opportunity every day---a period of less rain or drizzle---or light---and then quickly pack and move.  In my 153 hour event I always had several hours during the day when I could cover some ground in a half-wet state in light precip.

But for a couple days the rain was so bad I pulled a few zero day basecamps with no moving.  Around here a winter rain always turns cold and usually stops with clear skies and very low temps.  My rain happened to turn to sleet and then snow. 

Here's a fact with winter rain---it will saturate all parts of the tent, the poles and webbing and in-ground stakes and ladder buckles, etc.  AND THEN when it goes from 35F to 10F all these wet items freeze solid and make packing up hellish.  Ever try to get a completely ice encrusted tent rolled and back inside its stuff sack? 

And when you put the stakes in the wet ground earlier, well, the ground was soft---now it's frozen solid and the pegs are set in concrete.  Carry extra pegs as a few will get broken when trying to remove.  Just some thoughts.

12:43 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi thanks for the post and the morning laughs!  :)

Snow would be great, but it does not look like I will get it.  Packing a frozen ice incrusted tent!!  Oh man, the fun you have back east!

I am not looking forward to 8 days of rain, but who knows, lots of the time rain on the coast is very light, constant, but light. 

Pictures, will do!  I am taking several extra batteries sets so the camera won't go dead.  I also talked to the NPS with the ONP and they were some help but have not had any trail reports sense before December.  So I am going to document the trail for them too.  I even got a digital recorder to keep my notes on.  I suck at writing when I hike, usually just to tired.  

Any one got a suggestion on a good Si-Fi book to take??  I thinking I better take some reading material along, right now we get less the 12 hours of light, that makes for a long night!  :)

Wolfman

7:45 a.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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It sounds overkill but I take a total of six extra batteries for my camera and even after 20 days I still have a couple unused.  Each camera is different I guess but for a winter trip I find a single battery to last around 5-6 days before swapping.  This includes removing the battery during the day and at night when the camera is not in use since my camera drains the battery even when off.

I've taken out hundreds of books to read over the years but rarely science fiction---DUNE comes to mind as a very good read. 

1:20 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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Hi Wolfman, I have done this hike in winter and in summer. Even though this is a lowland hike, don't underestimate the severity of the conditions that occur. Commercially made dry bags are not a must. Some sort of dry bag for gear is a must. I would suggest zip locks, double bag. Bear and raccoons are a definite issue and the park requires bear canisters. Be especially careful around Cape Alava triangle. The idea of a tarp isn't a bad one, but finding places on the beach to set it up can be an issue, if you are away from established campsites and on the beach. How is your tarpology on beaches? NO ONE has mentioned tides. Besides the weather, this is a major concern. Besides stream crossings, you will find tidal swings that will have you scrambling and climbing over muddy, rocky, and exposed headlands. And there is potential to get stuck, as some headlands will be dangerous to climb over, so you need to plan you distances and tides very, very carefully. This time of year, you will be up to your waist in places like the Ozette River. Extra tent stakes won't be needed, it won't be 10 degrees F unless we get an unusual cold streak. Plan for weather in the 40s every day. Make sure your rain gear is bomb proof. If you have other specific questions, let me know...oh and don't go light on insulating clothing...you should have a complete change.

1:52 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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WOW..>Erich has it down pat! Cool info!

3:33 p.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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Checking out the forecast... It doesnt sound bad for this time of year. I worry more about wind than rain, rains a given. I allways have dry bags. And carry extra layers of clothing. I know nothing about your beach area. Here we have little sand pines, and tree islands. So I'm able to find shelter in a hurry.

12:41 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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Hi Mike, Wolfman and All, little sand pines you are not going to find here. Except for scattered patches and developed campsites,much of the coast is rocky headlands with steep clay banks in between. Beach camping is the norm in the undeveloped places. Beach camping is great, given the tide won't too high and you're well beyond Tarpology 101. To compare this stretch of the Washington Coast, think hiking around Hecata Head...rugged, sometimes difficult, some sand, but alot of cobble...all OK given a good weather forecast(I've done it in both a driving spring storm, and a driving summer storm and a few moments in between. It is always beautiful...saw a dead humpback and several sea lions on the last trip. Wind can be a problem, but as it's usually a strong westerly, it can drive a high tides even further up. That is why tide charts are essential. You don't want yourself up against a high bank, between two headlands, with the tide coming in...been there, done that. The great part; probably the most remote stretch of coastline in the continental US, site of the most westerly homestead in the US, unique coastal environment, wettest place in the US(think wetter than Forks or Humptulips), Cape Alava archeological dig REALLY cool.

7:41 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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Tipi Walter said:

..DUNE comes to mind as a very good read. 

 Yea Dune is good.  So is Blade Runner.

Ed

11:26 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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I think I am going to pick up Foot Fall from the library, it's one of my all time Fave reads, or Lucifer Hammer, another great one from Nevin! (He's my Fav.) :D

OK on to the minor details; :)

Tide tables are a check, in fact that is the reason I am starting on the 10th.  That starts one of those sections of two good lows and two good highs.  I am not sure what the different tide structures are called, but it is good for hiking on the beach.  This week was one Low in the middle on the night and one high in the middle of the day with two corresponding weak tides.  Makes it hard to travel over the points and heads.

Check on the dry bags and zip locks, most everything will be in it's own dry bag in side the pack.  And I am going to take some extra big zip lock bags just in case.  Clothing wise, I will have rain gear - top and bottoms, sleep clothing, cap clothing - fleece, unless I can find something else this week, and my shell jacket.  For hiking I have poly pro bottoms and tops and camping pants/shorts plus the rain gear and several top layers I can add or take off.  Plus with my new tent I can hang stuff up inside at night to dry.

Tarpology on the beach!  That just made me laugh!  Are you talking about setting up between dig drift logs and what not above the High tide line, well if so check on that, but with this new tent I am going to be looking for sites under the tree line.  it's about 8' across so I am going to need a good beach spot or something under the tree line.  I started going to the North Washington beaches before it was Park land, do any of you remember the cabins on Shi Shi?  So yea I have some beach experience, but not a lot in winter and I have only completed the north section (Shi Shi to Ozette) of the beach hike, I never completed the south section. 

Wolfman

11:50 a.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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I decide to go ahead and post my hike plan for all to see and comment on.  And please feel free to make comments or suggestions. 

  1. Day;  Drop off truck at Forks and catch bus form forks down Hwy 101 to the Oil City road turn off.  Hike from 101 to Oil City (Hoh river) 10 m, camp at Oil City.
  2. Day;  Hike from Oil City to Toleak Point 10 m, camp at Toleak camp sites, river crossings, Mosquito creek and Goodman creek-river.  Low tide starts at about 6 AM so it will be a early start to get around all the stuff at the Hoh.  Lunch after Mosquito creek.
  3. Day; Hike to La Push beach 3 or if time it good to beach 2, 8.8m, camp at beach 2.
  4. Day; (Monday) resupply box at the La Push Post office, buy lunch at the resort and find a boat ride across the river.  If this works out then I will camp around Cedar Creek (Starbucks Mine area) 8.4 m.  If I can not get a ride across the river then it's the hike around about 10 miles and I will camp at Hole in the wall.  And then hike to Cedar Creek the next day.
  5. Day; Hike to Yellow banks - South Sand Point 9.9m  Camp there.
  6. Day; Hike from camp to the South side of the Ozette, if river seems passable, then cross and camp on the north side of the river. 7.0 m  If not back track to Cape Alava and then out to Ozette, and north on the logging roads to seafield creek. Adds about 5 miles to the day.  (if it's been raining a lot, I may just plan on this, or even take Sand Point in.)
  7. Seafield or North Ozette to Shi Shi beach, camp on Shi Shi.  If I have the extra day I will spend it at Shi Shi.  If not then out on Saturday to Neah Bay 9.5 m to catch the bus back to Forks and the Truck. 

Well that's the plan, well see how it all goes! 

Wolfman

2:21 p.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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Have a great hike Wolfman. SInce you have done some beach hiking before, you know that mileage is more difficult than hiking on a trail. The southern part you will have more broad sandy beaches. North of La Push, it starts getting a bit dodgy. Tarpology on the beach...between logs, also using triangles of branch material for support.

I do remember the cabins at Shi Shi. I also stayed several days in the student's huts at Alava. You'll want to do your river crossings at low tide. Ideally, you don't want extreme tides(lows and highs) but moderate tides.

2:42 p.m. on February 7, 2012 (EST)
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Have a great trip Wolfman. I'm heading out now just to try out my 1973 Browning West River tent. Just a real short hike then Basecamp.

1:45 p.m. on February 8, 2012 (EST)
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Didnt think I would be back this soon. If that tent was once waterproof it isnt anymore. Every inch of me and everything else is soaked. Good thing I took it to my testing grounds and not out on the trail.

11:23 p.m. on February 8, 2012 (EST)
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Wow Mike, that what they call a overnighter, Hope you had fun at least!  To bad about the tent, 1973 to 2012, almost a forty year old tent!  I am surprised it hasn't fallen apart!  I guess they don't make em like they use to.  :)

I don't know if that's a good thing or not.   :D

Well I will be taking off early Friday morning and tomorrow is going to be a busy day, so if I don't check in have fun and see you all in a week and sum. 

Wolfman

7:09 a.m. on February 9, 2012 (EST)
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Bon Voyage Wolfman....huh, I'm excited for you after reading your plan and seeing your new tent.

Have a good time and be safe!

11:22 a.m. on February 9, 2012 (EST)
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As you pack, think hard about your tent. Picture yourself on a open beach, winds gusting up to 65mph and a driving rain. It can happen very fast.

I hope this doesnt happen, but it could. Just want you to have a safe, fun trip. Do whatever you can to stay dry.

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