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Trip Report    

Basic Backpacking Backup Field Trip - North Fork Skokomish River to Big Log Camp

Finally some nice weather in the Olympics!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The unpaved sections of the road between Hoodsport and the Staircase Ranger Station/Trailhead were generally in good shape but with some sections of moderate potholes that needed to be steered around.  Our group included four Subarus and one standard clearance coupe.  All vehicles  made it in and out just fine, though all vehicles including the Subarus had  to slow down significantly to steer around the worst of the potholed sections.

    We went as far as Big Log Camp, and the trail was in excellent conditions everywhere.   Earlier in the season this section was blocked by blowdowns, and we could see where the path had recently been cleared.  Some of the blowdowns were very large 2' - 4' diameter trees that had been hanging across the trail at about hip height.  It was easy to imagine that those would have been very difficult to cross because going either under them or over them would have been nearly impossible.  All good now, though.

    Big Log Camp was in good condition.  The bear wire has been partially repaired since last season, and both halves are now functional.   However, the newly repaired section has only one functioning hook, so the total hanging capacity is still very limited.  Combined, both sides of the bear wire have only three clips in total to serve a very large camp.  We tried to find suitable trees to hang our food from, but could not find any because the trees were either much too tall, overhung the river, or were covered with beautiful moss that we didn't want to disturb.  If multiple large groups wanted to use the bear wire at the same time there would not be enough room.  In the future, it may be wise to bring bear canisters to Big Log even though it has a bear wire.

This was a field trip for the Seattle Basic Backpacking Course, with the goal of doing a simple in-and-out overnight for everyone's first backpacking experience.  After  several weekends of trip-cancelling heavy rain on the Olympic Peninsua and most of western Washington, we finally had a weekend of good weather.  There was a little bit of rain at our rondezvous location in Hoodsport, but none during the hiking/camping part of the trip.  We even had blue skies and full sun during our hike out.  The Skokomish River was beautiful as always, especially as seen from the side trail that overlooks Staircase Rapids, which we took on our return walk.

On Saturday morning we dallied and talked about about trip business in Hoodsport, and didn't arrive at the trailhead until almost 11am.  When we arrived the large parking lot was almost full, and we took the last available parking spaces.  In hindsight we should have waited to talk about trip buiness until we were at the trailhead and had secured our parking spaces.  It all worked out for us, but had we arrived 5 minutes later our parking logistics could have become complicated.