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Trip Report    

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

Beautiful but damp single-night student backpack in the Olympics.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Paved section of the road in excellent condition.  Unpaved section generally in good condition but with some areas of moderately large potholes that were easily steered around.

    Trail in excellent condition the whole way to Big Log Camp, with some muddy and wet spots as per usual.

    Big Log Camp itself in good condition except the bear wire is only half  working.  One of the two pullies has only three clips, and the other pully is completely broken.  We used the wire itself has a throw-over point for our hanging bags.   Privies at Big Log Camp and nearby Spike Camp were in good condition though somewhat smelly.

    After a night of moderate rain we discovered some of the tent sites were prone to puddling, and 2 participants woke to find their tents in 1" - 2" of standing water even after the storm had passed.  Another tent located on a site near the base of a slope (below the bear wire) had steady 1/2 inch of water flowing around and underneath it during the storm but was dry in the morning.  Sites under the trees tended to fare better than sites in the open.  Future trips may want identify the lowest points in each tent site and avoid placing tents or tent doors  and vestibules over them.

A ten-person Basic Backpacking course field trip along a classic river valley route in Olympics NP starting at the Staircase ranger station just outside Hoodsport.

Because of reduced carpooling during COVID we met at ONP's Hoodsport Wilderness Information Center (WIC) in Hoodsport then caravanned to the trailhead, so that our rendezvous point would be in an area with cell coverage.  The Hoodsport WIC worked well as a rally point, and as a bonus is located about a block from Hoodsport Coffee Company.

The weather on Saturday was near-perfect and we had a relaxed and very pleasant hike to camp.  We had lunch along the trail and arrived in camp early afternoon.  The camp has a very large group area, and we were able to position our tents nicely with no space problems.  Because this was a course field trip, as a group we found the bear wire and talked about how we'd use it, then went down to the river to filter water.  We had a couple hours of free time in the afternoon during which half the group did a short day-hike to explore further up trail.  Everyone in the group was fully vaccinated, and we had a very fun group dinner around the camp's large campfire pit.

The forecast included rain, and around 8pm we started to get some drops and retreated to our tents.  Depending on who you asked, the rain overnight was either moderate or heavy.  The rain lightened up by morning but never fully stopped for the rest of the trip.  We awoke to a soggy campsite but everyone had remained dry in their tents and emerged into the daylight in good spirits.  The Skokomish river, which had been a pleasant burbling stream, was a raging torrent in the morning.  We were glad to have filtered all our water the night before.

We had another very fun breakfast around the same large fire pit before breaking camp and hitting the trail at 9am.  (We would have lingered further if the weather had been nicer.)  The hike out was uneventful but nice, and included a planned privy stop at nearby Spike Camp.  On the return route we took the side trail the passes along to Staircase Rapids, where the rainforest was especially beautiful in the misty morning light.

Though mostly first-time backpackers, the group was competent, well prepared, positive, and fun to be around.  Everyone remained sunny even after our overnight soaking.  A very pleasant weekend overnight trip.