In late July and early August, my friend Josh Miller and I took five days to hike through the Olympic National Park. Our original plan? Three nights of reserved camping, with a fourth that we would squeeze in somewhere, and about 18 miles of loop plus a bunch of little spurs. What happened? Our ranger Molly at the Hurricane Ridge station gave us the once over, told us our original planned trail was \”stupid crowded,\” plus the road had just been closed due to an accident, and put us on something much more ambitious: 45 miles, five mountain passes, and views that put our original hike, one of the most popular in the park, to shame.
The two of us travel well together. We had great conversations, did some meditation and yoga, a little skinny-dipping, managed to cook some really good food, and made it through to the end with next to no drama. We encountered lots of wildlife, including bear tracks and what may have been a large cat that had been nearby a little too recently for my comfort. But we also got to see frogs, marmots, plenty of deer and playful fawns, some ptarmigans, and tadpoles in a glacial pool that seemed a little too large and primordial than the frogs they would supposedly become.
My feet and family are happy I\’m home, but it was such a peaceful, enjoyable, beautiful and fun experience. And very much a learning experience when it came to packing and testing your gear. While every step felt like an accomplishment (particularly toward the end), reaching the top of each of those five passes was an accomplishment. Especially with 40 pounds of gear on my back.