Enchanted Valley 3 Day Backpacking Trip
Location: Olympic National Park, about 3.5 hours from Seattle
Permit: Can pick up at the Quinault ranger station on the way. $8/ night. No quota on the amount of permits given out.
Mileage: 33 (It's 13.5 to the chalet and then we added on another 4.4 to see the oldest Western Hemlock and some other extra mileage)
Elevation Gain: 1700 to the chalet
How many nights to do this in? Well we did it in 3 days/ 2 nights. If you are light and speedy you could do it in 2 days. If you want to take your time you could take as much time as you want going in and out. The trail has a lot of flat sections and then rolling hills. There are plenty of campsites beyond at the established campgrounds. We wanted to make it Anderson Glacier, but that would've required at least one more day.
What is cool about this hike? You get to hike to an old chalet made in 1931 that has some really interesting history. It isn't open anymore, but has the most beautiful setting. We also hiked to the oldest Western Hemlock tree!
We left from Seattle around 5:30 and made the 3.5 hour trek to the ranger station. We payed for our permits,$8/ night and got the chance to ask the rangers some questions. Cody had picked up a dozen donuts and gave the rangers our box of them we didn't eat. They loved that! It was another 40 minute drive to the trailhead. We started the hike at 10. The trail meanders through old growth, huge trees and next the river. We stopped at the first camp in, 2.5 miles and took a mini break. We took a longer break at O Neil camp 6.5 miles in. The trail had 1700 gain and overall wasn't that bad. Mostly rolling hills. The miles and the long day got to us though and we were ready to be at camp. We eventually made into Enchanted Valley a little before 6. Not too shabby for a 13.5 mile day and leaving from Seattle. We took in the views of the chalet, filtered water, then found a campsite. This is the first time I've ever slept alone in a tent I'm realizing. Cooper or Ryan have always been with me. We had to bring our bear canisters for this, which was super annoying. They are heavy and awkward but at least we don't have to deal with hanging food. Early night in before 9. Time for some zzzz's.
We slept in until 7.. so we got 10 hours of sleep! Very much needed. A neighbor pointed out elk to me that was on the mountain side. I saw a bunch of brown dots and spotted them. So cool! I don't think I've seen elk out here before. We had a slow breakfast and hit the trail by 10. We hiked further into the valley, about 2.2 miles in to the world's oldest Western Hemlock. It really just looked like every other tree there. We made it back to camp a little after 12 and took a break and ate lunch. We packed up all of camp and were hiking by 1:30. We had 6.5 miles to O'Neil camp. The hike was a drag and seemed to last forever. We finally reached camp by 5:30. It's a good half mile off the trail and a big descent to the river. All the good river spots were taken so we found something further past them. We couldn't really set up our tents well and ended up moving them to another spot. Another early night before 9 and an early wake up call of 6 to hike 7 miles out to the car.
We woke up at 6ish and were hiking by 8. We hiked the 6.5 miles out before noon. Our timing was perfect as it started raining right when we got to the car. We hit the road, found food at a drive in and made the way back to Seattle.
I made it a goal to spend more time on the Olympic Peninsula this year and this was my 13th day out there since February. It's a little harder to get to being far from Seattle, but always so worth it. Olympic National Park has so much diversity from rainforests, old giant trees, the ocean, beautiful mountains and more. I'm glad I got to know it a little better this year and see so many new places. Every time I go out there the list of places I want to see grows longer though. Till next time ONP.