The Small Things
Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
71Trip End Jun 01, 2010
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We woke up late in the morning to meet a backcountry ranger outside our tent. She commended us on our hanging of our food, although it seemed like to be hanging bit low to me. We knew the route of the trail would be difficult that day and had scheduled a shorter distance to hike, and having hiked beyond our intended destination we had about 5 miles to walk. The ranger informed us once again about the washouts on the trail. It is great to know people are looking out for the trail and the people that are out there. It is also nice that that was the only ranger we saw and only one of a few humans we saw the hole time we were out. We lingered at our camp until close to mid day, and then headed toward low divide. The trail was enjoyable and challenging, some difficult traverses on loose slopes and difficult route choices. Some of the washouts were so big it just confuses me how so much energy could pass through the forest. The size of the trees laying on the ground at times averaged a diameter of over 2 feet. Wow, that's a lot of water.
We arrived at Low Divide to a spectacular open meadow with waterfalls, wetlands and wildflowers. columbine and paintbrush, beargrass and lupine. It was gorgeous in full bloom. We saw orchids on the way up. We arrived at camp wondering if anyone would show up since we had camped with one other pair of hikers the first night out. But no one showed up, we had a great campsite and plenty of light to take an evening stroll up to the waterfall. We saw many hummingbirds in a stream of columbine and a great sunset. We seemed to have timed our visit well to get such a great clear weather for our trip.
The Small Things: (to be added)
July 18, 2009 Low Divide Camp to Hayes Creek Camp
In the morning at Low Divide Camp to find that the number of mosquitoes had increased exponentially over the night and a quick departure might be needed. As we packed up camp, moved out of the forest into the meadow to hopefully decrease the numbers swarming us ( it didn't help much) a magical thing happened. Misty and I were working on our packs to get out quickly about 20 feet apart when a hummingbird showed up. The bird appeared to be interested in Misty's head scarf as they sometimes seem to be, but this one was really interested. It was hovering closer and closer to her head, I thought it might try for some nectar from one of those flowers on her scarf. It started to moved quickly and pointedly around Misty's head and then I saw it in the light of the sunrise. The hummingbird was slurping up mosquitoes from around Misty's head with precision only observed int he ability of a hummingbird. It cleared them away in the matter of thirty seconds. The hummingbird then moved on to my head and proceeded to eat. I think I felt a wing flap touch my ear. The fan of the wings was so powerful and it tickled the hairs on the back of my neck. It was an incredible moment and neither of us said anything at all about it for a while. Nothing better than being greeted by a bright red hummingbird in the morning, there is also nothing more startling.
Soon after leaving camp, looking for a spot to sit and eat breakfast, I peered behind a shrub to find a grouse. It didn't run or hide it just moved into the brush a foot further. I got some good pics and identified it as a Sooty Grouse. It was great I followed the grouse a little ways taking pictures and we found a great sunny rock on a cliff overlooking a lakeside wetland. A beatiful spot where I almost sat for too long on an ant nest.
We hiked the day down a steep, steep trail for the first few miles and then across huge expanses of forest where the valley seemed to open up. I could swear a bear would jump out. We hiked most of the day through forests of huge trees, old growth forest where the trees are spaced out widely and the forest takes on a larger power mainly because of how the small the trees make me feel. I love feeling humble. being reminded of how little my existence really is and that's just fine by me. These trees have seen more, lived more than I have. It's interesting to think of the individual tree's story, what has happened there what influence it has had. I guess I just like the forest. May you all take a walk in the forest in the very near future.
The Hayes Creek camp came very quickly that day. We camped near an unoccupied ranger station right on the shore of the Elwha river. We regularly saw Harlequin ducks but this evening we got the chance to watch them feeding for awhile. They dive in the fastest moving parts of the river to feed on underwater vegetation and are amazing adept at moving upstream on the surface of the creek. A great campsite just like all the others right next to the moving water.