High Divide, or the Hike That Wasn’t

Heading toward Sol Duc Falls
Heading toward Sol Duc Falls

I am not Bear Grylls. I have no desire to be. I do not feel at all compelled to battle the elements in bizarre ways, to drink my own urine. Frankly, when I go out for a walk or begin a longer hike, I’m mainly just looking for a way to challenge myself a bit, relax, and enjoy the scenery (and yes, those first two can co-exist!). I don’t mind weather that’s a bit off or scenery that’s not as grand as I’d hoped. I do mind constant rain, cold, and fogged in views from the edges of steep mountainsides that make you lose all perspective — both physical and mental.

On that note, I should point out that this post’s title isn’t true: we hiked the popular High Divide (Seven Lakes Basin) trail in Olympic National Park, and while we didn’t complete the loop that meets up with Sol Duc River trail head, we hiked the section of the trail most renowned for its views of Mount Olympus. In the 2008 edition of Hiking Olympic National Park (revised just last month), Eric Molvar writes that “views of the Olympus massif expand to fill the entire southern horizon as the path crosses the slopes high above the Hoh River valley.” We saw nothing. Our intended two-night backpack turned into one very long (approx. 17-mile), very wet and cold, and very disheartening day that landed us back in the same place we’d begun that morning.

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