North Fork Quinalt – The Short Loop!

Just a couple weeks until Jean and I leave for the John Muir Trail. While it would have been great to get out for another overnight, Jean had already planned to compete in a triathlon in Seattle. She got second, which is awesome.

I decided to get in another hike with good friend Lon. The nearest hikes to Olympia, which is the Hood Canal area gets pretty crowed on weekends with nice weather. So Lon suggested the North Fork of the Quinalt. The short loop, not the 40+ miler.

It required getting up early again, but totally worth it. After driving to the trailhead we were hiking by 6:38AM. Not bad. We left Lon’s about 4:30 I think.

Looking over the Quinalt around 6:15AM

Not many cars at the trailhead. A good sign! Lon suggested counterclockwise so we’d be in shade and near water at the end, and it would put the drier stretch between 1/2 and 3/4 distance portion of the hike.

The first three miles or so had received a lot of trail maintenance recently. But then things got brushy. Not bushwhacking, just that the trail was getting encroached on the sides. Much of the trail is like walking up a narrow single track river bed! And one is climbing for the first 7 to 8 miles before getting onto a ridge of sorts with quite a few meadows. Bugs were’t bad at all – a few but not overly bothersome. We saw quite a few blueberry and huckleberry bushes throughout the day, but none of the berries were sweet. Still tart even though they appeared ready.

Overall, the hike has three parts or sections. Hike up 7 miles, across 7 miles and then down 7 miles. Total distance was 21.6. It took us a total of 11 hours 15 minutes. No running. Just hiking. One long 45 minute Break at Elip creek about 15 miles in. The rest were just quick water stops, take a photo or enjoy the views.

We only saw three others (backpackers breaking camp at Three Lakes at around mile 7.5 Once we got to Elip Creek, we saw quite a few more, but not an over-abundance of folks.

The hike is great on a hot day because most of it is in the trees and shady. And there was plenty of water in most parts. Amazingly, I hiked the first 15 miles on a 20 ounce bottle and a 16 ounce collapsible bottle. I started the hike with a 20 ounce ‘camel up”, however. I was a bit dehydrated at our long stop but not bad. I guzzled another 20 ounces at our long break, and then grabbed another 20 ounces about 3 miles later at Wolf Bar.

A good hike if one is looking to get out on a warm day and avoid crowds. Definitely a place I’d like to backpack in future.

We saw so many frogs and this toad! Right in the trail of the trail. Not a good place to be. We nearly stepped on it. Really surprised we didn’t see a bear. It seemed prime habitat with all the berries! We also continue to see signs of trees that appear to have been cooked during the late June heat bubble.

This toad nearly got flattened. We moved it off the trail.
We saw many trees showing signs of being cooked during the late June heat bubble when temps hit 101, 105 and 111.

THE END!

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