Royal Basin/Constance Pass - 1990
Solo Adventure in the Olympics
Friday, September 7 Having lost all that wonderful elevation yesterday, it was now time to again reclaim the high country. The whole point of the trip was to have gotten high and stayed high, but events and my own limitations had conspired to thwart my plans. So I would have to take the brute force approach. It would be another big day, but at least I did not have to worry about route finding. I was underway by a few minutes past 8 am. It took me about 45 minutes to get to the junction with the Constance Pass trail. It turned out to be everything it claims to be. It climbs from 2182 feet along the Dosewallips to 6500 feet, as it crosses Del Monte Ridge, 4.5 miles later. The first couple of hours on the trail were not too bad, but then it gets steep. You are in the woods most of the way, until you get to lower Sunny Brook Meadows, where I should have been a couple of nights ago. The views take your breath away. By the time you make the final assault on Del Monte Ridge, you can really see the good stuff: Ranier, Olympus, the back side of 1000 Acre meadows, etc etc. Had it not been cloudy, I think I would have spent more time.
I could feel myself running out of gas as I climbed Del Monte Ridge. I did not make the crest until 1:30 pm: not quite a mile an hour on the climb. Descending to Home Lake was like a plunge: 1100 feet in 0.9 miles. After that it was not too bad. I did see four bears today. A mom and 2 cubs in a meadow west of Home Lake, and an adult right above the lake. Maybe feeding on blueberries? There were blueberries everywhere, and if I wasn't so tired, I probably would have tried to figure out how to make something with them. I pulled into camp, not too far from the Boulder camp shelter, at 4:50 pm. It had been a long day.
After I cleaned up and ate dinner, I listened to the rock falls on the north face of Warrior Peak, to the south of camp. You can really feel the mountains wearing down, much like I sensed when I was on Ranier. A couple of deer came into camp right before dark, and as it was getting dark, I watched a mountain goat about 1000 feet above my camp on a mountain to the immediate east. I reflected on the trip as I was getting ready for bed: I was kinda glad I had done this trip as a solo adventure: I am not sure I would have wanted to subject anyone I cared about to this much "fun." On the other hand, given the difficulties that I had faced, maybe I should not have been doing this solo. I knew that climbing off of the Col near Mt. Deception had been at my limit of ability. I had come through it ok - most of the mess on my elbow was still oozing fluid, but that would stop soon - but I think I had been lucky. Solo hiking over rugged terrain certainly involves some degree of risk. I guess it all boils down to how bad you want to see and experience the country. I recall feeling especially lonely on this nite. I don't know why. Perhaps just an emotional release from all I had been through. But it was still easy to fall asleep. That part of the trip had not changed.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 2000, 2006