Friday, August 2, 2013

Bogachiel River Trail Backpacking trip

camp on night two
The Bogachiel River Trail, one of the few major trails heading into the Olympics that I have never seen.  It’s too far from home for a day hike.  It’s also supposed to be very isolated and quiet, so I thought it might be too lonely for a backpacking trip.  I like long lonely day hikes, but when I am backpacking, I don’t like to be alone at night.    This trail is in the national park so my hiking buddy Patches was not allowed to join me. I took my now 9 year old youngest daughter with me and it was not too lonely.

We left home on a Tuesday and took all the back roads in order to save gas and maybe even more importantly to avoid the depressing speed trap town called Mc Cleary.  Missing out on Aberdeen and Hoquiam traffic was also a bonus.  After leaving Shelton and Matlock I did not see another town until I got to Quinault.  At Quinault we stopped to eat our sandwiches and drink tea out of the back of the truck.    While there I went into the store to get some more Vodka as I was not sure I had packed enough Vodka for me to be able to cope with being a single parent for 4 solid days. 
Misinformation center in Quinault

A stranger came up to my daughter and started asking her questions while I was in the store.  I had anticipated people asking her questions so she already knew the correct safe answer to give for the question of where we live and where we are going.  Being female we must always be security conscious.   The stranger asked my daughter where we lived and if I was her mother and he gave her some candy. WTF???

We missed our turn off of 101, we were supposed to turn off onto Undie road.  Yes my 9 year old thought that was hilarious..  But the road was not marked and we missed our turn and ended up in Forks of all places.  We stopped at the Forks visitor center where they pointed us in the right direction and gave me a free cup of coffee.

Day one: We hit the trail at about 3pm with no particular goal in mind other than to make it into the park and camp near some old growth.  My daughter did great on our first day!  She did not complain at all, in fact she sang most of the way.  We took turns taking the lead and doing “banana slug patrol”.  There were quite a few slugs on the trail, we are always mindful to try not to step on them.  My 9 year old adores banana slugs, so she happily made up the job title and began pointing out all slugs so we could avoid stepping on them.

Banana slugs

We reached the park boundary in no time and found ourselves in a nice little campsite about 2.5 miles from the trail head.  The camp site was right on the river where there was enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away from us.  We camped on the beach near the campsite, the campsite proper had too many thistles in it to pitch our tarp tent.  Our dinner was an awful concoction of dried anchovies, instant white rice and burnt cabbage.  YUCK!!

In the night my startle reflex was set off several times and I screamed a few times at things that went bump in the night.  Then my daughter and I started singing to scare away the monsters.  I told my daughter about a woman named Bogacheil Beth  We hoped that she was out there somewhere so protect us from the bears.  We sang the farmer in the dell and a few other songs but with our own words about mushrooms and rangers and dog butts.  Yes I said dog butts, I was camping with a 9 year old after all.

Day two: we headed out with the vague idea of making it to the nonexistent Bogachiel Ranger Station.  Our first challenge of the day was the rope section of the trail.  How would my 9 year old cope with that?  She loved it!  I did not bother using the rope, I suspect that rope is really only needed when the trail is muddy.  When my oldest duaghter was first confronted with a rope trail she was frightened and cried but my younger daughter loved it.


We made it to Bogachile camp quite easily.  On the way we took one break at a beautiful little campsite with a good strong breeze.  The breeze kept the mosquitoes away and we thought about camping there for the night, but we got cold so we pushed on to the nonexistent ranger station. 

About seven people passed us on the way out as we headed in.  We walked a bit past the Indian pass trail, but I never saw the trail?  We found a campsite on the trail above the river, but it was hot and dry and buggy so we backtracked to the first little trail that went to the right and camped there on the beach next to an enormous old fire pit.

Right before we reached our campsite we found two banana slugs mating on the side of a tree.  My 9 year old could have sat and watched that all day if not for the mosquitoes.


Dinner was a horrific mix of burnt cabbage, noodles and not enough meat.  YUCK!  We lit a campfire and filled up on marshmallows.  There was a rocky area near our campsite that was filled with snakes so we went snaking a few times.  That's wandering over and taking pictures of snakes.   In the night I did not get frightened at all, and I did not scream, not even once.  I think that’s a first for me camping essentially alone.  I don’t consider a 9 year old to be protection from things that go bump in the night!

Day Three:  We tried to go snaking again in the morning but my camera battery went dead leaving me with four pounds of dead weight for the rest of our trip.  We stayed by the river until about 1 and then we headed back up the trail towards our truck.  We were going to stay four nights but I had not packed enough dinners so we decided to limit our trip to three nights.

Snake and Bogachiel camp

Snake skin liverwort and a bit of peat moss

I stopped to admire some liverworts and I left my SPOT behind, dammit.  I had to go back about 1/2 mile to find my SPOT.  The entire way back I was following a man who was dressed in all green.  I had to wonder if the leprechaun was leading me down a dangerous path!  I had left my 9  year old behind with the packs while I looked for my SPOT.  Maybe I should have kept her with me.  Where was this leprechaun taking me?   I found my daughter safe and sound but very frightened because I had left her alone for too long.  Never again!
We ended up back in the same campsite we used the first day, but first I took a dip up to my neck in the river at another potential campsite before backtracking just a little.  I had been very tired all day and strangely the water did not feel very cold to me.  I must have been too hot and mistook it for being too tired.

We had hoped to sleep out and watch the stars but it was too cloudy so we retreated to the tarp for the night.

Dinner was better, there was no burnt cabbage in it.  I did a better job of pitching my tarp tent on the sand and I was bad and stomped a couple of thistles and flattened our tent site.  Since this was all below the winter high water line I think it was allowed.  

I had some vodka and was a bit drunk when my daughter did something that made me yell out the word "NASTY"! at the top of my lungs and just then a man appeared.  The timing was so funny that we all laughed.  The man was looking for  Bogacheil camp with a bear wire.  I told him that I thought we had been to Bogachiel camp but we never did see a bear wire.   I was only frightened in the night one time and I did not scream.
For comfort, on the last night I unzipped  my sleeping bag and used it like a blanket.  My knees really do not like being confined to a sleeping bag.  From now on when ever it’s not too cold I’m going to use my bag like a quilt.  My sleeping bag is rated for 15 degrees, but I sleep so cold that it was just the right temperature for August in the temperate rainforest.  I’d like to have a fancy zero degree sleeping quilt but can’t afford one at the moment.
For food storage I used my Ursack and kept it about 20 feet in front of the tarp tent so I could protect it in the night if need be.  I was armed with bear spray and a pile of rocks.  When my SPOT started flashing red for no reason.  I put it on top of my food bag for the night.  Then  I could quickly spot my food bag in the dark  just by finding the little red light.

I don't really like my SPOT, it's not reliable, it gets lost, it costs money and the company won't sponsor me.  But worse is that if it quits working my loved ones will freak out and think I am lost, so  I am a slave to the SPOT now.  If the SPOT gets lost of quits working I have to go home.
Day four: we got up at 7 am and tried to pack up quickly by my little one was a bit sluggish and then she accidentally threw one of my fancy tent stakes into the river.  I told her to change into her swim suite and retrieve it, but that was just not going to happen.  So I waded out and retrieved the thing. 

As soon as we hit the trail it was clear that my little one was struggling.  I was bounding ahead with my light pack with no food in it , but since she had never carried any food her pack weight was the same every day.  I was in a hurry.  I knew I had a long drive to get home, I was tired and every time I stopped I got bitten by mosquitoes.    The highlight of this miserable day was when I found a hornwort growing next to the trail.  Even my 9 year old was excited about that.
Eventually I gave up and carried both of our packs for about a mile.    Even then my daughter could not keep up with me!  My ankle and my knee did not like taking on all that extra weight, so I made my daughter carry her own pack for the last 3/10ths of a mile to the truck.   A day later my knee still hurts from that.  We made it out at about 11 and began the long drive home with one stop for coffee at Klaloch and two stops on cougar smith road to try to figure out why my truck in wobbling so much.  I was very tired by the time we made it home and I am still tired a day later.

When we got home the dog was happy to see us and my spouse was  asleep.  I knew I would not come home to piles of dirty dishes because we hid most of the dishes before I left.  But the man barley ate anything while we were gone and there were still some clean dishes in the machine, so we did not really need to hide the dishes from him this time.
Shortly after I got home my college diploma came in the mail.  I now have a bachelors degree in arts and a bachelors degree in science and we will recieve our first installment of food stamps starting tomorrow.  But at least I have no student debt.  I hope I can get a job with my fancy new degree.
According to my GPS we went 15 miles round trip with 150 feet elevation gain.  This counts our little side trips to explore campsites and dig cat holes.  I cleaned up all the extra points in my track log, so I know that we really did hike 15 miles, not counting the 1/2 mile of backtracking to find my SPOT.
I'll post more pictures in the morning. 


Wheat tortilla, soy butter and giant Olympic Mountain blueberries for lunch

loaded pack

Big spruce trees

Sphagnum moss sticks out a snake skin tongue

Pellia liverwort (I think)

Excited to find her first slime mold

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