Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coming Full Circle on the High Divide -Day 1 Bus trips and Mosquito hell


I’ve decided to split this blog post up into days to make it more manageable. On this 5 day trip we started at Sol Duc and finished at Barnes Creek.
Day one Sol Duc camp host site to Deer Lake
4.5 miles 1,850 feet elevation gain

My alarm went off at 7am so I got up and made coffee for myself and my spouse.  My and my daughter's  ULA packs were all ready packed for the trip with food and gear for 5 days plus we had a grocery sack full of food for the trip up. 

Mason Transit 8:05 am
My daughter does not like her boots because she cannot tie them tight enough and sometimes the laces catch on the metal hooks and trip her.  There was some drama related to her boots and leaving the house was chaotic but we got out just in time to catch our first bus.  Mason Transit Route #8 to Brinnon leaving Shelton at 8:05. 
My spouse is in very poor health and we were sad to leave him behind at home.

At 9:15 we made the seamless transfer to Jefferson Transit #1 to the Port Townsend Park and ride.  We had a one hour layover in Port Townsend so we checked our packs with the visitor center and headed over to nearby Kai Tai Nature Park where we ate lunch and I found three geocaches. 
Kai Tai Nature Park Port Townsend
Next we caught the Jefferson Transit #8 bus to Sequim, we did not have to pay for this ride because we had day passes but on the way back we were charged an extra dollar for this out of county route.  Next we had a 15 minute layover in Sequim and there were teenagers playing loud music through headphones at the tiny transit center.   Most of the adults moved to the corner to get away from the teens who were smoking “pot oil”.
Sequim Transit Center 15 minute layover
Sequim is getting a new civic center and there was construction everywhere.  We were able to find an unlocked door so we could use the bathroom at the transit center. 
Port Angeles Famer's Market
Next we caught the Clallam transit bus #30 to Port Angeles.   On the ride from Sequim the same teen sat in the back with headphones so loud that the bus driver stopped and got up and made him turn his music down.  There was a couple from California on the bus who were taking a carless vacation and they seemed to be enjoying it. 

In Port Angeles we had about a 45 minute layover so we checked out the farmers market and Dairy Queen where I was charged $2.05 for a medium drink.  That left me with 95 cents in change that I did not want to have to carry, so I went back to the farmers market and bought a small heirloom tomato.    
Next we took Clallam Transit #14 headed towards forks.  We were going to get off at Sol Duc hot springs road and get back on at Barnes Creek.  The driver showed us where the return bus stop was but we still had some trouble locating it on the last day of our hike.
The bus dropped us off on highway 101 and the Sol Duc hot springs road at about 3:30 PM.  We crossed the highway and walked about 40 feet up the Sol Duc road and stuck our thumbs out.  It only took ten minutes for us to get a ride.
Our ride turned out to be the camp ground host.  He was a very gruff fellow named Larry.  It kind of felt like he picked us up as part of his duty to take care of the place.  Oh well, it was nice to get a ride and he said to us “you girls have a safe camping trip” as he dropped us off.  He asked how far up the road we wanted to go and I said I wanted to go as far up the road as he was willing to take us. 

So he drove straight to his campground host campsite and said here you go.  Starting at the camp host site added an extra mile to our hike but it was okay, not too hot, not too steep and I had planned on probably having to start a mile from the trail head anyway.  We thanked him profusely.

We hit the campground trail at 4pm and my daughter was a bit sluggish.  She cheered up a some when we reached the bridge over Sol Duc Falls and we saw a rainbow. 
Rainbow at Sol Duc Falls

Hoards of dayhikers, the last we will see for five days
After Sol Duc falls we were not sure if the trail went left or right or maybe it went both ways, but we knew we needed to go to the right to reach Deer Lake.  My daughter was sluggish again.  The hike was steep, gaining about 2,000 feet in about three miles and we were loaded down with what we thought was six days worth of food. 

 After such a nice time getting to the trail head the hiking part of this trip was not going well.   But, I had the National Park Service on my side.  We were allowed to camp at Deer Lake and only at Deer Lake, so I told my daughter that I had no choice but to take her to Deer Lake.  I began to have doubts about our trip and my daughter’s ability to hike so many miles.  Should we just give up and turn back and go to the car campground and ride the buses back home in the morning?

 It was looking like we might not make it to the lake before dark and then my daughter had to poop.  Great, just great, such wonderful timing.   After much stress and strain we arrived at Deer Lake at about 8pm and just a bit before Sunset.    We were both in a foul mood.
Hiding from Mosquitos at Deer Lake
  I found a small, rocky horrible tent site where I pitched the tent and then we hid from the mosquitoes while we ate dinner.  The place was mosquito hell and when morning came we could not get out of there quickly enough .  Dinner was chips dipped in beans and  a cup of hot chocolate each. 

We went to bed at about 9pm

Deer Lake in the morning

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