Bailey Range Traverse, Olympic National Park, Jul 26, 2007 - Aug 1, 2007 page 1 / 97
The Bailey Range Traverse is a committed backcountry experience. Among the skills required are route finding, map reading, snow travel, risk assessment and wilderness survival. This list is by no means complete. While some of this report is rather detailed, it should not be used as your sole source for planning a similar trip. The author assumes no liability for the content contained within this report, nor for its accuracy, however I would be happy to answer any email questions regarding my experiences.
For trip planning, I recommend the following resources:
Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains, the Mountaineers
Olympic Mountains Trail Guide, Robert L Wood
Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center, Port Angeles, Washington
The Bailey Range is a long, remote ridge, a series of rocky peaks, icy snowfields, and green meadows in the central Olympic National Park. As the crow flies, the range is roughly a dozen miles from north to south…at least the portion we were interested in following. The difficulty of the trek, however, is amplified by the fact that there is no maintained trail through the area.
My Dad had dreamed of hiking the Bailey Range for years. We even set out to accomplish the task back in 1988, but had difficulty with the entry required into the area near Dodger Point. We hoped that we could return to the area together, but found other distractions, commitments and time constraints which kept us from accomplishing the dream.
Last winter, I began entertaining the idea of completing the trip with my 19-year old son, Tom, while I was still in sufficient physical condition to do so. The following chronicles the trip.
My Dad Wes, wife Libby, and youngest son, Kevin, would accompany us on the first couple of days of the trek, providing them with a brief outing, and helping us arrange the cars for our exit seven days later. We left one car at Whiskey Bend, the Elwha River trailhead. Tom and I would exit there a week later. Then we all proceeded to the Soleduck campground (also spelled SolDuc). We elected to stay at the campground the first night so that we had a full day to hike up to Heart Lake, the first backcountry camping spot on our itinerary.
Though the campground was full that night, it was relatively quiet, and beautifully buried in a deep forest. We looked forward to the backcountry, however, where the visitor population would be considerably lower.