Bailey Range Traverse, Olympic National Park, Jul 26, 2007 - Aug 1, 2007 page 82 / 97
We initially planned on following the ridge line, nearly to Dodwell-Rixon pass, then gently descending the eastern slopes into the basin, but the heavy snowfall, made it easy to descend directly into the basin toward the pass. So that is what we did.
Tom proceeded onto a rather steep slope, then I followed. He seemed to do fine, sliding on his boots, slowly down the hill, but I had a harder time staying upright. I fell, and was headed for the rocky edge of the snow. A quick self arrest with the ice ax had me stopped in no time, but my water bottle slid out of the side pouch of my backpack. Apparently Tom had been watching the whole event and knew exactly where the bottle had come to rest. He worked his way off the edge of the snow and retrieved it rather easily. This was a relief, since I had already lost one other bottle while bushwhacking through the slide alder a few days earlier! I replaced the bottle, but this time well inside the pack, so as not to lose it again.
I got back on the snowfield and headed down. Perhaps it was my weary state, or perhaps it was just clumsiness, but I slipped again. This time there was little danger in my sliding, so I simply stuck out the ice ax and controlled the descent, laughing all the way. Of course, my nylon shorts and cotton underwear were soaked. Brrrr. I removed some snow from my pockets and vowed to change my pants when we got to camp.
We worked our way down to a rock island in the middle of the snow, right in the top of Dodwell-Rixon pass. This location gave us views into the basin, as well as down the snowfinger. What a great place to camp. There was a light breeze. We decided to stake out the tent, just to be sure it didn't get blown down the snowfinger while we were not in it!
After getting the tent set up, I decided to change those wet pants. I pulled off the shorts and underwear, then pulled out a dry change of underwear and my long john pants for the evening. We had a good laugh about my standing there “Butt naked in the Bailey Range!” Perhaps I scared the animals away, for we saw no wildlife from that campsite.