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North Fork Quinalt River,  Olympic National Park,  Sep 24, 2010 - Sep 25, 2010     page 1 / 30

For the past several years I've taken some vacation time in September for an extended backpacking trip. Sometimes my Dad has accompanied me. Other times I've gone alone. While many people might consider a solo trip foolish or lonely, I find it can be quite relaxing. I can set my own pace, my own schedule. I can clear my mind, concentrating on simpler pleasures, like the sound of the creek, or the smell of a freshly cut log.

I set out for one of these solo backpacking trips recently. The plan was to hike up the North Fork of the Quinalt river in Olympic National Park. I'd hike the whole river, cross Low Divide and proceed into the Elwha valley, then work my way into the high country. I'd explore the southern portion of the Bailey Range, an area Tom and I passed through in 2007.

Typically September brings cool nights and clear, dry days. This September, however, was one of the wettest in recent years. In fact, I delayed the start of my trip one day due to rain.

It showered during my drive to the trailhead, but the rain had stopped by the time I arrived at the empty parking area.

Horse barn at the North Fork Quinalt trailhead