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Olympic Backcountry Still Buried in Snow


Planning a backcountry visit to Olympic National Park any time soon? If so, you might want to be sure to pack crampons and an ice axe, as last winter's heavy snowfall has left a good bit of the high country still buried this far into the summer.

Locations above 4,000 feet have quite a bit of snow still on the ground, according to park officials. "Many pass areas, usually melted out at this time of year have steep, icy snowfields that require use of crampons and an ice axe," they say. "Recent helicopter observations of Sol Duc’s Seven Lakes Basin find that high elevation trails are still obscured by snow. Hikers in the Elk Mountain area between Deer Park and Obstruction Point will need an ice axe to navigate a steep, exposed snow field."

With so much snow still in the high country, river crossings at lower elevations in the park can be tricky. Park officials advise making river crossings early in the morning, when flows are relatively low, but also be prepared to resort to a "Plan B" if high water makes the crossing dangerous.


My wife, her daughter and I went out the middle of June to backpack from Olympic Hot Springs to the Hoh Rain Forest via Appleton Pass and the High Divide. Or so we thought! We ended up just doing 4 days in the Quinault River Valley. The snow up on the peaks was plainly visible. And the streams were really flowing. Another time I guess.

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