OHE September 30, 1998 (c)

Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 19:24:09 -1000
From: Grant Oka (goka@ns00.phnsy.navy.mil>

Day 3.

This is our first day when the low tide is perfect for hiking the coastal route for 4 Km then taking the trail for another 5 Km to our intended campsite at Walbran Creek. The morning is beautiful, sunny, blue sky, cool ocean breezes. The low tide exposes a very wide sandstone shelf with an interesting tidal pool ecosystem. Mussels are abundant but we were warned of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning so we refrain and only dream of mussel chowder. The shelf provides easier walking than the sand and much easier than the forested trail in cliffs above us. At Sandstone Creek, the beach access is clearly marked with hanging colorful fishing floats of varying shapes and sizes. As we are resting, Reuben spots two Grey Whales just off shore. We watch them in awe.

Climbing up on ladders and switchbacks, we regain the trail and continue thru an old growth forest of giant trees of cedar, spruce, and hemlock. Many of these fallen giants are in varying states of decay. Unlike the ones that made it to the ocean these fallen giant trees are not branchless and bleached white. Their branches are ghostly looking with long green hairlike moss and trunks as big as a car that would make bushwacking off trail with a pack an impossibility. I don't know how those backpackers of the 1960's did it when this trail was unmaintained. I feel like such a whoose every time I walk through a fallen tree that was chainsawed to clear a path.

Previously, we thought we had our WCT experience with ladders on this trail. That is, until we arrive at Cullite Creek. There is no way to describe the ladder system on both sides of Cullite Creek. The descent must be 150 meters. I count 7 separate ladders going down. One long ladder section is on a vertical rock face and its rungs are very widely separated so every step feels like my 50 lb backpack wants to pull me off. At the bottom of the ladder system but still above the creek, a cable car takes us across the creek. Then we see an identical ladder system going up!! The lower ladder section is washed out so we have to scramble up a landslide section. It is an experience to climb with such a heavy pack. I wonder how the hardy backpackers of years before did it? On top of the other side of Cullite Creek, it has taken us almost 1 1/2 hours to travel just a short distance of trail. The vertical distance up and down doesn't count.

The trail goes on thru a bog area and the boardwalk reminds me of the Alakai Swamp trail. Soon (2 Km) , we drop down a short series of ladders to find the long suspension bridge across Logan Creek. I guess it must have be 50-100 feet above the rocky creek. The bridge is sturdy enough but very narrow and sways a lot as the three of us try to cross together so Joyce can get a picture. Crossing the Logan Suspension bridge is exciting with awesome views.

The rest of the trail is old growth forest with giant trees, mud and mud bogs, rocks and roots, log bridges, ladders, and boardwalks over really bad or fragile sections. 8 hours later, we complete the 9 Km and arrive at Walbran Creek. There is a cable car to cross the creek. Walbran creek has a deep ice cold brackish swimming pool but we are a little late for swimming. Our chosen campsite is nestled in a hole in the clutter of giant driftwood trees thrown up by the winter surf. We are in heaven with gorgeous views of the ocean, a warm crackling campfire, and the Olympic Peninsula in the distance.

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