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Olympic National Park
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rhonda rouyer
(rrouyer) - F

Locale: deep south
Olympic National Park on 01/19/2011 22:28:20 MST Print View

I will be backpacking in the Olympic National Park in late April. I am not familiar at all with that area and will be going with a friend who lives up there. She suggested either Hoh Rain Forest area or Mt. Ranier. What can I expect for these areas for late April. Will my 15 degree bag be enough? Will I need crampons? Will my layer system of Capilene base, silk/wool shirt, fleece, down jacket and gortex rain shell be all I need or overkill?

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Olympic National Park on 01/19/2011 23:19:49 MST Print View

Well, you can expect any of the higher elevations will still be covered in snow. It is not unusual that time of year to receive substantial rain. Really, the higher passes do not open until mid-June in most places.

The Hoh Rain Forest would be a better bet over Mt. Rainier, in my opinion. Unless you are at the lowest elevations, hiking at Mt. Rainier in late April would involve snow, and lots of it. The Hoh River is really better suited for year-around hiking, although as you might expect from a temperate rain forest, best to bring rain gear and plan accordingly.

Lows in the Hoh River are generally in the 30s and 40s but it can be very wet. The place averages better than 120 inches of rain a year, and in the summer, it might not get any for weeks. So, you have to plan for rain.

If you venture up to the higher elevations, expect to run into snow. They can get a ton of snow.

Here is a link to the weather that you could expect to find depending on the region.

I am sure others will have more informed opinions than I. I live near Mt. Rainier, and love it, but unless you plan to snowshoe and snowcamp, you would be pretty much stuck at lower elevations. If you want to get up to Mt. Rainier, you can hike and climb above Paradise to Camp Muir, for instance. The weather can change very quickly up there, and in that case, a mountaineering tent would come in handy.


Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Olympics on 01/22/2011 11:55:44 MST Print View

For my money, April In the olympics? Maybe 50% half decent weather. Can also be perfectly clear for a week at that time of year or completely soaking wet for a couple days at a time. Generally fronts will move through fairly quickly that time of the year and hiking time is generally 50%. Bring Gaitors. Keeps splashed mud/water off your legs and out of your boots and socks.

I would look into the east side of the olympics trails. If you are bound and determined to go to the west side of the olympics, how about a beach romp? Take the beaches north out of Hoquiam. Also, I think its the Queets valley river trails that are far better though. Things to look into. Oh, yes, lots of hungry black bears that time of year as well...

As for Ranier, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW, SNOW. You could wander around Longmire. You could wander around Ohpenocosh forest walk. Anything higher and you will need Snowshoes (small size generally at this time of year) as it will be melting and the snow will be slush making horrendous post holing without them. Crampons up higher? Doubtful this time of year unless you go WAY up where it actually freezes at night, then yes, of course. Ice axe, sure. If you are going to go up high... Good Luck, personally I would go for the Olympics up high instead of Ranier, as ranier will just be a giant snow blob without anything else around it. The Olympics on the other hand have mountains, ridges, DEEP valleys. Anything in the Olympics over 4k as well depending on the year we have had. Difference is that the Olympics have far more lower trails through Old Growth forest.

If you had the time, you could hike all the way around Ross Lake in the North Cascades. There is a section on the west north shore without trail though. If you don't want to do this take a boat ride back or just take the east bank trail back, or take a boat ride from end of ross lake to the Little Beaver Trail head and then hike back to your car bypassing the non trail portion of the west north bank. Ross Lake Resort is the water taxi service.

PS your clothes. Sound fine. Bring an extra under shirt/socks as they will get wet from sweat during spring temps and you will need something to change into when you stop at night, gets cold fast. Bag is more than fine espeically with your down coat added.

What kind of sleeping pad? It better not be a z thermarest as that time of year the temp will genearlly be "around" freezing if you are camping on snow and all those ridges will collect said condensation/persperation from your body as you will be camping on snow and condense said readily available water vapor into all those waiting cups in said z-rest and your B-Bag will get soaked. TO not have this problem change into dry clothes/use a Vapor Barrier system. Closed Cell foam on snow unless its really cold and then you can go back and use the z rest, but anytime its high humidity and near freezing camping, IE spring, DO NOT USE A z-rest. All it does is capture water and soak your sleeping bag.

Edited by footeab on 01/22/2011 12:10:02 MST.

rhonda rouyer
(rrouyer) - F

Locale: deep south
Staying in lower elevations on 01/23/2011 21:10:01 MST Print View

We have decided to hike Hoh River Trail to Eagle Lake and back the side trip to the hot springs or the coast. I plan on bringing my layers but instead of the down jacket I will bring my Montbell Thermawrap jacket plus gators and a pair of sock per day. I think there are bear cables at the camps along the trail but I might bring the bear canister, any feedback on this? Single wall tarp tent in a rainforest or double wall tent? I have both. Any recomendations on sleeping pad for the Hoh? Would I need an extra layer of pad for April or my thermarest prolite by itself?

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Staying in lower elevations on 01/23/2011 23:53:45 MST Print View

Thermarest prolite should be more than adequate.

I have never taken in all my years more than a tarp or a single wall tent, so honestly I am probably the last person to ask. 2 wall tent? Sounds luxurious. Though worth its weight in a two day rain storm. Sponging the walls every other hour on the hour due to condensation, gets old after a while.

Personally, I have never had a bear problem. Seen lots of bears. Hiked on bear trails, literally, in Coastal British Columbia where one is literally stepping over bear dung every 50-100 feet. I have never bothered to put my food up a bear cable either because of a fear of a bear. I know, the horrors... If you are in bear territory, this is kinda gross, but they seriously ARE garbage(PIGS). They will literally clean out every place you uh... dump. Uh, hem... Anyways.

I have had plenty of mice horrors eating my pack/boots/tent. Only time I have ever had mice get in my food was fresh bagels. Since then put all food in ziplock bags and have never had a problem since. I will admit that if I camp in a spot lots of people camp I have thrown my food up off the ground a couple feet to defeat all but the most adventursome mouse.

Have fun.