Lena Lake

Mushroom in Olympic National Forest

June 4

Today we went to a steel bridge over the Skokomish River. After driving over Forest Service Roads several miles, we drove right over it. It used to be an old railroad bridge. Regis did not believe it was the bridge so he kept going. Eventually, he conceded and we went back and walked the bridge and took pictures. It was a long way down. The bridge is 420 feet above the south fork of the Skokomish River. (Mom, you could not do this with your issue with heights)

View downriver from steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.
View upriver from the steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.
View from on top the steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.

Then, we went on a 6 mile round trip hike to Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest. It was a lovely walk through the forest. I really enjoyed all the plant life and huge trees. It was twice the distance as our last hike but half the elevation change (1200 feet in 3 miles). It seemed so much easier but it was very rocky. Good hiking shoes are required on this hike. Dart got to walk off leash and was very friendly to all the other hikers. (My neighbors back home wouldn’t recognize him.)

We found several of these leaves along the Lena Lake trail. Perhaps they are modern day bread crumbs.
Lena Lake trail.

Fortunately, the walk was up hill first. I prefer to go uphill on the outward portion of the hike and return downhill. Once we got to the lake we sat and enjoyed. Then, an immature bald eagle flew above. What could be better than that?

Lena Lake in Olympic National Forest.

The gender ratio of hikers we passed were probably 3 women to every man. Regis couldn’t believe it. There were lots of young women hiking and quite a few of them alone. There were few men. What’s up with that? (I’m envious because when I was young I couldn’t find any women to hike with me. Maybe that’s why Regis and I got married because he was the best hiking and camping partner.)

The reason we went on this hike is because the rhododendrons were in bloom. There were probably 10 plants in bloom and I didn’t see any not in bloom. It was pretty, but after hiking in the spring in the Smoky Mountains, I was disappointed. You should never compare, but the Smokey Mountains are astonishing when the laurels and rhododendrons are in bloom. When we got back we looked up the trail description again and it said the rhododendrons were in bloom on the trail to the upper lake which we could not do because it enters the National Park and dogs are not allowed in the National Park. Oh well, it was a beautiful hike anyway.

We keep driving along the Hood Canal and seeing immature and adult Bald Eagles. It’s really hard to stop on that road because it is a major road. Nevertheless, I convinced Regis to cooperate with me in trying to get a picture of some immature Bald Eagles and this is the best I got. I am on a mission tomorrow to see if we can do better. We’ve seen the Bald Eagles several times in the same general area and will see if we can get lucky from the local State Park.

Immature Bald Eagle along the Hood Canal in Washington.

Dart’s Favorite Hike

Dart resting in the snow during a hike.

We hiked on the Mt. Ellinor Trail #812 today. We went to the upper trailhead to get us closer to the top of the mountain before starting out. There is a summer route and a winter route. The Forest Service information kiosk said hikers should take the summer route but there is snow. This hike is 1.6 miles to the top with a 2,444 foot change in elevation. As we started, a young couple passed us carrying ice axes. I was concerned.

Dart was able to walk off leash. In this National Forest, your dog does not have to be on a leash as long as they are under your control. Dart does much better off leash. He is not anxious and is very friendly. He handles people and other dogs very well when he is not on a leash. He doesn’t chase animals and easily sticks to the trail. When we are all trail walking together, Regis is usually in front and I lag behind. Dart feels his job is to keep us together. He likes to hang out with Regis in the front but gets concerned when I lag too far behind and stops and waits for me. I’m sure he wishes I would keep up. Part of my problem is that I’m not as fast as Regis, but the other problem is that I stop to look at interesting plants and other things along the way.

There was snow at the higher elevations and I think some folks were still taking the winter route which required some climbing gear. We had good boots on so we attempted to make some progress through the snow. As soon as we got to the snow, Dart went nuts. He ran around, jumped up and down, and barked. He was ecstatic. It’s been years since he’s been in the snow and Regis and I can’t remember him acting this way. I guess he misses snow. I got a short video below.

Dart and Regis taking the summer route on the Mt. Ellinor Trail in the Olympic National Forest.

We made it to a beautiful lookout and stopped to rest. Dart was very happy. He laid in the snow and took in the view before concentrating on the trail and looking for other hikers. The temperature was in the 50’s which was very comfortable for Dart. Regis and I were happy with it also.

We could see Mount Ranier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens in the distance. We saw the Hood Canal and Puget Sound. It was a little hazy, so the mountains in the distance were barely visible. The view was astonishing.

The highest point we reached on the Mt. Ellinor Trail. Regis is getting Dart a bowl of water but he preferred to eat the snow where he was resting.

We decided not to go further up the mountain because it was mostly snow and we didn’t have walking sticks or ski poles to help keep us from slipping. Dart had no trouble. It was harder going down. A sled would have come in handy. Dart kept going down so fast that he would crash into Regis.

View of Mt. Ranier in the distance from Mt. Ellinor.

When we got back to the campground, the temperature was in the upper 60’s so we decided to go kayaking on the lake. We left Dart in the RV to sleep. When we got back, Dart could hardly move he was so stiff. I know what that feels like. Once he got moving though, he was okay.

But, what comes with melting snow is mud. Dart got very muddy. And, he just had a nice bath a few days ago and he looked so good. I stuck him in our tiny shower and washed his feet and underside. Tomorrow, I plan to trim some of that beautiful hair so we don’t have to bring so much of the mountain back with us to camp when we hike on muddy trails.