I needed to get in a long run, but with snow levels dropping down to 2000-2500 ft, my options felt a little limited. I decided to head to the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park, via the East Fork of the Quinault River trail. I had heard great things about the trail, and it seemed like a good choice for a potentially rainy day (forested, lower elevation). I was worried the trail might be a bit boring because it basically just meanders along the river, but there are enough views to keep you engaged (although it got a little tedious on the return).
I was out the door by 5 am and at the trailhead by 9. There are probably half a dozen blowdowns on the trail, and you reach the biggest one within the first mile. However, all of the blowdowns are relatively easy to get around, with a clear bootpath to show you the way. There are multiple creek and river crossings, but they are a non-issue and all of the bridges are in great condition.
Enchanted Valley itself is beautiful, including the old chalet. Manmade structures in the backcountry usually irritate me, but the old chalet is so picturesque that I didn’t mind.
I knew bears were common in the Valley, and was hoping to see one. At first it looked like I was going to strike out, but then just as I was leaving the Valley I noticed a shiny black bear grazing a few hundred feet away. I took a couple snapshots before he noticed me. Once he saw me, he turned my direction and stood up. I could see him trying to figure out who/what I was. I decided to continue walking so that he didn’t feel threatened. A few seconds later I checked to see what he was doing and he was galumphing up the hillside away from me.
According to my Suunto, total trip was ~27 miles and ~3100 ft of elevation gain. I brought camping gear with the idea of crashing at the Graves Creek campground after my run, but I finished in plenty of time to make the drive home. A long but awesome day.