Corso Solo I – Olympic National Park, WA – Day 3 & 4
by Chef Corso
Day 3 – Hayes to Lillian- 13 miles
Right smack in the middle of the trip. 25ish miles ahead of me. Had a nice rest and a nice final few hours at Hayes River. Made up an amazing breakfast for Day 3
Breakfast – On the Menu: Black Bean & Egg Breakfast Burritos w Cheddar, Avocado & Lime
8 ingredients. 10 min. ~1.5 lbs
I didn’t see anyone until 5pm. Only a few birds. Lots of bear scat on the trail. Need to keep that head on a swivel.
I wasn’t expecting much for this leg. But it surprised me.
Every couple miles, something special would pop up.
An amazing waterfall tucked around a bend, an old 100+ year old trapper building, Wilder Camp with multiple structures and small quant meadow. Hemlock to alder to maple to eventually late in the day Fir trees and the first Madrona of the trip. (My fav tree) Underneath this massive walkers are the support crew of ferns, bushes, berries and all kinds of mosses, some covering so thick it looks like old shag carpet. The trail was steady with light little rollers and plenty of straight and flat. Both through mossy forests but then it would dip back down and hug the Elwah. But I knew he was there guiding me. I’ve said it before but this trail is the PNW in all its glory for plants, trees, mushrooms, berries all of it. Really pretty.
Lunch: On the Menu: Quick Trail Mishmash
Stopped for a quick meat bread lunch (I wasn’t too hungry after the burritos) on the rocks next to the Elwha at Canyon Camp. A much needed rejuvenating rest.
The last 4 miles was the toughest. My feet were getting tired and it also started to gain some steady elevation, prob 1-2k in total.
But, right at the end, IT DROPS…FAST. And then, there you are. At Lillian Camp right along the Lillian river as it descends in the Elwha.
Wow, stunning and another score of a campsite. Right along the river.
Waiting there were a couple of ladies on a snack break. What a welcome sight! The first people in over a day. They were former trail workers and gave me some details but what a great chat. Turns out, I had Lillian Camp all to myself as well. Such a treat.
Dinner: On the Menu: Thai Rice Noodles Bowl w/ Snap Peas and Lime.
(yes I packed in a lime 30 miles…no you’re crazy for NOT doing it)
7 ingredients. 10 min. ~1 lb
That fresh flavor is amazing at this stage of the trip.
There were times today that I wanted to be home. There were times today that I wanted to never get home. There were many times I felt incredibly small but not in a bad way. Partly because I could have been eaten by a cougar at any turn but just that I was a very small part in the world and I was lucky enough to walk through a piece of it that not many people see.
It was so peaceful and calm, with a new area to look at every few hours. The thriving diversity of the Olympics is truly stunning. And soooo many massive trees that have been here longer than many of us have been alive.
Tired feet. Happy belly. All good and content over a fire by a river at Lillian.
As twilight fell to dark, I watched the fire burn out through the tent window.
I fell asleep to natural white noise. No machine needed.
Onward to the last day.
Day 4 – Lillian to Madison Falls – 10 miles
It was really tough to leave Lillian this morning. Bitter sweet last day. I do want to get home but this site is just so perfect that I could have burned wood by the river for days with not a care in the world.
Breakfast: On the Menu: Meat + Bar + Coffee
Breakfast of champions. I wasn’t too hungry and I wanted to get moving to make sure I met my ride at the end.
4 miles to Whiskey Bend was a cruisin breeze. Little up hill at the beginning then slight ups and downs with no problems. The trail head was a nice check point to get to. This used to be a very well used starting point for multiple hikes, but since a wash out on the road some 6 miles down, it’s pretty dormant.
Don’t let the forest service road fool you. You still have 6 miles to walk still until the end. But it’s solid and pretty.
Just when you think the forest service trail is boring and going on forever…
The old Glinis Elwha Dam. Wow.
Just a few years ago, this was Lake Aldwell . But natural restoration is occurring and it’s nature going back to nature.
Also it was one of the first real peaks you’ll see this whole trek as the trail is mostly forest and valley.
The trail pops out onto a paved road that used to be well used. Passing the old Elwha ranger station and some other National Park support buildings that are tougher to access now. After a bit you reach the wash out areas that are pretty significant. One in 2016 and one in 2014. There is a .8 mile bypass loop that takes you up and around with a couple prime views of the river. I met a great quick friend in this last piece and we had a great chat for the last mile. She got me through it as my feet were really starting the feel it.
Then, the last short bit on a paved road and I made it to Madison Falls parking area.
I did it! 50.3 miles. 4 days. Walking across the whole Olympic National Park.
My ending feeling was contentment. Yes, I was tired and happy to get the pack off, boots off and jump in the river. But the journey was fantastic with many great places and a little worry along the way. And part of that was by belly was full with satisfying meals along the way that complimented where I was. I was never hungry. I was looking forward to my next great meal. I recommend everyone go take a walk for a few days by yourself. It truly helps you check out and think about everything and nothing. I wasn’t the first to take the trail and I won’t be the last. But I had my own experience during my own time and I will take that with me onward.
Always remember to PACK IT OUT.