By Bret Wirta
April 23, 2009
Distance: 4.2 miles One-Way. Elevation Gain: 250 Feet.
Thursday, April 23, 2009. I parked at the Gray Wolf trailhead. There was a poem at the sign-in board lamenting the loss of wolves in the valley and saying if they ever wanted to return the valley was waiting for them. It took me about half an hour of easy hiking to reach the river. There were lots of blow-downs that had been cleared. (Thank you trail crews!) The Gray Wolf is a tumbling, frothy river with a greenish blue hue. Moss hung from the branches and ferns were everywhere.
A bald Eagle flew to the tree above me and sat patiently, searching the valley for its next meal. I walked for an hour and a half and at four and a half miles from the trailhead the bridge crossing the river had been washed away. The steep valley sides were hundreds of feet high. I could travel no further up-river. Access to the Olympic National Park through the Gray Wolf River trailhead isn’t possible without that bridge, but there are some alternative trailheads that drop down into the Gray Wolf River valley further upstream like Slab Camp Trail. I’m going to try one of those alternatives next time.