Upper Royal Basin an Amphitheatre of Snow

Daniel Collins

Olympic Light

Olympic Light

I toted my tele-skis up the Dungie main fork than on up the Royal Creek valley about 5 more miles in late July. With the extra bulk of ski boots, poles, and skis on my shoulders I caught many attentive hikers with thoughtful and bemused comments – like “goin to ski the glacier?”, “is there snow up there?”, “can you ski up there?” etc.

That last comment cut into my pride a small notch, but I was glad to get the attention on an otherwise solitary hike. I felt that if these kinds of trips inspire others with thoughts of skiing, than great and I could see that wistful look in some.

I camped in the Upper Royal Basin below Mt Deception and just spent hours marveling at the incredible depth of the amphitheatre and all the basin ski runs at my disposal. Mt Deception dominates but the area is filled with rocky crags commanding attention. Feathery clouds shrouded many of the peaks but let glimpses of late afternoon light shine through giving definition to the high alpine architecture. While green grass campers were down below, I was able to hike the skis up consolidated snow fields toward Mt Mystery and nearby peaks.

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Return of the River

Photos from John Gussman

Blasting the Elwha River dam

Blasting the Elwha River dam

Olympic Peninsula photographer John Gussman says "Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Originally anticipated to be a two to three year process, removal proceeded quickly and by late spring 2012, the Elwha Dam was completely gone. Work on lowering the Glines Canyon dam is expected to be complete by summer 2013."

John is creating a documentary film that includes these wonderful photos and more. This is what John has to say about the project:

"Return of the River is a film about the largest dam removal project in the history of the United States. It is the story of a river unleashed after a century of impoundment, and the extraordinary community effort to set it free. What if you could wave a magic wand and restore an ecosystem? What if you could revive a dying river? In a world of grim news about the environment, the return of the Elwha River is a story to celebrate. If only it had been as easy as waving a wand."

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By Per Berg

"Here’s a story about a employer sponsored outing. I hope you appreciate Per’s sense of humor
like I do. The Incidental Explorer."

All together now

All together now

The day started on the tail end of a brisk sunny morning. The timing was early for some, standard for others. It was 8:00 AM. Employees from different departments mingled for the first time, blinking at each other and sipping coffee. The social implications were off the charts. The hotel would have a chance to bond and grow as a team, while watching whales From afar.

We set out, caravanning and smoking cigarettes through the small highways of the Pacific Northwest to our destination, the Port Townsend docks.

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Marmot Pass

Damon Edwards

The Dance - Clouds forming along the Dungeness River valley rise into the tress below Marmot Pass in the Buckhorn Wilderness

The Dance - Clouds forming along the Dungeness River valley rise into the tress below Marmot Pass in the Buckhorn Wilderness

What’s the pace of a 2 year old hiking up to Marmot Pass? 56 butterflies, 149 decimated ants, 62 rocks, 114 flowers and 2 chipmunks per hour. Haha! Here’s a summary of the hike up to Marmot Pass with Conley:

  • Zero dark thirty wake up – check
  • 65 pound pack – check
  • 18+ miles round trip in 90 degree heat – check
  • 3405′ of elevation gain – check
  • Met aggressive dog on trail – check
  • Had photo with Conley taken by 2 cute girls – check
  • Cute puppy ate Conley’s cheese – check
  • We ate snow – check
  • Hawk flew over us about 4 feet from our heads – check
  • TONS of wildflowers (Conley picked some for Lila Edwards) – check

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