Backpacking the Dungeness

June 1, 2012

Heather Grev

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

Brian and I used the Memorial Day weekend to take a wee little backpacking adventure. I know usually when we go on outings like this, I just post pictures, but I’m going to try an be better about documenting the fun.

This time of year, it’s really hard for us to find suitable trails. Most the great stuff is still under snow. We also have to avoid the National Park areas, because we want to bring our big ole mutts along and that’s a big no-no in the National Parks. Add to all of that the personal mission for both of us to keep on discovering new places to go hiking and avoid repeating trails…

All of that led us to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s an area that we both desperately want to explore, but we have to be careful to avoid the National Park that takes up the majority of the peninsula and stick to just the Olympic National Forest areas. For this trip, we went right south of Sequim, WA. (It’s a place near to my heart because I have a new hotel over there that I work with) Anyhow, we took off Saturday for the Upper Dungeness Trail. The drive out was beautiful and once you get on those Forest Roads, it was pretty impressive. (We both continued to comment on how well-maintained the roads were despite the terrain)

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

The first leg of the trail for Saturday was in to Camp Handy and about 3.5 miles. It was a very easy walk in – no real climbing or agility needed. There were 2 log bridges over the river and we were a little concerned about the dogs crossing those. Daijo’s daredevil personality made us worried that he would jump straight into the rushing river. Venn’s timidness had us wondering if he would ever cross the bridge to begin with. It took a little coaxing, but we made it eventually. All in all, it was a very pleasant walk to the main camp site through the expected old growth Olympic Forests, beautiful and vaguely mysterious. Being the Memorial Day holiday, there were a lot of folks registered at this campground for the weekend, so not knowing what Camp Handy looked like, there was a concern for space. We saw a couple of empty potential sites on the way in though, so we knew we would have somewhere to set up camp if we needed to double back.

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

Upper Dungeness to Boulder

It’s the backpacking snob in me, but I’m not a big fan of “established” back country camp sites. That being said, Camp Handy was a pretty nice spot. There was a stream running right near us, fire rings already made if desired and of course, the Dungeness River was just a little further away. The area had a lot of open space for quite a few camp sites without us feeling like we were on top of anyone else.

Sunday morning, we got up and took off on the trail toward Marmot Pass and Boulder Shelter. It’s only a 3 mile hike from Camp Handy to Boulder Shelter, but it climbs 1,600 feet in that time. Based on recent trip reports, we didn’t think we would be able to make it to the top. Much of the trail was still snowed in. We did luck out with the views, though. We made it most of the way up before the clouds came in and we were rewarded with views like these.

A new space

A new space

We were also trying out something new this weekend. Thanks to a wedding gift from my sister and a killer REI sale, we invested in a new backpacking tent. (One that’s big enough not only for the two of us, but also for our fur babies.) Added perk of this tent? Our incredibly luxurious thermarest chairs can fit inside and it’s actually comfortable. When we brought the bear canister inside as well, it made one helluva table for a ridiculously comfortable game of cribbage.

The best part was the amazing extra space. All four of us could actually spread out and be comfortable….Not that we did. (Given the chance, Daijo will always use my legs for a pillow)

3 days, 2 cozy nights, only about 12 miles and a good way to break in the outdoors legs for the season.

All in all, a weekend well-spent. Feeling pretty pleased with the life we’ve created out here.

PS: “Snoqualmie Rainbow” photo was not part of this hike, but was added just because it’s such a beautiful photo!


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