Day Hiking the Grand Pass & Badger
Olympic National Park- 13+ miles with estimated 4600 ft elevation gain
This Album Background:
What a day hike in a high country ! The
elevation along the trail varied from 4950 ft to 6500 ft (which makes the area
as a high contry)! The Grand
Pass is located at the
Northern interior of the Olympic National Park. The trailhead was at the
Obstruction Point (Pt). The Obstruction Pt is located at 7.6 miles (unpaved
road) South from the Hurricane
Center. One experienced hiker
mentioned to me that there are 3 locations where one can drive up to the Alpine
Level in the Olympic National Park: Obstruction pt, Hurricane
Center, and the Deer Park. The Alpine level refers to the
high mountain area (above treeline), usually higher than 4500-5000 ft in
elevation. Two weeks ago, I tremendously enjoyed day-hiking the High Divide
Loop (NW of the Olympic National Park) and, before the rainy season starts, I
wanted to hike one trail at Hurricane Ridge Area which is about 20 miles East
of the High Divide Loop area. So, we chose the Grand Pass.
This hiking was unique since it started off at the alpine level (high country),
traverse downs and ups, and loop back to the alpine level.
13+ miles with 4600 elevation gain. Temp 45-55F.
Wind chill factor made hands freezing at the trailhead. It rained a bunch the
night before, and forecasted to rain until 1100 but, luckily, it did not rain
on us. It drizzled with a gale force wind for a short time period. Always check
the Olympics Mountain weather at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/sew/olympics.php. Indeed, the area was a rain
shadow zone (Robert Wood's book, page 108, 3rd edition). The first 1.5 miles
was almost barren and dry (maybe no rain overnight !). Aaron, Andy, and I were
determined to hike this trail. At the last minute, Doug Savage joined the hike.
He is a legend in Olympic trails with close to 40 years of experience and
hiked/backpacked almost all the trails! It is always thrill to hike with him,
and fun to chat and listen to his stories. We started hiking 0820 in a thick
fog with chilly wind. Open ridge trail, open valley views, and non-stop views
were simply awesome and provided good energy. Turned around the Grand Pass
at 1155. Arrived back at the trailhead at 1520.
On the way to the Grand
Pass along the Lillian
Ridge, we took a few short breaks for
a snack and continued marching on to the Grand Pass.
This trail was probably one of best scenarios with non-stop open views (open
ridge and open valley) and I would like to come back this trail any time. Last
1.4 miles to the Grand
Pass (1200 ft elev gain)
was strenuous with rock and shale trails. We then hiked up to the Grand View
Peak where it offered 360
degree views of the interior of the Olympic National Park. Simply, spectacular
views from a summit! Sleet was sprinkling at the peak! Aaron and Doug traversed
back to the trailhead due to Aaron's knee issue. Hope that he recovers the
soonest. Andy and I took the Badger Valley trail, also cut our hiking itinerary short to
rejoin Aaron and Doug at the trailhead (we did not go up to the Deer Park trail). About
the Badger Valley, the name Badger was most likely
from ranger's horse name per Robert Wood's book (page 109, 3rd edition).
Compare to the Lillian Ridge route, not much of scenery hiking along the Badger Valley
other than some old growth trees, streams, and Alpine meadows (lots of
grasshoppers). No doubt that there were quite steep switchbacks since we hiked
down to the creek below the Grand Lake losing 700 ft elevation and needed to gain back
700 ft to the trailhead (Obstruction Pt) compared to the Lillian Ridge
trail. Traversing back to the same trail (Lillian Ridge) would be nice with
non-stop open views (but no water refill), however, Badger valley route along
the old growth might be a good choice when it's hot and sunny with a couple of
nice creeks to soothe the mind and refill the water.
This was another good day hiking for excellent
exercise and expensive views of the northern interior of the Olympic National
Park. Definitely, on my list to hike again.
Highlights for this hiking:
1. The lakes (Grand
Lake, and Gladys Lake)
2. Marmot filled Meadows - Satisfactory.
3. Blueberries and/or Huckleberries - Very few
4. Creek Crossing - A few of them -
5. Waterfall - a couple of small ones -
6. Wildlife (Bear) - No bear sighting.
7. Wildlife (Deer) - 2 Deer close to Grand Lake
8. Wildlife (Marmot) - Several - Satisfactory.
9. Wildlife (Hawk) - one - Satisfactory.