by: Apryle Craig
I searched for hikes that would be snow free, that we could spend the majority of time running and not battling obstacles. I wanted a destination within a day’s drive of Seattle so we would not have to camp. After kicking around a few options with Zach, we settled on a 27-mile out-and-back to Enchanted Valley, out of the Quinault River Basin on the Olympic Peninsula.
We left the house around 7am and started up the trail around 11. The dirt/gravel road the last 6 or 7 miles was no problem for our small Nissan Versa. The hike starts out with a few back-and-forths across the river. It continues to cross over small tributaries the whole time. We were able to jump or rock hop across all of the little streams but 1 that was about half a mile from the Enchanted Valley. We each carried a hydration pack with Tailwind, which we finished off around Enchanted Valley. The crossings provided plenty of opportunities to refill water, or drink with a Lifestraw as we did.
The trail was very runnable the whole way, rolling its way uphill such that the 1700 net elevation gain was actually comprised of over 10500 feet of undualtion for the out-and-back. We paralleled the river most of the way and passed by huge old-growth trees, aspen, elk, and no shortage of 2-legged beasts. It seemed every backpacker in the state had the same idea we had, but everyone was friendly and glad to be enjoying the beautiful weather.
Reaching the Enchanted Valley, the forest opened up to amazing views of the rugged, snowy peaks. Waterfalls tumbled from melting snow far above the valley floor. With the number of tents that dotted the landscape, the area reminded us of Quartelhaine or one of campsites on the Huayhuash trek.
The return trip became a grueling race against the clock. I pushed hard to hit a 6-hour round trip (counting moving time only, watch stopped during drinks and photos). We made it back to the car with a 5:58 moving time. Great day!