Getting Lucky on the PNT

I’ve broken the 200 mile mark! (Explanation here ) But that’s not the only thing that made this trip a lucky one. Many have called the High Divide/Seven Lakes Basin the “crown jewel” of the Olympics, so luck is certainly needed to get a backpacking permit anywhere along it’s 19 mile loop – especially on a weekend. So when I saw an opening on a Saturday in September months ago, I snagged it. Advanced planning for anything outdoors in the Pacific Northwest requires weather luck for sure – which was ours as well. 

This classic loop begins and ends at Sol Duc Falls

“What are the chances” luck struck when after shooting the breeze with a fellow hiker while passing each other, we suddenly realized we had already met. Hilary had been our impromptu beach photographer in Port Townsend back when we did the Royal Basin hike. We laughed about the coincidence, but both encounters have left an impression that fate is telling us a hiking trip together is on the horizon. 

I hope we find each other again, Hilary!

Salvation luck, though, is the best of all. We both knew a 14 mile day is pushing it for us 50+ year olds (especially with the large amount of uphill we were dealing with) except that is what our permit demanded.  It was the hour before needing headlamps (which mine had just run out of batteries the night before) when we saw below us what looked to be camp spots. “It has got to be Deer Lake!” we both agreed…even though it was clearly not a lake but several small ponds. (Exhaustion makes you ditch logic…it’s happened to me many times.) You may not think an unknown camp area we did not have a permit for with an available spot is luck (maybe just cheating?) but to us it truly felt like deliverance. Another mile in the dark and we would have been toast. 

Our perfect weather luck petered out by Sunday, but it was all good. We only had our five forest miles out, and a beautiful rainy woods walk is certainly not unlucky. 

Our last bit of luck was not on the PNT, but on our long drive home. I’ve had my share of bad luck with the Washington State ferries, but this time we outsmarted the cruel ferry Gods. Our empty stomachs and hangry attitudes determined that skipping the extra line outside of town (BEFORE getting in the actual line for a ferry ticket…this is to help the massive congestion on the main street when the ferry wait is over two hours) and instead going to dinner was worth the risk of having an even longer line once we were finished. But as luck and perfect timing would have it, we practically drove straight on the ferry with full bellies and contented spirits after our leisurely and delicious meal.(Two ferries clear out a LOT of cars! And we highly recommend The Kingston Ale House.) May your happy trails be just as lucky. (Trail log below with more detailed info.)

You’ll need more luck to NOT see a bear than to see one on this hike!

Trail Log:

Day 1: Not even a full mile to Sol Duc Falls camp. Considering the time it takes to get to the Peninsula and the fact I had to work until noon, scoring this permit along with the second night was critical. This is tourist central, so it seemed weird there would be camping spots at the falls, but there are. Skip the first site you come to within full view of the gawking masses, and continue to find some very nice secluded spots along the tranquil river. If you are going clockwise like us, you’ll backtrack just a little to go behind a no longer used shelter to start the loop.

You can have a fire at the river camps–and of course wine

Day 2:  13 miles to “Not Deer Lake” camp. We might have been able to make the full 14 we were supposed to do, but the wine may have caused us to sleep in a little 😉 Had I known there are SO many unlisted camps, I may have tried to legally switch. But whatever this camp is called, we both decided it was quite superior to Deer Lake.

Okay, maybe we were already toast 😉
The actual Deer Lake next morning. Meh.

Day 3: 5 downhill miles to complete the loop. We made it out by noon and soaked in the hot springs which were way nicer than I expected. Costs $15, and they do have towels to rent for $4 each. 

2 thoughts on “Getting Lucky on the PNT”

  1. Hey Kelly! Thanks for sharing your blog with me. It was soooo cool running into you and Heidi on the trail. Amazing coincidence, right?? Your photos and descriptions of the hike are fabulous. Can you believe the weather we had? I’m still savoring all my photos, too.

    Let me know when you’re back on the OP and maybe I’ll tag along next time! 🙂

    Hillary

    1. Hooray you found me!! DM me on my IG kellbell.500 with info on how to contact you. A hike is most certainly in our future!

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