Historical Hike Day

August 7, 2019 – Because my day today wasn’t dictated by the tides, I slept in. It was a nice slow morning. I made Uncle and me some breakfast and in the late morning we headed to the Elwha River. I got to see it emptying into the Pacific Ocean when I paddled by, and have been wanting to see more of it from land. Today was the day.

This past June the river decided to cut a new channel. The channel not only wiped out a main road, entire campgrounds, picnic areas, and more. What’s more, because the river is protected, the park won’t be building any permanent bridges or containment walls, roads, etc.

This meant we were hiking it. It being two days since I have kayaked I needed the exercise. It was a delightful 6.8-mile hike up to the site of the former upper dam/reservoir and back. Gaston was a champ despite not having done a hike of this level recently. Luckily he had fresh water creeks along the way to perform his water quality tests.

At times it was erie walking up paved roads that obviously hadn’t been driven on in a couple of months, next to empty picnic areas and park buildings. We were in a national ghost park. We came across other hikers coming down the road from some far off trailhead who asked us why they hadn’t hit the parking area yet. That’s a sign of how recent this change is.

If you aren’t familiar or want to refamiliarize yourself with the story of the Elwha River restoration, visit https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/nature/elwha-ecosystem-restoration.htm. All I can really say is go and see this wondrous place. It’s a hike but do it. I hope the success of this restoration creates a lasting fad in US river restoration.

After our hike, we returned to Mataya’s place and enjoyed a second evening in our little Port Angeles forest grove.

Where’d the road go? A river ran through it.
What’s left of the road.
Two months ago this parking lot next to the overlook would have been full of cars and people. Today it was just Uncle Sid, Gaston, and me on foot/paw.
A beautiful site. No more dam. Free river.
My vertigo was in full force being out at the edge to take this, but it was worth it. The river below the overlook.
The river entering the old dam location. What colors!
What used to be Mills Lake. Now it’s a spectaclar river.
Young Downy Woodpecker

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

2 thoughts on “Historical Hike Day

  1. I love the Elwa and have been photographing it since before they took the dams down. The river is recovering amazingly quickly, and there is some thought that it will fill in all the way to Ediz Hook. I’m glad they are letting the river decide.

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