Location: Quinault, Olympic National Park, Washington
Level: easy / Beginner Level: challenging
Round trip/Gain: 5 miles/500ft
Type: round trip
Permit: Olympic National Park entrance fee or America the Beautiful pass
I guess all trails in ONP are big backpacking trails and I’m super bummed that another summer has gone by where I couldn’t get my shit together in time to take my first backpacking trip. People make it look so easy, but I literally could not afford to A: get gear and B: take off enough time. I only went car camping once! It is really hard to not feel woe-is-me, but what the fuck am I doing wrong?!?!?! (Do not answer this. You don’t know about my life and yes, I am being super defensive.)
A month prior, I’d stayed in Quinault for a modeling job for Columbia Sportswear (lolz, I’m serious and it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds). The shoot happened at nearby Graves Creek campground, which is a beautiful overgrown, mossy forest next to milky turquoise Graves Creek and the Enchanted Valley trailhead. It put a bug in my ear and I was dying to go back.
The trail starts a little ho-hum on a wide abandoned forest service road, but quickly reveals it’s magic. Huge old growth trees with dramatic gnarls and formations swathed in moss lined the way. Even though it’s popular, it felt so far away. Lost. I needed to feel lost.
We turned around at Pony Bridge, just 2.5 miles in, as we still had the big drive back to Portland and we’re weenies about driving in the dark. The bridge itself wasn’t anything special, but the chasm it stretched across was stunning. Fern laced ancient basalt closing in on deep teal water that looked cold, know what I mean? It was gorgeous!
On the way back to the trailhead, one of Brie’s dreams came true: a llama pack-camping herd came down the trail! The porter dude consented to us taking some photos and each llama looked really deeply into my eyes. They’re so cute with their heart noses!