ENCHANT: to attract and move deeply; rouse to ecstatic admiration
Husband and I checked something off our bucket list over Independence Day. We completed the Enchanted Valley hike in Olympic National Park. The name is not Orwellian. It was truly enchanting.
This is the third time we’ve attempted this backpacking trip. The first time was Memorial Day weekend of 2005. We decided on a whim (a Before Children concept) to give it a try. But, the slight cold that I had when we left Seattle became a fever by the time we reached the trailhead. That, together with the constant rain, led to us abandoning our plans about two miles in. We promised ourselves we would try again soon.
A marriage and two children later, we finally tried again last year. It was a beautiful, sunny day – a small miracle in the Olympic forest. I was sporting new ultra-light backpacking gear in an effort to compensate for car accident injuries on the way home from a climb earlier that spring. I was practically skipping down the trail marveling out loud how delightfully easy this trip was going to be. The kids were with their grandparents. I was shouldering a shockingly easy burden. And the skies were smiling on us. What could go wrong? That is when I noticed that Husband’s boot looked funny. Upon further investigation, it was clear that one of his hiking boot soles was beginning to detach. We took that as a sign that he would need new boots when the trip was over. However, another mile or so down the trail, the sole began to detach in earnest. We taped it with medical tape and continued on. Another mile and the other boot’s sole began to detach. Yep. About 3½ miles in, we had to make the call to return to the trailhead. It was clear that the boots would not last the additional 23 miles we were planning to hike. It was clearly a wise decision, as Husband was literally holding two boot soles in his hands by the time we returned to the trailhead. We were terribly disappointed, but determined to return again.
We returned this week – precisely one year after the Great Boot Disaster of 2011. The third time was indeed a charm. New boots. Blue skies. It was lovely.
We left Seattle at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and drove four hours to the trailhead. We saw deer within the first hundred yards and then elk further along. The valley where we camped was surrounded by cascading waterfalls and snowfields. A lovely river provided the backdrop and white noise for our campsite. We awoke the next morning to bears roaming near our camp. Fueled by Starbucks VIA and instant oatmeal (breakfast of champions!), we headed back down the trail. Back at our car we did our best to clean up enough to avoid the need to keep the windows rolled down for the four hour drive home. 36 hours from door to door.
Here are the final stats for the weekend:
Miles driven: 350
Miles hiked: 27
Banana slugs: 19