3 days, 2 nights / 20 miles round trip / <1200′ elevation gain
On the evening prior to our trip, my husband and I stayed in Hoodsport, WA on the Hood Canal. This allowed us to sleep in getting plenty of rest and enjoy a hearty breakfast in town the morning before hitting the trail. We started our journey along the North Fork Skokomish River from the trail-head at the Staircase Ranger Station. We left an almost empty parking lot around 11:30 am arriving to our destination at Nine Stream backpackers camp at 5:30 pm . Our hike included a few stops along the way taking pictures and enjoying a lunch of jerky, dried fruits, and homemade granola bars. This was a pretty easy going 10 mile hike the entire way with an occasional stream or log crossing. We had been warned of a few calf deep water crossings along the trail, but fortunately the rivers and streams were low enough to allow us to keep our feet dry. The weather was perfect all three days we were in the park, with temperatures in the low 80’s and partly cloudy skies.
We only saw five other people during our hike including one park ranger who checked our wilderness permit. We asked the ranger if she had any reports of bears in the area, and she explained the only reports recently were a few sightings at the Two Bear backpackers camp. She explained that the bears were not travelling down this low in elevation since the berries haven’t ripened yet. As we hiked past Camp Pleasant we did not see any backpackers in the campground, and as we arrived at Nine Stream solitude was waiting there as well. My husband and I picked a nice spot to setup camp just past the bear wire to the left of the trail. Though the hike to the privy and water was a bit farther than the other sites, it was worth the privacy and seclusion in the case other backpackers should arrive. The camp site had a nice make shift bench and a few wide chopped logs to use as tables for cooking and eating our dehydrated meals. Our first night was pleasant as the sound of the Skokomish River lulled us to sleep allowing our aching muscles to finally rest.
We slept in the next morning lingering in the tent as we waited for the sun to reach the valley to warm our bodies. After having breakfast and enjoying a slow, peaceful morning at camp we loaded our packs for a day hike. We started our hike continuing up the North Fork Skokomish trail towards Two Bear hoping to get a glimpse of at least one bear. This part of the trail begins to get tough with elevation climbing quickly as the trail switches back and forth several times. We only hiked a couple of miles before our muscles screamed for a break, not quite making it to Two Bear. We noticed a few ripe blueberries as we gained elevation, and at times we were surrounded by wildflowers along creeks and streams. Sometimes when when turning a corner in a switchback, we’d get surprise views of snow capped mountain peaks with blue skies as a backdrop. We stopped and picnicked beside a creek, taking an hour or so to draw in my sketchbook and read a few pages in Steep Trails by John Muir while my husband explored the creek.We only saw two people during our hike who were camping at Spike Camp and day hiking up to First Divide and back. Once we began our decent back towards camp, my husband ran ahead, leaving me to soak in the absolute solitude of the wilderness trail. We met up back at camp to begin our evening camp preparations. Only two additional campers arrived that evening setting up camp together at the site beside the trial near the privy.
On the morning of our final day in the park, we woke up around 6:30 am to eat breakfast and break down camp early. We wanted to hit the trail as soon as possible to continue our journey towards our Fourth of July destination for the evening, leaving the woods for the guests pouring into the park for the holiday weekend. We left Nine Stream around 9:00 am and arrived at the trail-head around 2:00 pm. We stopped near a log crossing and enjoyed lunch as we watched people take their turns at the crossing. We counted 79 people hiking in, most of them appearing to be backpackers. We had left the solitude of the wilderness on the trails behind us scattered with enthusiastic hikers.