Trip Report NFR- Enchanted Valley: A trip of firsts

I'm growing in my desire to spend time backpacking the wilderness and prepping for a long trip this summer so I took advantage of a schedule quirk to get away for a couple of nights. My schedule had me ending work at 10 am Thursday and not due back until after Memorial day. With that, I booked 2 nights for the East Fork Quinault Valley.

This trip presented some firsts for me.
  • First backpacking trip longer than 1 night
  • First solo backpacking trip
  • First backpacking trip in the rain
  • First trip longer than 20 miles
  • First time using a bear canister
My experience was incredible. I left straight from work in Tacoma at 10:05 Thursday morning. By the time I was at the trailhead and ready to go it was 2:00. I struck out and hike from Graves Creek trailhead to my campsite for 2 nights at Pyrites. The map says a shade under 10 miles, but my GPS said 11.4 miles on the way in and 11.5 miles on the way out and it felt that distance. The weather Thursday was somewhere between raining and downpour the entire time, making the tread VERY sloppy. I passed 15 people who were headed out, all of them looking quiet unhappy. Pyrites has 12 sites, split by a creek into 2 groups of 6 some distance apart. When I arrived there were 5 people on one side, but I was alone once I crossed the creek. I was soaked through by the time I got to my campsite about 7:00, but my gear was dry thanks to a contractor trash bag. I set up a tarp immediately, then a tent, then made some hot dinner, ate, organized, and stashed the bear canister before finally stripping out of my wet clothing and putting on dry gear and climbing into my sleeping bag to get warm. When I took my boots off, I could pour a little water out of them. In the evening a few friends stopped by and hung out while we ate our dinners. We all said it had been too long and that we really should do it more often.

Some shots from the day. The Quinault Rainforest really lived up to its name Thursday.
I woke up the next morning to a pleasant silence, the rain had stopped! I ate breakfast, packed up things for a day hike and put on my wet clothes from the day before to make sure I had something dry to wear at the end of the day then headed out about 7:30. I passed 12 hikers as I headed for the Enchanted Valley 4 miles away. When I got there, it was devoid of people and I spent 4 hours there alone, wandering, snacking, and basking in the occasional sun breaks before anyone else showed up.

Between a light breeze and the sun, I was able to almost completely dry out from the day before. As people began to file into the valley, I headed back to Pyrites. I passed 3 bears on my way back.
Walking through these big maple studded meadows on the valley floor was one of the more enjoyable things I've experienced. As I descended the valley, the weather continued to improve to a fine afternoon. I even took a nap in the hammock after I got back to camp. IMG_20210528_140628.jpg
True to their word, my friends stopped by again, this time for a quick afternoon visit but left as more people showed up to camp.

I lounged around camp, read a bit, ate dinner, chatted with the rangers that passed through, and called it a day. The next morning I was up at 6 and lazily ate and broke down camp then headed out. The weather was incredible, upper 60s with a few clouds sitting the sky. I hiked my way out and saw A LOT of people as is expected on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

It was an incredible trip. I am very thankful for the experience and I'm very excited to plan some more for after school gets out in 3 weeks. My body, especially my knee held up better over the 3 days and ~30 miles than expected considering I had not done any back to back long days since surgery. I learned a lot of things about my gear, how much and when I need to eat on trail, dealing with rain, and being solo.


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Active Member
I did this hike 4 years ago, it's incredible. We did a the whole way to Enchanted Valley the first day, hiked half way out the second, and the rest of the way out on the 3rd. Loved every second of it.

Ron McNeal

Good for you, Gary. Neat to know you had such a great trek. How much did your pack weigh - just curious.....

Gary Knowels

Active Member
Good for you, Gary. Neat to know you had such a great trek. How much did your pack weigh - just curious.....
Too much I have sleep apnea and carry a CPAP setup that adds 5 pounds to my pack and took a couple unnecessary items for a few extra pounds. Before food and water it was 34 pounds.


Active Member
Thankyou for posting the pictures of the chalet. It has been 52yrs since 1st sleeping in it. The cabinet shop in Hoquiam across the street from my parents house built the windows for its construction. They were carried in by horseback. When the park dept needed the windows replaced the same person was able build them only that time they were flown in by helicopter.

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