Deep into Mountains Beyond the River

(***This is a work in progress. All is Copyrighted. Enjoy!***)

William & Morgan’s Father-Daughter 50-mile, 7-day Backpacking Trip in Olympic National Park with Way Too Much Weight,
Sunday 31 August – Saturday 6 September 2014,
A father & daughter rediscover each other on the Trail before tripping out on the edge of the Ocean

*Click on each foto to blow it up big if you like. Enjoy!*

White Creek Meadows along the O’Neil’s Pass Trail, Olympic National Park, 3 September 2014, Day 4.

Picture of goofy Dad by Daughter. Enchanted Valley, Day 2.

Picture of Daughter by Dad. Upper Quinault, Day 3.
















Morgan was born in the bed at home of an apartment in Seattle a little over 20 years ago before our first backpacking trip together. Both experiences were initiations. I didn’t realize the latter was one, too, however, until a couple of months later. Backpacking with my oldest of three daughters changed my life. It changed hers, too.

This journey was a spiritual and deeply physical reconnection with nature and wilderness. I was also compelled to drop down into deeper levels of awareness of what and who I am as both a self-aware man and as consciousness beyond self. This was my first backpacking trip in 7 years. Suffered from my most severe blisters ever, and I’m the kinda of guy who rarely gets blisters and when I do they’re little bitty thangs.

This trip was also Morgan’s longest backpacking trip up to this point. She was concerned about old injuries flaring up. This trek was a big test for her for she planned to attempt a thruhike of the Appalachian Trial in 6 more months. Most precious, however, was a Father and his Daughter re-creating their parent-child relationship as adults. Being halfway up a steep mountainside with a river below you miles and miles from civilization does things like that to people in a hurry to do-do-do.

Afterwards we both admitted we were afraid we wouldn’t get along, would argue constantly, and wouldn’t find anything to talk about or for. We laughed as those fears didn’t even come close to materializing. Plus this proved an incredible adventure in its own right. Wild weather, bizarre people, magnificent scenery marred by global climate disruption, and unexpected surprises including stumbling into a psychedelic festival on the edge of the ocean made this end of summer backpacking trip unforgettable.

An invisible dynamic was the complex relationships we had with her mom and step-mom, both whom were also my ex-wives. Gwen Hughes, Morgan’s mother, and I thruhiked the Appalachian Trail all the way from Georgia to Maine back in 1991. Gwen and I were known as The Pregnant Rhinos back in our halcyon thruhiker days.

We did an estimated 3,500 kilometers or almost 2,200 miles plus about 150 to 200 miles of crazy ass side hikes. The length of the AT keeps changing. It’s 2,190 miles per 2016 but was 2,168.1 miles in 2001, 2,179.1 miles in 2010, and was about 2,000 miles in 1937. It was 2,184 miles when Gwen and I thruhiked the AT in 1991, and 2,189.2 miles when Morgan attempted her thruhike the following year in 2015.

The Pregnant Rhinos on the AT! aka Morgan’s parents before she was born. 🙂 Here Crazy Gweeyin buzzes off Yeldud the Mad’s hair while he pretends to be scary. This is during a crazy stop at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow on the edge of the Shenandoahs in Virginia sometime in early Summer of 1991. At the time of this picture, William is 32 years along & Gwen is 26. Foto by Weathercarrot.

Gwen and I had planned to thruhike the PCT in 1993, but we chose to have a baby instead. We conceived our daughter upon a homemade altar after I survived a near drowning in a terrifying kayak accident on a whitewater river in Oregon. Morgan was born in mid-March of 1994 around the time Winter rolls towards Spring and many thruhikers traditionally begin to leave Springer Mountain, Georgia, for Maine.

Morgan was an urban apartment home birth baby, too. We soon moved into the first of two intentional communities Morgan grew up in. Gwen and I later divorced, however, and a subsequent marriage to Kristina Katayama, Morgan’s stepmom, dissolved in 2012-2013. I was still healing from divorce, from both divorces, altho all three of us adults remain close friends.

Family dayhike in the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park. L2R in back are Kate, Morgan, & Talia Bass. In front is her stepmom Kristina Katayama (Bass then). Late August 2011.

Deep down Morgan had to resolve those family breakdowns for her self. She did so differently than her two younger sisters. We had grown apart as divorces, severe financial losses from the Great Recession, and a catastrophic house fire on Morgan’s 16th birthday in 2010 spun us apart. Nature proved healing. Our journey deep into the mountains then down to the seashore took us to places of mind and heart, unexpected places.

So off the two of us went to Olympic National Park. It’s my favorite as it’s the most diverse national park I’ve been to with it’s wild mix of rugged ocean coastline, jagged mountains with large glaciers, whitewater rivers, temperate rain forests studded with gigantic trees, dry grasslands, high alpine meadows lush with wildflowers, remote tarns, huge lakes, black bears and mountain lions, salmon and trout, herds of wapiti (elk), and too many mountain goats.

The Olympics are rich with a quirky frontier history rife with eccentric personalities, bizarre murders, strange anomalies, a large number of small Native American tribal nations, and conflicts between environmentalists and loggers. Mysteries from Sasquatch clans deep in the rain forests to UFOs from other worlds and dimensions as well as old relics from the past three World Wars abound. The romantic fantasy fiction of the Twilight sagas involving vampires and werewolves is set in the Olympics. The remoteness of the Olympic Peninsula enhanced the feeling we were in another country.

Morgan and her sisters spent many vacations camping, hiking, and swimming “over there” across the Salish Sea from the rest of Cascadia. In some ways the Olympics were her second home. The first trip Morgan took alone after she returned from both her AT and PCT adventures was a road trip to the Wild Olympic Coast and the Pacific Ocean. It was a time of soul searching and healing for her.

Our intention was to take a week to backpack up the Quinault River to the Enchanted Valley, one of the more spectacular parts of the park, and climb up towards Anderson Pass. Then we would veer away to backpack up over O’Neil Pass to reach Hart and LaCrosse Lake basins, considered the most remote part of Olympic National Park. Some of the old-timers referred to it as the Shangri-La of the Olympics. Then we would head back down the Duckabush River, circle around thru LaCrosse Pass to Honeymoon Meadows, up and down Anderson Pass with a side trip to the glaciers. Finally we would bomb all the way back down thru the Enchanted Valley and the Quinault. 

On the way with Dad! Selfie by Morgan Bass, Sunday 31 August. Day 1.

Part of where we plan to go explore.

The drive out from Seattle was long and fun. We had quite a late start, however, so planned to hike in as far as we could by headlamp. After registering at the Lake Quinault Ranger Station and getting the necessary permits, we drove up a long, long dirt road that undulated alongside the Quinault River. Parked at the Graves Creek Trailhead. You could feel the Sun going away as Earth rotated the other way. No fear. Just didn’t wanna get jumped by cougars while hiking in the dark! Morgan, however, was all let’s go, go, GO! We can do it! And so we went.

The first trail we prepared to spend time on backpacking was known as the Quinault River Trail but more popularly the Enchanted Valley Trail. We hoped to make it as far as the O’Neil Creek Campsites, but we were open to the first nice camp spot as long as we got a ways past Pony Bridge.

Morgan’s backpack, an Osprey Women’s Ariel 75, XS. We had wanted one for her about 50-55 liters, but REI, where I worked, was all out of them for a long time. We took too much anyway. For the workout. Hey, we were training!

Dad has his eye on the weather and fusses about the lateness of the hour, tho. His pack is too damn big, too. But, hey, it’s my 1990 Dana Design Astralplane, the same load monster I thruhiked the Appalachian Trail with 23 years ago! It was too big even back then for thruhiking as it’s more of a mountaineering expedition pack.  And…it’s the most comfortable weight bearing backpack I’ve ever worn. The design reflects genius. Nowadays designs have evolved considerably. Ultralite & hyperlite thruhiker packs and sport-specific packs are all the rage.

We go that way.

My big ol’ Dana’s to the Left, Morgan’s against the center of Big Blue, our trusty ol’ beater car.

We enter the Forest. Feels like Heaven on Day 1.

Perfect trail conditions. We appreciated the easy start. Late afternoon on the first day.

Morgan’s into it! She carried only a small fraction of all this weight during her journey on the AT the following year.

Evening gloom approaches on Day 1. Fitting as we’re in the Land of Twilight.

Morgan at an abandoned campground on the bluffs above the Quinault on the way to Pony Bridge.

My daughter sprung off from two goody parents.

Imagining feasts & picnics of a bygone era.

What happened here?

The Quinault River surges thru a series of chasms below.

The river’s running lower than usual as we’re in the 2nd year of a drought.

Morgan on Pony Bridge, Day 1.

Where the trail crosses over the gorge to the other side of the Quinault River.

We spent a lot of time here as I shoot many pictures with my Nikon D90 SLR.

“Dad! Hurry up & let’s go!”

But I’m having too much fun.


The Quinault mesmerizes and the rain forest intoxicates.

William Bass. Foto by his oldest daughter Morgan, who was embarrassed to see her Dad wearing his old ass mountaineering gaiters from his Summer of 1986. Day 1 here in the Summer of 2014.

Darkness descends soon after we leave Pony Bridge. We keep hiking & choose not to turn on our headlamps yet. End of Day 1.

Morgan leads the way early the next day. We already know we carry way too much weight even for such a short trip. Beyond knowing doing so is great exercise that’ll make us stronger as long as we avoid injuries, we are doing the best we can with the gear & funds we have.



Yes, this is me & can’t you tell I am suffering with joy!? Ahhh, my shoulders, back, & hips ache & throb, & the heels of my feet grit apart inside my weirdly twisting boots. Even so, I know I can do it, I am doing it, I do it, and I feel grateful & blessed to be out here amidst such majestic wilderness. I learn my lessons & push on into the beauty of the Deep Wild.

My brain on pain. The bliss of suffering, LOL!

Orange shelf fungus, also known as sulfur fungus or, more commonly, chicken of the woods. Love the bright, psychedelic intensity of the colors.

Foto of Morgan’s Dad, William Bass, one of the 2 Pregnant Rhinos of the AT 1991. Foto by Morgan Bass. Day 2 of our little Expedition.

Morgan Bass chillin’ along the Enchanted Valley Trail, Olympic National Park, woo HOO! Day 2.

Daughter & Father stand in the rootball of an ancient, uprooted Goliath, Day 2.




Morgan Bass, age 20, taking a zero day (time off from backpacking to rest) sitting along the banks of the Upper Quinault River, Olympic National Park. Day 3. Foto by her Dad. September 2014.

Morgan Hannah

Selfie by Dad

Yea, sunshine! Happy the storm is over. Morgan on the Morning of Day 4. September 2014.

Overnight animal alert noise experiment. Nothing occurred. From watching too many zombie movies.
















































Dad messin’ with his old Dana Design backpack. Picture by Morgan. September 2014.






Black bear scat.

Looking back at White Creek Meadows below & at Mt. Anderson beyond.

William Bass in action. Foto of Dad by Morgan Bass. Day 5. September 2014.

Ridgetop foto by Morgan Bass. Day 5.


Looking down the Valley of the Quinault.


“Dad! I see the ocean!” Morgan shouted as she spied the Pacific at the far end of the Quinault Valley pass the lake. Day 5.

“Aye, I see the ocean, too!”

We felt a wild delight in seeing the ocean from the mountains. Beyond the Quinault Valley we glimpsed the shimmer of Lake Quinault followed by the lowland plain beyond. Beyond that, the blue-gray expanse of the Pacific Ocean fading into the Western Sky.

Damn if I don’t stand just like my own Dad used to stand. Makes me miss my father, who died in 2004 from cancer. He traveled the world in the U.S. Navy, but never got to visit Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Hands down the worst foot blisters I’ve ever developed in my entire life. I’ve backpacked for thousands of miles, thruhiked the Appalachian Trail, been on mountaineering expeditions, & never gotten anything this horrible. The pain was excruciating. Other than some grimacing and an occasional whimper, I endured the agony in Silence for the most part. I had to make sure my daughter got back home safely, & I needed to get out of there, too. This the morning of Day 6 of 7 days. I staved off infection, and this took about a month to heal. A second month passed before the healing was truly complete.

We return to the Enchanted Valley & Chalet.

Salvaging history.

Trail graffiti in the wilderness. While sympathetic & at least understanding, we didn’t appreciate seeing these slogans. At the same time, everything is politics, it took political action to preserve this wilderness more than once, and we are at war around the world. Ironically, the misspelling of “forest” as “Forrest” invokes the name of a Confederate rebel general who help founded the Ku Klux Klan to continue the Civil War with terrorism and lynchings. These marked-up timber rounds reminded me of my Earth First! alliances back in the mid-1980s. Day 6.

This refers to a 51 day action during the Gaza Wars. “Protective Edge” was an Israeli military & economic operations against Palestinians in Gaza during the Summer of 2014.

Morgan contemplating wilderness graffiti with her ferocious take on culture & politics.

These two African Americans were unarmed when murdered by Police. Ferguson, Missouri. Cities and towns across America erupted in riots & rebellion. Black Lives Matter, simmering since 2013 in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. BLM developed upon the heels of the 2011-2012 Occupy Movement. The violence continues across America even today. The Wilderness may be a sanctuary, and as we are on a deeper level all one in some way, when a fire breaks out across the nation and the world, there is really no escaping it. There is no escaping our own shit no matter how hard one may look away. Day 6, September 2014.


Our 3-Person REI tent, while heavy, proved just perfect & spacious enough for our father-daughter backpacking adventure.

Morgan on the low-water shores of the Quinault. We take off the remainder of the day to rest up, eat up, and dry & air out damp gear & smelly clothing. We almost kept pushing to the car, Morgan really wanted to Go! Go! Go!, & we had the time off already to enjoy. There wasn’t any hurry. Let’s relax a little bit during this crazy making Age of Anxiety we all abide within. Taking the rest of Day 6 off allowed us to enjoy some of our best times on this little expedition of ours.

My oldest daughter at age 20. There was a time I didn’t intend to have any children. It took a near-death event during a terrifying whitewater descent of a canyon flooded by a typhoon veering off course to shake me up into realizing I wanted to reproduce. Went on to take on two more fatherless girls. Morgan made it all possible.

OMG, eating dinner for lunch with my camera case around my neck. I feel a tad plump just looking at this picture, but, wow, my goodness, we really burned a lot of calories carrying so much heavy gear. Well, our finances were severely limited by the Great Recession, we knew in advance our gear was kinda old & heavy, and we went on this trip anyway. We suffered, sure, learned some tough lessons, and we had a blast. Sometimes backpacking isn’t about the weight or going ultralight. It’s all about and for our Relationships.

Sunny September afternoon on the Quinault, Day 6.

Bird on log on rock in river.

Large helicopter ferrying load after load on run after run up the river to the Enchanted Chalet for the repair crews. These flights were noisy and apparently greatly distressed the bear & elk populations of the valley.

Morgan reading books on her Nook. It broke the following year during her attempt to thruhike the AT, which brought her moments of sadness, upset, & dismay. She loves to read.

Morgan proceeds upon an urgent mission to the far side of the river well beyond the cairns to, um, well, ahem, to poop among the bears. She grips her serrated trowel with confidence & nonchalance.

“OK, Dad, let’s go see the Ocean!”

My daughter walks into the Pacific. After we finally made it back to the car, we drove out along the Quinault River and past the Lake, then straight southwest to Moclips, a little getaway town on the coast immediately south of the Quinault Nation Reservation. Day 7.


Looking north to Port Grenville & the Quinault Nation. Far beyond the other side lays the Native town of Taholah at the mouth of the Quinault River.

Grenville Bay. The large white seastack to foto left is Grenville Arch. To the right is Point Grenville. The Quinault Tribe requires visitors to secure a beach pass prior to exploring their coastal territories. Grenville Point is unique upon the steep, rocky headlands of the Wild Olympic Coast as it’s the only volcanic one left.

Morgan the Pisces in her element at the edge of land & sea.

Morgan Hannah at the end of Summer. Hike 50 miles thru river valleys and up & down over mountains with heavy old gear? No problemo! Especially when the ocean’s a short drive away…


Now it’s Morgan’s turn with the camera, LOL. Yeah, that’s me, The Author, enjoying the salty breeze, wet sand underfoot, and the smell of the sea.

My apocalyptic shot of the world ending at the edge of the continent. Global warming? New ice age? Solar superflares? Megaquake tsunamis? Volcanos? Comets & asteroids? A.I. & computers? Nuclear-chemical-biological warfare? Pandemics mutating from the tropics? Who knows? Stop worrying & live in the moment with conscious intention to make life better right now. Be a stand for radical acceptance, forgiveness, & compassion. It’s OK to feel afraid. Just don’t let fear stop you. Be courageous more than brave. Be a stand for love. Aye, stand for LOVE! Foto by Morgan Bass.


Blast from the Past! Three Sisters in the Sand! Morgan, upper right corner, playing with her sisters Kate (center left) & Talia (lower right) on the same beaches of Moclips & Pacific Beach during a family trip with William & Kristina, Tuesday 1 August 2006. Little over 8 years & a month ago from our 2014 trip, too. Foto by Dad.

Whoa! We stumbled upon fluttering clusters of psychedelic kites! Morgan & I drove south from Moclips to Pacific Beach, the next town down where we once enjoyed a few blended family vacations. Pacific Beach was hosting its annual end of summer Kite Festival. September 2014.

Morgan was surprised & delighted, too. We were in awe & even felt moments of overwhelm at going from deep mountain wilderness to a kite festival by the sea. And, oh, what a gorgeous day!

The Pacific Beach cottage we rented & stayed in a few short times years ago during past trips is buried in woods atop the lower bluff & is the 2nd from the right. We all loved it. The home was small, compact, & enriched with the colorful art created by the owners.

Our father – daughter adventure finally comes to an end as we leave the ocean and head on back home to Seattle. Day 7. September 2014.


*More of the written part to come! Thanks for your patience.*


William Dudley Bass
February – October 2017
Seattle, Washington


Copyright © 2014, 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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