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. 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 during a stop at Rusty’s Hard Time Hollow on the edge of the Shenandoahs in Virginia sometime in early Summer of 1991. 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!

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. Day 1.

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



*More to come! Thanks for your patience.*


William Dudley Bass
February 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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