Day 3: Press Expedition wades through mountains

EDITOR”S NOTE: This is the third dispatch from Roger Harnack, Peninsula Daily News’ local news editor. Packing a laptop computer and satellite telephone, he is sending back daily reports from the 12-person, five-day, 46-mile “Across the Olympic Mountains” expedition to Lake Quinault this week. His full reports appear each day in the Peninsula Daily News. Click on “Subscribe” to order your PDN delivered to your home or office.

LOW DIVIDE, Olympic National Park — Day 3 — It’s still raining.

And everyone is wet and cold.

The trails to Low Divide were muddy, and two days of rain has swelled many of the creeks crossing the trail.

Walking through them is more akin to wading a flash flood than hiking.

We were also pounded by waterfalls from uphill runoff as we trudged up switchbacks on the lower flanks of Mount Seattle.

Through the mists and curtains of rain you could look back across the raging Elwha River to stands of dense green forest.

You feel enormously isolated.

By late Wednesday afternoon, as we reached Low Divide, the highest point of our trek (3,662 feet) and about 31 miles from our starting point Monday at the Whiskey Bend Trailhead, we were drenched.

There’s a small ranger’s cabin just below Low Divide, about the size of a hotel room. It has two bunks and a wood-burning stove.

We borrowed it for a few hours and took turns, in small groups, drying our clothes next to the stove.

Our group isn’t a bunch of mountaineers up for an Olympic version of “Survivor.”

We’re 10 journalists, a tourism executive and a park ranger accompanied by a chef and packers with horses and mules hauling our tents, gourmet food and other supplies.

City folks. Tenderfeet. And things are a bit tougher than we expected.

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