We go left from here.
So then, Enchanted Valley is downslope, along the east fork of the Quinault River, and the rest is all the other way (back uphill). We take a left here.
Another lingering snow-pocket on the south-facing valley wall.
Even though the north side of the valley is obviously facing the sun, and is mostly bare rock, there are pockets there that hang onto their winter allotment of snow. Such as this.
See? Way up there.
Even though this trip was in mid-August, and the weather, after the rains, was getting seriously hot, the rocks kept their patches of white, all inaccessible save for the occasional passing superhuman. I.e., off-limits for me at least.
And this is the famous "chalet" in Enchanted Valley.
Finally, after three or so miles (4.8 km) of descending along the river, we get to the flattest and widest part of the valley, Enchanted Valley. Most backpackers hike in and don't go above this point, around 13.5 miles (22 km) in from the trailhead.
Looks kind of nice, doesn't it?
This is the location of the locally-famous "chalet". Which is a beat-up old log structure.
Go left some more...
(The signs around here could use some maintenance, eh?)
And get another view of the chalet...
Normally part of the chalet's main floor is accessible, with the upstairs and the south side remaining locked. I guess it's a refuge for campers and hikers, in case they need more shelter than tents provide.
...and then see the reality of the situation.
But this year it was locked up tight, for good reason. It seems that the river had gotten frisky over-winter, and had removed some of the surrounding real estate for its own use, leaving the chalet literally hanging on the edge of its seat.
It seems that the river has had some fun.
No, seriously. Right at the effin edge.
And has removed quite a bit of the local landscape.
I hear that they moved it a bit later, at the end of summer. Or were going to move it. (Yep, they did — just found some info — see links, below.)
But downstream, all is placid, complete with a cozy bridge.
Once past Enchanted Valley, and the chalet, we get into flat-valley forest for the rest of the trip out. The trail has changed a lot since 2003, when I hiked a bunch of it after dark — up until 11:30 p.m., without using a light.
Now we get into the realm of large trees.
It's not like that any more. Too rough, too unpredictable these days, but in its own way, still in great shape. Since it's so often used, the trail is maintained well, as you can see by the cut through the fallen tree, above. This sucker was a good six or seven feet thick. (1.8 to 2 m)
Like this cedar. Got one near where you live?
And if you don't believe that, take a look at the size of a still-standing tree. This one must be about 15 feet thick at ground level. That's 4.6 m, even without flexing any of its muscles.
A hot day. Plenty o' sun.
But there are lots of mostly-open park areas along the way too — alder, big-leaf maple, and other deciduous species. It's a world of sunny green.
Timber acne, before and after views.
Some of the trees are live and some aren't, but they all have their parts to play.
Looks like hemlock to me.
Like these young'uns. I think they're hemlock, but whatever they happen to actually be, well, it doesn't matter a whole lot. They're another fresh sight to behold.
Quinault River from Pony Bridge, near the end of the trail.
Most of the trip downriver from Enchanted Valley is either above or away from the river, but at Pony Bridge you get a good look at it again. This day, just around the bend, a group was in the water swimming. I hadn't known that there was an access point. Unfortunately, even though the day was hot, the fierceness of the heat didn't make it down to the river's level, so things would have been a tad bit chilly there. I kept walking.
The actual end of the trail.
Finally, back at the parking lot you can dig out your calculator and watch and see if you really make good time.