Fortunately for hikers, there is an alternative way to summit Colonel Bob Peak. The Petes Creek Trail has served as the primary route up the mountain, delivering the views with far less trouble for hikers. Still, the Olympic National Forest has few miles of trails in the Pacific Ranger District and the loss of this one - which is accessed from the popular west side of Lake Quinault - has hurt. That is why when the Olympic National Forest asked WTA to help fix the blowdown mess our volunteers on the Peninsula eagerly signed on.
WTA Tackles the TreesIn June, an intrepid crew of ten saw-happy volunteers and one crew leader tromped up the Colonel Bob trail. At 1.7 miles, they were halted by the first of a mile and a half of enormous trees. These are trees where you have to get down on your hands and knees to crawl under them. It's a jumble that completely obscures the trail in many places.
In five days, the crew sawed out the trees that they could over a 0.6 mile stretch (they were so busy they forgot to count) and left notches in other trees to make it easier to crawl over. You can see both the challenge and the progress they made in these photos.
On July 20, another Backcountry Response Team headed in from the Pete's Creek trail, where they cleared a couple of blowdowns before they tackled Colonel Bob from the uphill side. They discovered that the damage to the trail was extensive, and it will only be after Olympic National Forest personnel clear several dozen huge trees in late summer that an assessment can be done to determine how much work remains.
It's a huge task, but we do have a good start. If all goes well, perhaps by by next summer, hikers will have again have the Colonel Bob Trail to hike - to witness the marvelous old growth stands, to seek solitude, to spend a night under the forest canopy and to climb to the summit of Colonel Bob Peak.