New Path–Same Dangerous Traverse

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DSC01613Back in 2006 I swore never to hike up Olympic National Park’s Pyramid Peak again? Why? Certainly not because of the beautiful old-growth forest, historic fire lookout and breathtaking views of Crescent Lake below–those are all good reasons to make the grunt up this peak. The reason was that the section across a huge slide scared the living crud out of me. I crossed it twice that day with much trepidation and a few nods to my creator. It was scary. With tread a mere three feet across,  loose rock and sand, and  a sheer drop-off of hundreds of feet, there was no room for error. This was a dangerous section of trail and one that led me to pen in my Day Hiking Olympic Book this passage:

Warning: A section midway along the trail is prone to landslides. While the tread is periodically restored, the area is exposed, potentially dangerous, and may be intimidating for some to cross.

And this in the hike’s description:

Scraped bare of vegetation, the slide is several hundred feet across and highly exposed. Trail tread is only a few inches wide in spots. Do not cross it if you are prone to vertigo or are at the least bit uncomfortable.

I blogged about it too and many of my readers agreed. The slide only got worse and the Park Service finally officially DSC01612closed the trail. When I heard that they were going to reroute that section of trail, I was thrilled. When I heard last week that the reroute was complete and the trail was open again-I was stoked! But, when I set out to hike it a few days ago I was completely dismayed when I came upon the slide and soon discovered-that the so-called reroute is just a new three-foot wide cut across the same scary slide just a few dozen feet below the old tread! The traverse is still dangerous and one slip can mean death. I couldn’t believe that this is was the reroute! The new tread is already washing-out in spots with a three-foot gully half way across.

DSC01614If you are inclined to vertigo, afraid of heights and exposure, have children with you, or balance issues-do not hike this trail! Most casual hikers will not want to cross this section at all-and the park service offers no warning at the trailhead or on their website. This trail should be closed until a real reroute is constructed-one that bypasses this dangerous slide completely. That can be done by switchbacking up the ridge before the slide and then traversing across the top of it–or constructing a brand new trail from the Spruce Railroad West Trailhead and going straight up the mountain from there.

Anyhow-the “new route” across the slide carries my old warning. Skip this trail and hike nearby Mount Muller and Snider Ridge instead.

If you have recently checked it out, what do you think? Is the trail safe? Should it be closed?

2 comments on “New Path–Same Dangerous Traverse

  1. Walker on said:

    I hiked this trail on January 13th. I have been on so many “bad” trails that I thought this was okay. It is probably not good for a nervous or careless hiker. WTA will be working on the trail from April 30th through May 3rd, but I don’t know what work is planned.

  2. Jim Morrison on said:

    Helpful report. I will avoid the area completely. I would have thought they would have rerouted the trail over the top. We have gone that way, above the slide area, without any technical difficulties. Jim, Hansville, WA

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