I planned to do the Grand Ridge hike from Obstruction Point to Deer Park and back months ago, but never quite managed it. With the weather changing I chose a perfect day, Oct 12th with sunny skies and light breezes.
The first hour I saw many other hikers all doing a one-way trip and meeting friends doing the opposite direction. When they met in the middle they switched keys, which is a nice way to car swap for the return from the trailhead.
By hour two the trail was mine to enjoy, and near the summit of Elk Mountain saw my first Merlin soaring close to the ground and then perching on a rock. What a magnificent sight!
The trail soon afterwards passes the intersection of the trail to Badger Valley and begins some scree scrambling as I crossed over Maiden Peak. This entire first section is above treeline and fortunately calm. As the highest continuous trail in the Olympic Mountains it is breathtakingly beautiful.
There is a campsite at Roaring Winds, which I could imagine would be on some days. Made a mental note to camp here sometime. The trail then dips down through meadows and I had hoped this may be a time to see my first marmot of the year, but no such luck.
Entering the forest around Green Mountain took away all the big views, but it was a pleasant change as I made my way through the trees. Arrived at Deer Park near the ranger station by early afternoon and had lunch, then started back. Saw a few grouse along the way.
The gradual climb felt good and as I got back above treeline could see the clouds moving in from the west and the wind picked up. Far in the distance I could see Moose and Grand Lakes & my red truck at the trailhead. Met two people from Oregon, but otherwise it was mostly a day of solitude.
Was tired and happy to finish. By the next day Obstruction Point Road was closed for the season and there was snow. Timing could not have been more perfect!