Dungeness River, Royal Creek to Royal Lake – Olympic National Forest and Park.

Saturday 1st August 2015 was slated to be a hiking day with Ingrid. It was also going to be a blistering hot day for Western Washington. The night before I was a crew member for a local sailing race, saw the blue moon rise as the sun set over Port Townsend bay and enjoyed libations post race; so it became a late night.

We decided to hike to Royal Lake because most of the trail is well shaded with gentle inclines except for a few steeper sections. I didn’t feel at my best after the late night and a few drinks but expected the walk to pep me up! I dressed in running gear because I tentatively planned jogging down from the lake.

Junction on Dungeness River Trail for Royal Creek

Junction on Dungeness River Trail for Royal Creek

We set off at 11.15 am along the Dungeness river trail. After 15 mins Ingrid remembered we hadn’t displayed the required permit card in our car. Not wanting to get ticketed by a patrolling forest ranger it was decided that I would jog back to the car, display the permit and jog back to catch Ingrid up. I gave her my small backpack and hiking pole as she continued uphill.

I estimated that it might take me about 3/4 hour to catch her up and by 12.15 pm we were hiking together. Ingrid  was glad to give me my backpack and pole! There was a slight cooling breeze as sweat dripped into my eyes with a stinging saltiness. My legs felt like they wanted to continue jogging, so we planned that I would stop at 1.00 pm, wait for Ingrid to catch me up and have lunch together.

The trail inclined a little steeper and my jog slowed to a trot. At 1.00 pm I found a pleasant cool, shaded rock to wait for Ingrid. After a light lunch we were off again at 1.30 pm, Ingrid hiking myself trotting and hiking the steeper sections. There were areas of open avalanche damaged slopes in full, very hot sunshine and it was a relief to re-enter cover from the trees.

1st open view looking up towards Royal Basin

1st open view looking up towards Royal Basin

Beyond the first camping area of Royal Basin flats the trail steepened significantly for about 1/2 mile which slowed me to hiking pace. I reached Royal Lake at 2.10 pm, circumnavigated it then waited for Ingrid. I sat in the sun, dangled bare feet in cold waters and soaked up the scenery.

Royal Lake

Royal Lake

Ingrid arrived around 2.45 pm, had second lunch and a little rest before we both hiked around the lake (2nd time for me). My body was feeling a little tired after the uphill effort and warm conditions. We started our descent at 3.15 pm; I continued to trot and jog downhill while Ingrid fast hiked down.

Royal Lake and Mt. Mystery

Royal Lake and Mt. Mystery

I felt my tiredness and walked every uphill section on the descent. I didn’t pace out anywhere even if the trail surface would have allowed me to do so. I told myself that I could stop anytime I wanted to and just hike but paid no attention to myself!! All was ok, I was just tired. Where Royal Creek trail meets the Dungeness trail there is a log bridge and rushing cool waters. I stopped there for 5 mins for a chia bar and finished my water knowing that I only had one more fairly easy mile to do.

The Trotter

The Trotter

5.05 pm back at the car. I’d left it in full sunshine; it was like a furnace inside and our lemon water was more like lemon tea. I moved the car into some shade and then went and washed the sweat and grime off my body in cold waters of the Dungeness river. I stood in full sun to dry my jogging shirt and Ingrid showed up in good time at 5.43 pm. We were both thirsty but enjoyed a packet of salty crisps/chips with our tepid lemon water. A good trip for us both.

From trailhead to Royal Lake is roughly 7.2 miles one way, but with the extra that I did I estimate covering over 16 miles total for the trip.

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My jog/trot/hike time was 2h 10mins up, 1h 50mins down – 4 hours total not including stops.

Ingrid’s hiking time was 3h 15mins up, 2h 28mins down – 5h 43mins total not including stops.

I had previously jogged this trail July 22nd, 2012. Information, location and directions – Here.