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Camp Pleasant lives up to its name | Kipp's Corner

A black bear roams near the section of the Skokomish Trail between Camp Pleasant and Nine Stream. - John Perry/ Courtesy
A black bear roams near the section of the Skokomish Trail between Camp Pleasant and Nine Stream.
— image credit: John Perry/ Courtesy

Less than 24 hours before our group of four set out for Lake Crescent, we received information that the hike up would be treacherous, to say the least.

The ranger station issues six slips at a time for the Lake Crescent backcountry. All the slips were available at the time, because the two-mile trail was buried in snow and hikers would have to find their own way to the lake.

So what’s the big deal about hiking through two miles of snow?

The trail up to Lake Crescent has an elevation gain of about 3,300 feet. The hike is difficult enough in perfect conditions.

So instead, we embarked out to the Lake Cushman resort, where we would park at the far end of the lake and hike about six miles to Camp Pleasant.

Before getting into the hike and campground itself, it should be noted that it costs $15 to park a vehicle at Lake Cushman. To camp in the backcountry, it costs $5 to register a group and an additional $2 per person. Fishing is allowed June 1 to Oct. 31, but is restricted to catch and release.

The hike up to Camp Pleasant is not the most scenic I have traveled. It begins at the Staircase Ranger Station and travels up the Skokomish River Valley. A few river crossings make up the majority of the excitement. Upon reaching Camp Pleasant, however, the dense forest opens up.

For those not accustomed to longer hikes, there are other camp areas on the way to Camp Pleasant.

There are plenty of flat areas to pitch a tent, all of which are used so often that on any given weekend in the summer there will likely be multiple camps set up in the few acres of Camp Pleasant.

Once at the camp, the options for day hikes become limited. Hikers can either go back the way they came and explore, or continue up the mountain to Nine Stream, about three miles from the camp.

The hike up to Nine Stream is one of the most memorable I have traveled recently. A black bear casually strolled near the trail. A bridge spanned across a waterfall that fed into the Ford River. A small piece of history was painted on a tree.

The black bear did not seem to mind his observers at all. Our group of four kept a distance. Another group, however, felt the need to get close for some photos, something to avoid.

After crossing the vast bridge about two miles up, we saw a U.S. Geological Survey marking from the late 1800s that had been painted on a pine tree.

The patches of snow covering the trail continued to grow. With about one mile left until Nine Stream, the journey became an all-out-struggle as the trail completely disappears under feet of snow.

Overall, Camp Pleasant and, under better conditions, Nine Stream, make for an enjoyable weekend trip. Trees canopy most camping spots and the surroundings make it easy to forget about the noise six miles away.

 

 

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