3 of us (28 year old girlfriend, 1 year old shepherd/husky, and I) backpacked this trail over Saturday/Sunday. The trail was in superb condition going up - no down trees and all switchbacks easily found. There were blue skies and we hiked in leggings / lightweight base layers. Only saw 3 other couples (including one guy who lives just over the ridge on Lake Quinault).
We were not sure exactly where Moonshine Flats campsite was (no posted sign) – although we now know it is shortly after the juncture of the Pete’s Creek and Colonel Bob trail where one or two established sites are available. We pushed through to the summit with our full packs. There was a snow field / alpine area about 300 feet below the summit, just off the trail where a hard left switchback happens (we cut right down a scree field to a ‘meadow’).
The campsite gave great views of the Olympics but was exposed during a storm and it got quite windy. Our tent (Hilleberg) stood up well – but others may not have. It also got quite wet in the meadow and we awoke to many flowing streams that were not there the previous day. I would caution against camping here – but it happened to be great for us.
The hike down was not impossible, although the trail was a river most of the trip. Thanks to the amazing trail – it held up to the flowing water well. The stream crossings were also complicated – but passable. We were knee deep at a crossing in Moonshine Flats area, but not flowing so fast that it swept our feet away.
Overall – this hike was great as a backpacking adventure. I would suggest not summiting with packs - rather camp at Mulkey Shelter or Moonshine Flats, although we did and it was fantastic.