Olympic National Park
The Olympic Peninsula contains Olympic National Park, which is home to the world’s largest temperate rainforest, and surrounded by beautiful beaches. There are sometimes Orcas that can be seen from the shore and maybe a Sasquatch or two. It’s a bit far from just about everything, but it is pretty amazing and worth the trek.
The first week we (my brother, sister, and I) stayed in Forks, a small town on the west coast of the peninsula. It is close to several beaches as well as the Hoh Rainforest, and the campground we stayed at (Forks 101) was quite cheap, though the wifi sucked.I had wanted to visit the Hoh Rainforest since the first episode of Mick Dodge. If you don’t know, Mick Dodge is a man from television who supposedly lives in the Hoh and stays away from civilization. After going, I can see why. The rainforest, dripping with moss and carpeted by ferns, called to me. It told me to leave the trail made by civilization and walk straight in, to lose all sense of direction and immerse myself in its beauty. I did not, because I love the internet and modern amenities, but I thought about it.
There is an 18 mile trail that goes straight into the Hoh, and two smaller loop trails off of it, the Spruce Trail and the Hall of Mosses Trail, which total 2 miles. We hiked about three miles out on the Hoh trail, making for a 6 mile out-and-back. The trail snakes right along the Hoh river, making for some beautiful scenery on the edge of the forest as well as within it. I left with a desire to see more, and I hope to come back one day and hike the whole thing, camping at the small sites set up to host tents in the evening.
The moss that hangs from the tree branches is a lichen that feeds off the moisture and nutrients in the humid breeze. It covers everything in the forest and does not do any harm to its host. On the ground is a thick layer of large, bushy ferns. All of these things made for some awesome pictures and fun exploration.
We also visited four beaches while we were on the west side of the peninsula. We went to Ruby Beach, First Beach, Rialto Beach, and Cape Flattery. Cape Flattery was not so much a beach as a cliff looking out at the Pacific, but that made it even cooler. We went to the beaches almost every day to take sunset photos, as the clouds in this rainy part of the country make for some colorful sunsets. If I had to pick a favorite beach it would be a hard choice, but I would probably say Rialto because of the awesome sea stack formation there.
In our secondweek near Olympic National Park, we moved to a different RV campground, hiked hurricane ridge, photographed sunsets, and thought about going to Canada. I only have five days left until I leave for Fiji, and this has been an amazing last hoorah in America. I can’t wait to get overseas, but I will be very sad to leave this beautiful peninsula.
We were sick of not having internet at our first campground, so even though we were originally planning on staying there for two weeks, we left after one and moved on. Now we are at a campground on the north shore of the peninsula, in a town called Port Angeles. PA, as the locals call it, is much larger and therefore has a lot more to do than Forks, the last town we stayed in. There is a cool cape with a Coast Guard base, a Walmart, and it’s close to many of the national park attractions, like Hurricane Ridge.
Hurricane Ridge is the most popular spot in Olympic National Park. For some reason, they named the trail Hurricane Hill, but the spot is marked as Hurricane Ridge on the map and the visitor signs, so the two are interchangeable. It is a short hike, only 1.6 miles out, so 3.2 round trip. However, it is intense. The trail gains almost 1,000 feet in elevation from the trailhead to the peak. Still, there are many young and old people finishing the hike, and the view from the top (and all along the trail, for that matter) is worth the effort.
We saw a lot of deer, but unfortunately not much other wildlife. This trail is home to many of the marmots in the park, and we did hear one screaming (the noise they make sounds like a child’s scream). There are also mountain goats, and a warning sign at the trailhead claims the salt in urine attracts them, so they follow humans around the trail, waiting for them to urinate. If you do need to go, the same sign asked that you do so 100 feet away from the trail to keep other hikers safe from the sharp horns of the mountain goats.
My sister, Lauren, has never seen a mountain goat, so I considered peeing my pants to attract one, but I decided it may be uncomfortable and ruin my hike.
At the top we could see all the way across the Juan de Fuca strait to Victoria, Canada, as well as the entire Olympic mountain range. The tallest mountain in the range is Mount Olympus, measuring in at 7,979 feet. All of the peaks were snow-capped and picture perfect. There was even some snow on the ground at the top of Hurricane Hill, so I was able to make my last snowball for a while, considering I’ll be traveling the tropics for the next year.
We also went out to Lake Crescent to take some sunset pictures. It wasn’t the best sunset, or the greatest spot to capture it, but it was still beautiful. I was only able to get two usable images, but I was glad to get them. I have gotten into photography more and more over the last few months. I find that going out to take sunrise or sunset photos is a great way to explore the places I travel, while still leaving the whole day to get work done or go on hikes, etc. It also allows me to share my adventures in a way that is enjoyable to you.
We still have a few more days here before heading out, so we plan on hiking Storm King, another mountain trail in the area. You will be seeing a video about that soon. Also, if you missed it, my new video came out today, so go check it out.