Olympic National Park - May 8th to 10th

Once I left Alaska to come back to Colorado, I decided to take the scenic route though British Columbia and along the Pacific Northwest Coast. On May 6th I arrived in Seattle and got an Airbnb for a couple of nights. Back in a major city and perhaps where I felt a bit more in my comfort zone. What a contrast from the remote areas I'd been for the couple of months prior.

After a couple of nights in Seattle, I got back on the road and headed out towards Olympic National Park. Before finding a place to camp for the night, I stopped for a hike along the Dungeness Spit. It was too late in the day for me to make it all the way out to the lighthouse, after all it is the world's longest naturally occurring sandspit, 5.5 miles to get there from the parking area. There were only a couple of other people on the beach, and it felt pretty special to walk alone for a couple of miles. 

As I walked back, I noticed one other person mediating on the beach. A very peaceful and special place. And this was only my first stop along the Olympic Peninsula. The day was coming to an end and I had to find a place to camp for the night. There is a campsite right by the spit, but I wanted to be somewhere a bit more secluded, as there were quite a few people at this campsite. And although it was close to the beach, there wasn't quite the view I was hoping for.

Near the entrance to Olympic Park by Port Angeles, I found a great spot. Surrounded by the woods, quiet, perfect. Before setting up camp, and just after the sun had set, I made the drive south to Hurricane Ridge ski area. On the drive up, there were beautiful views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and snow covered peaks. It was windy up there and getting dark quickly, but I wanted to take in the views as long as I could. I headed back down the road to the Elwha Campground and settled in for the night. 

The following morning, I was up early and continued my journey along Route 101. My plan was to drive 101 and Route 1 for most of the coast and stop for some hikes along the way. Not too far from where I camped I drove along Lake Crescent. I could have spent days there. The water was unbelievably clear, and it was so peaceful. I parked and walked out onto a dock near the NatureBridge station and sat there for a few. In peace. I could hear others in the distance, but I had the space to myself for a time. I soaked it in. I couldn't really believe what I'd seen over the past few weeks, only a week before that I was flying over Denali National Park in Alaska.

There was some road work ahead, so I wasn't able to continue along 101 beyond Crescent Lake. I had to back track a few miles and continue along Route 112. I wanted to get a decent hike in that day and had a few options on my list. I've been using the Hiking Project app by REI to bookmark potential stops. Even with 2 sources of navigation, I ended up a little bit out of the way and drove though Sekiu. Although it would have been very cool to continue north west to Cape Flattery, that was pretty far out of the way and would have required pretty significant backtracking to continue down 101.

I turned around just past Sekiu and headed south towards Forks. I had a trail bookmarked that I wanted to make it to, and there was still plenty of time in the day. Hole in the wall, Forks, Washington.

The tide was fairly low when I arrived which was good because I was able to make it through to the other side of the wall. There was another couple over there taking pictures, but they left shortly after I arrived. Again, alone on the beach, at peace. Having only ever visited beaches on the East Coast until recently, I was not used to seeing such spectacular rock formations coming out of the water, nor was I used to beaches that were so empty. I sat there and listened to the waves rolling in for a little while before walking back. 

I drove further south towards the Hoh Rainforest.  I didn't have much time left in the day for a long hike, nor did I want to venture too far alone, but right by the visitor center there is a 1.4 mile loop hike. A part of me was tempted to sign up for an overnight permit and venture further in on the Hoh River Trail to camp for the night, but being alone I was hesitant to head too far away from civilization. I only saw 2 other people on that whole 1.4 mile loop, and based on how empty the lot was, I'm pretty sure that there were no more than a dozen people for miles. There was more vegetation in that rainforest than I've ever seen in my life, I was speechless.

A little over halfway along the trail, I noticed a fallen tree that had many other trees growing from it. A Nurse Log, I'd never seen such a thing, it was very special. To see so much life growing from something that had fallen many many years ago was incredible.

It was getting later in the day with only about an hour until sunset, and I wanted to get back down to the beach and towards the campsite. I headed to Second Beach, where there is a short walk from the parking lot to the beach. A perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset and with some great campsites nearby. I was able to sleep close enough to the beach to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean. 

I couldn't believe how much I had experienced in only a day.

The following morning I continued south along the coast and first stopped at Third beach. I climbed over tons of drift wood and spent a few minutes sitting by the water.

As I continued south on 101, I saw a turn into the Quinault Rainforest. As I've mentioned before, I always try to take the scenic route. It was a good call, and another spectacular drive through an incredibly lush forest, and without anyone else around for miles.

That evening, I made it to Portland, Oregon and took a yoga class before settling in for the night. Next stop, the Oregon Coast.

I cannot wait to go back and spend more time in Olympic National Park, this is a truly spectacular place which I would highly recommend visiting.