The first day of our Olympic National Park weekend began in Bremerton, Washington, with me wrapping up my conference in the morning. I came back to the hotel just before noon to finish packing up my things while Jon took a shower after his run. We checked out and then got on the road, heading north to our home for the next few days, Sequim. We stopped for a panini, soup and salad lunch at Panera Bread (don’t you just love their food!), and then we were on our way!
I have always thought of the Olympic Peninsula being a good distance away from our home just south of Canada. To get there from home, we have to drive south, then west, then take a ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, then drive to whatever our final destination is. For some reason I just have a mental block about it, even though it really isn’t that far away – so I had never been there, and neither had Jon. But driving up to Sequim from Bremerton was just over an hour, on mostly country highways with light traffic. The sun was shining and the workweek was done, so it was really a pleasant excursion.
We got to Sequim and checked into our hotel, changed into hiking clothes, and then headed out to the Olympic National Park Visitor’s Center to try to beat the rain. We knew the weekend would bring some, but in Washington, even if rain is promised, you never really know if it will start, when it will start, how much you will get, or how long it will last.
Olympic National Park is a huge park, spanning 922,650 acres, with several entrances, and several Visitor’s Centers. President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a National Monument in 1909, and it was changed to National Park status in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The park has four distinct ecosystems: coastal, alpine, temperate rainforest, and drier coniferous forest on the east side of the park. The park contains 60 miles of coastline on the West Coast of Washington, rainforests that receive over 150 inches of precipitation annually, and a mountain range with a summit of 7,788 feet, Mount Deception, and a glacier of over 5 kilometers.
The main Visitor’s Center at Olympic National Park is just outside of Port Angeles, which is about 15 miles east of where we were staying in Sequim. The rangers there are very helpful, giving you advice on which trails you might want to hike, or equipping you with a bear box if you are going to be camping in the park. The Visitor’s Center also contains the Beaumont Cabin, a log cabin built by Elliott Beaumont in 1887, on his 160 acre homestead claim.
Beaumont lived in the cabin with his wife for almost 40 years. It was donated to the Clallam County Historical Society in the 1960s, and has been restored and furnished with period furnishings. You can peek in and see the decor, and immediately realize how small a pioneer cabin is. It is about 10 feet by 10 feet! You really get a good idea of the phrase cabin fever!
After checking out the cabin, it wasn’t raining, so we were ready to head up to Hurricane Ridge to see some awesome views!