Archive | September 2016

Olympic National Park: Ozette Triangle Hike

In early June, I headed out to the Olympic Peninsula to hike the Ozette Triangle hike. It is a 9.2 mile loop hike, that can be done either as a day hike or as a multi-day camping trip. I did a day hike, but there are two campgrounds, and one day I would like to go back and camp there.

The ferry to the Olympic Peninsula

The ferry to the Olympic Peninsula

 

Olympic National Park!

Olympic National Park!

From the starting point, you can choose either of two spurs – the one to Cape Alava (3.1 miles) or the one to Sand Point (3.0 miles). If you are camping, the spur you choose will probably depend on which campground you are planning to stay at – one allows campfires and the other does not. The hike is mostly flat, so there isn’t going to be much difference in elevation changes, although the Cape Alava spur has slightly more up and down.

The boardwalk on the spur trail to Sand Point

The boardwalk on the spur trail to Sand Point

The spur to the beach is mostly on raised wooden boardwalks through boggy forest, but I was surprised at the fact that there weren’t any mosquitoes. Perhaps they get worse later in the summer, and in the evenings. There were shady parts and sunny parts, depending on the number of trees in the immediate vicinity. It was very peaceful.

As I got closer to the beach, I started hearing the waves– I’m sure in the winter on a windy day, the sound would be very loud. I love the sound of waves on a shore, and the waves of the northern Washington Coast are wonderful.  To me, it is a truly peaceful sound…

The beach at Sand Point

The beach at Sand Point

I walked south on the beach a little ways, to find a beautiful sandy beach, with some driftwood at the tree line. I even found an intact sand dollar! The day was gorgeous, sunny, and hot! An absolutely perfect day!

Elwell and Piddles enjoying the view at Sand Point

Elwell and Piddles enjoying the view at Sand Point

The beach hike – 3.1 miles – is the hardest part of the hike. There is some hiking on packed or softer sand, but further north you are walking over rocks covered with kelp and barnacles, so you have to be careful. It can certainly be slippery.  Make sure to time this portion with a lower tide or else you’ll be doing a tougher hike through the forest above the tide line.

I love this wild beach!

I love this wild beach!

It was fun to poke around in the tide pools and find shells, and seeing the sea stacks in the distance was amazing. When the wind is blowing in the right direction, you can hear the sea lions on their offshore island perch. I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t brought my binoculars.

I love this wild beach!

I love this wild beach!

There are Native American petroglyphs visible on the rocks as you travel from north to south, but I did the hike in the opposite direction and ending up missing them. Oh well, just a reason to return!

A Bald Eagle feeding on a fish at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

A Bald Eagle feeding on a fish at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

After three miles on the beach, it was time to re-enter the woods on another set of raised boardwalks. These woods are home to lots of animals, including bears and cougars, but I didn’t see any during my midday hike. On the way back on the Cape Alava spur, I passed a boggy meadow, which once was a homesteader’s farm. He pastured sheep and cows in the meadow, but there isn’t much evidence of its history now.

The whole hike took about 5 hours at a leisurely pace, with a couple of stops for snacks and beach combing.  I loved it, and will certainly return!

 

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Fragrance Lake Hike

Memorial Day weekend, my friend and I got together for a local hike up to Fragrance Lake. The hike is about 5.2 miles round-trip (hiking guides disagree, estimating the total distance between 4.9 and 5.5 miles), in the Chuckanut Mountains near my home. It begins like other hikes in the Chuckanuts, with a series of switchbacks to take hikers up the steep hill without hiking straight up.

I love how the trees just find a way to grow over the rocks.

I love how the trees just find a way to grow over the rocks.

Unless you are an Ironman, you definitely have to stop and rest a few times on this hill. My friend hadn’t done this hike before, and I hadn’t been in several years, so I forgot about the tough beginning. It is a fairly popular hike, so you will encounter dozens of other hikers – you get used to the “pass and be passed” rhythm that develops as you each take breaks at different times.

Dappled sunlight through the canopy.

Dappled sunlight through the canopy.

Once near the top of the hill, there is a bit more gradual hiking before reaching Fragrance Lake. It is a small lake with a 0.75 mile trail around it, offering several spots where visitors can dip a toe in the water or even go swimming, making it a perfect summer destination. There are also several benches to hang out and sit for a while.

A peek-a-boo view of Fragrance Lake

A peek-a-boo view of Fragrance Lake

On the way back we took the 0.2 mile spur trail that leads to a spectacular view of Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands. Stunning!

Girlfriend selfie at the overlook

Girlfriend selfie at the overlook

 

An amazing blue sky over Bellingham Bay

An amazing blue sky over Bellingham Bay

San Diego 2016: The Bahía Resort

I don’t often (or ever?) devote a whole blog post to a hotel, but The Bahía at Mission Bay is a pretty neat hotel. It is right on Mission Bay, on a spit jutting out into the water. One side has a marina, the other side looks out on another section of the bay.

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

Guest can take a ride on a historic steamboat

The Bahía is an older hotel, first opened in 1953, and it has been added onto over the years. There are various types of rooms and buildings. We were in a suite with a bedroom with two queens, and a well-stocked kitchen with full sized fridge, microwave, dishes etc. We were pretty excited that we were in the suite, because we were upgraded at no charge! They even gave us a fruit and chocolate plate with strawberries, grapes, apples, and dark, milk and white chocolate in molded seashell forms. Too cute!

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread

The hotel gave us this fabulous fruit and chocolate (yes, the shells and flower are chocolate!) spread.  We sort-of ate some of it before we remembered to take a photo…

 

The resort has all sorts of activities for adults and children. A beautiful pool and huge hot tub, a nice exercise room, tennis courts, and shuffleboard. If you get bored with all that, there’s a shack right next door that rents paddleboats, stand up paddleboards, big wheel paddlers (not sure their real name), and if I remember correctly skateboards. I read that there was a place nearby that rents bikes and tandem bikes. You could do a different activity every day of your stay!

And, the resort has two harbor seals who live at the resort. The Bahía is designated as a rescue approved home for harbor seals who cannot be released into the wild. Both seals have limited vision, and were rescued early in their lives, before they had an opportunity to learn how to care for themselves, so they both would have virtually no chance of survival in the wild.  They live out their lives here, content to swim around their pool and play with toys, and get their two square meals a day. The wild Black-Crowned Night Herons appreciate their meal time too, parking themselves nearby to see what scraps they can get.

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

Rescued Harbor Seals live there!

 

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

A Black-Crowned Night Heron waiting for dinner at the seal pool.

The Bahía also has a series of little duck ponds for little birds, surrounding by beautiful flowers – birds of paradise, hibiscus and others.

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

A Mandarin Duck. Not native to California, but he was so stunning!

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort's ponds

It was spring, and there were lots of ducklings swimming in the resort’s ponds

 

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

This gorgeous hibiscus was blooming at the resort.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the resort was the restaurant. I blogged about it previously… The food was nothing special and both times we went the service really lacked… Hopefully they will turn it around for future guests! Luckily, there are several restaurants within a 5 minute walk of the resort, with amazing fish tacos, salads, flatbreads, and grilled cheese sandwiches just some of the options!

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

A White Bird of Paradise plant at the resort

I would absolutely stay there again – what a great resort!