Tag Archive | Hurricane Ridge

Olympic National Park: Hurricane Ridge

After stopping at the main Visitor’s Center at Olympic National Park, Jon and I headed up the mountain for a little hiking at the top of the ridge itself.  The top of Hurricane Ridge is 17 miles south of Port Angeles, but the road has a lot of twists and turns, so it takes about 45 minutes to get from the Visitor’s Center to the top of the ridge.

Hurricane Ridge is named for the strong winds that frequent the area, and snow is common even as late as July.  With the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains, it is a popular hiking spot in the spring, summer and fall, and there are skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing opportunities in the winter.  People frequently see wildlife, including deer, elk, bear and a type of marmot that only exists on the Olympic Peninsula.  We were eager to see what everybody raves about!

As we began our drive the weather was cloudy but dry, and we stopped at a few of the scenic viewpoints along the way.  The view on a clear day is supposed to be spectacular, but with the clouds we couldn’t see out that far.  Then, as we were standing there taking some photos, we felt a couple of drops of rain.  Now, we both grew up in the Northwest, so a little rain won’t deter us.  We got back into the car and continued on our way.

Me on our way up to Hurricane Ridge - that smudge above my right shoulder is a raindrop on the camera lens.

Me on our way up to Hurricane Ridge – that smudge above my right shoulder is a raindrop on the camera lens.

Soon, we were almost at the top of the ridge, and the skies opened up into a huge downpour!  We ran from the car into the Visitor’s Center at the top of the ridge, and in a 20 second run we were soaked!  The pictures don’t do it justice, but believe me it was really wet!

You can't tell in this photo, but it was raining really hard.  So much for the view...

You can’t tell in this photo, but it was raining really hard. So much for the view…

The "View" from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center.  Awesome, right?

The “View” from the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center. Awesome, right?

The torrential downpour changed our plan to do some hiking at the top of the ridge, so we had some coffee at the Visitor’s Center, and I got some awesome postcards of the view that I wasn’t going to see for myself…

I love these old style postcards - Hurricane Ridge View of the Mountains

I love these old style postcards – Hurricane Ridge View of the Mountains

There were no eagles flying around in the torrential downpour either!

There were no eagles flying around in the torrential downpour either!

Check out the bears!  We never saw any real ones - they were staying inside!

Check out the bears! We never saw any real ones – they were staying inside!

This is what Hurricane Ridge would look like on a clear day.

This is what Hurricane Ridge would look like on a clear day.

Well, not every day of sightseeing can come off without a hitch…  Sigh… The good news is, we have a reason to come again.  And I spotted a winery on the way out to the park – we stopped by on the way back!

Our First Peek at Olympic National Park

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.

The View on the Way to Sequim

The View on the Way to Sequim

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.

The Front of the Beaumont Cabin - What a Tiny House!

The Front of the Beaumont Cabin – What a Tiny House!

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!

The Side of the Beaumont Cabin

The Side of the Beaumont Cabin

After checking out the cabin, it wasn’t raining, so we were ready to head up to Hurricane Ridge to see some awesome views!

Planning a Visit to Olympic National Park

Back in late September, I was off for a conference in “lovely” Bremerton.  The fall conference that is put on by one of the professional associations I belong to alternates between beautiful Chelan (located on a lake in wine country), and not quite so beautiful Bremerton, home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of the Naval Base Kitsap.  In short, it’s a Navy town.  Bremerton is located right on the Puget Sound, which makes for some beautiful views, but it has been largely an industrial center and it has struggled in recent years.

The downtown area right near the Convention Center has gentrified in recent years, but get out of the immediate vicinity (and by immediate, I mean 2 or 3 blocks) you see the evidence of a community that has had its share of difficulty.  There are a ton of empty buildings and ramshackle homes in and right outside of downtown.

I call these the Volcano Fountains because they erupt with water at periodic intervals - they are loud and scare me!  They are right near the ferry dock in downtown Bremerton.

I call these the Volcano Fountains because they erupt with water at periodic intervals – they are loud and always startle me! They are right near the ferry dock in downtown Bremerton – an example of the revitalization in the downtown core.

Jon and I took a long weekend around my conference last year and spent a few days exploring Chelan, and I asked him if he would like to do the same this year.  I got a firm and resounding “NO!”, until I explained that we didn’t have to STAY in Bremerton…  Then you could see the wheels start to turn in Jon’s brain.  We thought about places on the Olympic Peninsula where we could have a nice weekend, and thought no further than Olympic National Park.  The plan was hatched…

The Plan:

  • Leave Bremerton right after the conference wrapped up at noon on Friday (well, right after getting some lunch…)
  • Head up to the upper end of the Olympic Peninsula, to our lodging in Sequim
  • Tour Olympic National Park – 3 spots in particular: Hurricane Ridge (outside of Port Angeles), the Hoh Rain Forest (30 minutes south of Forks, Washington), and Rialto Beach
  • Other potential itinerary items (depending on time and weather): Dungeness Spit and the New Dungeness Lighthouse, the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, wineries, and some of the waterfalls in Olympic National Park

However, as we got closer to the weekend, the forecast called for rain.  How much would we be able to see and do?  Stay tuned!