Tag Archive | Olympic National Park

Hood Canal 2017: Staircase

Day 3, Monday, July 3, 2017

On Monday morning, Lelani joined us fairly early, and we decided to do a day trip up to the Staircase area of Olympic National Park. Lelani, Brent, Joel and I were going along; Brandon and his daughter stayed back at the cabin to relax. We packed up some lunch and snacks, and headed out.

We stopped at a viewpoint for our first look at Lake Cushman, which was going to be one of our destinations for the day. Lake Cushman is huge, and stunning! We looked down at it, and the clouds, and then continued on our drive.

Lake Cushman beneath the clouds

The Staircase area of the park is located down a gravel road, and we drove along the edge of Lake Cushman for awhile. The giant rocks on the edge of the lake are amazing!

The view of Lake Cushman

We arrived at Staircase, and after we paid our fee (with my annual pass, of course), we embarked on a 2.2 mile hike; the Staircase Rapids hike.

Olympic National Park

The hike travels along the North Fork of the Skokomish River, both along sections of rapids (an aptly named hike!), as well as quieter sections of the river. Lelani and I were so into the scenery along the trail that we accidentally missed the turn where we were supposed to turn right to head over the bridge. We eventually turned around after realizing our mistake, but stopped along the edge of the river to look back at the view of the bridge along the rocky bank of the river.

The North Fork Skokomish River, with the bridge in the distance

When we got back to the bridge, the boys were wondering where we were, and standing on the bridge waiting for us. Oops! It is a beautiful bridge though, so it was worth seeing from a distance!

We crossed the bridge, and took photos. Then we spied the rocks in the river, and decided to go climb on them for a spell. While sitting on the rocks, near the bridge, in the river, we had a snack and entertained ourselves. This picture of Lelani giving me the side-eye at my antics is one of my favorites!

 

We finished our hike, climbing on the giant log, and crossing a couple little creeks, and making it back to the trail head. It didn’t take too long, as it was only a 2.2 mile hike, but of course Lelani and I did add a little distance with our detour.

Me at one of the overlooks

On our way back, we wanted to do some more sitting on the huge boulders along the side of the road, so we parked and found a nice big rock to sit on. And then we drank beer… What good hiking party doesn’t pack a cooler with some nice, cold beers! We cracked them open and watched the teenagers on the next rock over jump off into the water! It did look fun! Just sitting and talking with my friends was very relaxing, as we discussed travel, music, concerts and whatever came to mind.

 

Our drive home was uneventful, with another stop at the farm stand for ice cream! Interestingly, I’m not even that into ice cream, but this was some good stuff!  What a day, and it wasn’t even done…

 

Advertisements

Hood Canal 2017: Waterfalls

Day 2, Sunday, July 2, 2017

On the second day of the trip, Brent, Joel and I went out on a tour looking for waterfalls.  We stopped for lunch at the Geoduck Restaurant and Lounge.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a geoduck is a large, Pacific coast burrowing clam.  And it is pronounced gooey-duck – the word origin is Native American – specifically from the Nisqually tribe.  Anyway, we had sandwiches (I don’t even think there were geoducks on the menu); I had the French Dip, which was reasonably priced and had good French Fries.  The food was decent bar food, but the view is the reason to visit…

If you sit outside on the deck, you have a superb view of the tidal flats and the Hood Canal, where herds of elk come to graze, and Bald Eagles fly overhead.  We were treated to about 20 cow elk and their babies, who were quite content just hanging out eating the tall grass until the bikers with their loud mufflers arrived.  I’m glad I took my photos as soon as I saw them…

 

Elk grazing

 

Elk and birds along the canal

 

After lunch, we drove up a little road, pointed out by the woman in the tourism office, and found the trail head for Rocky Brook Falls.  Trail head is a bit of a misnomer, since the falls are basically right off the road – the walk is only about 700 feet!  Yet, it is tucked away and not visible from the road.  It is a large waterfall, with a height of 229 feet!  It is beautiful and kind of falls in a fan shape.  Due to the ease of getting there, Rocky Brook is a crowded waterfall, but it is nice to sit watching it for a bit and listening to the crashing water.  There were lots of families swimming there too – it would be fun to go back with swimsuits sometime!

 

Rocky Brook Falls

After Rocky Brook, we went to find a trail head with another waterfall within the boundaries of Olympic National Park – Murhut Falls.  It is located down a dirt road several miles long; but other than being dusty, it is a pretty decent dirt road!  The falls are decently signed, but you will likely know you are there because there will be a lot of cars…  We had to park up the road a bit in order to find a space.

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!

 

Farewell to Another Year – See you later 2013!

And just like that, another year has flown by and it is time for another annual recap.  The top 10 for another (mostly) great year in chronological order, rather than order of importance, are:

1. Jon and I took our first trip to Walla Walla wine country, after Jon ran his 3rd half marathon in Richland, WA.  He placed 3rd in his age division and 11th overall!  We had some great food, great wine, and visited the Whitman Mission National Historic Site.

2.  My dear sweet bitchy kitty Martini went home to the angels after losing her battle with lymphoma on March 1.  I’ll never know how old she was, but I will always remember the nine years I got to spend with her.  And unless you are Oliver, to know her was to love her…

3.  Jon and I took a fantastic road trip to California, down the coast through the Redwoods, the Anderson Valley wine country, San Francisco, Monterey and finally Sacramento.  We saw huge trees, big elk, lighthouses, one of the world’s most awesome paintings, and we ate great food, tasted great wine, and saw great views.  And I puked.  Several times.  Ten days and almost 2,500 miles later, we came home exhausted and thoroughly spent, but happy and with memories to last a lifetime.

4.  On April 20, this sucker for a cute baby brought home sweet Coraline, a six month old kitten who was brought to my vet’s office after being dumped on a farm.  She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but she does love her kibble.

5.  I got to indulge my inner nerd in June with a trip to Antiques Roadshow in Boise!  We didn’t make it on the show, but if you are interested in watching other people from the Northwest, the 3 hours are airing on January 6, January 13, and January 20 (who knows, maybe the back of my head will be on!).  Although we can’t fund our retirement by selling our treasures, we had a blast, and had a great time seeing the Old Idaho Penitentiary and the World Center for Birds of Prey.

6.  I completed my fourth (on September 1 in wine country!) and fifth (on October 5 at home for a great cause!) half marathons.  Next year, I will have several friends testing their resolve with me!

7.  Jon and I enjoyed a weekend trip to Olympic National Park, where we hiked in the Hoh Rain Forest and listened to the crashing waves of Rialto Beach.  Although Hurricane Ridge gave us the finger with a huge downpour, we’ll be back to see those views.

8.  I had a scare with my horse Biz, who had a scary bout with colic after his most recent dental x-rays.  At 26 years old, I am aware that my remaining time with him… well… you know…

9.  Jon and I welcomed our newest nephew on November 13 (that makes two nieces and two nephews now!).  He is sweet and perfect and cuddly.  His parents love him dearly (at least until he starts talking back).

10.  Jon finished his first full marathon on December 8, in Sacramento, California.  I got a trip to California out of the deal (no more trips to California Jon!), where I got to visit the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, the Governor’s Mansion, and the John Muir National Historic Site.  Posts on the trip coming soon, I swear!

This annual recap reminds me of how truly blessed we are to live the life we do.  We are surrounded by awesome friends and family, loving animals, and we are lucky to have the freedom to enjoy our travels to wonderful places.  Although there are always the highs and lows, I am thankful that there are many more highs…  I hope you have all been blessed by 2013, and that all your dreams come true in 2014.  So bye, bye 2013 – you have been good to me!

Harbinger Winery – Home on the Peninsula

After we sat like bumps on a log on Rialto Beach (we were literally sitting on a driftwood log!), we knew we had to begin the long drive back to our hotel in Sequim.

We got back on the road, and drove into the rain that had so kindly not come during our hike in the Hoh Rain Forest and our walk on Rialto Beach.  We were grateful for that, even as we were driving through the rain and approaching darkness.  I was also feeling the effects of our super-early wake up call, so some caffeine was in order – we grabbed a couple of caffeinated drinks at a small country store along the highway.

Soon enough, outside of Port Angeles, I saw a sign announcing a winery (I swear I can spot those suckers from miles away).  We had seen another sign when we were going in the other direction; of course we thought they would be long closed before we headed back that way.  But, as it turns out, it was only 4:30, a bit earlier than we had anticipated.  And Harbinger stays open until 6!

The outside of the winery is a big old warehouse (it used to be a logging truck shop), with these gigantic wooden doors concealing what is going on within.  When you open the doors, you have to turn around and pull them back closed, because this isn’t a door that will swing shut on its own.  Inside, you are greeted with a large tasting room decorated with wine barrels around the edges, a wooden tasting bar with bar stools on the left, and a living room set of a couch and chairs on the right.  In between are several tables and chairs who want a more restaurant feel.

The exterior at Harbinger Winery with those big wooden doors

The exterior at Harbinger Winery with those big wooden doors

The joint was jumping!  There were 4 men dressed in camo and overalls seated at one table, sipping red wine (one guy was having a beer) – they looked like the least likely wine lovers I have ever seen.  The couch and chairs were filled with two couples.  A man at another table was chatting up the server and obviously knew her well.  And another guy was going through their beer lineup at the end of the tasting bar.  While we were there, several people came and went.  Even though this was one of the busier tasting rooms we have visited, the two servers were on top of their game, serving promptly and remembering where each customer was in the lineup.  And they were friendly and chatty, making everybody feel welcome.

The Interior at Harbinger - it had cleared out a bit by this time.

The Interior at Harbinger – it had cleared out a bit by this time.

You could choose to taste through their flight, purchase by the glass or bottle, or have a beer flight of northwest beers.  Even though they didn’t brew the beers themselves, they had a good variety of northwest beers that I hadn’t tried before; if I were local I would certainly do the beer flight sometimes.

The restroom at Harbinger is decorated with all of their labels from years gone by.

The restroom at Harbinger is decorated with all of their labels from years gone by.

We tasted through their flight, starting with the whites – a Viognier and a Rosé of Lemberger – neither wine was really my taste.  To be honest, I was a little worried at that point that I wasn’t going to be a fan of any of their wines.  But then we moved on to the reds, and wow – I was impressed!  Their Barbera was excellent, a great balance of light tannins and acidity.  El Jefe, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre had bold tannins and earthy flavors mixed with bright berries.  The Rapture was a great Cabernet Franc with big tannins and pepper notes.

Our tasting finished off with the Blackberry Bliss, a blackberry wine aged in oak barrels.  I really enjoyed it, but I was really surprised when Jon wanted a bottle as he normally doesn’t like sweeter wines.

Their grapes are sourced from several vineyards near Yakima, including Crawford Vineyard, Sagemoor, Elephant Mountain, Two Coyote and Piper; several are in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, which consistently receives high reviews.  The blackberries and raspberries for their Bliss line of fruit wines are sourced locally, from Graymarsh Farm in Sequim.

We purchased the Barbera and the Blackberry Bliss – the Barbera is already long gone, but I can’t wait to open the Blackberry Bliss!  Our visit to Harbinger was a lot of fun – they definitely have a fun vibe and friendly staff.  If you have a chance, go pull open those big wooden doors!  Just remember to close them behind you!

Olympic National Park: Rialto Beach

After our trip to the Hoh Rain Forest, we decided to head over to Rialto Beach.  Rialto Beach is one of the coastal areas within Olympic National Park, near the town of La Push, Washington, and just north of the mouth of the Quillayute River.  The area is the ancestral home of the Quileute Tribe, who still live on a small reservation in La Push.

At the Mouth of the Quillayute River

At the Mouth of the Quillayute River

Rialto Beach is covered with driftwood, from small pieces all the way up to huge driftwood logs.  The waves crash onto the beach in this area, making it a perfect place to sit and listen to the sound of the rushing water.  It is the sound of a seashell held up to your ear.  There is something soothing about the sound of crashing waves, and I found all my worries drifting away as Jon and I sat on a driftwood log and just listened.

Trees Grow Right Up to the Edge of Rialto Beach

Trees Grow Right Up to the Edge of Rialto Beach

Piddles the Traveling Owl Relaxing at Rialto Beach

Piddles the Traveling Owl Relaxing at Rialto Beach

Someone Built a Driftwood Fort at Rialto Beach

Someone Built a Driftwood Fort at Rialto Beach

I love the little stack of rocks on this driftwood log - Rialto Beach

I love the little stack of rocks on this driftwood log – Rialto Beach

A Young Woman Enjoying the Beauty at Rialto Beach

A Young Woman Enjoying the Beauty at Rialto Beach

It was a gorgeous sunny day, and warm enough that I could take my jacket off!  The views are spectacular, from the seastacks in the distance to the driftwood right beneath your feet.  This was easily one of my favorite places on our Olympic National Park trip.

Olympic National Park: Lake Crescent and the Hoh!

Our second day in Olympic National Park was a big day.  We were going to spend the day in the Hoh Rain Forest!  We got up super-early (5:40 am!) to make the several hour drive from Sequim over to the rainforest.  The night before, we had gone to the grocery store, and made sure that we would have enough snacks for a long day of driving and hiking – plus a new sweatshirt for me because I forgot to bring a warm sweatshirt from home.

We headed out from the hotel in the dark.  At the beginning, there was some misty rain – we chatted about how much it would suck to spend the whole day hiking in the rain.  But soon enough, it gave way to a beautiful morning!  Our first stop on the drive was at Lake Crescent, which is about 17 miles west (and slightly south) of Port Angeles.  Lake Crescent was created during the last Ice Age when the glaciers carved a deep valley; it drained into the Elwha River, which is one of the major rivers in the park.  About 8,000 years ago, there was a giant landslide that created a second lake, Lake Sutherland, and cut Lake Crescent off from the Elwha River.  Fish were trapped in the lake and began to evolve; today there are two subspecies of trout that are genetically distinct from nearby trout.

The moon over Lake Crescent

The moon over Lake Crescent

We were at Lake Crescent just after sunrise, and the lake was absolutely beautiful.  The water is a deep, clear, turquoise blue, a result of the lack of nitrogen in the water, which inhibits the growth of algae in the lake.  Lake Crescent is officially the second deepest lake in Washington state (the first is Lake Chelan), with an official depth of 624 feet.  However, unofficial depth surveys have recorded depths of more than 1,000 feet!

After our quick stop at Lake Crescent, we continued on our way to the Hoh Rain Forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the United States’ temperate rainforests, with average rainfall of 140 – 170 inches of rain per year.  That’s 12 to 14 feet!  I know some of you think that it rains a lot in all of Washington, but to give you some perspective, Seattle receives an average of 36 inches per year, and New York City receives 45 inches.

Welcome to the Hoh Rain Forest!

Welcome to the Hoh Rain Forest!

When we got to the forest, we stopped off at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor’s Center and got our National Park Passport stamps (one of their stamps is a banana slug!) and set off for a hike.  We started off in the Hall of Mosses, an easy 0.8 mile jaunt near the Visitor’s Center, with signs letting you know which species are out there, and information on the rainforest ecosystem.

The Hoh Rain Forest is dominated by Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, which grow to extreme sizes because of the abundant rainfall.  The Hall of Mosses shows that there are many types of mosses and lichens too; the lettuce lichen is a favorite of the deer and elk in the forest.  Animals in the Hoh Rain Forest include deer, Roosevelt elk, black bear, cougar, bobcat, tree frogs, spotted owls and of course, the banana slug.

These trees in the Hoh Rain Forest are massive!

These trees in the Hoh Rain Forest are massive!

That's a lot of Moss!

That’s a lot of Moss!

Piddles the Traveling Owl Posing with some of the Hoh's Lichens

Piddles the Traveling Owl Posing with some of the Hoh’s Lichens

After enjoying the Hall of Mosses, and watching Jon play with the camera for awhile, we hiked out the Hoh River trail, a trail that stretches for over 17 miles near the river.  You can hike out and camp if you want, or you can head out as far as you want and then turn around and come back.  There are several small trails that lead to the river, and after running into some other hikers who tipped us off to where the elk were, we took one of the small trails over to the river and found a herd of elk grazing and sleeping along the banks of the river.  We watched them for awhile, trading the camera and the binoculars back and forth.  Seeing the elk was really the highlight of the rainforest for me!

A Roosevelt Elk Bull with two females in the Hoh Rain Forest

A Roosevelt Elk Bull with two females in the Hoh Rain Forest

When we were there, we were mostly alone.  We ran into other hikers about every 15 or 20 minutes, but otherwise, it was just us.  It is not a difficult hike either, with most of the first several miles relatively flat.  And even better, the whole time we were at the Hoh Rain Forest, there was no rain!  I have no idea how that happened, but we certainly lucked out.