olympic national park

#hike29 - Olympic National Park

Date: October 20, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Quinault

Distance:  5 miles

Trails: Enchanted Valley Route (to Pony Bridge & back)

I finally did it - I went back outside. I know, it’s been a while, but I’ll blame the weather in Texas. Really, it was a combination of feeling uninspired and the weather, but that’s a topic for another day.

I decided an autumn trip to the great state of Washington was necessary to compare to my spring adventures. I went back to the Quinault region and hiked to Pony Bridge. When I last visited the Quinault region, it was rainy, windy, and cold. This time, it was sunny, cool, and windy out in the open spots.

The hike started with the drive from Olympia, WA to the Graves Creek Campground/Trailhead. I started early, in the dark and fog, and go to the Quinault turn off as the sun started to illuminate the low hanging clouds.

The road beyond Lake Quinault goes through the valley where there are private residences and then follows the river. You take a turn off onto a gravel road and go about six miles along the river to the trailhead. The road winds through big trees, over various creeks, and is bumpy yet fun to experience.

I had planned for somewhat warm weather, ignoring the morning and night temps. I showed up to the trailhead in shorts and a hoodie, thinking I’d be fine. I was fine, but it was definitely chilly. It was somewhat dim yet, even being 8:40am. I was on a time crunch with this hike because my priority for the day was getting back to the suburbs and meeting a friend who was going to show me Mount Rainier National Park. I set off at a more rapid than usual pace for me, up the gradual elevation gain for the first two miles. It is a gorgeous, tree lined trail with all the lush rain forest vibes and hints of bright yellow autumn moments.

My quick pace took me up to the point of decent to the river and bridge in no time at all. I had time to slow down and enjoy the area around Pony Bridge and could take it easy walking back to the car. It started to get lighter as the morning went on and by the time I was making my way back through the forest the sun was illuminating everything. Sunshine poured in every crack of the canopy, making it feel like a completely different trail than earlier.

I noticed mushrooms and plants as well as heard the birds chirping. It was a completely different hike out than in. I love that the same trail can be so different the second you turn around and see it a different way.

Olympic National Park & National Forest areas are some of my favorite places that I’ve seen in life. Hike 29 along a river, between the mountains, and under the trees was everything I could have wanted out of a hike.

#hike13 - Olympic National Park (the coast)

Date: March 31, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Washington

Distance: 9.3

Trails: Ozette Loop

I woke up as the morning became light, decided it was time, and made my way to the Ozette Ranger Station to park and get acquainted with the trail and area.  It was about 7:21 and I wanted to be done before noon, as I had planned to check out of my cabin by then.  Four-plus hours was plenty of time to complete 9 miles, even at a slow pace, but I was off in a hurry.  After about a half mile, I consciously calmed myself down and went a normal pace so I could enjoy all of the lush greenery and skunk cabbage blooms.  The Ozette Triangle, or Ozette Loop, is really two trails and a beach hike.  The two trails to/from the beach go through coastal forests, random clearings, swamps, and crosses creeks.  The paths are either soil in boxes, boardwalks, or dirt.  Elevation gain is minimal, until the end, but here are stairs and a rope for any necessary assistance making it acceptable for all types of hikers.

I remember stopping when I heard the first sign of waves - the ocean was near.  The air changed, my pace changed, I was smiling uncontrollably, and I was finally to the beach.  As I got closer, the beach smelled less fresh and more fishy, but what can you do?  Walking the beach from trail to trail had some obstacles such as large fallen trees, rocks, and tide pools.  I ran into a group of hikers who didn't have a map so we looked at mine and made friendly chatter.  It's nice to run into people with the same idea as you, wandering down the beach in search of the next trail.  I eventually left them in the dust, hike your own hike, but I did enjoy their company for a little while.

This hike was secluded enough and offered the most variety as far as terrain and plants of any over my weekend in the Olympic.  I hope you find your path and happy trails!

#hike12 - Olympic National Park (inland hikes)

Date: March 30, 2018/April 1, 2018

Location: Olympic National Park - Washington

Distance: 8 miles

Trails: Marymere Falls, Mt. Storm King, Sol Duc, Maple Glade, Hall of Mosses

WHAT A HIKE.  Hike 12 encompassed several trails from my weekend away on the Olympic Peninsula in Northwest Washington.  For this, I'm taking all the little hikes I did over two days and counting them as one for record keeping purposes, as many were at just about a mile.  It's amazing - as I look back at previous hikes, they were longer but much less impressive.  A mile on the Olympic can blow your mind.

Marymere Falls: This trail started at the Storm King Ranger Station and goes through a tunnel, under US-101, and follows the river back to a couple of bridges and some stairs to a waterfall viewing area.  The sound of rushing water, the bright green undergrowth, and the moss covered logs all accompany you along the path.  Take your time, take it all in.

Mt. Storm King: This trail branches off of the Marymere Falls path and goes straight up!  I climbed about 17-1800 feet in 1.4 miles, and I didn't make it to the very top due to wind and lack of confidence.  BUT, I did make it up past the marked trail and had excellent views.  If you don't mind heights or just love hills, this is the trail for you.  It begins with sweeping switchbacks and transitions to more straightforward and steep trails.

Sol Duc, Hall of Mosses, and Maple Glade:  These trails are rainforest hikes!  The Quinault Rainforest area houses the Maple Glade and by far my favorite.

Trail to Sol Duc Falls

Tree growing out of a tree - Quinault Rainforest North Shore

Maple Glade - Quinault Rainforest

Mossy limbs in the Hoh Rainforest

Some vegetation contrast - Quinault Rainforest

The time spent in these areas was magical.  I have never felt so grounded and free-spirited all at once.  If you get a chance to hike in the Pacific Northwest, DO IT!  Sending everyone happy trails ahead.