Saturday morning finally arrived. We had been in Washington for a week, but I felt as if the trip was just beginning. We broke camp and piled into Dave's truck for the hour + drive to Sol Duc. We planned to meet Myron and Dorcas near the entrance station and then head to the trailhead. I had spoken to them Friday night. They had stopped at a hotel in Tacoma, so I knew they still had a long drive that morning.
We found the turnoff to Sol Duc and pulled in behind Myron and Dorcas right after they arrived. I was pleased to see that they were also driving a rented Daewoo. After the usual greetings and banter, I gave them the 1-week pass I had purchased the night before. We got in using Dave's National Parks pass, and therefore collectively saved $10. We drove to the Eagle Ranger Station, where we stopped to get a last-minute update on conditions.
The ranger was very friendly. I asked about conditions on the High Divide. Her first response was, "Do you have ice axes?" We didn't. The news wasn't good. Most of the High Divide was passable, but the trail was still buried around the south side of Bogachiel Peak. This is not what I was hoping to hear. The good news was that there was an alternate route through the Y lakes that would get us from the High Divide down to our campsite on Lunch Lake. However, our route from there led around the south side of Bogachiel Peak and over to Hoh Lake. This would require going right through the impassable area. There was no way around.
We talked at great length. Finally we decided on a plan. We'd follow our planned route up the Sol Duc River on Saturday. On Sunday we'd ascend past Heart Lake to the High Divide, and then take the alternate route down to Lunch Lake. On Monday, we'd scout the route over to Hoh Lake. If the snow had receded enough to get through, we'd continue on. If not, we'd bail out by way of Deer Lake and return to the Sol Duc trailhead. Our chances of completing the trip seemed slim, but we'd give it a shot.
We continued on to the trailhead, where we found a large, crowded parking area. After a group photo, we hoisted our packs, full with 7 days of food, and joined a literal parade of dayhikers on the trail to Sol Duc Falls. The path led through a towering forest. For the first time in days, the sun was out. Occasional rays of light filtered down through the branches to the ground far below.
We reached the junction with the trail to Deer Lake, and followed the path a short distance down to the river. Here we found a bridge crossing high above Sol Duc Falls. The waterfall was quite spectacular, but very difficult to photograph. That didn't stop me from trying though. First I tried some shots from the bridge. Then I went upstream, and shot down on the falls from the brink. This was a unique perspective, but I really wanted to get a view from the base. After a pleasant lunch, Myron and Dorcas joined me in an attempt to reach the base. We eventually found a steep, slippery "path" which we used to work our way down to the river. We were just downstream from the falls, but a high cliff jutted out into the river just upstream. To get a view, we'd have to wade across a fast flowing torrent of ice cold snowmelt. We briefly considered going back for tevas, but eventually came to our senses.
We left the falls, and the tourists immediately disappeared. We followed the Sol Duc River Trail upstream through a majestic forest that only got better. The trees were massive and straight, and reached 150 to 200 feet above us. The forest itself was open, which gave it the appearance of a cathedral. Hiking through it truly was a religious experience.
We hiked for an hour without seeing hardly anyone else. We passed more cascades, and reached the junction with the trail to Appleton Pass. Here we met another group that was heading up to the pass to camp. They were intrigued by our trip plan - to start at Sol Duc and finish at Hoh really seemed to fire their imaginations. Before they departed they left us with some bad news. The morning's forecast was calling for fog and rain by Sunday. This came as quite a surprise, as Friday's forecast had mentioned nothing but sunny skies for the foreseeable future.
We hiked on, and passed several small but decent campsites. The group we met had recommended a larger site beyond, and we weren't disappointed. It was situated on a hill above the river. There were huge trees in every direction, and the roar of the river was inescapable. We made camp and gathered firewood. In planning, I had thought about a quick hike 2 1/2 miles up to Appleton Pass and back. However, I was pretty tired from the hike in, and our campsite was too nice to leave. Instead we relaxed around the campfire, and enjoyed a hearty group meal of spaghetti. Myron and Dorcas, who were still weary from flying in late Friday, barely stayed awake long enough to eat. Dave, Christy, and I weren't far behind though.
Sunday dawned overcast with the threat of rain. To make matters worse, I was sporting a pretty nasty head cold. Oatmeal and hot chocolate helped a little, but the Tang that Dave me really gave me a boost. However, by the time we broke camp I wasn't feeling like carrying a heavy pack. We had the High Divide to look forward to, so that helped get me going.
The trail started out easy, but soon we crossed the Sol Duc River bridge and began the biggest climb of the trip. I was just beginning to feel truly wretched when the rain came. Blah. Carrying a heavy pack with a cold in the rain isn't much fun. On the upside, the scenery was still good despite the rain and fog. We hiked upstream along a tributary, which had numerous cascades. We passed in and out of lush meadows, and the wildflowers were a pleasant distraction.
We met a ranger on the trail and she checked our permit. We told her our plans, and she was encouraging. She thought we could get through to Hoh Lake. She said that the snow was melting rapidly, but that we'd still have to cross two dangerous snow chutes to get there. Her advice; don't look down.
We continued on to Sol Duc Park. The campsites in the meadows looked nice, but still not as appealing as our site on the river. We reached an unbridged stream crossing, which was running high due to the snowmelt. We made it across with varying degrees of success, but Dorcas dunked her boots.
We hiked another mile to Heart Lake and stopped for lunch. The lakeshore was rainy and windswept, and the view was lost in the clouds. We moved to an unoccupied campsite in the woods, which provided shelter from the wind and rain. By the time we finished lunch, I was starting to feel half-human again.
Unfortunately we had to go back out into the rain to continue our hike. I was feeling pretty lousy again as we approached the High Divide above Heart Lake. We found our first snow of the trip here, and it combined with the fog to create an intimidating scene. It was almost a total whiteout as we struggled up the last pitch to the top of the ridge.
A friend of mine used to be a ranger at Olympic NP. He has hiked all over the world, and still maintains that the High Divide is the prettiest place he's been. It may well be the prettiest scenery in the world, but we weren't in any position to judge. All we could see was snow, fog, and a few stunted evergreens. We found the trail on the ridgecrest, and followed it to the west towards Seven Lakes Basin.
Things began to improve when we reached a snow-free area on the ridge. The meadows were already sporting vast fields of wildflowers. Our friends the Glacier Lilies were present, and were complemented by Indian Paintbrush and Lupine. Then, as we continued on the trail, the fog began to break up. It seemed like a miracle. At one moment we were looking out at a white wall. The next, we were gazing down on a turquoise lake surrounded by sheer cliffs. The clouds came and went for a time, and we stood and watched the whole show. All of a sudden, I wasn't feeling so bad. In a weird way, it almost seemed better than if it had been a sunny, clear day.
Our gift was short-lived. Soon the clouds closed back in, and we continued on our way to Lunch Lake. We reached an unofficial campsite on the ridge and re-grouped. The rangers had advised us against taking the normal trail around the south side of Bogachiel Peak and hiking down the "Staircase". Instead, they had advised hiking the Y Lakes Alternate route, which wanders past a number of mountain tarns before reaching Lunch Lake. They had told us that the route would be marked with wands. We were pretty certain that we were near the junction, but we didn't see any markers. After some debate I decided to scout ahead on the main trail.
I dropped my pack and climbed a steep section of trail. Most of the route was snow-covered, but passable. The drop off to the north only got steeper, and I became more and more certain that we had been at the junction. I decided to continue on though, just to be thorough. Along the way I passed a Ptarmigan just off the trail. Shortly after that, I found myself heading around the south side of Bogachiel Peak. At that point I knew the trail was behind me, but I decided to scout further and have a look at the trail to Hoh Lake.
It looked scary. Just after the junction, the trail crossed two steep snow chutes. The snow tumbled away into the fog, and it was impossible to tell just how bad a fall would be. The snow was soft though, and I thought we might be able to get across.
I returned to the group. They had pretty well decided that they were at the junction, markers or no markers. I arrived and confirmed this, and we started down the snow-covered hill. This was slippery but kind of fun, as it wasn't steep enough to be hazardous. We slipped and slid our way down into the basin. From there we followed the path of least resistance past several frozen ponds. Above us, the snow-covered slopes of Bogachiel Peak disappeared into the clouds.
We climbed through a notch, and found ourselves looking down on Lunch Lake. The fog had lifted enough to grant us a decent view, and it was spectacular. It had been a long day, and we all hurried towards camp.
We reached the lakeshore and began our search for a campsite. There was a handy sign with a map, which explained the Lunch Lake camping complex. Lunch Lake is a popular destination, and requires reservations. We arrived early in the season though, and there were only 2 other groups in the area. The campsites could only be described as small. We only found one that was big enough for 3 tents, and even that one forced us one on top of another. On the upside it had a nice view looking down to Clear Lake. The fog had broken enough to allow a great view of the Sol Duc valley and over to Mount Appleton.
We settled in, and began battle with the healthy population of mosquitoes. Fortunately, they were very slow. They would land and wander around for awhile, giving you plenty of time to swat them. The local ranger, Bruce, dropped by for a chat. It turned out the Bruce had removed the wands marking the Y-Lakes route earlier that morning. Apparently the normal route down the staircase was now passable, and the park doesn't like to advertise the existence of the alternate route. He told us that he had been the only person to make it over to Hoh Lake so far. That had been a week ago. He thought that we'd be fine, but I wasn't so sure. Bruce wasn't fazed by ice and snow, but I wasn't quite as confident.
Christy and I enjoyed a dinner of mini pizzas and much appreciated soup. Hot cider and whiskey helped clear the sinuses, but it was temporary relief. We spent the evening enjoying the improving views of the valley. A mule deer wandered by, browsing along the edges of a snowfield. It was a pleasant evening, but we were worn out from a tough hike. It felt good to get into the sleeping bag, but I was really wishing for some medicine and kleenex. Christy and I had cut out a lot of non-essential gear to get our pack weight down, but now I was questioning the weight savings of some tissue and pills.
I slept fairly well, but had to get up in the middle of the night for the call of nature. I got out of the tent, and was greeted with the sight of millions of stars. The clouds were gone, and the night sky promised a scenic hike the next day.
A SUNLESS SEA
Promises, promises. We woke to a thick fog. The clear sky from the night before seemed like a sinus medicine-induced dream. I felt terrible, but a warm breakfast helped a little. Afterwards, Dave, Christy, and I decided to explore. We followed the trail down to Clear Lake. From there, we took a primitive path down towards Long Lake. We were well off the beaten path, and eventually we found ourselves bushwhacking through the woods. We kept heading down though, and eventually found ourselves on the shore of Long Lake. The view was nice, and we were a long way from the nearest human.
We explored the lakeshore for awhile, but eventually had to head back. We returned to Clear Lake, and made the mistake of trying to circle it. Initially we followed a good path, but eventually we were fighting our way through shrubs and marsh. We completed the loop and headed back up to our campsite. We arrived in time for lunch at Lunch Lake. Afterwards, we broke camp and headed for Hoh Lake.
We left the camping area, but stopped to read through a trail register first. One of the other groups in the area had seen a family of bears on the hillside above Round Lake the day before. So far we had only seen some deer. We vowed to keep our eyes open as we started the climb up the Staircase to the High Divide.
Despite the fog, we had some nice views down to Lunch Lake and Round Lake. The climb was significant, but short enough that we reached the top before we were totally worn out. Once we reached the ridge, we found a wonderland of snow and fog. The mist swirling around the fir trees was eerie, and the silence was absolute.
Unfortunately, Dave had to leave our adventure. He had only planned for a 3- day trip, so he headed towards Deer Lake and back to Sol Duc. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed deeper into the wilderness, with our biggest challenge still ahead.
We climbed steadily along the crest. At one point, we passed behind a huge wall of snow that had melted out from the rocks just far enough to allow passage. It was lucky for us, as the snow was well over head high. Just past the obstruction, we encountered Ranger Bruce again. He had been tracking some hikers that he feared were lost. We left Bruce, and the trail began a steady climb on the south side of Bogachiel Peak. The path traversed some very steep slopes. Luckily, the snow was gone along here, and the flowers were out. The stunning display of Lupine and Indian Paintbrush made up for the obscured views.
Finally the climb ended, and we descended briefly to a junction. The trail to Hoh Lake headed off to the south here, and two treacherous snow slopes were clearly visible. It didn't look good. The ladies clearly didn't want to continue, and we debated turning back. Finally though, Myron decided to test the snow. It was steep, but the snow was fairly soft. He proceeded across, and slipped once to add to the drama. Below him, the slope ran for 20 yards before disappearing into a fog-filled void.
I followed Myron, and made use of the steps he kicked in the snow. At first it didn't seem too bad. Then I reached a point where I had to descend. The footing was much more treacherous here, but I made it across. Christy and Dorcas followed behind me, and they both made it without incident.
We hiked a short distance before reaching the second snow chute. This one looked even worse, but turning back no longer seemed preferable. We made it across in similar fashion, and allowed ourselves a huge sigh of relief. Hoh Valley here we come!
We crossed a pass and tried to visualize the view of the Hoh Valley and Mount Olympus that was hidden by the fog. We hiked into the woods and began to descend towards Hoh Lake. Soon enough we were gazing down on its emerald waters at the base of a sheer mountainside. Finally we reached the shoreline, and began looking for a campsite. The largest and best site had been taken, but we found a descent spot away from the lake. Myron headed that way to try his luck with his fly rod.
Christy and I began working on dinner. Myron returned, having caught and released close to 30 trout. He also brought back a tale of an unusual sighting. While he was casting, a couple arrived and set up camp at an illegal spot on the lakeshore. To his surprise, the female decided to change clothes before setting up the tent. She dropped her pants, and there was a full moon over Hoh Lake. I pointed out that this was obviously a sighting of the Hoh Lake Ho. Lots of people get to see Mount Olympus, but very few lay eyes on the Hoh lake Ho.
Christy and I had a meal of bean burritos, which were pretty good but messy. Afterwards, I tried to knock my cold out with a variety of hot drinks. They all seemed to help, but the relief was once again temporary. Despite the day's easy hike, I was drained. I seemed feverish, so it was quite a relief to retire to the tent. I was out of regular sinus medicine, so I decided to try Benadryl. I usually avoid it because of the side effects, but I was out of other options.
The Benadryl knocked me out quickly, but made for an interesting evening. I had an interesting series of fever and Benadryl induced dreams. In one, I was attending a University of North Carolina female varsity football game (?) with former Appalachian State basketball coach Buzz Peterson. In another, I wanted to go to New York to attend a hockey match for charity between the non-existent NHL team in Cleveland and former members of the defunct Chapel Hill rock band, the Sex Police. However, my boss didn't want me to go, because he'd heard that there would be people selling drugs there. You got all that? I swear I'm not making this up. At least not now, I'm not. Obviously I made it up at some point. That Benadryl is fun stuff. You should try it.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a serious fever and a vicious case of the chills. I was shaking uncontrollably, although it wasn't particularly cold. Our intended route would take us to the Hoh Valley the next day. From there we had planned to climb to the base of Mount Olympus and view the glaciers there. Then, we'd return and head out to the Hoh Visitor's Center. However, with my condition worsening, I decided that we'd have to cut the trip short. The next day, we'd need to head directly out.
THE PLEASURE DOME
I felt much better in the morning. The fever had broken overnight. It was still foggy, but it seemed like the sun could break through at any moment. My decision to head out early seemed pre-mature. Instead, I decided to see how the morning's hike went first.
Before we broke camp, everyone visited the Hoh Lake toilet. A sign said it was out of order, but Dorcas said it worked fine for her. We left camp, and began the 4000' descent to the Hoh River. We passed another camping area and reached a cliff overlooking the river. The clouds were still covering the peaks, but we had a clear view down to the braided channels of the river far below. After a rest, we started down an unending series of switchbacks. We passed in and out of a burned area before finally reaching the Hoh rainforest. Here we found massive trees cloaked in moss. This forest was much different from the Sol Duc. While the Sol Duc was open and airy, the Hoh was a jungle. Vegetation was everywhere. Every available surface was covered in growth. Moss hung from every branch. At one point, we reached a huge tree that had fallen across the trail. Fortunately, the park had cut through the tree to clear the trail. It's a good thing, or it would have been a formidable obstacle. The tree was on the ground, but the top was a full 2 feet over my head.
We reached the Hoh River Trail and turned upstream. I was still feeling decent, and was confident that I could finish the trip. We passed a pair of overlooks that looked out over the milky white water of the river. Shortly afterwards, we reached a large grassy meadow that seemed like an ideal lunch spot. We stopped for a long break in the sun. Now that we had reached the valley, the clouds had lifted. It was a beautiful day, but I couldn't help but wish that we were back up on the High Divide.
We continued our hike through the rain forest. Initially it was easy walking, but eventually we began to climb. Then, we crossed a sturdy bridge high above the river. Far below, the raging waters were squeezed between sheer canyon walls. From here, the trail changed. We left the river, and headed up the valley of Glacier creek. To this point, it had been a long but easy hike. Here's where it got hard. We climbed 2000' over the last 3 miles. Soon we were dragging. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the shores of Elk Lake. This was a very scenic spot, with the lake covered in lily pads. Snow-covered peaks towered high above.
We hiked up into the woods and found a campsite. We found a great spot amid massive hemlocks. One tree was easily 200' tall. We were going to be here for two nights, so we were glad to have such a nice spot.
We set up camp and I fetched water from the lake. Christy and I enjoyed dinner out of a bag. We tried to relax, but had to fend off a forest full of aggressive squirrels. They were determined to get into our packs, so we resorted to throwing rocks.
I took Benadryl again, with better results. I slept well, and the fever and chills didn't return. I was really looking forward to the next day's hike. We were hoping to reach the base of the Blue Glacier, and possibly get a glimpse of Mount Olympus. This would be our last chance.
CAVES OF ICE
We slept in a bit the next morning. Then, it was an elaborate breakfast of freeze-dried omletes. Afterwards, it was time to do errands. I fetched water from the lake in our collapsible bucket. I returned to camp and we did laundry. We rigged up some clotheslines and got our packs ready to hike to Glacier Meadows.
It was a beautiful day, and I could barely contain my enthusiasm. Despite the steep climb, we were practically flying up the trail without the burden of our overnight packs. After a few minutes we had a good view looking back down on Elk Lake. However, the views were only beginning to get good.
We hiked up through the woods, and reached the location of a recent avalanche. All signs of the trail had disappeared. We picked our way across the snow, avoiding trees that had been snapped like toothpicks. We found the trail on the far side and continued our climb. Then, we rounded a corner and faced a jaw-dropper of a view. We found ourselves on the edge of a deep, sheer canyon. Snow-covered peaks reared up in front of us. Glaciers hugged the peaks, and a beautiful cascade thundered thousands of feet down into the canyon. We took a long break here to enjoy the moment.
Eventually we had to leave, if we wanted to get a closer look. We hiked on, passing through one steep washed-out section of trail that was exciting. Then we reached the Glacier Meadows camping area. It was lunchtime, but I insisted on continuing to the glacier overlook before we ate. I took some grief for this, until we scrambled up the last few rocks to an overlook of the Blue Glacier. This was truly a spectacular spot. Sub-peaks of Mount Olympus surrounded us, and the blue ice of the glacier spilled down between them and ended far below us. From our perch, eerie blue crevasses were clearly visible. We found a comfortable rock and settled in for lunch.
It was a hot sunny day, but being above the glacier was like sticking your head inside a refrigerator. After eating, I explored the area. We were on a high rock outcrop, with views in every direction. In the distance we could even see the High Divide. There was no fog in sight. Below us, the glacier ended, but a massive waterfall spilled out of it towards the canyon far below. The only thing missing was Mount Olympus. A large sub-peak known as the snow dome was blocking our view of the summits.
We left our perch, and a blast of heat reminded us of the influence of the glacier. Myron and Dorcas decided to head back to camp. Christy and I still wanted a glimpse of Olympus though. There was a trail to another overlook, and we decided to try that one. It required another tough climb through boulders and snow, but soon we were approaching the final hill. We scrambled up the last slope and weren't disappointed. We were looking out over the same glacier, but farther up. High above us, the 3 summits of Mount Olympus towered over the scene. To me, this was the culmination of the whole trip. We'd had illness, and bad weather, and snowbound trails. After all of that, we had arrived at a point that made it all worthwhile.
It was past time to leave, but we couldn't make ourselves. Finally we had to head back, and hurried down the trail to camp. We finished the downhill hike much faster than we had hiked up. We got back before dark, and enjoyed a dinner of salmon (from a bag) and pasta. Afterwards, I retired with the ultimate feeling of contentment.
THE SACRED RIVER
Thursday's hike seemed a bit anti-climactic, as we backtracked down to the Hoh River. It was still a pleasant walk though, and more enjoyable since we were going downhill. We reached the river and continued downstream through Lewis Meadow. Soon enough, we were back in the rain forest. It's pretty amazing that we had traveled from an alpine wonderland of rock and ice to the lushness of the rain forest in less than 24 hours. Once again, we were able to revel in the incredible display of life that is the rain forest. It is ferns, and moss, and nurse logs, and immense trees. Through it all runs the milky water of the river. The water is white from the glacial runoff. The river is fast and noisy, but also winds around through never ending bends that create islands and sandbars. We stopped at one of these sandbars for a pleasant lunch by the water.
It was another sunny day. It almost seemed determined not to rain in the rain forest. We weren't complaining though, and enjoyed the last few miles of trail to camp. We stopped at Five-Mile Island (not to be confused with three-mile island), where we got a great campsite on a bank above the river. We had a fine view upstream, with the snow-covered peaks of the Bailey Range visible in the distance. After another fine meal-in-a-bag, we relaxed around the campfire and watched the sun set behind the mountains.
THE MILK OF PARADISE
It was my 30th birthday on Friday. To be honest, I couldn't think of a better place to be to turn 30. The only bad news was that we had to leave. On the upside, we had beer and junk food to look forward to.
Myron and Dorcas got a head start on us breaking camp. We got going eventually, and enjoyed the last 5 miles of rain forest. I walked in silence, and thought back on the trip. It had been a trip with nearly everything - adventure, danger, scenery, wildflowers, and good companionship. The one thing that was missing was a major wildlife sighting. No bears. No cougars. No Sasquatch. Just then, Christy caught a glimpse of movement in the woods. We peered into the shadows, and another slight movement gave her away. An elk! Then, as we grew accustomed to the faint light, we spotted two more. They were only 30' or so away, and didn't seem to mind us much. They just kept chomping away at the all-you-can-eat salad bar that is the rain forest. We watched them for 15 or 20 minutes, and even attempted some photos despite the lack of light.
The rest of the hike was beautiful but uneventful. Soon we began to see dayhikers, families, and tourists. We knew we were getting near the trailhead. All too soon, we arrived at the parking lot and located the Daewoo. We managed some tricky packing, and got all 4 of us and our gear inside. Then it was back to Forks for some sloppy cheeseburgers and milkshakes.
We gorged ourselves, and then drove back to Sol Duc to pick up the other Daewoo. Along the way, we stopped at Sol Duc Hot Springs for a soak. It cost $10 per person, but that included all the free showers you could want, which made it almost worthwhile. The Springs themselves were a disappointment to me. They weren't quite hot enough to be effective, and the smell of sulfur (think rotten eggs) was overwhelming.
We left Sol Duc, and drove past scenic Crescent Lake. We then took some back roads to the Straight of Juan De Fuca. We arrived at a campground on the water, only to find it full. We then stopped at a private campground with a nice view of the straight and mountains in British Columbia. Unfortunately, they wanted $35. We decided to head on, but I was concerned about finding a campsite on a Friday night in the middle of tourist season. Our next attempt was Arnie's Dam RV Park. The name pretty well sums it up. They wanted $20. Per tent. I offered $20 total, and they refused, so we drove on. Eventually we found ourselves back in Olympic NP. I was relieved to find quite a few sites at the Heart O' the Hills Campground. They were $10, and much nicer than those at Arnie's Damn whatever. The campground was heavily wooded, and generally quite pleasant.
We set up camp, and Christy and I headed for Port Angeles for dinner. Along the way, we passed a doe and fawn by the road. We ate at a nice seafood restaurant on the waterfront. Afterwards, we stopped at a grocery store one last time, for breakfast stuff and beer. We returned to camp and enjoyed a nice fire. We had flirted with the idea of driving up to Hurricane Ridge, but a new round of clouds had rolled in. Instead, we packed it in and settled down for the night.
Myron and Dorcas left EARLY that morning. They decided to take the ferry over to Victoria for the day. Christy and I got up a little later and had a nice breakfast. Then we had the fun of rearranging all of our gear to get it ready for the flight home the next day. It was a cloudy morning, but we decided to take a chance on driving up to Hurricane Ridge.
We got up there fairly early and beat the tourist rush. We got out of the car and the cold was stunning. It was August 3rd, and temperatures were maybe 50 degrees, and windy. The good news was that the clouds were lofty. They hid the sun, but not the view. And the view was impressive. It seemed that all of the peaks in the park were in sight. The High Divide was visible, as was the Bailey Range. Just beyond, the king of them all, Mount Olympus, was easy to spot. Far below was the canyon of the Elwha River.
Christy wasn't feeling well, as she seemed to be coming down with the illness I'd had earlier in the week. Somehow I talked her into a short walk though. We "hiked" the paved tourist trails and enjoyed the views and wildlife. Deer were everywhere, and we saw a whole family of Ptarmigans. The wildflowers were also impressive. Lupine was prominent, but the American Harebell was my favorite.
After our walk we stopped at the visitor's center for some hot chocolate. Then, it was time to head for Seattle.
We left Hurricane Ridge about the time everyone else was arriving. We drove back down through Port Angeles and on to Bremerton. There we got a ferry ticket and some pizza. The trip across Puget Sound was a new and exciting experience. Once we were on board, we were able to get out of the car and explore the ship. It was very cold, but we still stayed on the deck and enjoyed the view of the Seattle skyline with Mount Ranier towering over it.
We arrived in Seattle, and attempted to join a tour of "The Seattle Underground" that a friend had recommended. However, it was already sold out, so we headed for our hotel. We were staying at the Moore Hotel, an historic building downtown. Our room was interesting, and very pleasant. We had a kitchen, which we completely failed to utilize, and a nice view out over the city. Our favorite part of the hotel though was the room at the end of the hall. A few steps led up to the door to room 731, but the roof there was only about 5' high. We dubbed it the "Alice in Wonderland Room".
We walked down to Pikes Market and got thoroughly lost. We wandered around the market for a couple of hours and did a little shopping. Then, it was time for dinner. Finding a restaurant turned out to be more difficult than expected. We headed for the waterfront, and browsed the strips looking for something appealing. We walked around for an hour, before mutually deciding that we weren't really in the mood for seafood. I suggested Chinese, and we headed back downtown in search of a promising restaurant. The first one we found looked promising indeed. It was "Typhoon", a Tai restaurant. We decided to give it a try. We were not disappointed. The food was fantastic, and the atmosphere suited us as well.
We were pretty worn out afterwards, and headed back to the hotel. We decided to skip the Seattle nightlife, since we had to fly home in the morning.
We got up early, and packed our bags on the sidewalk next to the Daewoo. Then it was time for breakfast. This was also somewhat challenging, but we found a bagel place that was pretty good. Then, it was back to the airport for the flight home. Our return flights were pleasantly uneventful. Although they didn't feed us, we were just happy to get back to Charlotte on time.
It was another great trip, and one that we won't forget. On the way home though, it was time to start thinking about the next big trip. Will it be Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or the San Juan Mountains of Colorado? It's never too early to start planning.
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