Sunday, August 26, 2012

Olympic National Park

Back again! We spent the last couple of days in Olympic NP, completely off the grid. With great reluctance we are back in civilization: doing laundry, answering phone calls, getting online.

Where to start? We left the pleasant campground at Sequim and drove to Port Angeles. There we got an Olympic Peninsula map and some advice on what to see (actually we got lots of advice on what to see from many places). As we went along our plans changed frequently based on where we wanted to end the day and what the time was. We skipped the great views from Hurricane Ridge because the mountain top was in the clouds. We bypassed going to Cape Flattery (the westernmost point of the lower 48) because it would be a 2 1/2 hour side trip.

We ended up at Rialto Beach, our first West-coast beach. Typical of such beaches, it was littered with lots of driftwood. Not your cute East coast driftwood, these were logs. Gene paced one out at 150 feet. And they were piled up like cord-wood.

It is a steep and rugged coast, with pieces of it, called sea-stacks, off-shore. The beach here was mostly cobble, though there was some sand fine enough to collect.

YumYum enjoyed the beach, too

We went a couple of miles inland and checked into a National Park campground. These are almost all "dry camping," i.e. no hookups. But they are in beautiful, quiet places and the price is certainly right. Jean marveled that we paid $35 to park in a parking lot in Bellvue, and we spent two nights in quiet splendor for $6 a night.


Next day, we checked out and headed for the Hoh Rainforest that we had heard so much about. Neither one of us had ever been there so it was to be a new adventure. We found a good spot in another campground right in the middle of things. We checked in and then went next door to the trails. That day we walked along the old river bed.  We expected lots of trees, but this blew us away. The ground was covered with ferns and salmonberry as well as some clover-looking stuff. The trees were mostly spruce and Douglas fir --- and they were huge!

The spruce trees in this forest average 220 feet tall! And the Douglas fir about the same. Some of the trunks were huge, and they had the most incredible root systems.

 Everything was covered with moss and lichens and fungus and what not. It is as lush a place as you will see anywhere.

Often the trees are held above the ground by huge and incredibly tangled roots. This happens when the young seedlings grow on a fallen tree, called a "nurse tree." By the time the trees are big, the nurse tree has rotted away, leaving big holes under the new trees.

It is called a rain forest but it had been dry for about a month and the sun was out so we didn't have to worry about getting wet. The next day (today) we took a walk on another trail that led up higher to  the older forest (thousands of years rather than hundreds of years). The trees were bigger and included some big-leaf maple as well. Everywhere we looked was an incredible scene. The forest out-Disneyed Disney. It is just impossible to convey the full experience.

But we finally had to return to civilization. The highway followed the coast for a while and we stopped at a couple of beach turnouts. On the first we just looked down on the beach from the top of the bluff, on the second (lower) one we were able to go down to the beach. By now it was overcast and chilly and the wind got up, This beach was very long (several miles) and quite wide, being low tide. There were some cobbles and logs up against the bluff, but it was mostly fine sand and very flat.

We stopped for lunch at an inn along the way and had a delicious meal while gazing at this view. It doesn't get any better.

Tonight we are still in southwestern Washington but tomorrow we head to Portland.


  1. As always, fabulous pictures. Everyone missed you over the weekend.

  2. Looks like everyone, including Yum Yum is having a good time!

  3. I hope you looked for beach glass on Rialto Beach! Plus the buttresses on that tree Mom is standing by are spectacular. I want to go there and camp now. Hugs to you all!