Week Four…June 4, 2018
Mount Rainier…June 8, 2018
“Nature always wears the
colors of the spirit.”
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
A New Experience at Quinault…
We left Portland Monday morning to head north to Olympic National Park. While planning the trip, we knew that the Park would offer us more diversity than any other park we had visited so far. Lots of shoreline with beaches, snow-covered mountain ranges, lakes, and rainforests all are located on the Olympic Peninsula. The later would be our first point of interest as we stopped to explore the Quinault Rainforest in the southern part of the Park. Right away we had to come to terms with the fact that the temperatures have dropped significantly from our time spent in California. However, with the sun shining we started wandering through the forest on the 4-mile Gatton Creek Trail. Equipped with our rain-jackets, we both expected rainy and moist conditions, but it turned out that the rain-forest remained fairly dry. Besides seeing a snake and some frogs there weren’t any noteworthy wildlife encounters (maybe for the better, as we were in Cougar Country), nonetheless, the glowing green world of Quinault left us in awe. Amongst thousands of clovers, Amanda was able to spot a four-leafed clover, which was definitely one of the highlights along the hike. About 2.5 hours after we started out, we decided to make our way to our campground at Lake Crescent. After dinner, we enjoyed some of our Tennessee souvenir, Moonshine, while ending the night playing cards (Amanda won likely due to her clover she spotted) next to a warming campfire.
The Hall of Mosses…
Our second day in Olympic started with a visit to the Hoh Rain Forest. This rainforest has been designated as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO due to its unique ecosystem. The hour drive to this area of the park took us back through Forks, Washington, the setting of much of the Twilight book series (Amanda thought this was super cool). We reached the Rainforest around noon and chose to hike the Hall of Mosses. The name of this trail couldn’t have been more appropriate as the 200-300 ft trees were all covered in green mosses. The temperate rain forests in the Park receive about 12-14 feet of rain a year. The abundance of rain provides an ideal habitat for mosses to grow on the Sitka Spruces and Western Hemlocks, some of which may be 500 years old.
After our walk through the old trees of Hoh, our plan was to grab lunch and head to Rialto beach to get our first glimpse of the Pacific. Unfortunately, as we made our way toward the coast it started to rain. We ate our lunch in the car, and waited for the rain to pass, but our luck from the previous day had run out. With the weather making it hard for us to stay long, we only ventured down to the water for a few minutes before turning around. When we returned to Lake Crescent in the evening, we were pleased to see that it hadn’t rained in that area. To finish off our day, we walked down to the shore and took in the mountain lake and it’s beauty.
Sol Duc Valley…
The next day we slowly made our way out of the park. However, before leaving the park boundaries we made one last stop in Sol Duc Valley to take a short hike to Sol Duc Falls. The trail was 1.6 miles round trip and took us through dense, green forest until revealing the impressive waterfall. Sol Duc Falls cascades 48 ft and can produce up to four channels when water volume is high. That day the water formed three, fast flowing channels. From where we stood on the bridge overlooking the Falls we could feel the cool mist on our faces and the roar of the water made it hard to hear one another. Once back at the trail head, we headed toward where we’d be camping that night, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge…
The remainder of the afternoon and early evening were spent walking along Dungeness Spit. The spit consists of a 6.8 mile stretch of sand that extends out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and encloses most of Dungeness Bay. At different times of the year, the area is home to many shorebirds, waterfowl, and marine species, which is why it was designated as a national wildlife refuge in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson. As we reached the spit from the short walk through a section of forest, a bald eagle flew directly passed us. It was incredible. Along the beach, there were also huge pieces of driftwood that have washed ashore.
Rocks at the Spit of Dungeness
A wonderful view of the Olympic Mountain Range
We walked around 1.5 miles down the rocky sand spit and were pleasantly surprised when the seagulls were actually instinctively afraid of us, instead of just seeing us as a source for easy food. When we returned from the shores and arrived at our campsite, we ate dinner (broccoli cheddar soup) and waited for the sun to set. Shortly before 9 PM, the sky became rich with color and we watched the sun fade away while looking out toward British Columbia, Canada. It was a perfect way to conclude our time in the Olympic area.
Sunset from our campsite with British Columbia in the background
After such a great first stop in Washington, we feel optimistic that Mount Rainier will exceed our expectations, even though weather reports and trail conditions may not be great. Regardless, we plan to make the most of our time!
Amanda & Janek