From Redwood National Park, we drive north into Oregon. It rained the entire length of the state. We arrived in McMinnville to achieve a lifelong desire of Travis': to visit the Spruce Goose. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum was high quality and showcased a variety of neat exhibits, including Hughes wooden plane and other WW II-era aircraft, a Titan II missile, and an SR-71 Blackbird.
The museum was a cool experience, but we were down for one more interesting activity before leaving Oregon. Because we are curious folk we explored a local dispensary. We are from Texas where marijuana is illegal, so we captured the opportunity to get some fabled edibles.
Walking into the clinic setting, we were asked for identification and buzzed into the small room to view the wares. We must have looked clueless because we were immediately asked " the first time"? This made us laugh and relax, and we were able to, under the guidance of a professional, purchase some chocolate and gummies.
This turned out to be a relaxing way to enjoy the evening. Not only did they taste good. They produced the very mild high we were searching for that evening. Now that we could check that one off the list, we were ready to move onward.
Entering the beautiful, damp state of Washington via the 101, we starting seeing bald eagles right away. The fog was rolling inland and at the evergreen, treetops sat these stately creatures. We are approaching Olympic National Park. Our plan is to camp along the Hoh River this evening.
It is approaching dusk when we arrive at Ruby Beach. The tide is going out, and this exposes rocks covered with intriguing sea wildlife. Along the rocky outcrops, we discover tide pools filled with colored sea stars and anemones. Check the national park's tide chart before you go: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/tides-and-your-safety.htm
We spend hours here looking at all the wildlife and enjoying the beach views, but it is getting dark, and we need to make camp.
Hoh Rain Forest
As we drive toward the Hoh Rainforest campground, the forest becomes dense. The moss thickens and hangs from every branch of each tree, making the trees look like stringy green monsters. We make camp near the Hoh River and the sound is deafening. There are elk roaming through the campground.
We awaken to the sound of rain on the tent walls. This is something we have grown quite used to since reaching northern California. It rains every day. This morning we hike the Hall of Mosses Trail. Giving us a chance to become more intimately acquainted with the deep mossy forest we drove through yesterday.
It is incredible how verdant everything here is. Because of the unbelievable amount of annual rainfall (12 to 14 feet), this forest is lush. The Hall of Mosses is a great way to get to know this park. You will see many of the common plants and animals found in the area.
It has stopped raining as we make the trip up north to Ozette Lake. It is a bit of a drive from the Hoh Rain Forest, but it is nice to take in some of the communities living around the park. We pass many deforested areas on the way, and it is a reminder that some of the people on the Olympic Peninsula still make their living from logging. These spots are painful to see. The land looks like a bomb has been dropped on it.
The Ozette Loop hike is unlike any other experience on this epic trip. It is largely boardwalk through a coastal forest. From the trail, you can look into dense vegetation without sinking into the watery mud. The trail then emerges on a beach that really does feel wild. Vast amounts of timber have collected on the coast over the years.
In the distance, you can make out the heads of seals bobbing in and out of the waves. The sea air is brisk and smelly. This is an excellent place to take photos, especially if you have reserved a camp. This way you can be there during sunrise and sunset for optimal colors.
Tonight we camp in the Sol Duc Valley, and we do the short hike up to the Sol Duc Falls. This is an impressive sight, especially with all the recent rainfall. Along the way, we visit a national forest service cabin considered a historic site. It is well preserved and reminds us of the people of the past who worked to make this land accessible for our use.
The next morning, we drive past Crescent Lake. This calm water is crystal clear. It is the perfect place to sit and observe nature's beauty.
Stopping by the Hurrican Ridge visitor's center, a volunteer suggests the Hume's Ranch hike for us. She stated it was a favorite of the locals. Not really knowing what to expect, we travel for some time down a dirt road to the trailhead.
It is an uneventful walk on a forested ridge. We stop at a lookout to see a herd of elk far below in a valley. Hume's ranch is a small historic cabin overlooking a peaceful meadow full of deer. It is fun to explore, and you can walk through the structure and imagine what it was like to homestead here in the middle of the wilderness.
On the way back from Hume's, we take a side trip when we see a sign reading "Goblin's Gate". Not knowing what it meant, it sounded like something we wanted to see. So we hiked down and down, which we knew meant we would eventually have to go up and up. We round a bend of the Elwha River and hear a huge roar.
Far below is a deep blue torrent. We are on the edge of a cliffside and one ill-placed footstep could mean plummeting into a raging cauldron of crushing water. The water is being funneled between two enormous rocks or "gates". It was simply hypnotizing.
The way back to the trailhead was straight up the side of a mountain, but no complaints here. We will be hiking the PCT soon, and we better get used to walking up steep inclines.
- Be prepared for unpredictable weather. Dress in layers.
- Plan your days carefully to optimize your time here.
- This is a diverse place. Take advantage of seeing the valley, coast, and mountains.
- For more information visit: https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm
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