Seattle to Heart O’ The Hills Campground, Olympic NP, WA
Friday, September 22, 2006 … 122 Camper Miles – Total 8,339
Overcast but no rain, very gray morning, sunny by end of day, low 60s
It was time for us to depart and we did fairly early in the morning, bound for Olympic National Park.
Meanwhile, Marcia hadn’t been feeling well for several days. Margaret took her to the hospital that morning for a round of tests to find out what the problem was. (She ended up in the hospital for several days until they finally isolated a bacterial infection in her GI tract and got her on the right antibiotic. She was home and recovering nicely a few days later.)
We took the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston on the Olympic peninsula. Driving the north around the peninsula, we stopped, first, at Port Townsend. The place is a beautiful, historic town with lots of old Victorian structures. On its point is Fort Worden SP. The fort was one of several built around Admiralty Inlet at the beginning of the 20th century to protect Puget Sound from hostile naval activity. There were no sites available or we would have probably spent the night here.
Instead, we continued on to Olympic NP and got a site at Heart O’ the Hills. This campground was dark, with huge trees and mosses everywhere. We drove around nearby Port Angeles. There were lots of services and restaurants but this is an industrial town and not very attractive. It is situated on a large, natural harbor, protected by a long point that extends into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. However, there is a large paper mill at the root of the point that interferes with it’s beauty.
Heart O’ The Hills Campground
Saturday, September 23, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 8,339
Clear & sunny, finally! High 60s
This morning we drove the road from the campground up to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and walked the trail to Hurricane Hill. It seemed like quite a climb since the 500 ft elevation gain happened mostly in the last quarter mile. But, we were amply rewarded with fantastic views of Mt. Baker, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mt. Olympia and Carrie Glacier.
We also did the Madison Falls walk and drove up the Elwha River to Lake Mills. Afterwards, we headed down the road to Crescent Lake to the area of the lodge. There, we walked to Marymere Falls and visited the lodge. We especially liked the chairs on the porch that were made from old cross-country skis
Back at the campground we fashioned a dinner of turkey sausage and veggies as … you guessed it … a stir-fry!
Heart O’ The Hills Campground to Lonesome Creek Campground, La Push, WA
Sunday, September 24, 2006 … 73 Camper Miles – Total 8,412
Clear & sunny, low 70s
Next during our visit to Olympic NP we wanted to see the Hoh Rainforest. Since there are no campgrounds in the park in that area we decided to see the beach on the west side of the peninsula. We left the campground, got gas, coffee and groceries (seems we’re ALWAYS buying groceries) and drove to the Lonesome Creek Store & RV Park, right on the ocean beach in the tiny fishing town of La Push in the Quileute Indian Reservation.
As we’d heard, the beach was piled high with driftwood. Not any driftwood, mind you, but HUGE driftwood from the huge trees that were downed and pushed out the glacier fed rivers in the spring. There was no sand, either. The beach was made up of rocks of all colors. It was high tide, so there was no tidal pool action. Tidal pool exploration activities would have to wait for tomorrow morning.
Instead, we drove to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park. At first the area seemed a bit disappointing. The Visitor Center is tiny, there were no overlooks and only a few easy trails to walk. However, what you saw on the trails was amazing!
Several factors contribute to the fact of a rainforest. First, it rains 12 -14 FEET a year here. Seldom does it freeze and rarely do temps exceed 80 deg. As you can imagine, stuff grows fast! What strikes you first is the layer upon layer of vegetation. There is no place without a plant, be it trees, ferns, moss, shrubs, fungus or something else. Most spectacular, perhaps, were the giant trees. There were not just one or two but thousands of them. And the mosses and ferns were amazing. We walked all the trails in the area and felt privileged to be able to spend a little bit of time in this special place.
Returning to the campground, we set out our folding chairs and had drinks on the beach while enjoying a lovely sunset. Afterwards, we prepared a hearty salad for dinner and slept to the peaceful sounds of the surf all night long.
Lonesome Creek Campground to Kalaloch Campground, Olympic NP, Kalaloch, WA
Monday, September 25, 2006 … 62 Camper Miles – Total 8,474
Beautiful, sunny, low 70s
We should note that we’ve been extremely fortunate for the long stretch of good weather we’ve experienced. This has been one of the driest summers on record for this area. Not good for rainforests and such but good for us and our touring.
In the morning we walked the beach, exploring the exposed tidal pools. We found lots of sea anemones, mussels, barnacles and snails. Then we took showers and left the campground about 11:00. On our way south, we stopped to look at several other beaches. As we drove, the character of the beaches changed. There were fewer rocks and longer stretches of sand. Eventually, we stopped and took a look at Kalaloch Campground, a state facility, and decided to spend the night there. We found a campsite right on a bluff overlooking the beach. It was a lovely place to spend an easy, late afternoon … outstanding!
Sandy walked the beach while Bill read. When it was time for supper, we made a chicken and veggie stir-fry with a sweet tomato dressing we’d purchased at Capitol Reef NP. It was delicious. Again, we slept to the sound of roaring surf all night long.
Kalaloch Campground to Rain Forest Resort, Lake Quinault, WA
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 … 25 Camper Miles – Total 8,509
Heavy coastal fog in morning, clear and sunny everywhere else all day, high 70s
Today, we headed for Lake Quinault, our final stop in the Olympic National Park area. We chose a commercial site at the Rain Forest Resort and RV Park, right on a small lake. Sandy prepared rollup-sandwiches for lunch and we drove up South Shore Road, past Graves Creek Campground, to a trailhead. Our park information indicated that the drive, including 11 miles of gravel road to Graves Creek Campground, was unsuitable for even small trailers. It turned out that the road would have been fine and the campground was very nice. There is lots of hiking nearby, which is why we came. After speaking to the campground host, we chose to hike the Enchanted Forest Trail to Pony Ridge and a bit beyond. The trail was very pretty, passing through rain forest while following a crystal clear glacial stream. Pony Bridge, itself, had just been rebuilt. It appeared that the builders used local wood, all hand split. It made for a very pretty appearance and looked like it would last for many years.
On our way back out, we talked with a couple of rangers who were doing some forestry work. They were discouraging the spread of wild blackberry bushes. This is an invasive species. To control their spread they walk the woods in the fall when the bushes are drawing nourishment in their roots for winter. They identify individual shrubs, prune them back and spray the remaining stub branches with a herbicide that is drawn to the roots. What a job!
That evening we treated ourselves to dinner at the resort’s small but popular restaurant. This is salmon country and we both chose local wild salmon, smoked for Bill and baked with dill sauce for Sandy … delicious!