On a sunny day in mid-September, Lynne, Robin and Leslie headed off on a 4-day trip to Olympic National Park for their annual hiking getaway. We had rented a conveniently located cabin near Forks, WA, and were looking forward to a day in the Hoh Rain Forest, another day doing beach hikes at Third Beach and Rialto Beach (near La Push on the Quileute Indian Reservation) , and a third day on Hurricane Ridge. A sampling of rain forests, beaches, and mountains plus glaciers – what could be better?
Hoh Rain Forest:
The rainy weather provided an appropriate atmosphere for our hikes on the Hoh River Trail, the Hall of Mosses Trail, and the Spruce Nature Trail. The verdant vegetation was full of epiphytes or airplants: lush clusters of club moss, lichens and hanging mosses were interspersed with Big Leaf Maples. This area is the largest protected old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest, and it was dripping with moisture from the intermittent rain showers, and so were we! Leslie’s biggest challenge was how to take photographs without damaging the camera; the Canon traveled in and out of a plastic bag and backpack many times, resulting in a slowed pace of her cohorts. Thanks for your supreme patience, Robin and Lynne! On this day we were also surprised by a herd of Roosevelt elk (on an airport runway, no less) and later, grazing along the road, 2 single elk nonchalantly peered at us with full munching mouths.
Third Beach, La Push area on the Quileute Indian Reservation, and Rialto Beach:
The second day began by watching Native fishermen setting nets at the head of the Quileute River – evidence of keeping their traditions alive. The scene was amazingly tranquil with swooping pelicans in the foreground and sea stack formations looming in the misty distance. We also visited the resort on the reservation with its newly-modernized and contemporary accommodations facing the sea. We then drove to Third Beach, hiked a mile and a half in on a coastal forest trail, and came to a lovely sandy beach strewn with huge drift logs. Finally, we enjoyed contemplative time and more photo opportunities with the pounding surf, arch formations and numerous sea stacks of Rialto Beach.
Regardless of getting a relatively early start this day, we got a bit sidetracked….. We drove east on Hwy 101, stopped at the classic Crescent Lake Lodge and at an outdoor store in Port Angeles, and eventually headed up to Hurricane Ridge at 5,242 ft./1,599 m.. At the majestic top we viewed high mountains and valleys carved by glaciers and had a renewed appreciation of the 50 mile father/son hike in Olympic National Park which Val, Scott, Eric and Kurt did in the summer of 2014. After having lunch at the summit, our hike was all too short, but we vowed to return and further explore this area of rich biodiversity sometime soon.
Olympic National Park is an outstanding wilderness park. It has justifiably gained recognition as a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site due to its many rich resources. We three friends love exploring areas like this for the camaraderie, the solitude, the appreciation of beauty, the recreational opportunities, and for the learning which takes place while traveling together. Thank goodness the park has been protected since 1938, and that almost one million acres have been preserved for future generations.
“Wilderness is the preservation of the world.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walking