I was back in Seattle during the first week of October and decided to give Olympic National Park another go since my visit in June was a bust. Turns out this time of year is generally dry in the Pacific Northwest, so it worked out well.
So I had spent the week in Seattle for work and decided to spend the weekend and take the opportunity to visit Olympic National Park. It’s a large park, so I knew I was only going to be able to get a small taste, but that’s OK.
So after having 3 absolutely beautiful days during the week, spent inside of course, it got cloudy on Friday morning and was raining by the afternoon. I debated changing my flight and just heading home, but ended up deciding to take my chances (which I knew to be slim to none – OK, none) and drove over to Bremerton. I took the route over the Tacoma Narrows, which was the site of a pretty spectacular bridge failure in 1940 – the current spans were opened in 1950(westbound) and 2007(eastbound). My drive was uneventful!
I woke up Saturday morning to a spectacularly cloudy, drizzly day but headed out to the park anyway. I stopped in at the visitor center and watched a nice 20 min film about the park and then headed up to Hurricane Ridge. This is a 17 mile drive up into the heart of the park, which on clear days would provide nice views of some of the mountains. On this day however, by the time I made it up to about 5,000′ the fog was pretty thick and at the visitor center at 7,000′ visibility was pretty much zilch! On the way down again I spotted a mother elk and very young calf and managed to pull the car into a turnout and jump out of the car in time to snap a couple pictures before they headed downslope.
From there I headed over to the Sol Duc Valley where I planned to take a short hike out to a waterfall. On a nice day, this would have been a beautiful drive as the route around the north side of the park parallels a spectacular lake shore drive. This day was just wet and gray… As I pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead the soft drizzle became a torrential downpour. I get it, it’s a rain forest! I took a nap for about 45 minutes until the rain finally let up to a light drizzle again and then donned by rain gear and headed up the trail. It was only about a 20 minute hike but it was nice and peaceful and cool in the park with lots of water trickling everywhere. Headed back to Bremerton after that.
Sunday morning I got up early and had been considering another run out to the park as my flight wasn’t until the evening. However, despite a mostly clear sky in Bremerton the satellite weather mages showed the rest of the peninsula to be under cloud cover again. So that made an easy decision and I decided to take a tour of the USS Turner Joy, DD-951 a Forest-Sherman class destroyer which is now a floating museum. It’s moored pretty much just outside of the hotel I was staying at so was a no-brainer. Never having toured a modern navel vessel, it was pretty impressive to see how everything gets squeezed into place.
Bremerton is home to a pretty significant naval shipyard and at the moment there are four retired aircraft carriers here currently awaiting their final disposition (Ranger, Independence, Kitty Hawk and Constellation). Very impressive to see those amazing vessels sitting there – a little sad though as they are starting to show signs of rusting…
After all of this I had a nice lunch and then headed back to the Airport. Caught my 6:30 flight and got home a little before 1 a.m. The time change was good when I went to bed – not so much when I got up for work Monday morning…