Olympic National Park Redux

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.

On Saturday morning I left my hotel and drove up to Edmonds, just north of Seattle, and rolled up perfectly timed to catch the ferry across Puget Sound to Kingston. I had a spot right on the side of the ferry so had a nice view for the 30 minute crossing. From there it was about another hour drive out to the park. The ferry saved me about an hour and a half that I would have had to have driven south around the sound and across the Tacoma narrows – which is what I did last time.
It was an absolutely beautiful day, in the mid-sixties and cloudless! I drove up to the Hurricane Ridge visitor center which I had also done back in June. This time, the view was absolutely stunning. I made the 3 mile round trip hike from near the visitor center up to Hurricane Hill which overlooks the park to the south and the town of Port Angeles on the coast to the north. Well worth the effort.
After this hike I headed back down the wonderfully twisty mountain road and grabbed lunch in Port Angeles. Then it was on to the Elwha section of the park which I had not previously visited. Unfortunately, the main road was closed due to some serious construction – the Glines Canyon Dam is currently being removed and is the nation’s largest dam removal project currently under way. So I took the Whiskey Bend Road instead. This is a single lane dirt road that heads up to a trailhead.
I took the trail down into Rica Canyon which is just above the dam removal area. It was about a 4 mile hike that led down nearly to river level. Some very nice views overlooking the canyon. Finally down at the river I made it out to Goblin Gates. At this point the river makes a nearly right-angle turn and cuts into the mountain. It is this cut that is called Goblin Gates and it is spectacular – though probably more so from the other side of the river.
After making it back up the trail from the river level it was about 5 o’clock and I called it a day and headed for my hotel in Sequim – pronounced squim for some reason. Got a good night’s sleep and then headed to the airport Sunday morning and was home about 8 o’clock. All in all a pretty good weekend in the park!

Olympic National Park

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…