Olympic National Park – Hoh Rainforest Spruce Trail

Hiked On: September 2, 2007
Weather Conditions: Approximately 60°F-65°F, cloudy skies
Elevation: Unknown
Distance from Seattle: Just over 100 miles, including a ferry trip
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest

After we finished our hike at Hurricane Ridge, we headed over to the Hoh Rainforest to check out the visitor center and do a quick hike.

The Hoh Visitor Center was pretty packed, and we decided to do the Spruce Trail.  It was less of a hike and more of a gentle walk.  It was a 1.25 mile loop that took you through different portions of the Hoh Rainforest and along the Hoh River.  The river is apparently pretty dynamic where it flows, and a lot of our hike went through old parts of where the river actually flowed. 

Rocks at the Hoh The trail dropped us along the riverbed, and we sat there for a bit taking in the sounds of a fast flowing river and admiring the rocks that abounded in the area when the rain started.  We headed back into the dense rainforest, and not a drop of rain hit us thanks to the thick canopy overhead.

The sights were amazing.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I can’t believe that making a 3-hour drive can get you from a desert-like climate to a temperate rainforest.  Amazing.

Total distance: 1.25 miles, total elevation gain: 0′ (loop hike).

Olympic National Park – Hurricane Hill

Hiked On: September 2, 2007
Weather Conditions: Approximately 55°F-65°F, partly sunny skies
Elevation: 5000-5757′
Distance from Seattle: Just over 100 miles, including a ferry trip
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Olympic National Park

Diann & I did this hike in the Olympic National Park as part of our Labor Day 2007 roadtrip.

Hurricane Hill is a 1.6 mile hike that starts just beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.  I never really understood why it was called Hurricane Ridge, but standing up there made me realize it quickly — the wind truly whips over the ridge, and gusts are routinely measured up there in excess of 75mph.

The Hurricane Hill trail goes fairly flat for the first mile or so, through some stands of trees.  On our way back down through these trees, we saw a mother/fawn set of deer which were slowly grazing their way through underbrush, and they didn’t seem to mind our watching and photographing them.  After the first mile, the switchbacks and climb to Hurricane Hill begins in earnest.  From the top of Hurricane Hill, you can see most of the Olympic Mountains (well, the ones that aren’t shrouded in clouds), as well as north to Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island to the north.  We were presented with great weather (clouds around 7000′ that shrouded Mount Olympus from view) and awesome visibility.  Seeing Canada was no problem, and we sat down to eat a lunch from up high.

While climbing the Hill, I made use of Diann’s new digital camera to take a quick video of the surroundings.  Not the greatest quality video (more my fault than the camera’s), but you get the idea.  This is a pan of about a 180-degree view of our surroundings.

Total distance hiked: 3.2 miles (around 2 hours), total elevation gain: 700′, total accumulated elevation: unknown (altimeter watch battery still dead… really need to replace that).

Labor Day Weekend Roadtrip

Rather than firing up the Big Green Egg this Labor Day weekend, Diann and I decided to take a bit of a roadtrip to the western part of Washington – the Olympic Peninsula.

New Dungeness Lighthouse Our weekend roadtrip started at 6:30AM on Saturday to head to Edmonds, Washington, to catch the 7:50AM ferry to Kingston.  From Kingston, we headed out towards Highway 101 and then drove to Sequim (that’s pronounced "skwim" for you non-northwesterners).  Sequim is in the Olympic Mountain range rainshadow, and actually gets less than 15" a year of rain.  This isn’t really what most people think of when they’re thinking of western Washington.  Just past Sequim lies the unincorporated community of Dungeness, home to the Dungeness Spit.  I decided that we should make the jaunt out to the lighthouse at the end of the Dungeness Spit, which is a 5.5-mile walk.  Each way.

I didn’t really appreciate just how long an 11-mile walk is.  Heading out to the lighthouse took around 3 hours as we were frequently stopping to take pictures of the wildlife and various scenery.  We got to the lighthouse, made the climb to the top (73 steps, beautiful views), and then started heading back.  It’s about this time that my calf muscles started burning.  Walking 5+ miles in sand and rock really takes its toll.  I was quite miserable and cranky when we finished the walk, and I’m surprised Diann put up with me the whole time.

After we wrapped up at the Spit, we drove into Port Angeles and set up our camp site for the weekend.  Since both of our legs were a bit sore, we drove into the Sol Doc Hot Springs area in the Olympic National Park, and soaked in the hot springs for an hour or two.

Hurricane Ridge The next day, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  We did a brief hike (I’ll post more details about the hike later) at Hurricane Hill.

After this hike, we made the three hour drive down to the other end of Olympic National Park to the Hoh Rain Forest.  It’s amazing to me that within the span of a 3-hour drive you can go from near desert conditions (in Sequim) to a temperate rain forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest gets up to 200" per year of rain, compared to Sequim’s 15".  We did some brief walks around the visitor center, and I’ll post more on those later.  After touring the Hoh, we drove back to our campsite and threw together a little campfire for the night.

Monday morning arrived, and we packed up our campsite.  We drove east towards Kingston, but took a brief detour to check out Port Townsend.  Port Townsend was a really quaint town with a great little downtown area.  We did some shopping, checked out some art galleries, and had some great pizza and locally-brewed beer.  Time had come to head home, and we drove to Kingston to make the hour-long wait for a ferry.  Ferry traffic can be a beast at the end of a holiday weekend, so I’m glad we got to the terminal around 2:00PM, before the traffic got really bad.