“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
We saved four hours of driving and about $70.00 worth of gas by taking the Coupeville Ferry from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend. Taking the ferry with the trailer was a new experience for us, but with a little research and a bit of apprehension it came off without a hitch and we were soon on our way to Olympic National Park!
Coast, forest and mountain ecosystems make up this spectacular park and we arrived determined to experience it all. After spending some time at the visitor center at Port Angeles we headed for the Heart O’ the Hills campground that lies just inside the entrance booth on Hurricane Ridge Road. We arrived early and had the pick of the campsites with some of the largest trees that we’ve ever seen. Pinecones whizzed down and crashed loudly to the ground at least a couple landing, without incident, on the roof of Tex. A Steller’s Jay aggressively stalked our mealtimes for food.
To cap off our first day we drove up the amazing Hurricane Ridge Road that leads to some stunning scenery and another visitor center with equally stunning views off of the back porch. All the park visitor centers offer helpful information, and if you are lucky a park film, but some of them have amazing views as well. Bonus!
It turns out some ninety-five percent of this park is designated as wilderness so we got some tips from the park rangers as to where to focus our visit and, naturally, where to experience the best hikes. At the end of Hurricane Ridge road we found the Hurricane Hill trailhead and huffed and puffed our way to the top for some spectacular views of the surrounding peaks, including Mount Olympus, as well as Port Angeles and Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria shrouded by the clouds.
At the top we also found an extremely vocal marmot posing on a rock. This marmot was on his or her game providing entertainment like a pro, but like good park visitors we did not provide a food reward. Sorry dude.
With our fill of mountain peaks and grand vistas we were soon on the move to Mora campground and the beach. Rialto Beach was our first stop, with Skyler in tow as she appreciates the ocean as much as we do. Sandy beach meets up with millions of rocks that are smoothed and rounded by the ocean and driftwood, sometimes in whole logs, makes it way between wild surf and pristine beach. With Skyler sufficiently worn out we left her in camp so that we could return and hike the couple of miles to The Hole in the Wall. High tide prevented a walk through but we did scramble up to the top of the ridge to get another perspective of the beach.
Because we have found that Saturday night is the one night we have encountered an issue with finding a campsite we headed to the Kalaloch campground early on Friday to sit tight through the weekend. This campground turned out to be one of our favorites, located practically on the soft sandy beach, and we fell asleep each night listening to the gentle surf. Each morning and evening Skyler trotted to the beach with tail wagging only to return exhausted to the trailer. We just couldn’t say no but had to dial it back a little because she just didn’t know how.
On our final day we planned a day trip to the Hoh Rain Forest only to find that the long summer had stolen the “rain” from the forest. Ferns and moss were still abundant but, other than birds, we found little active wildlife during our hike.
On our way back from our shortened day in the rain forest we stopped at Ruby beach, a sort of blend between Kalaloch and Rialto Beaches. Stacks of rocks were everywhere and we added to the manmade piles before heading back to Kalaloch.
And like a nightcap the sun spread its vibrant hues of yellow and orange across Kalaloch Beach and we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf.
Next up: Mount Rainier National Park