tldr; you better hold on tight, spider monkey.
After a short week of work in Seattle, we met back up with Brooke and Paulo and headed off to Olympic National Park! We all took off Thursday and Friday from work so we could spend lots of time exploring the huge park.
We planned a busy itinerary that took us through all of the different parts of the park, from the mountains and lakes to the beaches and rainforests. This park is one of the most diverse national parks we’ve visited so far and we loved that about it.
Our first stop was to the northern part of the park, near Port Angeles. We hiked Hurricane Hill, a great quick hike through meadows with deer grazing just feet away and, at the top, amazing views of the ocean to the west and snowy Mount Olympus to the east.
After our hike we drove into Port Angeles for dinner and then back into Olympic National Park to Emerald Valley Inn, a campsite where we stayed the night. It was an amazing campsite nestled in lush, green, hills with a dense fog hanging overhead. Brooke and Paulo took our tent while we slept in the van.
As we walked to go brush our teeth that night we heard some strange sounds coming from a fenced in enclosure. Peering through the darkness, we spotted a donkey and then two emus staring at us out of the darkness. It was a little spooky so we decided to visit the animals in the morning when we could see them clearly.
The next morning, we spent a while watching all of the animals (one donkey, three goats, two emus, lots of chickens, pigeons, and bunnies) before heading off to our hike. We learned that emus make a really deep, guttural sound like a very deep drum beat. We also learned that goats can be very creative. One of the goats kept rearing onto her back legs and then leaning her front hooves up on the back of Donna the Donkey to get a boost so she could snack on some delicious but just barely out of reach tree leaves. At one point, that same goat goat decided to rile up all of the other animals by running around in circles. It was quite the sight to see first thing in the morning.
After our morning with the animals, we drove to Lake Crescent for a steep hike up Mount Storm King. This hike was short but steep, starting off with tons of switchbacks until we eventually reached the rocky spine of the mountain, where we clambered over rocks and pulled ourselves up dusty slopes with ropes. Eventually we made it to the top to find a view of… white. A dense fog covered the top of the mountain and we couldn’t see a thing!
We decided to stick it out for a bit and we were so glad we did. Just a few minutes later, the fog cleared and we got an amazing view of mountains above and Lake Crescent down below. There were a few other people at the top of Mount Storm King. One group of them were doing something rather unusual. They were sprinkling bits of food on the top of their heads and then waiting until birds swooped down, landed on their heads, and flew off. Not quite “leave no trace” but it was entertaining to watch!
Once we made it back to the base of Mount Storm King, we took a short trek to Marymere Falls, a great view of a huge waterfall cascading down from the mountain.
After lunch and a quick nap in our cars, we walked over to Lake Crescent, where my little brother Nate and Jordan will be getting married in just a few weeks! We walked over to Lake Crescent Lodge, a really nice hotel right on the water. We skipped some rocks and watched people swim and paddle around the lake.
After spending some time at Lake Crescent, we headed Forks, a town near the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. If Forks sounds familiar to you, you may be a “twihard”: a fan of the infamous? legendary? bad? Twilight series.
To get us in the proper mood, we decided we just had to watch the first Twilight movie our first evening in Forks. Choi and I hadn’t seen it before and it was pretty incredible and sparked lots of great references throughout the rest of the trip, especially this scene, which we later tried to recreate.
Our second day was full of more of the diversity of Olympic National Park. We started the day in the incredibly green Hoh Rainforest, where we got to see all different stages of the forest’s growth.
The best way we saw the growth of the forest was through what’s called a “nurse log”. A nurse log is a fallen tree that creates a perfect environment for new seedlings to grow along its decomposing trunk, rich in nutrients. We got to see nurse logs and their seedlings in every stage, from a freshly fallen tree with tiny trees just starting to grow along it’s trunk, all the way to a long line of trees, the nurse log long gone but you can still tell where it was from the straight line that the trees follow.
After Hoh Rainforest, we headed back to the coast, all the way to La Push, baby! We visited second beach, a beautiful beach with sea stacks and lots of great skipping rocks. After the beach, we headed to a restaurant on the water, the only restaurant in La Push. We played Spot It while we waited for our delicious, fresh seafood.
Later that night, we played more games before going to sleep. The next morning we waved goodbye to Forks and headed back to La Push to Rialto Beach. Rialto Beach had a great ~3 mile walk to hole in the wall, a cool arch right on the water. While there, we saw all sorts of cool ocean creatures, anemones, crabs, and lots of tiny snails. We did our best to recreate the spider monkey scene from Twilight. We also met an intriguing local by the name of Guy.
Guy was carrying a long staff painted to look like an orange snake. He was also wearing a hat ringed with what he declared to us were primarily bear claws but also some teeth and a “baculum” (I’ll let you google that one). Guy told us lots of stories about the ~60 bears he’s hunted and killed in his lifetime living in Forks. He told about a time when he was attacked by a bear and thought that was the end for him. He told us about the pepperoni he makes from bear meat and trades with fishermen for fresh tuna that he fries up into tuna steaks. He also told us that bears can heal themselves with their fat even if they’ve been shot (we weren’t able to find any evidence of this in fact checking, but Guy probably knows best!). He also told us about and showed us photos of a one of a kind fern that he found, a white elk, a half white and half black bear that roams the forest, and a crow with white wings. We learned all sorts of amazing things from Guy and could have listened to him for hours.
Once we pulled ourselves away from Guy and his stories, we hopped back in our cars and drove about an hour down the coast to Ruby Beach for lunch and Spot It. This was another amazing sunny beach with sea stacks and beautiful colorful rocks mixed in with the gray ones.
Olympic National Park, we love your incredible diversity of mountains, lakes, rainforests, and beaches, your fun twilight references, and your unique characters. Along We Go!