Entering the Olympic

Monday, June 06, 2016 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Sequim, WA to Forks, WA
Regretting that we were six weeks too early to see the beautiful sight of the lavender fields, we left Sequim headed west on US-101 toward Port Angeles and Olympic National Park.  After our early start from the hotel, we arrived at the visitor center in the park more than an hour before its 9 a.m. opening time.  The entrance kiosk five miles on was also unstaffed, so we drove on toward Hurricane Ridge.
Majestic evergreens lined the roadsides as we climbed ever higher in this preserve established in 1938 to secure and protect what was then described as "the finest sample of primeval forests."  The Pacific Coast climate and geography nurture the growth of massive ancient trees.  Some specimens in Olympic National Park date back 1,000 years, and many national champion specimens grow in the park.
From the serpentine roadway, snow was still visible on the higher peaks as we continued ascending—3500 feet, 4000 feet, 4500 feet.  At 4800, small occasional patches of snow decorated the roadsides.  As we neared the top of the ridge, the trees were notably smaller though of similar age.  Our momentum slowed as we neared the top due to the complete lack of guardrails along steep drop-offs.  The views at the top (5,242 feet) were spectacular, but the visitor center there was also not open yet.
Hurricane Hill Trail
While waiting for the opening, we took a 40-minute two-mile hike on the Hurricane Hill Trail.  Stunning scenery and vistas inspired us to plant one of our "Love This Spot" letterboxes just off the trail.  By the time we returned to the parking lot, the visitor center had opened.  We took advantage for our three basic needs:  restroom, information, and national park passport stamp.

On the way to Crescent Lake, we stopped for a letterbox on Heart of the Forest Trail and at Safeway for gas and lunch fixings.  Returning to the park, we stopped at East Beach for a picnic, photo op and letterbox. 

After finding another letterbox at Lake Crescent, we admired some old giants a La Poel day use area.  Pushing on west, we followed the lakeshore toward Forks and the Hoh Rain Forest section of Olympic National Park.  Only after we passed through Forks did we realize that we still had another half hour to the Hoh visitor center.  Desperate for a pit stop, we jumped at the chance to pop in at Bogachiel State Park just south of Forks.  Taking advantage of the Washington grace period of 15 minutes in state parks before you have to pay, we took care of business and continued south on US-101, much relieved.
Hoh Rainforest
Located along the Hoh River on the Olympic peninsula, the Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S.  The forest is dominated by Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees.  Some have grown larger than 300 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter.  With the Hoh's moist climate, these and other trees and surfaces in the rainforest are covered with an extensive variety of mosses and lichens.
Hall of Mosses Trail
Near the visitor center, we walked the Hall of Mosses Trail (0.8 mi), which serves as a microcosm of the Hoh's ecosystem.  Especially impressive were the big leaf maples draped with a lush crop of spike moss.  On the way back to Forks, we stopped for a terrific letterbox by the Wyoming letterboxer known as Half Empty.  Then it was back to the Quillayute River Resort, a cozy six-room all-suites establishment set on the banks of the Quillayute River.
Quillayute River Resort
Tomorrow we'll head back east and return to British Columbia, hoping to check out the BC legislative building (equivalent to a US state capitol) in Victoria.
MONDAY, 6 JUNE 2016 
Daily Stats
  • Miles driven:  214
  • Weather:  63° to 66°, sunny & damp