Last Week’s Adventure – 10/23, 10/24

This past weekend of mine I decided to get outdoors. The fog has been horrible here. I mean bad horrible, and I needed to see some sun.

Wednesday I went to town to run some errands in the morning. It was 32 degrees on my way out of the park here, but it looked like the sun was poking through along with some blue sky. I ran my errands and tried to figure out someplace to go and take a walk. Eventually I decided on going on the trail that leads up to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. I grabbed a few snacks and a lunch item and went to the trailhead.

By now the sun was in full bloom. The sky was clear and it was a gorgeous day for a hike. Unfortunately I had taken my hiking poles and boots out of my car when cleaning it out and forgot to put them back in, so it was my low-cut hiking shoes and, since I had no pack, carrying my lunch in a plastic grocery bag. Oh well… work with what ya got.

The trail is an easy two-mile roundtrip hike, very quiet this time of year from what I understand. This is a big tourist spot in the summer months so now it is time for the locals to go play. It is a nice walk… decent trail through some nice scenery. The waterfall is back in a little notch in the hillside and is pretty nice, and the bridges and boardwalks to it make it easy.

I wandered back and when I got back I realized that the lunch I had carried back there was still in my hand. I got a little lost in my surroundings I guess. I found a picnic table by the ranger station that was in the sun (which made it dry as well) and had my lunch.

It was still early afternoon so I decided to go check out the Sol Duc area of ONP past Lake Crescent. The road back was long and windy, but a nice drive with lots of parking and trails to hike along the way. I decided to go all the way back to hike to Sol Duc Falls.

There is more than one trail that goes out of this area so there were a few cars there. I took off and hit the trail and was glad I made the journey back here. Well worth the drive, but another place to avoid in the summer crush of tourism. There is a hot springs near the falls, as well as some camping and RV areas so I am sure it can get quite busy. With the road being so long and windy, I would really want to plan carefully to avoid those crowds.

Fifty feet onto the trail it is another world. Big trees, mossy branches, mushrooms everywhere, some mist in the air… a gorgeous place to wander through. As you walk you just get sucked into this place… the smells of this forest are none I have ever smelled before. You can hear the river, and as you walk you can hear the falls come cloJust before I got to the falls there is an old Civilian Conservation Corps cabin. Quite a neat structure that is on the Historic Register.

Just around the corner is a bridge over a chasm. From these bridge you can see the waterfall fairly close, and the water flows through this chasm under the bridge and heads on to where it heads on to. It is a really nice spot, and there are viewing platforms to get a better look. I bet this place is a zoo in the summer months so I am glad I am here now.

I decided to head back and not go any farther, but I do want to come back and do more of the trails back here around this part of the park. I needed to get back to town and get to the grocery store before heading home. It was a really nice day to be out, and I got in three miles or so for the day.

Thursday I got up early and needed to go do laundry. I had such a great Wednesday I decided to put my pack in the car, along with my boots and poles and take another hike. The weather was really socked in here so I got on the web and looked at the first place that came to mind – Hurricane Ridge. Visitors the previous week to the Refuge had said it was beautiful up there – sunny and 70. It is above the clouds up there so I thought I needed to be there too after getting my clothes done.

I headed over to Port Angeles and it was foggy all the way. As I started to head toward the road to Hurricane Ridge the clouds parted and Mr. Sun came out to play. I stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get water and a book I have been wanting to get about hikes on the Olympic Peninsula.

Items procured, I started up the 15 mile drive. My goal was Hurricane Hill, which the trailhead for is a mile past the Visitor’s Center at the top. I got back to the parking area and got out to get my gear ready to go. A fantastic and sunny 62 degrees! It cannot get much better than this. A lady who is a regular here at The Spit came up the trail I was going to head down. We chatted for a few, then she went back out to find a place for lunch. I got my pack on and hit the trail.

It is 1.8 miles up to the top of the hill, and it is a moderate trail. One thing I did not like about it was that it was paved, and I assume that is due to the fact that there used to be a fire lookout tower at the summit. The hard surface was uneven in a lousy asphalt sort of way, and poles made a lot of noise on it.

I know for a fact that this place is a zoo during the summer, and my guidebook even alludes to it in what was an amusing, yet unflattering, view of the throngs of people. Hurricane Ridge is a must-see for most people visiting the area, but one I will avoid at most cost.

I hiked along and eventually ran into Pam again. I stopped and we talked for a while longer. As we talked I saw other people I recognized from the Refuge as regulars. She left to head back out with a group she had been waiting on to descend, and I continued my journey upwards.

I got to the summit of the Hill, and the views are spectacular on a day such as this. Barring the short trees to the west, it is a 360 degree view with the Strait, Canada, and the San Juans to the north and northwest, and the Olympics to the east, south, and southwest. I cooked up some soup on my backpacking stove, and had a pleasant lunch in a great place.

Unfortunately, it was time to head back down. I got my gear packed and my pack back on and started back. I can see the glimmer of the cars in the parking lot shimmering in the distance. Another fantastic day outdoors comes to a close, but I think I need to do this more often. MUCH more often.

I have posted pictures at a this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnflaherty/sets/72157636889486316/

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