Day 272 – Olympic Loop, September 14, 2011
We spent the year anniversary of my journey in Olympic
National Park. After a year, I’ve
obviously learned quite a bit about nature, geology, history, and geography;
but I’ve also learned a few things about myself, Petey, and Scout (when she was
with us) that I didn’t know. I’ve met a
variety of kind individuals and feel very rewarded for them to have shared part
of their life with me. My journey has
been interesting, fun, and at times both lonely and challenging. Amazingly, after a year of traveling to the
lower forty-eight states, I still feel like there is so much more to see in
this nation and to revisit at more length.
Olympic National Park is a good example.
I simply sampled a few short trails in different areas of the park.
My first sample began at Hurricane Ridge, so named because
winter storms can whip up 100-mile-per-hour winds in the area. Thankfully, it is just the beginning of
Fall: overcast with a high in the
mid-sixties. After stopping at few a
lookouts on the 17 mile drive that snaked through the park to the Hurricane
Ridge Visitor Center, I took one of many trails that began in the area. The short paved path led me to a meadow of
wildflowers, to cloudy views of the mountains and water, and across a patch of
snow before I spotted a few deer. I’ve
seen deer practically daily as of late, though I’ve failed to mention them. I hope a year outdoors hasn’t caused me to
take them for granted too much.
From Hurricane Ridge we reversed our path back out of the
park to Highway 101 where we turned west toward Elwha River Valley, another
entry way into the enormous park. The
main road was closed just past the first two campgrounds as crews are removing
a dam from the area, thus virtually the only area to visit was Madison Falls. Due to my affinity for waterfalls, this was
fine with me. I strolled down a short,
quarter mile trail to a moss covered rock, tucked beneath a canopy of trees,
with water sliding down its face into a pool of water. A very tranquil place!
After a short visit at Madison Falls, I maneuvered VANilla
along the shores of Lake Crescent, ten miles long and 600 feet deep and one of
the largest bodies of water in Olympic National Park. From the lake, a 1.8 mile trail leads through
dense forest with fern undergrowth to Marymere Falls. A bridge crosses the river and the trail climbs steeply to the 90 foot falls.
I continued making the day about waterfalls, when I turned into another entrance to Olympic National Park and followed a paved road 12 miles to a variety of trailheads. A 1.6 mile trail which followed the river through dense vegetation led to Sol Duc Falls. These were just lovely. The river splits into three sections at the
tops of the falls as it flows over rock outcroppings into a moss covered canyon