Northwest Part II – Olympic National Park

After leaving Seattle, we made the drive (and ferry) to Olympic National Park. I thought the ferry ride was pretty cool; actually, it was cold. After a couple minutes of standing on the deck, the wind really started to give us the chills, so we moved inside. The boat was huge and mostly empty so we got our pick of seats right by the window. As we neared the other end of the bay, the decision was made to venture out onto the deck again. The surrounding landscape was very different than anything I had experienced before, and reminded me of photos I’d seen of the Northeast US: the weather was cloudy, the beaches were rocky, and the trees came up almost to the edge of the shore. After docking, we drove the final leg of the journey.

Arriving at Olympic, our first expedition was a long and winding drive up to Hurricane Ridge. We were all nervous on the drive up, as the clouds appeared to be too low and would block the mountains. However, once near the top, we broke through one layer of clouds and the ridge became visible. The viewpoint at the top was fantastic, as you can see from the photos. The mountains seemingly surrounded you on all sides, and being a photographer, I appreciated the foreground flowers that were close by. We ate a brisk but scenic lunch on some picnic tables, hiked around some of the small trails at the summit, then headed back down the mountain.

The view of Hurricane Ridge from the summit viewpoint.

The view of Hurricane Ridge from the summit viewpoint.

The small lodge at the summit of the Hurricane Ridge viewpoint.

The small lodge at the summit of the Hurricane Ridge viewpoint.

Next, we went to some waterfalls. First up was Marymere falls, a small but picturesque cascade. On the hike, I remember the amount of greenery being stunning. Everything was so green, from moss to leaves to pine trees. It was amazing. The second waterfall we visited was Sol Duc Falls (I’m still not sure how to say it). This was a very unique waterfall, as the water crashed down into a canyon, sending mist spraying up over the rock wall and onto the walkway. This ended our first day in Olympic.

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls

The next morning, we woke and prepared to drive to the Hoh rainforest. I was really looking forward to visiting here, so I was obviously excited. On the way, we drove along the beautiful Lake Crescent. The day had started off overcast. but as we drove, it became clearer and clearer. I knew this was a bad sign and would make the rainforest difficult to photograph under the contrasty lighting. Yes, as odd as it may sound, I was not excited about the fact that the sun was coming out. Unfortunately, we ended up choosing a day where it was sunny in the rainforest; how often could this possibly happen? As such, I was unable to get what I consider to be an effective photo. The rainforest was awesome, with its incredible amounts of mosses and gargantuan trees, but I left a little disappointed in the weather. So, one day, I hope to return and take some shots that really show the character of the place. After all, I couldn’t possibly get another sunny day in a rainforest, right?

A view of crescent lake we saw while driving to the Hoh rainforest.

A view of crescent lake we saw while driving to the Hoh rainforest.

After the Hoh, we drove the the hot springs, which were unbelievably anticlimactic. They pump the hot water into pools at the lodge there that you can pay to swim in. So what you get is a bunch of people sitting around in warm, sulfur-smelling pools.  Great. I can’t believe I even wrote about it.

After this, we left and went to Ruby beach, which will be a part of my next post on the Oregon coastline because I believe it fits better. I couldn’t help but get a feeling that I had barely gotten to know Olympic; we had seen only the highlights of an incredibly diverse national park. It ranges from mountains to rainforests to beaches. What other park can boast that? So some other time, I wish to go back and spend maybe a week backpacking and hiking around. Our other 2-3 day trips to national parks have seemed of adequate length to get a feel for the place, but Olympic is different. Until I return, it will always be mysterious to me, like there is something spectacular hidden there that I haven’t yet seen.

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