Olympic Pennisula


On Sunday August 12th, We dropped Risa off at the ferry on the North end of Vashon Island and said our goodbyes. We had timed her drop off with a pick-up of two more amazing people, our great friends Chris and Dusty. We wish everyone could come stay and goof off. Really, we do. Chris and Dusty play in a band called Slyde. They just finished playing at a wedding in New York State the night before, got on an early morning flight to Seattle and then navigated an unfamiliar bus system to get them to the ferry dock. Then a short ferry ride and minivan ride back to the house. All in  a days work -You guys rock!  Welcome to Vashon! Salmon and sausage on the grill for dinner and lots of catching up. Chris was out here on business for a few days and Dusty had some free time so we all decided to take advantage and work with those facts. With the local trails just around the corner Dusty and Bryan rode some sandy, briar laden singletrack that sometimes doubled a horse trails. Odd mix but not bad being right out the door. Trails were dry and the blackberries were still bursting. The sun was ablaze just about every day of their visit. We even got out to see some live hip hop in a town park. Lots of grilling out on the deck.

Chris and Dusty ambling around Point Robinson

Stone consumed by tree

Dusty and Bryan get a little exercise on the shore

Dusty stomping it on a Python Bonecrusher – the only rental we found circa 1996

As the week evolved we all got a chance to explore more of the island and when Chris no longer had obligations we took off for a good old fashioned road trip around the Olympic Pennisula including the Olympic National Park. Risa gave us some pointers and we looked up all our low tide times, got out our maps and picked a route. The next morning we would pile into the mini-van with a thule box on top and take off! The only remaining obligation was to receive a delivery of brand new kitchen cabinets that were supposed to arrive around 11am for the kitchen remodel we were overseeing. Then we could leave. And then, surprise, the truck pulled up in front of the house at 6:30am. A bit brash way to wake up but then again we unloaded them easily and by 7:30 am the day was ours. It was Friday, August 17th and it was hot and sunny. With our new schedule we decided to pack leisurely and get going in the early afternoon. We caught the 2:10pm ferry to Ruston, WA. Became traffic outside of Tacoma and on toward Olympia, WA and the drive slowed down a bit. Stopped at Trader Joe’s to re-supply for food. We had coolers and boxes to fill. The drive out of Olympia moved a little better. We chased the day west. We drove till we arrived in Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Forest. All campgrounds were full.  So, we jumped back in the car and headed up the South Shore Road along the Quinault river to a campground called North Fork being on the North Fork of the Quinault river. Perfect, quiet and cheap. We took one of only a couple of sites remaining. We rallied on firewood and our set up our campsite. Plenty of good eats for all.

Debi, Chris, Dusty and Bryan hanging out with an ancient Cedar tree(s)

In the morning we packed up under gray skies and headed back out to Route 101 via the North Shore Road to Lake Quinault. Along the way we stopped and checked out some really big Cedar trees. A short hike off the road lead us to some ancients. Next stop was Ruby beach. We parked the van and we all went for a stroll out along the water. Sure wouldn’t want to be shipwrecked here back in the day. The beach was busier than we thought but their was plenty of room for everyone. Some locals were having a fire near a small stream that emptied into the ocean.

Hard to capture the scale of this giant

Bryan peeks out from another large tree

Overlooking Ruby beach

Cairn at the stone laden beach

A lone rock formation at Ruby beach

Looking out at the sea through a hole in the formation

Stones at Ruby beach

Our final destination for the day was the Hoh rainforest. We got there early afternoon and there were still a few sites left. We got our tent set up and then we took off on a hike in the misting rain. First, was a short loop out of the visitor center through the Hall of Mosses which contained old growth Maple trees. Once through that we blazed past all the slow and short distance hikers We embarked on out the Hoh River Trail. This is the trail you would take to summit Mt. Olympus. Completely surreal hiking – gray skies and low lying clouds made the place feel even more humid.

Welcome to the Hoh – coverage is a bit spotty

Heading into the hall of Mosses

Old growth Maple trees

Suspended nurse log

Plenty of headroom on this trail

Debi walks alongside an ancient

Just a tad creepy

Hiking along the Hoh River Trail

These monsters erode down the Hoh river and then get washed up onto the ocean beaches

On the Hoh River Trail it is out and back, not many options for any kind of loop other than the Hall of Mosses which is short. We hiked a couple of miles out then turned around and  came back with different light and different trees to look at.The next morning we got up early and headed out to deserted Rialto beach in La Push, WA in time for the end of low tide. Coastal hiking in this area is dependent on tides. Sections of the beach become impassable due to steep cliffs and high water. We came through Forks, WA and turned onto La Push road crossing various vampire treaty lines. When we got the beach the sun was bursting through and it gave us a chance to dry out some tarps from our night in the Hoh. We rambled over and among the giant rock formations and peculiar tide pools. Blue sky and the last of the morning clouds  blazed above us as we scampered across old growth driftwood and huge ancient trees. A lovely afternoon indeed.

Just after day break at Rialto beach

Low tide at Rialto beach

Chris wanders on

Looking north from Rialto beach

Every tide pool offered something new

Beautiful morning sky

Low tide afforded some great views and acess

Tide was a risin’ on our way back

As high tide approached we were forced over these for half mile or so

A little friend joined our explorations

Dusty checks out a washed up tree

Looking toward Hole in the Wall on  Rialto beach

Stones with holes have special powers

Bryan stands on a huge downed tree

From here we decided to wing it and make a run for Sol Duc campground along the Sol Duc river where our good friend Joshua was working on a trail crew in the Olympic National Park. We knew roughly where he would be camped but not sure if he would be around. It wound up being a great hike in. The people slowly trickled off as we got further from the parking lot. That seems to happen at every trail head. After asking a couple of hikers and seeing some recent work sites we located Joshua’s camp and arrived before him but were told he would be sleeping here tonight. Victory was ours. We had found him! After a small snack and a real treat of hearing Sean play the Kora out here in deep in the forest we headed back to our campsite in the campground. Thanks Sean! We all needed it – very beautiful. We determined it would be best to kidnap Joshua for the night and bring him back to our campsite. Then we would drop him back off at the trail head in the morning so he could hike back to meet his crew and do some work on the way in. Perfect! We got back just before dark and had a big spaghetti dinner and sat around the fire. Joshua slept in the van and at one point during the night Debi or I hit the automatic door opener on the key chain from the tent. This promptly opened the van doors on Joshua and he didn’t know what was going on. Imagine sleeping in a tent for weeks and then you get one night on the floor of a mini van and the doors get opened on you in the dark and no one but you (and the bears) are around.

Sol Duc Falls

Debi and a monster burl

Temporary bridge next to work site of permanent bridge near Deer Lake

Found! Our friend Joshua’s base camp for trail work

Relaxing in camp and listening to Sean play the Kora

The next morning we slept in a little and had a leisurely breakfast. We had to bring Joshua back to the trail head. We said our good byes and well wishes. Best to you Joshua! Maybe we will see you again soon. We dove out of  the Sol Duc valley and stopped at a general store for some lunch fixins’. After lunch we drove up to Hurricane Ridge even though it was real cloudy down in Port Angelas. On the drive up you climb about 5,000 ft. through the foothills and the weather can change fast. And change it did. Typically, you would think the weather is worse up there but once we broke up through the clouds is was incredibly sunny and blue skies. We had time for a short little hike around the main visitor center which afforded some jaw dropping vistas. After our last little meal break we decided to call it and head back to Vashon via the Southworth ferry. This would complete a giant circle of carpooling a forgotten number of miles. Debi and I were paying close attention to the roads because we planned to come back this way and ride our bikes up and around to Port Angeles  via the Olympic Discovery Trail. In Port Angeles we would catch a ferry to British Columbia.

Exceptional views from Hurricane Ridge

Wish we had the bikes!

Bluebird day from the top of Hurricane Ridge

The road back down to Port Angelas

Another stunning vista

Flowers still in bloom


We all woke at 3am on Tuesday and it was time to take Dusty and Chris back to the ferry so they could catch a cab back to the airport and fly back into Albany. A Well worth whirlwind! We love you guys and we will see you again soon in the Atlantic Northeast!

More to come!



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