The Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula

The Olympic Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to its west, the Straight of San Juan de Fuca to its north, and the Hood Canal to its east, is one of the most geographically diverse places in the country. Its 3600 square miles contain three temperate rain forests, the Olympic mountain range, lakes, the Olympic National Forest, about a dozen state parks, and, of course, Olympic National Park. And, the town of Forks, where the Twilight books take place. 

I spent about ten days on the Olympic Peninsula last month and while it feels like I saw a lot, I really only skimmed the surface of what that area has to offer. Here are some highlights!

 Lake Quinault Lodge: Where I stayed for two nights! JK. I camped right next door, but spent a few hours curled up on the lodge's comfy couches, charging my phone and reading my book. I love seeing the historic lodges located in National Parks. One day, I will stay in one. But, until then, using their bathrooms and, occasionally, ordering an overpriced burger, works just fine. 

Lake Quinault Lodge: Where I stayed for two nights! JK. I camped right next door, but spent a few hours curled up on the lodge's comfy couches, charging my phone and reading my book. I love seeing the historic lodges located in National Parks. One day, I will stay in one. But, until then, using their bathrooms and, occasionally, ordering an overpriced burger, works just fine. 

The next three photos are from Ruby Beach, located about an hour from Lake Quinault on the Peninsula's southwest coast. The beach is absolutely stunning and one of the most popular destinations in the area. Like many other beaches in the area, Ruby Beach has a lot of driftwood (pieces of wood that have been washed ashore) and the same haystack rock formations as Cannon Beach.

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 up close and personal with the driftwood! 

up close and personal with the driftwood! 

 Next up was the  Hoh Rainforest , where I went on a three-night four-day backpacking trip. The first 12 miles are relatively flat and follow the Hoh River. The next six and a half miles are all up-hill. You climb through the forest and meadows until you finally end up at Blue Glacier, at the base of Mount Olympus. The entire trip is 37 miles with 3700 feet of elevation gain.

Next up was the Hoh Rainforest, where I went on a three-night four-day backpacking trip. The first 12 miles are relatively flat and follow the Hoh River. The next six and a half miles are all up-hill. You climb through the forest and meadows until you finally end up at Blue Glacier, at the base of Mount Olympus. The entire trip is 37 miles with 3700 feet of elevation gain.

 Overlooking  Elk Lake , where I camped on the second night. 

Overlooking Elk Lake, where I camped on the second night. 

 The  Glacier Meadows  - so many wildflowers with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

The Glacier Meadows - so many wildflowers with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

 At  Blue Glacier ! The water from the glacier (consisting of both snow and a lot of rain) flows through the Hoh River (creating the coastal rainforest that I walked through) and eventually ends up in the Pacific Ocean. 

At Blue Glacier! The water from the glacier (consisting of both snow and a lot of rain) flows through the Hoh River (creating the coastal rainforest that I walked through) and eventually ends up in the Pacific Ocean. 

  Second Beach : None of my pictures do this sunset justice, but it was simply remarkable getting to camp on the beach. And, it was a full moon! I woke up at 2AM and it was still incredibly light outside. Who needs earplugs when you have the Pacific Ocean?!

Second Beach: None of my pictures do this sunset justice, but it was simply remarkable getting to camp on the beach. And, it was a full moon! I woke up at 2AM and it was still incredibly light outside. Who needs earplugs when you have the Pacific Ocean?!

 After leaving the beach, I started heading east. That was really fun because I always thought that the 101 only ran North to South, but it actually runs West to East along the Northern Olympic Peninsula. So cool! This view is from the top of  Mount Storm King . The hike itself is only 3.6 miles roundtrip, but it's incredibly steep. For the last ten minutes or so of the hike, you have to use rope to guide yourself up. The view from the top was so worth it!

After leaving the beach, I started heading east. That was really fun because I always thought that the 101 only ran North to South, but it actually runs West to East along the Northern Olympic Peninsula. So cool! This view is from the top of Mount Storm King. The hike itself is only 3.6 miles roundtrip, but it's incredibly steep. For the last ten minutes or so of the hike, you have to use rope to guide yourself up. The view from the top was so worth it!

 Making new friends at  Hurricane Ridge . This is the most famous hike in the park, in part because it's so accessible (and easy). Still, it's gorgeous. From this side, you can see the entire Olympic Mountain Range. From the other side, you can see all the way to Canada on a clear day. I camped nearby and made my way to the Port Angeles YMCA for a much-needed shower.... (there are no showers at the campgrounds....).

Making new friends at Hurricane Ridge. This is the most famous hike in the park, in part because it's so accessible (and easy). Still, it's gorgeous. From this side, you can see the entire Olympic Mountain Range. From the other side, you can see all the way to Canada on a clear day. I camped nearby and made my way to the Port Angeles YMCA for a much-needed shower.... (there are no showers at the campgrounds....).

 My last backpacking trip on the Peninsula was to Lena Lake. I camped there for two nights, and then day hiked to Upper Lena Lake, where this photo was taken. One of the hardest hikes I've done - it was so steep that, on the way down, I had to go on my butt to keep from falling down. And I saw a mountain goat! 

My last backpacking trip on the Peninsula was to Lena Lake. I camped there for two nights, and then day hiked to Upper Lena Lake, where this photo was taken. One of the hardest hikes I've done - it was so steep that, on the way down, I had to go on my butt to keep from falling down. And I saw a mountain goat! 

 Hood, Washington: Hannah and Eli invited me to their 4th of July celebrations on the Hood Canal. It didn't suck.

Hood, Washington: Hannah and Eli invited me to their 4th of July celebrations on the Hood Canal. It didn't suck.

Thanks for reading! 

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San Juan Islands

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Week 4: The Northern Oregon Coast