Olympic National Park and Forest

7/17/18 – Still moving westward, left Newhalem early to get close to the ferry at Coupeville for the night. Made it to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island in what I guess is part of Puget Sound. All kinds of sounds, bays, straits, harbors, islands, peninsulas, not sure what’s what. But what an interesting watery area. I keep getting into campgrounds by the skin of my teeth, once again, the last available sight!! On our first walk around I spotted 2 old ’80s Toyota Dolphins, which is the little Class C camper I had before the ALiner. Right next to each other, I though surely they were together, a rally maybe, but they weren’t. There’s such a cult following for these old things that it’s not unusual for strangers to stop and check them out, so they weren’t taken aback by my approach. They’d already had 2 offers to buy it at that cg, I used to get folks asking about mine and making offers all the time too.
Anyway, right above their campsite, way above in one of the 200′ tall old growth trees, was an eagle nest with what appeared to be young in it. We could see 1 bird flapping wings in the nest and another out on a nearby limb occasionally flapping, so thought they might be ready to fledge. Mesmerized, but finally I went back to my own campsite and realized I could actually see the nest better from there. I was farther away but higher up so could see the top of the nest, whereas they could only see the bottom. So I settled my chair in that one little spot, got my binocs and went in for some serious watching. It was pretty late already, not getting dark til almost 11, so didn’t see much but next morning as I resumed my position with coffee and the lighting was different, I could see a lot more. I finally saw an adult fly in with goodies and lots of excitement in the nest and the one out on the limb (seemed not to have moved all night) was also an adult with a very clear white head. So that must be daddy and the feeding one must me mamma and the littles are NOT ready to fledge!! It was sad that I wouldn’t be able to witness such an event, but very good because I was planning to leave early to get to the ferry and I might not have ever left for waiting for them to fledge!! So I was able to leave. Whew!!

Right in the middle of the photo, mamma on nest feeding, papa above right watching over
So, we’re on another ferry adventure. This one is huge, three stories high, don’t know what’s underneath, much larger than the one we took to Southport, huge semis and giant buses on it. Anyway, short ride across the sound to Port Townsend.

My aim was to visit friends, Sue and Michelle, in Hadrock. When I started out I had no idea where that was, as I got into WA and checked in with them for location, it turned out it’s right there! Real close to where the ferry dropped us off. So I got a campsite at Old Fort Townsend State Park real near, settled the camper and headed over to their house. Had a wonderful visit sitting on the patio of their lovely house facing the water (everything is right on the water here). It was wonderful visiting old friends since I mostly meet new friends.  Very nice feeling of comfort.  They, and some other friends visiting, took me to a fantastic place called FinnRiver Farm and Cidery. If you’re ever anywhere near, do go. It’s a farm and they make hard cider with ingredients, mostly fruits and herbs, from the farm and other local farms. And they have other local venders there for eats like fire roasted pizza and the night we were there, locally sustainably harvested salmon in a sandwich filled with farm fresh veggies on very good local bread. It was soooo good. You can check them out on the web. Agri-tourism at it’s best.

From Port Townsend I went on to Olympic National Park. Went thru Port Angeles, down to Sol Duc, one of the major campgrounds which was full, the visitors center, and drove along Crescent Lake, a really huge beautiful lake, must have been 50 miles along the crescent. Lots of road construction, looong lines, 30 min wait. But a beautiful sight and able to get out of the car to take pictures. Got in the middle of a group of VW buses, they said 80 or so, on a long ride together. Fun to get out and talk to them. Old hippies in old hippy cars. Fun.  Madison Falls was really neat.

Found a site at Klahowya (another one of those beautiful words) campground in the National Forest, just outside the park. And another fabulous campground. The ones in the park were all full and I’m so glad, they are large and popular and crowded. This had fewer very spacious sites, and in the middle of wonderful old growth forest, ferns, rainforest, but dry. I went to the Hoh Rainforest later and it literally had nothing on this campground. It’s all first come, no reservations, and it did fill up later.

Olympic is very different from North Cascades, still high mountains, not as high and you don’t see them very much due to all the very tall trees. The westernmost part of the North Cascades were full of the old growth forest, and more moisture loving plants, ferns and mosses, Olympic now I guess officially rainforest. I mean TALL old growth trees, and BIG!!! It’s on a peninsula and on the coast so obviously moist and full of the ferns, the mosses, everywhere, including my campsite.

One day I drove out to Cape Flattery. It was a long drive with not much in between. Drive is pretty much along the water and on Indian Reservation, a small Indian fishing resort type place at Sekiu. But at the end is a fabulous sight, well worth the drive and the hike at the end to see it. The NorthWesternmost point in the continental US. I’ve made it!!! All the way across the US!!! Coast to Coast. I’ve never been to the west coast before. I pinched myself several times, still unbelievable. And what a beautiful place to celebrate that milestone.

You can see the fog in the first picture and the land mass in the second is Canada

I also went out to some of the beaches, not nearly as beautiful, but very interesting. Very different from what I’m used to. Lots of fog rolling in early, clearing later in the day, but I never saw it. Lots of rocks and old dead trees that have been brought to the ocean from the mountains, via the avalanches, heavy snow melt, rivers, then pounded onto the beaches by the waves. The only place to even wade at most of them is in the tide pools.  It’s also really cold!! 40s/50s in the morning, just a few miles inland and 10 degrees warmer, a few more another 10 degrees. It’s getting hot here but not on the beaches. No swimming, or even sitting out on the beach. I know beaches farther south on the west coast are not like this, more hospitable, but these are beautiful in their own way.

The big stone outcrops are apparently what’s left of old islands that have been worn away.  Pretty eerie with the fog, eh?  The last one there is Rialto Beach, farther south and more hospitable for beaching, but still no swimmers.

I went to the Hoh Rainforest and went on some of the shorter trails since my knee has been hurting from all the steep hiking chasing waterfalls.  It’s not much different from my campground. But a lot of interesting information on interpretive trails. I was particularly intrigued with how the old dead trees provide growing medium for new ones, either on the stump or along a trunk on the ground. Makes for interesting root growth after the old trees finally decompose. And of course the size of the trees still amazes me, In addition to all the ferns and mosses.


Look closely at that one on the right.  There’s a person in it!

We camped at Lake Quinault our last day in Olympic NP. What a beautiful place, would have stayed longer but it was full, no campsites available. Most of the sites were walk in, for tent campers, so wouldn’t have worked for us anyway. But we got there early enough to enjoy most of the day and then didn’t leave too early the next morning. It was foggy early so nice watching the fog gradually lift for another clear day. Very beautiful blue glacier/snow melt lake, great views of mountains all around. And warm enough to swim in!!! Yay, first swim of the trip, and in a blue glacier lake.  Nice It was chilly getting in and cold at the bottom, but the sun was shining and warming up the upper levels and was perfect.   Have been at campgrounds without showers for quite awhile now, so haven’t had a real shower. So that made it utilitarian too. 🙂  And a very nice hiking trail along several beaches and into the forest along a creek. That last picture?  That’s one of the campgrounds on the coast I thought I wanted to camp at, called South Beach.  Nope, not my style, thank you.

So the next day we said good-bye to Olympic National Park and Forest as we continued to drive the scenic drive around the southwestern and south sides. As I turned to head east, realized with sadness I was starting my return. But one more big NW stop to make before it’s official. On the way I stopped at the first private campground I’ve used. It was surprisingly very nice. It was an old one, very nice wooded, spacious sites. Plus for a real change I had elec. hookup!  And a real shower and shampoo (too bad it was right after the swim). And laundry!! Wow!! I’m civilized!!

A couple last shots before I go.  This beauty visited my wonderful campsite at Klahowya.  She stayed quite a while one morning and got quite close.  Good timing, I gave her the 2 mice I’d just trapped from my car.  :(.  The deer here don’t seem to run out in front of you or away from you.  I guess they’re so used to people they just stand there and stare.  It’s a local black tail. they sometimes mate with white tails and end up with zebra tails.  🙂

Rolling east,
Lynn and Xena


3 thoughts on “Olympic National Park and Forest

  1. Oh, I really love this Olympic Peninsula blog! So much good detail. Isn’t it a magical place? Love that you often snag the last camping spot somewhere — somebody’s gotta do it! Great description of your resident eagle family, and wonderful owl visitor and photo. Can’t believe you had treats for it! Olympic NP is a place I yearn to return to. I feel like I could hang out there a long time — too bad it’s so far. But when I DO go back I am visiting Finn Farm!💞

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks again for a wonderful post…I’m right there with you! The old growth trees are unimaginable unless you are there with them, and you got to be with them! The beauty you are experiencing will be with you forever. Love the owl, and the owl loves you for the treats! Roll on, Lynn and Xena! love, jill

    Liked by 1 person

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