Home to Olympic National Park

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I want to tell the story that I have always loved nature and been fascinated by National Parks, but the last time I visited Olympic National Park, I was a bored teenager.  The only thing I remember was one stop on the way to Hurricane Ridge where I wasn’t unimpressed, but I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be back in a decade or so with a new appreciation. I am lucky that my mom and step-dad, Randy, have supported me in my new love of National Parks and were willing to take me back to Olympic National Park.

I am used to traveling alone to National Parks or dragging friends with me where I still serve as Captain, so it was strange to sit in the backseat as we drove into the park. Our first stop was Lake Crescent, which I fell in love with instantly. The blue color of the lake reminded me of Crater Lake, but it was also huge and surrounded on all sides by trees. We decided to hike to Marymere Falls, but first I tried to capture the ombre color of the water.

The hike to the falls was short, but included wooden bridges. As our reward for such effort, we sipped adult beverages on the patio of Lake Crescent Lodge. Our next stop was Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, where we were staying for the night. Before going in the hot springs, we decided to hike to Sol Duc Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall that divides into three. The bridge you stand on is above the waterfall, so you can see the water pool below you.

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It was a pretty short hike, but still a good enough excuse to rest our tired limbs in the hot springs. I had seen the hot springs before, but this was my first time going in. They really just look like normal pools, but they’re hot and smell of sulfur. It was a weird contrast to my trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park where there were dangerous boiling lakes and mudpots.

The next morning, after one more dip in the hot springs, we made our way back to Port Angeles and began the drive up to Hurricane Ridge. Even though I am from Washington and spent most of the first 22 years of my life living there, I have been in California long enough now that just the trees were impressive to me. They seemed endless. And then there were the mountains. When we made it to Hurricane Ridge, it was less green than normal and, of course, the glaciers are not what they once were, but it was still so beautiful. How could I not even have a memory of being here before? I think growing up in Western Washington spoils a person with beautiful views.

After stopping at the visitor center, we drove a little further to the Hurricane Hill trailhead. This was a slightly more challenging hike, but we made our way to the top of the hill where we could see all of Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the peak of Mt. Baker. We heard reports of a marmot in the area, but never saw it for ourselves.

The next morning our plans were uncertain, but we decided to visit one last area of the park: the Hoh Rain Forest. I think this was my first visit to a rain forest. The ride there made me a little sick and then we were attacked by bees as we tried to eat lunch, but as soon as we hit the trail, I fell in love. The Hall of Mosses is exactly what you would expect--very old trees draped in moss. Even the creeks were beautiful with water moving over bright green and growing moss. It was rare to see a tree on its own. Most had at least three forms of life growing from one base.

Next we hiked the Spruce Nature trail, which took us into newer parts of the rain forest and along the Hoh River. We saw many backpackers at the start of Hoh River trail, but we made our way back to the car and drove to Forks for ice cream. I had to get a picture of The City of Forks Welcomes You sign, because when I read Twilight years ago, it made me homesick for a city in Washington I hadn't known existed.

Olympic National Park is a huge, and I wasn’t able to visit every part of it, but since it’s in my home state, I’m confident that I will eventually explore it all. Next Summer, though, I have my heart set on North Cascades, my last Washington National Park.

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