Friday, August 31, 2012

Olympic Peninsula Part 2

Work officially started this week! It has been crazy busy the whole time, but when things settle down and when we get all the schedules straightened out, everything will be a breeze (wishful thinking!). Now that I have said goodbye to my summer vacation, the next best thing to do is to daydream about my good times at the Olympic Peninsula. So here I am again with another long tale to share. Click Olympic Peninsula Part 1, if you want to know where we went during the first leg of our trip.

On the fourth day of our trip, we woke up at our campsite in Three Rivers. As I was getting ready to heat the leftovers for breakfast, I noticed in dismay that the melted water from the ice in our cooler seeped through the container, causing our food to turn into muck! Gross. DFJ got the brunt of my frustration and I spent the better part of the morning pouting and acting like a brat. Honestly, how does this guy put up with me? We had a late start and an even later start trying to find a place to eat at Forks. Seeing that our choices were close to zero, we picked a diner and had pancakes, French toast, eggs, ham, and sausage. The place was packed, the wait was long, and the food was tolerable. What a coincidence to be in “Twilighted” Forks while the news of Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson’s break-up was hot in the press. Enough said.

We drove to Hoh Rain Forest and marveled at the mystical rainforest beauty. There are two super easy and short trails, the Hall of Mosses and the Spruce Trail. Old trees and young trees crowded the forest floor along with ferns, berries, and other shrubs that are unknown to me. Soft mosses draped over the branches like curtains and blankets draped over furniture in an abandoned house. There were nurselogs everywhere and these were our favorite. Nurselogs are dead trees that have fallen and serve as growing ground for new trees. You have to stop at Hoh Rain Forest, the drive from the highway to the trailhead is pretty long but the hikes are quick and easy. Before you leave the Hoh area, do stop at Peak 6 to buy souvenir shirts. The owner is sooooo nice and helpful. She even gave me a free shirt! Thank you!

DFJ and I drove back to Forks and stopped at the grocery store to get more food supplies for the rest of our trip. At first, we were undecided as to whether we should go to Rialto Beach or Third Beach or both. Rialto won out… but first, we had to stop at the campsite to change into swimsuits and shorts, excited for a relaxing time of reading, napping, and sunbathing. When we got to Rialto, it was windy and freezing cold! Almost everyone wore winter clothes. My legs were so cold. Aaaaaaaaaghhhhhh, major disappointment! We had to hide behind some logs to keep the wind from blowing our pulled pork sandwich and grilled hot dog for lunch. Both of us must have been so tired because even with the rocky ground and crazy cold wind, we both fell asleep under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, the beach is beautiful but way too crowded for my liking and too rocky. We left half satisfied… glad we got to see Rialto but sad that it wasn’t as great as we thought it would be.

We followed a sign that said smoked salmon at #316 and came upon a house painted with 316 all over that sold fresh smoked salmon. It was pricey but totally worth it because it was so good. Go find that house when you’re at Mora, there’s a state sign that will lead you to it. Even though we were both ready to just call it a day, we decided to drive to Third Beach because we both know we won’t sleep well that night if we didn’t give it a chance. It was getting late and there’s a 1.4 mile walk from the trailhead to the beach. We walked fast and as we got closer to the beach, we caught a glimpse of it through a gap in the woods. My heart caught in my throat and it was love at first sight. By far, the most beautiful place I ever laid my eyes on! You have to climb over stacks of logs to get to the beach, some people spring lithely from one log to the next, I prefer to scramble my way slowly because I’m a scaredy cat. The sand was soft and so pretty, made up of teeny tiny rocks. It’s a very secluded little cove and since it’s quite a walk from the trailhead, not a lot of people come to see it. There are sea stacks and rocks in the distance and land jutting out into the sea to protect the little bay from winds, thus making it way warmer than Rialto. We immediately stripped down to our swimsuits and played along the shore. No napping this time, I didn’t want to miss a thing and just wanted to soak everything in and remember every moment at this beach. It was a sad goodbye and we promised Third Beach that we will be back again, someday.

Back at the campsite, we enjoyed a dinner of chips and salsa, a huge turkey leg, and s’mores for dessert. No showers that night, even after sandy feet day.

The next day, we woke up early and had smoked salmon and cream cheese with bagels and poached eggs for breakfast (we also made the same thing for lunch). Packed all our gear and got ready for a long day of many stops and a ferry ride to Seattle.

First stop: Sol Duc Falls

We drove into the Sol Duc area and stopped at the lodge to check it out. For a moment, I was filled with envy at the lodge guests because of how nice and cozy it seemed. They have natural hot spring water pools! If we camped nearby, we could have paid for showers there and soaked in the hot pools. Ahhh, wouldn’t that have been so wonderful… next time, definitely! We walked the short one miler to the Sol Duc triple waterfalls. What a site to behold! Three big waterfalls right next to each other, plunging down to a river at an odd angle.

To the left of the waterfall viewing area is the Lover’s Lane Trail, since we were pressed for time, DFJ and I just walked about half a mile and turned back. This trail was full of big huckleberries, orchards of it left and right. We didn’t have a bag to collect them in and I was so sad, DFJ told me to just enjoy the moment. The rush of getting to the next destination was forgotten in the next few minutes, and instead we just took the time to stop every few yards to pick handfuls of huckleberries and eat them as we walked.

Second stop: Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls

Lake Crescent is beautiful beyond words… On the drive to Hurricane Ridge, we saw the lake  from the highway. I could not take my eyes off it. If you are pinched for time and do not really have the luxury to stop and chill, there are plenty of turnouts along the road that you can stop at to take pictures, so be on the lookout for these viewpoint areas. Some of them even have a path that leads to the lake if you are interested in a quick wade.

We drove to the Marymere Falls trailhead and took the quick 1.5 roundtrip hike to the falls. It was an awesome trail with pretty wooden bridges. What I loved most about it is its friendliness to hikers of all shapes… absolutely handicap-friendly. There are a few steep areas, but these spots have steps or rails on the sides for people to hold on to. So, it is definitely a hike for everyone! Marymere Falls is like a nature Vogue model… tall, slender, and graceful. It is a stunner!

After all the driving and hiking, we were ready for some food. So we scoped for a spot by the lake to dip our feet in and enjoy our bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was nice and cool under the tree and we had a lovely, quiet time, with our food. More than anything, DFJ was more enamored by the boat trailer that got stuck at the end of the boat ramp than by the beautiful surroundings. Boys are silly.

 Last stop: Hurricane Ridge 

Drive up to the very top folks! It is long, winding, and slow, but at least you’re driving not biking uphill. Uh yes, some brave souls biked up and breezed down. Honestly, I think that is the stupidest thing ever. I was scared to death for them… one false move and you can fall off the side of the road, down a steep cliff, and…

Anyway, yes, drive to the top and feast your eyes upon the Alps and the Dolomites of Washington, USA. There’s a ton of hiking trails with great viewpoints that you can take, but since we were on time constraints, driving was the best option.

Wildlife abounds, as you can see in the pictures… a gorgeous prancing gazelle, unfazed by parking lot traffic and a deer grazing to the pleasure of onlookers a mere three feet away.

There are paved, mini trails around the viewpoint area with majestic views of all the surrounding mountains… simply breathtaking! Please do not skip out on Hurricane Ridge, it is so worth your time.

We had to stop and eat the last of our granola bars on a bench in one of the trails we took and I was sad to see the last of the crumbs go because that meant the end of our time at the Olympic Peninsula. What a perfect place to say goodbye to this enormous park… It is definitely a place to go back to in the future.     

After Hurrican Ridge, we were off to the port in Kingston to get on a ferry to Seattle… which will be a story for another day in the near future. The trip to Seattle story involves meeting Molly Wizenberg.

So, here’s the recap:

Day 4, Night 4:
Camped at Three Rivers Resort in Forks.

Drove to the mystical, moss covered Hoh Rain Forest and enjoyed the short and sweet hikes.

A quick stop at beautiful but super windy and rocky Rialto Beach.

Took a 1.4 mile hike to from the trailhead to Third Beach. Oh my word, this place is paradise! Secluded, protected from the wind by land edges jutting out into the sea, soft sand, and haystacks… incredible! If you don’t have any time to visit a couple of beaches and just have to pick one in the area, go to Third Beach. It is a small piece of heaven on earth.

I recommend buying some fresh, local smoked salmon at a house off of the highway by Second Beach. House # 316… just follow the road signs. Delicious!

Day 5:
From Forks, we drove up North and hit three gorgeous spots in one day.

First stop: Sol Duc Falls. The hike from the trailhead to the falls is only a mile, easy peasy. There are a couple of other trails for longer hikes, but we didn’t have time. The tri-falls dropping sideways is just beautiful! Take a walk along the Lover’s Lane Trail and knock yourself out with throves of huckleberries.

If you camp at Sol Duc, I recommend taking a nice hot bath at the hot springs in the Sol Duc Resort… I so wish we got to do that, but time did not allow it.

Second stop: Lake Crescent and a quick 1.5 mile round trip hike to Marymere Falls. If you don’t have time to stop at Lake Crescent, no worries, you can actually enjoy gorgeous views of the lake from the highway and if you want a picture stop, keep your eye out for turnouts, there’s plenty, some even have spots to jump in the water. Marymere Falls is beautiful too, worth a stop. Plus the trail is soooooo friendly to all hikers, young and old.

Third stop: Hurricane Ridge. One word, MAGNIFICENT. Just go there! Trust me, you will love it!

…And that was our Olympic Peninsula trip… very sweet and memorable, definitely a place to come back to!


  1. I would have flipped out about the food also! But it sounds like you guys made the best of it and went on to have an awesome time!

  2. I am jealous all over again! Definitely great daydreaming about in this crazy time. Third beach sounds awesome, I'm glad you decided to go!

  3. Amazing trip! I am totally looking up that lodge with the hot springs - so like a romantic place to spend a night or two :)


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