Monday, August 1, 2011

Olympic National Park - Hoh Rainforest: Five Mile Island, Spruce Nature Trail, Hall of Mosses, Second Beach, Cape Flattery, Ruby Beach and Hurricane Ridge

We wanted to take a trip over to the Olympic Peninsula, home of the Olympic National Park, as a weekend getaway. It's a few hours drive from Seattle, but in the 5 years I've lived here, I'd never been over there. It was also our first camping trip with a toddler.

We caught the early morning ferry (6:10am) Friday morning. I didn't sleep the night before because well... I'm a terrible sleeper. Instead I stayed up packing the car and making sure we had everything we would need. I ended up sleeping about two hours on the drive over and after that I was ready to go. I think we arrived around 9:30am - 10:00am. Picked out a camp site, set up our tent and set out on our hike for the day.

We had decided to do the 10 mile round trip Five Mile Island hike the first day. I really wish that we could have kept going. I'd love to do the whole 35 mile round trip Hoh River Trail someday, but it's not likely with a 2 year old.

The forest is lined with old growth trees, covered in moss. When the trail breaks back towards the river you get beautiful mountain views.

Once we finished up our hike we headed towards Forks (any Twilight fans?) to get some food to make for dinner. Forks has been taken over by Twilight. It makes me happy for them being able to cash in on the popularity, but worry for the town just the same as more than half the businesses we saw revolved around Twilight. I wonder what they will become when the popularity fades. We ate some dinner and turned in early (okay, we fell asleep putting the baby to bed. That's what not sleeping the night before, only sleeping two hours in the car and hiking over 10 miles will get you).

The next day our intentions were to make it to Second Beach and Cape Flattery, and also to do the short Spruce Nature Trail as well as the Hall Of Mosses located in the Hoh. The tide was coming in when we made it to Second Beach, so we didn't roam the coast too much. The tide can come up quickly on you and in some places faster than others so it's best to err on the side of caution. We kicked our shoes off and took a nice stroll on the ultra soft sand.

Next we made the drive up to Cape Flattery, and truth be told, I'm not entirely sure it was worth the time in the car. Cape Flattery is the northwestern most point in the continental United States. The sections of the drive that follow the coast you can spot Canada across the water. There were a few sea lions bopping in and out of the water as the waves crashed against the coast. On our way back to our campsite we happened upon a few elk lounging around near the side of the road.

The Spruce Nature Trail and the Hall Of Mosses are basically little hikes to allow anyone the experience of hiking through the rainforest without having to go far. They're both just short loops with very developed and maintained trails. Beautiful scenery none the less.

On Sunday morning we woke up to find two bucks snacking on the greens right behind our tent. The plan of the day was to make it out to Ruby Beach while the tide was still low to get a glimpse of some tide pools. It's pretty amazing how far out the water recedes with low tide and how quickly it begins to come back in.

Our last stop on the way home was Hurricane Ridge. The drive up the mountain was incredibly foggy and than amazingly you reached the top to find a crystal clear sky. Very neat experience, but scary going up and down a winding road on the edge of a mountain with so little visibility. There was still plenty of snow covering sections of the trails and several does just wandering around.    

To end our journey we caught the ferry back to Seattle. We rounded out the weekend with a nice 1.5 mile run and .5 mile walk. Phew, what a weekend! 

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