My Little July Weekend at Olympic National Park (2019)
✍️ • 🕑 July 12-15, 2019 • Tags: Olympic National Park • National Parks • Olympic Peninsula • beaches • sunsets • closed roads • pnw forest • & 7 More Tags • Places: Rainforest Hostel • Ruby Beach • Hall of Mosses / Hoh Rainforest • Forks, WA • Lake Crescent • Marymere Falls • Elwha River Washout • & 2 More Places
Between 2016 and 2019, I traveled to the west coast for work at least once a year, and on all but my first trip (for orientation, which I didn't arrange,) I did my best to sneak in a bit of work-adjacent travel time. Seattle could be a nice launch point for car-less journeys, with its rail connections to Vancouver and Portland and nearby ferry connections to a variety of islands.
But in July of 2019, I actually rented a car. This was rare for me, and was quite easily the longest stretch of solo driving I had done after literal years of barely any car operation.
I had a Kia Rio, and I had a destination: Olympic National Park.
Well, at least that's the plan I eventually decided on...
Sketchy Plans & Scattering Sunsets
My plans were a little awry because I was visiting Pittsburgh for some reason. (A wedding, maybe?) And then I was headed to Seattle for work. At the time I was domiciled in New York City, but some weather happened, and I ended up flying from Pittsburgh to Seattle directly without planning on it. (And by directly, I mean, with a layover at JFK because there were no direct flights in those days.)
I wanted to do some camping, perhaps similar to what I currently do, but owing to my changed plans, I had no tent with me. (And owing to an impromptu comment during a tour of friends' new home, I instead had a bowed psaltery.)
Given that it was the middle of July, theoretically I needed to have already booked most reasonable places to stay. I, in fact, had not. At the time, I actually had a stretch from Friday night through Sunday night of completely unbooked days. My main BFFs in Seattle with their nice floor mattress were away for the summer, in Greece and/or Turkey or some such.
But, to my joy, two people would come through.
The first was The Rainforest Hostel, an operation which is rather different from any other hostel I stayed at before. I had, in fact, found it while searching for options during the week, and had read some mixed reviews on the internet. I emailed Jimmy, the owner, at around 2 PM on Friday to see if I could make a reservation for that night and the following one. Within twenty minutes, the answer was affirmative.
I left straight after work on Friday, which is basically what everyone else in the Puget Sound metro area had already done. I figured that I would avoid being stuck waiting a ferry by driving south and around the ferry lines, which certainly worked, but was a traffic-filled, unpleasant drive. A few hours and one stop at a Taco Bell later, I briefly stopped at a beautiful beach where I caught the absolute tail end of a sunset.
And from there, not much further until the hostel.
The Rainforest Hostel was a calm in the storm, a safe-haven from which I could go explore (briefly) all of the basic stops on a fast trip around the Olympic Peninsula.
The hostel is donation-based, and there are two types of donation that are requested: money and time. The suggested monetary donation was $10, and the suggested time donation was 1 chore/day, both of which are quite easy goals to meet. I think for my chore I helped move some firewood or something. It was not a long task. Other than that, I think the only other mandatory bit was that Jimmy very much wanted to give all of his guests a short talk on why he supported Bernie Sanders.
The vibe in the hostel felt very much like visiting a grandparent, with shag carpets, and objects that had been accumulated over a long and interesting life. The only difference, of course, is that there were bunk beds. During my two nights, there were other guests, but still the numbers were small enough that I had the room to myself.
Both nights, I came back to the hostel after a long day, and both nights I fell asleep quite quickly.
From there, I visited the Hoh Rainforest. I walked some of the trails there for a bit, maybe the Hall of Moss.
The going was super, super crowded, in the way that National Park trails can be. I'm sure it would have dissipated if I continued, but nevertheless, something about the experience felt lacking.
I think the air was too clear, and too full of people for it to remind me, say, of my lovely but brief visit to Bowen Island the previous year. (Post forthcoming.)
The nail in the coffin of nice atmosphere was likely struck by the man leading a group of llamas carrying baggage down the trail. Like, seriously, fucking llamas. Imagine watching people get yelled at to move out of the way for a fucking llama train in a forest on Washington State.
I really, really, really do not understand why leading llamas down crowded trails is allowed, and why anyone would think that it was a great idea. If you don't want to carry a 70 pound backpack, don't carry a 70 pound backpack.
Also, there was a black bear somewhere in the midst of the trail. Considering all of the people, and the llama guide banging on a tin can in its face, it quickly ran off.
I think if I revisit the area, I'll do it in winter, god-willing...
I Am Not A Vampire
I stopped in the town of Forks for lunch, and somehow bought and consumed a quantity of string cheese.
Forks, incidentally, is where the story of Twilight takes place. I guess cause there ain't much sun in ye ol Washington, and y'know vampires.
I am not a vampire, and I did not linger too long in forks.
From there, I went up to explore some of the Kalaloch Beaches and Ruby Beach and found myself joyously in love with the coast line, enjoying nature, and immediately damaging some of the cheap swag I got from work. (Goodbye tiny tote bag!)
I enjoyed exploring tidepools, marvelling at large rocks in the surf, and I found myself staying until sunset.
I was enraptured.
Everything Else + Goodbye (Day 2)
The following morning, after completing my hostel chore, I had a long drive ahead of me. Basically, my goal was to get back to Seattle before nightfall (for my flight departed the following day.)
I stopped briefly near Lake Crescent, which looked like a lovely & beautiful area that I would have enjoyed visiting further.
|Name||Marymere Falls Trail|
|Location||Olympic National Park|
|Check out the trails index for information on more trails!|
For some reason, the spot I did explore further was the 0.9 mile out-and-back trail to Marymere Falls, which was certainly not the most impressive of the waterfalls that I've seen in Washington.
I marvelled at the washout near Elwha river. Sure, I could have parked, waded, hiked, but the idea of doing so seemed so alien to me, when it seems so feasible now .
In the town of Port Angeles, WA, outside of park boundaries, I managed to pick up a baseball cap, having lost my previous hat somewhere.
This one, purchased at a thrift shop, turned out to be a favorite of mine for the next few years, until, I inevitably lost it too.
Hurricane Ridge is gorgeous, and is easily accessible by car. I did no hiking, had no time to do hiking, but did walk around, take pictures, and so forth.
There sure was some mist and fog, and yet, the whole place was lovely and gorgeous.
Returning Just As I Arrive
I got into Seattle late-ish, and tired, but still had the energy to hang out with Chelsea, who had kindly agreed to host my bedraggled self for the night.
The following day, I returned my rental car, and went into the office. Shortly thereafter, I realized that I had been misremembering my flight time, as it had been on my outlook calendar in Eastern Time instead of Pacific Time, and thus immediately left the office and went to the airport.
So it goes.
Thanks for reading!
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