Love is in the Air in Sunny Sequim

LOVE IS IN THE AIR IN SEQUIM

Port Williams Lavender web wedding

Many lavender farms are available as wedding venues

This small, friendly town is the perfect location for a destination wedding. Often referred to as “Sunny” Sequim, the City sits in the rain shadow caused by the Olympic Mountains and has an annual rainfall of approximately 16”. All that dry weather means there are a lot of options for weddings out of doors as well as indoors.

Known as the Lavender Capital of North America®, the dry, mild climate creates the perfect conditions for growing this beautiful and fragrant herb. Many of the local lavender farms are open as wedding venues, creating the perfect backdrop for that special day. Ask them about helping you put together a distinctive wedding favor or gift basket.

In addition to farms and gardens, other unique venues include an historic school house, roof top gazebo, city parks, a marina, and restored barns. There is sure to be just the right location for any wedding, whether the theme is traditional or whimsical.

Sequim offers a variety of affordable lodging options for family and friends. And there is so much to do on the Olympic Peninsula; guests should plan to stay for the weekend or a full week. To make the package complete, there are talented, local wedding planners, photographers, florists, and bakers to help support Sequim weddings.

Learn more about wedding venues and resources in Sequim and start planning your destination wedding. http://www.visitsunnysequim.com/index.aspx?NID=128

Be sure to check out the Olympic Peninsula Pinterest boardWeddings on the Olympic Peninsula‘ for more ideas for your dream wedding on the OP.

 

 

Olympic Peninsula Whale Tales & Whale Tails

A local whale enthusiast recently reawakened our fascination with whales by explaining just how amazing the OP is for whale watching. It’s truly the best spot in the northwest to watch a variety of whales. Seeing these wondrous and mysterious creatures from shore or boat is a memorable, bucket-worthy experience with bragging rights!

polly debari gray whale cape flattery

Gray Whale off Cape Flattery

Gray whales are our day-by-day whale on the shores along the Strait and outer coast. They hug the coastline all the way from Mexico on their way north. A genetically distinct band will peel off from the main route heading to Alaska and turn right into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Here, they feed and forage in the near shore kelp beds and along the sandy bottom during the summer season, or if they are not calving, perhaps all year.

 

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Humpback Whale

Humpback whales spend the winter months near Hawaii (who doesn’t like that idea?) where they have their young and then head for the Pacific Northwest and northern waters. Again, a distinct group stays near the outer coast of the Olympic Peninsula and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca all summer and into the fall. We don’t see Humpbacks as often from shore because they need deeper water where small fish and krill are found.

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Orca Whale Plush Toy!

And then there are the Orcas, of which we have a lot of information. There are three resident pods in Puget Sound. The J, K and L pods are individually named and have generated lots of data, and several lines of plush toys adored by children of all ages. These resident orcas are social and use echo location and sound to locate their favorite food – salmon! One of our favorite foods, too! In addition, transient orcas come through the region in smaller family groups. These silent hunters seek seals for their meals

Minke Whale

Minke Whale

The minke whales are a very fast, smaller whale that not much is known about – yet. We do know that they breathe three to five times at short intervals before they “deep dive” for two to 20 minutes. The deep dives are preceded by a pronounced arching of the whales’ backs. Maximum swimming speed is estimated at about 24 miles per hour.

Whale Trail Kiosk at Freshwater Bay

Whale Trail Kiosk at Freshwater Bay

The Olympic Peninsula is a key player in The Whale Trail, (whaletrail.org) with 15 sites designated as most likely to view whales from shore. The Makahs are an ancient whaling society, as are most coastal tribes. The Makah Cultural and Resource Center in Neah Bay has excellent interpretations of the importance of the whale to their culture. The Quileute People host an annual Welcome the Whale Ceremony, in 2014 it was April 11.

READY TO GO?

  • Take a whale watching charter into the San Juan Islands from Port Townsend to see the resident orcas all summer, with trips to see gray whales and the visiting orcas, too. (http://www.pugetsoundexpress.com).
  • In the spring, the migration is fun to watch off the coast, particularly at LaPush where the grays tarry and feed with their young.
  • Cape Flattery is a hot spot to watch the grays, and other sea mammals.
  • In August 2014, Port Angeles will welcome an established whale watching company offering daily tours to see humpback whales in the Strait (orcawhales.com).
  • It is not unusual to see whales and sea mammals from the Coho Ferry between Port Angeles and Victoria, Canada.
Kinetic 2010 Sally the Map Lady

Kinetic Skulpture Race in Port Townsend

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Whale vertebrae sculpture, Port Angeles

Oh, and you can look for representation of whales on land or made by hand, too. The OP has many cultural assets in public art celebrating our affection for whales!

Embrace, absorb and share the Olympic Peninsula Whale experience!

Hoh River Fishing Adventure

Bill RoneyThe Hoh River is born at the feet of ancient glaciers high on the peak of Mount Olympus in today’s Olympic National Park.  This volcanic peak and its brothers of the Olympic Range shed the wet storms blown across the Pacific dropping snow and rain that shroud the Rain Forest below for days on end.  Plunging from these glacial heights down nearly vertical valleys of Rain Forest greenery bound the slate gray to turquoise green waters of this famed River.  Your fishing adventure on the fly can trace these banks in the footsteps of the likes of Zane Gray and other icons of the sporting world that have come to this place in search of the mighty salmon and steelhead trout that run up this brawling glacial fed river every year.

Woman Fishing Bill Roney

From river’s mouth on the Pacific, flanked by Washington’s wild coastal beaches, miles of river accesses, some located in the Olympic National Park, some found in the National Forest or WA Department of Natural Resources land, beckon to those in search of adventure.  These public accesses to the river range from the Highway 101 Bridge over the Hoh River at Oxbow Campground to the south where there is some access along Highway 101 for about 6 miles to the Hoh Indian Reservation road.  To the west and headed for river’s mouth there is the “Oil City road” with access to river at Cottonwood Campground and off Olympic National Park trail to river’s mouth.  Other accesses may be found by walking trails when river is spotted nearby along this road. To the east, and upstream access is found in many spots along the “Upper Hoh Road” to the Olympic National Park boundary and upstream to road’s end at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.  Starting at the Visitor Center a trail follows river into the vastness of the Park.  Access and camping abounds in this area, Willoughby Creek, Minnie Peterson, and Hoh Rain Forest Campgrounds all sport easy auto access to miles of river.  Read more about the lodgings, B&Bs, and campsites in this region here.

This year it’s time for you to write your own chapter in the fast running waters of the Hoh River.  For more information or fishing regulations visit these links:

www.olympicpeninsula.org
www.nps.gov/olym
www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations
www.forkswa.com

Current Hoh River conditions and fish run timing can be checked at Forks Outfitters, 360-374-6161 or Olympic Sporting Goods, 360-374-6330 in the nearby town of Forks.

See all “Top 5 Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula”:

1. South Coast Wilderness Trail Hike
2. Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike
3. Hoh River Fishing Adventure
4. Lake Constance Trail
5. Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

 

Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike

Moss-covered tree along the Hoh Trail heading to Glacier Meadows

Moss-covered tree along the Hoh Trail heading to Glacier Meadows – Photo courtesy of Kitti deLong

This 38-mile hike RT is the stuff you read about in adventure articles, with 3,430 feet of vertical climb in your 3, 4, or 5 day hike to experience the diversity of the world-famous moss-draped Rain Forest, the raging of the Hoh River, and the whispering of the Blue Glacier, one of 311 glaciers in the Olympic National Park.  Hike nine miles up from the Hoh Ranger Station to the 1930’s Olympic Guard Station at 900 feet elevation, or continue on over the “Hi Hoh” Bridge, and up to Glacier Meadows at 4,300 feet, then day-hike to Blue Glacier for an intimate experience with the ancient giant. You’ll never forget the icy breath of this one!  Read more about the lodgings, B&Bs, and campsites in this region here.

Crossing a natural bridge on the Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike - Photo courtesy of the WA Trails Association

Crossing a natural bridge on the Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike – Photo courtesy of the WA Trails Association

See all “Top 5 Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula”:

1. South Coast Wilderness Trail Hike
2. Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike
3. Hoh River Fishing Adventure
4. Lake Constance Trail
5. Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

 

South Coast Wilderness Trail

The planning for this primordial adventure will tantalize your thoughts with the possibility of seeing grey whales on their migration route (March/April and October), baby seals in midsummer, great bald eagles any season with wingspans of seven or eight feet! Be prepared to cross Goodman and Mosquito Creeks, which can range from ankle to waist deep after a heavy rain, and expect a 1,900-foot elevation change overall on the steep overland trails and ladders. The cliff to the beach is a mere 320 feet on more ladders. All you favorite bandits will be waiting for you: Raccoons, Bears, Coyotes, and even the Eagles will take your lunch if you leave it exposed. Be sure to plan around the tides because there are several places that are covered during high tide.

Last rope ladder to the beach - Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Last rope ladder to the beach – Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Experience miles of flat, sandy, isolated beaches, tide pools and water critters during summer’s very low tides, and the roar of the waves to unclog the city busy-ness from your mind. You’ll never forget this hiking adventure! Read more about the lodgings, B&Bs, and campsites in this region here.

Sunset at Mosquito Creek, Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Sunset at Mosquito Creek, Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Be sure to check Trip Reports on http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/seasonal-hikes/summer-destinations/hiking-olympic-peninsula

For more information on trail conditions, special concerns on each trail, maps, and photos visit: http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/south-coast-route.htm

1. South Coast Wilderness Trail Hike
2. Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike
3. Hoh River Fishing Adventure
4. Lake Constance Trail
5. Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

Lake Constance Trail

You’ll think you are in the middle of Alaska when you finally arrive at this sweet subalpine lake as you enter the southwest side of a hidden valley holding fragile Lake Constance between encroaching peaks. Plan to cross a talus slope to reach the campsites on the north, but that’s the easy part. The main trail up to the lake is steep, and in one area, you’ll need to scale a wall in a narrow draw that is described as, “steep but not exposed,” using hand-smoothed tree roots.

Lake Constance.  Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Lake Constance. Photo courtesy of WA Trails Association

Expect some rock scrambling, and lots of adventure in this 11-mile round-trip hike (not counting the five-mile trip from the washout). Experienced hikers consider this trail a feather in their Olympic National Park caps. You might want to carry rather light packs for this one. Recover your strength beside this enchanting emerald-green lake, but then, the trip back will be downhill, won’t it? Drive the Dosewallips River to the wash-out, then hike five miles to the trail head. The staging towns for this hike are BrinnonQuilcenePort Ludlow, and Port HadlockRead more about the lodgings, B&Bs, and campsites in this region here.

Check out fun things to do, camping, kayaking, boating, scuba diving, and more at EmeraldTowns.com

For trail conditions or more information from the National Park Service, visit:
http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/lake-constance-route.htm

For more information from the Washington Trails Coalition:

See all “Top 5 Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula”:

1. South Coast Wilderness Trail Hike
2. Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike
3. Hoh River Fishing Adventure
4. Lake Constance Trail
5. Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

Marmot Pass - Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Marmot Pass – Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Be sure to plan enough time to experience all this trail offers. Hang out by double waterfalls, laze in fields strewn with wild flowers, savor the spectacular views from Marmot Pass, enjoy the intense quiet of deep wilderness. This trail connects to Upper Dungeness Trail #833 and also to Tubal Cain Trail #840 (which was a short-lived copper mine at the turn of the century), in the Olympic National Forest. Explore! Hike down the north face (you might need ice gear for safety in case of snow fields that have not yet melted, even in mid-summer), to the valley floor, and Camp Handy, an open shelter where this camper awoke to find some friendly creature had filled her shoes with dog food (we did not have a dog). For this alternate ending, you’ll be quite a distance from your car, so you’ll want to leave a second car at the end point.  The staging towns for this hike are Brinnon, Quilcene, Port Ludlow, and Port Hadlock.  Read more about the lodgings, B&Bs, and campsites in this region here.

Check out fun things to do, camping, kayaking, boating, scuba diving, and more and EmeraldTowns.com

For more information, visit:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/olympic/recarea/?recid=47793

For Trail conditions of the Marmot Pass hike, Trail #833.1, visit:
http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/big-quilcene-river

See all “Top 5 Adventures on the Olympic Peninsula”:

1. South Coast Wilderness Trail Hike
2. Hoh Glacier Meadows Hike
3. Hoh River Fishing Adventure
4. Lake Constance Trail
5. Marmot Pass Hike, Trail #833.1

ONP Spotlight: Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent

Two of Olympic National Park‘s biggest attractions, Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent, are a short drive from Port Angeles in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula.stormking-crescent.jpg

Hurricane Ridge is one of Olympic National Park’s most iconic destinations and the easiest place to access the Olympic Mountains. On your way up to Hurricane Ridge you pass the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. We suggest you stop in and take a look. There are park rangers happy to answer your questions. You can also pick up information about the Junior Ranger program, find out about interpretive programs, and learn about conditions around the park.

Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent

On your way up the mountain there are a lot of pullouts where you can see the spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On a clear day you can see Victoria, British Columbia. (*Helpful hint, It is a lot easier to get into the pullouts on your way back down the mountain.) When you get to the top there is a lodge with information, gift shop, and café. There are many hikes accessible from Hurricane Ridge but if you are looking for something a little less active the top is a great place to have a picnic and just take in the mountain vistas.

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent Lodge

Lake Crescent is an easy 30 minute drive from downtown Port Angeles and well worth it! It is officially the second deepest lake in Washington State. Carved from glaciers, Lake Crescent is known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity. Lake Crescent is a popular place for kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming. Many hiking trails surround the lake. If you are looking for something a little more mellow or a good place to eat after your adventures, stop at the historic Lake Crescent Lodge. Take a seat on one of the many adirondack chairs and enjoy the view or head into the lodge where you will find a gift shop and a fantastic restaurant with Olympic Coast Cuisine.

The Government Shutdown Isn’t Bringing Us Down on the Olympic Peninsula

Due to the U.S. Government Shutdown, admittance into both the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park has been ceased.  Calls to the ranger stations must go unanswered and websites now display a “not operating” message like this http://www.nps.gov/shutdown/index.html.

Kinetic 2010 Sally the Map Lady

Participants brave the Autumn waters during the Kinetic Sculpture Race

So what are visitors supposed to do?  Don’t worry!  There is still a plethora of things to do and see on the 5,316 square miles of the Olympic Peninsula outside of governmental lands.    This weekend, October 5 & 6, is the 32nd Annual Shelton Oysterfest http://www.oysterfest.org/.  Enjoy wonderful seafood and watch the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship.   Then travel north up Hwy 101 to enjoy the Kinetic Sculpture race and events in Port Townsend http://www.ptkineticrace.org/.  Afterwards, warm up from watching those crazy-geniuses enduring the race’s frigid waters at the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival, just 30 miles west in downtown Sequim http://www.fiberartsfestival.org/.  See beautifully hand-crafted woven arts and get in the cozy, Fall spirit!

Even though camping and hiking in the National Park and Forests might not be an option, there are still plenty of beautiful areas to explore.  We’re using this time to visit coastal grounds and towns as well as our beautiful State and County Parks that are located throughout the Olympic Peninsula.  On the east along the Hood Canal is the Dosewallips State Park http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Dosewallips and the Dungeness Recreation Area in the North http://www.clallam.net/Parks/Dungeness.html.  Both are open year-round with spectacular water views.  Travel along the Hwy 112 Scenic Byway to take in the Autumn splendor over looking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Stop at the Salt Creek Recreation Area near Joyce http://www.clallam.net/Parks/Dungeness.html.  Explore the tide pools in Sekiu (watch for the giant red jellyfish this time of year, but don’t touch.) and listen for the last of the migrating birds as they make their way south.

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The cliffs of Cape Flattery

This is also an excellent time to visit the Makah Indian Reservation at Neah Bay.  Spending an afternoon at the amazing Makah Museum would not be regretted.  Enjoy the boardwalk along Cape Flattery and scan the vistas for whales.  Also happening this weekend on the West coast is the La Push Last Chance Salmon Derby http://forkswa.com/salmonderby/.  Fisherman don’t want to miss out on our record high salmon run this year!

Hopefully these tips can replaces a few disappointments with inspirations as we endure these changes that out of our control.  For more information planning your trip or for a free travel planner, call us!  (360) 452-8552.  Our complimentary travel planner can also be downloaded from www.olympicpeninsula.org.

Town Spotlight: Port Ludlow

Port Ludlow, WAPort Ludlow is a residential and recreational community nestled near the west end of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge on the Olympic Peninsula. Early explorers of the Pacific Northwest often named sheltered inlets with names beginning with “Port”. Communities which subsequently developed often adopted inlet’s name. Today Port Ludlow is both the name of the beautiful inlet and the community nestled on its shore.

Port Ludlow, Cyrus Walker residence, 1920's

Port Ludlow, Cyrus Walker residence, 1920′s

The first shipments of timber from the Puget Sound to San Francisco, California in 1851 stimulated interest in the business potential of building sawmills on Puget Sound. In 1852 two explorers with vision of timber exports found the environs of Port Ludlow Bay promising. A timber claim was filed and soon a mill was built there capable of producing 3,000 feet of lumber daily. The trees along the banks of the bay were logged first and then oxen and horses were used to bring more distant logs to the mill. The mill soon began to attract other settlers and Port Ludlow began to thrive.

Now the mill is long gone and this quintessentially Northwest destination on the pristine shores of tranquil Ludlow Bay, with views of the majestic Olympic Mountains at every turn, is still beckoning the traveler to the present day. Continue reading