Author Archives: Stefanie

Celebrating the End of Summer

Not ready for summer festivities to be over yet? Here's this weekend's Trip Idea: Sept 10-13: Live your fantasy at Forever Twilight in Forks. Remember that registration is now open to have your books signed by Author Stephenie Meyer. Yes, THE Stephenie Meyer IN PERSON! The Olympic Coven of vampires will be in the area as well as two actors from the Twilight Saga films Erik Odem and Booboo Stewart. Sept 11-13: Indulge in old-world charm of Port Townsend's Wooden Boat Festival. Enjoy live music, great food and drink, and of course stunning examples of wooden boats at the most inspiring wooden boat event in the world. Sept 12: Visit the Great Strait Sale on Hwy 112. It's a 61-mile long flea market on the beautiful Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway. Watch for whales as they've been spotted cruising the Strait this week. Sept 6-13: Be inspired by artists during the 3rd Annual Paint the Peninsula Plein Air Competition. Hosted by the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the competition features 27 talented painters who will be capturing the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park all weekend. This is going to be one of the most exciting weekends on the Olympic Peninsula. Join us in our celebration as we say goodbye to summer!

In the Land of “It Depends”

A friend told us an interesting story the other day that shed some light on a very important aspect of traveling – perspective.  We all know every human has his or her own perspective.  All of our visitors are unique and their homes are as unique as ours is.  The region that our friend was referring to in particular was that which she calls the “Flat Lands”.  The Flat Lands are the Midwestern heart of America where the Great Plains roll into the horizon and (from what I’ve heard) the roads remain straight and perpendicular. If you can see a flat horizon out your window, you might be in the Flat Lands.  The “Flat Landers” are the people of this land.   If you measure distance in miles and have a habit of punctuality, you might be a Flat Lander.  And as her story goes, on a flight into Seatac Airport one day she couldn’t help but overhear two Flat Landers’ plans for a “little side trip” from their Seattle business convention.  The colleagues planned on hopping from Seattle to Port Angeles, across the Strait to Victoria, British Columbia, skipping over to Vancouver, British Columbia, and jumping back down to Seattle… …in one day. It was about this time that our friend intervened. “Excuse me,” she said as she tapped one of them on the shoulder “I’m sorry, but I heard your plans and I must tell you that what you are wanting to do is impossible.”  Now there’s little doubt the two colleagues were probably shocked by this Washingtonian’s interruption but fortunately they let her continue.  She explained that when a visitor looks at a map of the land around the Salish Sea, it seems like one actually could drive from Seattle to Port Angeles and through Canada in one day.  But here maps are misleading, miles are measured in minutes, water gets in the way, and we start our travel plans with “It depends...”.
Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

From a Flat Lander’s perspective, if point A is 60 miles from point B and the speed limit on the highway is 60 miles per hour then (if the rules we were taught to rely on in pre-algebra still hold true) it will take one hour, unless it’s snowing that is. (We Pacific Northwesterners respect the Midwest winters.) Well, that is fine for those people fortunate enough to live with those straight roads and flat horizons.  But from our perspective, the answer to the same question is much more complex and, it seems, much less satisfying to our visitors.
Washington State Ferry

Washington State Ferry unloading its passengers. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Let’s say for example, point A is Seatac Airport and point B is Victoria, B.C.  In just over 150 miles a traveler could experience a traffic jam or a ferry wait, a backup at the Hood Canal bridge if it opens for a ship, another ferry wait, a 90-minute cross over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and finally standing in line to go through international customs and disembarking.  That’s not including any other stops.  If we used the same math equation above, the entire trip should amount to no more than 2.5 hours, but to quote our well-intentioned friend, that would be “impossible”.  If none of the hurdles above hinders the trip then the speed limit most definitely will.  Most of the highways on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas are one-lane county roads that meander through small sea-side towns and curving hills.  No zooming through at 60 mph the whole way here.  And, if you’ve been following any of our other blogs, you’ll see that our home is pretty darn interesting!  There are things to do and places to see.  We plan ahead and make extra time because, well, we might make it from point A to point B by a certain time but it depends if we stop and enjoy the trip along the way. Seatac Victoria MapAs it turned out, the two miss-informed business colleagues were so thankful to our friend (and now theirs) that they accepted her invitation to have lunch at her home and make new plans.  After shortening their trip considerably and slowing down to enjoy themselves they returned to the city and eventually back to the Flat Lands with a new perspective of the Pacific Northwest.

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

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.
IMG_3068

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.