Category Archives: Outdoor Recreation

Diary of a Lighthouse Keeper

New Dungeness LighthouseDiary of a Lighthouse Keeper #1

A week in January at the New Dungeness Lighthouse - An adventure and an honor

Six of us keepers left the lighthouse transfer station in Carlsborg, WA, about 6:45pm on a Friday night. Two 4-wheel-drive vehicles were stuffed with all our provisions and personal gear for the week. This was my first time as a keeper and not altogether sure what I had gotten myself into. Luckily, three in our group had been keepers before and I knew two of our crew. We were assured that although the drive to the lighthouse was going to be rough, bumpy, dark, and a little scarey, the drivers were experienced and would keep us safe.

I knew I was in good hands, but wondered if this was such a good idea - a week with three women I'd never met and probably a minimum of a six-hour walk for me to get "off the island". At this point, I was committed and it was one of the best decisions for a "vacation" I've ever had.

load and unload gear at the lighthouseWhen we arrived at the lighthouse the returning keepers had all their gear ready to be loaded into the trucks for their trip back to civilization. All of us scrambled to unload/load as rapidly as possible to ensure the trucks could get back on the beach during the low tide change. So, there were were, watching the red tail lights disappear down the beach. STRANDED! Or so it crossed my mind! Another slight moment of "what have I done?"

We had organized ourselves as three groups for planning purposes during the weeks before we left and for duty shifts at the lighthouse. My work rotation for the week was: cook, day off, lighthouse duty - Repeat! I at least knew what was expected from me.

Lighthouse RoomGiven all the boxes of food and luggage we had to carry in, and the good humor among all six of us, I knew: a. we would not starve and, b. we all seemed to be kindred spirits.

First order of business was to unpack the groceries and settle into our rooms. I had a charming room with a quilt on the bed and a desk upstairs facing the lighthouse. I didn't close the blinds the first night, nor any other night there. I wanted to see the light flash in my room on its rotation. Later that first night, we all sat around the living room, most of us knitting, and introduced ourselves with a little of who, what, when and how we all ended up on this adventure together. One person who knew us all and had made all our arrangements and facilitated communication among us prior to the trip.

I studied a bit about the lighthouse that first night. The property had been continuously occupied since 1857. It was the first lighthouse built on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. What an honor to be part of that tradition. Our Keeper's Quarters were built in 1904. The Coast Guard had lighthouse duty for a period of time until 1934. In 1934, electricity was brought to the property through a cable underwater across Dungeness Bay. In April 1980, New Dungeness Lighthouse welcomed Seaman First Class Jeni Burr, New Dungeness’ first woman Head Keeper.  So many dates and interesting changes to the property and much more to learn - tomorrow!

I slept like a baby in the new surroundings! More Day #2 at the Lighthouse in the next blog.

Whales, Whales and More Whales!

The Strait of Juan de Fuca has had extraordinary numbers of humpback whales and sightings of a rare-to-these-waters fin whale. Orcas are active and part of the viewing spectacular! Definitely, local attention has been focused on the waters and the whales. On a recent whale-watching tour out of Port Angeles, we saw the trifecta! All three species - humpbacks, fin and Orcas. It was an astounding feeling to have possibly two dozen humpbacks surrounding the boat, breaching, and spouting. With the engines off we could hear them nearby when they were spouting. The fin whale looked rather like a very large brown log floating in the water, until it moved! It was a huge animal. The fin is the second largest whale after the blue whale. The Orcas were feeding, so we missed their usual playful behavior. But, again with the engines off, the Captain lowered a microphone into the water. We heard them talking to one another. Phenomenal! Here's what the naturalist aboard the ship the day we went had to say about our viewings:

Humpbacks and Orcas and a Fin, Oh My!

Port Angeles Highlights: Dozens of Humpbacks L-Pod Resident Orcas "The" Fin Whale Mt. Baker What happens when you mix sunny skies, flat seas, snow-capped peaks, and three species of whale?  Just another great day at the office with Port Angeles Whale Watch! The visibility today was phenomenal providing views of both the Olympic mountain range and Mt. Baker of the North Cascades. The humpbacks were up first, with many of the dozens of whales we spotted yesterday still feeding in the area.  Notable individuals that could be identified included BCX0298 "Split Fin", BCX1068 "Split Fluke", BCX1193 "Zig Zag", and CS631, but there were many, many more whales spouting and fluking in the distance. We next got a call of possible killer whales to the northeast so decided to investigate.  Sure enough, we arrived to see several members of the Southern Resident L-Pod spread out foraging for salmon.  While many of the whales were quite scattered, mom L77 "Matia" and her 4-year old calf, L119 "Joy" stayed nearby for a while.  Because it was so calm today, we were able to turn off the engines and drop in the hydrophone to eavesdrop on an orca conversation of whistles and squeals! It was time to return home, but luckily the route took us right back through humpback territory for an encore presentation.  Much to our delight, however, we were treated to our third whale species of the day - the rare fin whale that's been in the area for the last week or two!  It doesn't get much better than that!  Check out some of the gorgeous photos from today: Erin
Port Angeles: PA Whale Watching, 360.293.4215, whales@islandadventurecruises.com Port Angeles Whale Watch Company is owned and operated by Island Adventures based out of Anacortes, WA. Island Adventures Whale Watching has been in business since 1992 and has carried hundreds of thousands of satisfied passengers.

Port Townsend:  Puget Sound Express,  360-385-5288. https://www.pugetsoundexpress.com/

Three generations of our family have helped visitors have life-changing experiences with some of the most majestic creatures on the planet. Puget Sound Express has been a family business for 31 years!

Whales

Whales

Humpbacks

Humpbacks

Whales in Strait of Juan de Fuca

Whales in Strait of Juan de Fuca

Olympic National Park Entrances

Hwy 101 Scenic Byway map

Olympic Peninsula Hwy 101 Scenic Byway

From Hood Canal to Lake Quinault, follow the Highway 101 Scenic Byway to find several possibilities for entering the Olympic National Park. Each place offers different terrain, experiences, and chances to learn more about the park. PORT ANGELES - The primary Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily 8:30am - 5:00pm. General information, a children’s Discovery Room, bookshop, maps, exhibits and a near-by nature trail makes this a must stop while in Port Angeles. Be sure to take time to watch the movie. If it isn't running, just ask one of the rangers to start it. For park information call 360-565-3130. If all you want to check is the 24- hour recorded road and weather update, call 360-565-3131. If you need backpacking information or permits, or to acquire required bear cans for backcountry camping, check with the Wilderness Information Center (WIC) May 1 - June 11,  8am - 4:30pm daily June 12 - September 10, 8am - 5pm daily (until 6pm Friday, Saturday) September 11 - 30, 8am- 5pm daily.
Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

HURRICANE RIDGE - The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:30pm with information, maps, exhibits, an orientation film, and nearby trails. The snack bar and gift shop are open daily 10:00am - 6:00pm. The information desk is staffed daily 10:00am - 5:30pm. Enjoy the Terrace Talk, daily 10:30am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm. Learn about this amazing wilderness park at a 20-minute talk. Topics vary. Join the easy one-hour guided walk to explore life in the mountains for a Meadow Walk, daily at 11:30am. and 2:00pm. Discover wildlife, wildflowers and other features of the Olympic landscape. HEART O’ THE HILLS - At Heart O’ the Hills Campground amphitheater, join others to enjoy the Evening Program,on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00pm. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards. Junior Ranger Forest Activities are on Saturday at 10:00am for one hour of forest activities. Meet at the campground amphitheater.
Fall at Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

LAKE CRESCENT - Storm King Ranger Station is open Wednesday - Saturday 11:00am - 4pm with information, activities for kids, and access to trails. Join the Marymere Falls Forest Walk on Fridays at 10:00am. Meet on the Lake Crescent Lodge porch for this easy, 1-1/2-hour guided hike. Got a younger one with you? How about them becoming an Olympic Junior Ranger? This program starts Saturdays 10:30am at Storm King Ranger Station. Join a ranger for an hour of hands-on activities. One of the highlights of summer in the park are the evening programs. Lake Crescent evening gatherings are on Tuesdays and Saturdays 7:30pm at Storm King. Learn more about the park after dark. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station. MORA - Beginning June 25, the Mora Ranger Station is open Friday - Monday 1:00 - 5:00pm for   information and maps. Bark Rangers - If you have a dog with you, you might want to show up on Saturdays, Sundays at 10am at the Rialto Beach Trailhead. Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. There is also an Evening Program - Monday, Friday 8:00pm at the Mora Campground amphitheater. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station.
beach

Kalaloch Beach

KALALOCH - Kalaloch Ranger Station is open daily with information, exhibits, bookshop, and maps. Science on the Shore is held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Times and topics vary with changing tides. Explore the shore with a ranger in this hands-on program. Schedule and location information will be listed on bulletin boards. Vacation Volunteers can take a walk on the coast with a ranger and help leave this park better than you found it -  Saturdays 10:00am - noon.  Bark Rangers - Daily, 1:00 p.m. at  at Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. Meet at the Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo, daily at 1:00pm.  The Evening Program is held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8:00pm at the Kalaloch Campground amphitheater. Topics on bulletin boards. QUINAULT RAIN FOREST - Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station on North Shore Road is open Thursday - Monday 9:00am - 5:00pm. It is closed for guided walks and lunch. You find information, exhibits, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. Life in the Rain Forest Walk is scheduled Thursday - Monday at 1:00pm. Learn about rain forest plants, animals and homesteader lore. Meet at Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station for this easy 1-1/2-hour, 3/4-mile walk.
Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

HOH RAIN FOREST - The remodeled Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:00pm. At this visitor center you'll find general park information, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. You can get backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans here. There is the Rain Forest Walk at 2pm daily. Learn about giant trees, wildlife and more on this 1-1/2-hour easy walk on the Hall of Mosses or Spruce Nature Trail. Meet at the Hoh Visitor Center. The popular Evening Program begins at 8:00pm at the Hoh Campground amphitheater. Dates and topics on local bulletin boards.
Staircase trailhead sign

Staircase Trailhead Sign

STAIRCASE -  At the south end of Hood Canal you'll find the Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park. The Ranger Station hours vary. They do have information, exhibits, maps, trails nearby. If you are headed into the North Fork of the Skokomish River you will need backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans that are available. Thursday through Sunday at 2:00pm there is a Forest Walk.  Meet at bridge for 1-1/2 -hour walk by the Skokomish River. Discover Staircase!  on Sundays at 10:00am. Meet at the ranger station for this 1/2 -hour talk about the plants, animals or history of Staircase area. Fun for all ages! Evening Program is held Thursday through Saturday 7:30pm. Meet at the Staircase amphitheater.

Thirteen Special Places

Get ready to overload your schedule with 10 + 3 special places on the Olympic Peninsula. There have been several lists compiled over the last few weeks, all with gorgeous photos and travel hints for the peninsula. Let's start with ExOfficio's  10 Totally Amazing Places to See on the Northern Olympic Peninsula. This list has amazing photos, as well as short descriptions of some of our favorite places.
Dungeness Lighthouse

Dungeness Lighthouse

We totally agree that the places on ExOfficio's list shouldn't be missed, but we think there are a couple missed opportunities to get into the flavor, history and fun. Dungeness Spit is mentioned #1 in ExOfficio's list and we are glad it made the list.  Dungeness Spit is especially precious. It's the longest natural sand spit in the USA. The 5.5-mile walk out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse is a test of endurance, since the walk is totally on sand.  You can sign up to be a lighthouse keeper for a week. Lots of responsibility, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or as the lighthouse keepers website says, Stay a Week...Memories for a Lifetime!
SR112 Joyce Museum

Joyce Museum

Joyce Museum and Joyce General Store count as one stop.  Summer hours for the museum are Thursday - Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to go when Margaret is there. She is the all-knowing docent of wisdom when it comes to the area. The log building, built in 1914, was once the train depot. Now it houses historic photographs, newspapers and examples of the days gone by.  Lots of artifacts and info about the recent Elwha River dam removal project is housed here. Take a reality step back in time when you enter the General Store. It's still got its brass mail boxes and absolutely everything you could possibly need - from motor oil to Wesson oil, from brushes to clean mushrooms to brushes to paint the house. Plus they have bumper stickers that say, "I ♥ Joyce", a definite memento for anyone you know named "Joyce".
John's Beachcombing Museum

John's Beachcombing Museum

John's Beachcombing Museum. A new must-do on the peninsula - near Forks. Here are some comments from visitors to this unique collection:
  • "Some very cool and very unusual stuff in there!"
  • "This place is amazing!!! I am an environmental science teacher and I learned an amazing amount of information about what washes up on our shores. Thanks John for a great and informational time."
  • "Absolutely loved our trip through John's museum. It was great listening to John's stories and the kids were totally engaged from the drive in until we drove away... Thanks John, this is a must see and we will be back." Admission to tour the museum is $5. Prepare to spend some time there! It's open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or for group tours by appointment, for more information or questions call 360-640-0320.    

Travel the Olympic Peninsula w/o a Car

Yes, travel to the Olympic Peninsula without a car can be done

Travel to the Olympic Peninsula without a car can be a challenge, but it can be done. There are many resources to help you plan your visit sans automobile. We hope this blog post will inspire you plan and navigate your way around with a bicycle or on foot. If you are bicycling, check out the Olympic Discovery Trail for transportation corridors across the peninsula. If you are arriving at SEATAC Airport, Seattle, The Dungeness Line or Rocket Transportation shuttles are easy to find at the south end of the airport. The Dungeness Line has a scheduled route, while Rocket Transportation will deliver you to your specified destination.

Links to local websitesto connect around the Olympic Peninsula:

  • Clallam Transit Bus. Contact the Clallam Transit center directly for questions about their routes and prices 800-858-3747.  Keep in mind, also, that you can rack a bicycle on the Clallam Transit buses for free on a  first-come first-served space.
  • Mason County Transit Authority. All MTA buses are equipped with bike racks to carry two or three conventional single seat, two-wheeled bicycles.
  • Jefferson TransitThis website has a page with a listing of other auto-less transportation options for the entire area - Seattle, Victoria, Kitsap, Whidbey Island. A useful resource!
  • Grays Harbor Transit
  • Another option is hiring a private tour guide to take you anywhere you want to go.  Here is a link with a list of them.
If you are based in Port Angeles, you'll find these bus lines with some suggestions of things to see and how to get there.
pt erider a new way to travel in Port Townsend

PTe-rider - a new way to travel in Port Townsend

#30 Port Angeles to Sequim. Once you're in Sequim you can schedule a Dial-a-Ride to take you out to the Dungeness Rec Area where there is camping and hiking.  This needs to be scheduled 24 hours in advance. From Sequim to Port Townsend take the Jefferson Transit #8 bus.  There is a cool new way to explore this charming, Victorian seaport. It's the PTe-rider. Hop aboard the first electric shuttle service in Washington State. Open April through October, they offer taxi service tours of Port Townsend's historic districts. #10 Port Angeles to Joyce on Hwy 112 will drop you off at Camp Hayden Rd. which is about 4 miles south of Salt Creek Recreation Area. It would be a hike to get to Salt Creek, but if it's low tide and you are a tidepooler, it might be worth it. Even if you don't want to go as far as Salt Creek, I'd recommend the blackberry pie at the Blackberry Cafe - also the jalapeno burger if it's still on the menu. Two must dos are the Joyce General Store and the Joyce Museum. Words can't adequately explain - it's part history, part now. Start by talking to Margaret at the museum. She can tell you the historical details, local lore and guide you through the museum that used to be the old railroad station. #20 Port Angeles to the Olympic National Park Visitor Information Center where passes and permits can be bought.  This route will drop you off a couple blocks down the hill from the Visitor Information Center. You would need to hire a vehicle to take you up the mountain, either taxi or guide. Here's a link to guide services.  Green 8 Taxi Service.  Black Tie Taxi Service.
Travel Lake-C-fall-pano-lo.jpg

Lake Crescent

#14 Port Angeles along Hwy 101 around Lake Crescent.  Stopping here at Lake Crescent you can hike to Marymere Falls and into the backcountry. A visit to Lake Crescent Lodge is an historical treat. Sit on the sun porch with cool drink in hand, relaxing in wicker chairs and watching the kayakers and swimmers. This route will also take you to Forks, if you ever want to travel from its serene shores.
Travel Camping on Second Beach

Second Beach

#15 Forks to La Push.  At La Push are the hikes to Second Beach and Third Beach, both great for setting up a tent and falling asleep to the sound of the waves. These beaches are located in the National Park and so camping permits to stay overnight need to be obtained from the Visitor Center in Port Angeles.  There are no amenities or camping sites on these beaches and everything must be packed in and packed back out. Forks south to Lake Quinault. Jefferson Travel from Forks (Forks Transfer Center is located at 552 S Forks Ave & E Street) can take you south to Lake Quinault area, stopping at Lower Hoh, Kalaloch, Queets and then to Amanda Park Mercantile at the lake. From Amanda Park you can transfer to Grays Harbor Transit, which will require a separate fare and exact change. #16 Port Angeles to Neah Bay.  The Makah Reservation has its own bus system once the Clallam County system drops you off.  There is a bus that will take you to the Cape Flattery Trail but contact this bus system directly to make sure.  Cape Flattery is the most NW point of the contiguous United States. There are views of Tattoosh Island and lighthouse along with excellent wildlife viewing. If the whales aren't around, the birds will be. There is no service of this bus system on Saturdays, Sundays, or Holidays. Be sure to visit the Makah Cultural and Resource Center. It's a world-class museum with artifacts and displays highlighting the history and culture of this part of the world.

Travel to Victoria, Canada - Bring your passport!

The side trip popular with many visitors is to travel to Victoria, BC, Canada, is a simple, 90-minutes, walk-on ride on the Coho Ferry. The ferry docks in the beautiful inner harbor across the street from the Parliament Building. Make your visit a "two-nation vacation"! If you are bringing your bike or would just like to have a lovely walk, put the Galloping Goose Trail from Victoria to Sooke on your itinerary. Here are some photos from their website. Have fun and travel safely!

Olympic Peninsula Park Passes Made Simple

Some parks and trailheads around the peninsula require a pass. Generally, you can purchase passes at each entrance to each kind of park. ONP annual passEach national park has its own pass. For example, you could buy an annual pass to Mt. Rainer OR Olympic National Park. This year these cost $50 each. Weekly admissions to the parks are sold at the entrances or Visitor Centers for $20 (going up to $25 on June 1, 2016). Only four entrances require a pass: Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc, Staircase and Hoh Rain Forest. You can either pay as you enter these entrances or stop at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles to purchase the pass. America the Beautiful Pass is an interagency pass good for all Federal lands - National Parks, National Forest, monuments, etc. This costs $80 for an annual pass. If you plan on bicycling or walking in, it's only $7/person. Learn more here, or check with the park 360-565-3130. Some of the info on their site is outdated. But you will be able to see the different types of passes:
  • Private vehicle
  • Motorcycle
  • Per person
  • Wilderness camping fees
  • Campground fees
  • Commercial tours
  • Non-commercial groups
  • Dump station fees
There is the equivalent to the interagency pass for active military - one year is free with documentation. These are only dispensed by rangers. There is the equivalent of the interagency pass for seniors (62+) or disabled people. This is a lifetime pass that costs $10 and is sold only by rangers to people with proof of eligibility. discover pass logoWashington State Parks, like Fort Worden require a Discover Pass which you can learn about here. If you click here you can see the State Parks By Region which will tell you which parks require which pass. Last time I went to Fort Worden, I just paid at the entrance kiosk by the parking lot. But if you wish to purchase the Discover pass ahead of time you can do there online hereDiscover annual passes ($35 from vendors/$30 if you purchase them at the same time you pay your car license renewals or from a ranger at the park) are for the Washington State parks.  Discover day passes cost $10 ($12 from vendors) and are good for State parks for one day only.  These can be purchased in advance or at the park. Similarly, there is Olympic National Forest (ONF) that offers miles of hiking trails in the woods has a different set of passesForest Service pass. Here is a list of trails that are on ONF land that require an Olympic National Forest pass (different from an Olympic National Park pass). A lot of these spectacular trails are on the east side of the peninsula with access from Hwy 101 along Hood Canal, except for the  Quinault Rain Forest trails, which are in the southwest area of the peninsula. Some, by by no means all of the National Forest trails, require either an annual pass or a day pass for parking. Day passes cost $5. Passes are not sold a the trail heads, so they must be purchased in advance. An annual pass for the National Forests in Washington and Oregon only (no parks and no other state's national forests) costs $30. Print a pass for the ONF on your computer before you come! $5.00
horizontal Hobuck Beach

Hobuck Beach, Neah Bay

If you are headed to Shi Shi Beach, Cape Flattery or other spots in Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation, the Makah Tribe requires visitors to have a $10 Recreation Pass. The Recreational Use Permit (RUP) is available for sale at the Makah Museum, Washburn’s Store and at the Makah Tribal Center at a cost of $10.00 per car and is good for the calendar year in which it is purchased. The permit is required if you are going to engage in recreational activities on the Reservation – hiking, camping, kayaking, sports-fishing, etc.
Dungeness Lighthouse

Dungeness Lighthouse

Also, there is a small fee at the trailhead of $3 per family or per group (up to four adults) at the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge. Children under 16 enter free. Refuge Annual Pass, Federal Recreational Lands Pass, Senior or Golden Age Pass, Access or Golden Access Pass, Military Pass, Volunteer Pass, and a Federal Duck Stamp also admit family or group (up to 4 adults). One of the special things to do in this area is hiking on the Dungeness Spit to the lighthouse at the end of the sandy spit.

Hummingbirds in the winter? Yes!

Anna's hummingbirdIf you are a birder, young or old, you'll add to your life list on the Olympic Peninsula. I'm interested in them, but I'm not a birder - YET. I know that this area almost always leads Washington State in high counts of species during spring migration. The Christmas bird count a big annual event for the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park along the Olympic Peninsula Discovery Trail. The reason for my investigation?  I've noticed hummers hanging around my house for the last few days. My curiosity was up. So I started some research about these lovely little guys that chose to stay here in the winter. Boy, was I surprised.     In looking for bird information, I found listings for over 350 species that visit the Olympic Peninsula. We have three different types of hummers. Anna's, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds all have been reported. Maybe on examination, I think I know which one I saw. Anna's like to live in the forests, brush areas and in town. It is a permanent resident along the West Coast from British Columbia to northern Mexico. Calliope's like to live in the forests and have only been seen on the Olympic Peninsula a few times. They are the smallest - about three inches long. (The ones I saw seemed more robust!) That leaves the Rufous hummingbirds. They live in forest, brush areas and in town. They are rarely seen in the winter. They are common in the spring and early summer, and fairly common in the fall. So I probably am not seeing Calliope's or Rufous. But, I want more information. An email to my birder friend says that Anna's should be the only ones hanging around at this time of year. According to ebird.org, there was a registered siting in Neah Bay on February 1. And, Anna's have been seen on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles within the last couple weeks. Conclusion: Anna's Hummingbirds are at my house! All this is fascinating to me. Think how far birds travel during their life times. Much farther than many of us do over the course of our life times. This graphic from Cornell Labs totally mesmerized me. Be sure to watch the animated migration.
Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

Winter in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary photo - Winter Storm

Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary photo

A winter visit to Washington’s Olympic Coast provides opportunities for a unique and rewarding experience. You will likely encounter few visitors, giving you an even greater appreciation for the remote wilderness of our rugged coastline. Winter storms create fascinating wave-watching conditions, with wind, rain and high tides yielding dramatic scenes of waves crashing against the rocky shores, as well as the numerous seastacks dotting the nearshore environment. Dress for the weather and make it a memorable day reveling in one of nature's best winter wonders. The winter is also a popular time for marine debris to wash up on shore. This is the perfect time for beach combing. If you feel like doing something wonderful for the environment, bring gloves and disposable bags to collect trash from the pristine environment you are enjoying and help keep our beaches clean and our marine organisms safe. You may even be rewarded by finding a rare item while beach combing - such as a prized glass float. Particularly high, or “King Tides”, during this period take place on the following dates (based on  December 23 high tide of 9.71 ft at 10:07am  December 24 high tide of 9.84 ft at 10:55am  December 25 high tide of 9.81 ft at 11:41am  December 26 high tide of 9.59 ft at 12:25pm  January 9 high tide of 9.2 ft at 11:24am  January 10 high tide of 9.37 ft at 12:06pm  January 11 high tide of 9.37 ft at 12:48pm  January 21 high tide of 9.16 ft at 9:54am  January 22 high tide of 9.27 ft at 10:45am  January 23 high tide of 9.28 ft at 11:31am  January 24 high tide of 9.17 ft at 12:14pm For more information and locations of King Tides, visit:

Tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov

Remember to stay safe while enjoying the moody beauty of our Olympic Coast!

For more information about Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, visit: OlympicCoast.noaa.gov Facebook at www.facebook.com/usolympiccoastgov/

Twitter at Twitter.com/OlympicCoast

Thanks to Karlyn Langjahr, guest Blogger:  Olympic Coast Discovery Center Manager

Adventure Travelers Winter Itinerary #101 for the OP

snowboarders2010 agreementAdventure Travelers Winter Itinerary #101 for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

Winter activities on the Olympic Peninsula are pretty much the same as what you can do during any other time of the year – just with different attire! Hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking.

Two-day Adventure on the Olympic Peninsula

Arrival Evening in Port Angeles or surrounding area Go for a run or bike ride along the Olympic Discovery Trail. Be sure to put your lights on! Day 1 ~ Hurricane Ridge - Get up early and head to Hurricane Ridge for some outdoor altitude play!  A 45-minute drive takes you into the Olympic Mountains. The road is scheduled to be open Fridays through Sundays and Monday holidays through the end of March, weather permitting. Depending on the weather, it will also be open December 26 to January 3. If the parking lot gets too full, the road may close temporarily, so an early start is good thing! Sitting atop an alpine meadow is the day lodge and observation point. From here you have many choices whether there is snow or no snow! No snow? Wander along the trails and stop at great spots for photo opportunities. Snow? Skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoe, snow board! Carrying chains in the car is mandatory during the winter. Take the Ranger-led snowshoe walk that is about a mile and takes about 90 minutes. Learn lots and see the area in a new way. Sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center when you get there. These walks fill up fast. Minimal cost of $7.00 for adults. $3 for children 6 – 15. Free for children 5 and younger. Scope out places to take your cross-country daring-do. Here’s the scoop for Hurricane Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center

Wilderness Information Center

Olympic National Park

http://www.nps.gov/olym/

3002 Mount Angeles Road

Port Angeles, WA 98362

360-565-3130

Day 2 ~ Kayaking the the Morning  - Depart for Lake Crescent area A deep, clear 12-mile long lake in the Olympic National Park, 17 miles west of Port Angeles along Hwy 101. There are several spot to launch: Fairholm at the far west end, public boat launch at Barnes Point or in front of Lake Crescent Lodge. Other nooks and launch areas can be found. Enjoy the gorgeousness of this special place. Short paddle, long paddle, your choice. Be aware that the weather can change very rapidly on the lake and the wind usually starts to gather steam at noon. Feel like a short hike to loosen up the legs after sitting in the kayak? Trail options around the Barnes Point area are:  the Moments in Time or Marymere Falls.  The hike to Mount Storm King is longer and difficult but well worth the steep climb. Be REALLY careful in the winter when the ground is slippery. The cliffs are non-forgiving. If it is snowy or icy, save it for summer! Moments in Time Nature Trail is approximately a ½-mile loop trail and offers nice views of the lake and winds through old-growth forest and former homestead sites. It is located between Nature Bridge and Lake Crescent Lodge. A 1/3-mile trail extends from Storm King Ranger Station parking lot. Marymere Falls is a spectacular 90' waterfall just one mile from Lake Crescent. The trail leads through old growth forest with flowering plants and mushrooms in season. If it’s snowing or freezing cold the waterfall becomes fairyland like you’ve never seen. Totally worth the hike, but be really careful crossing the bridge and along the switchbacks. Across the lake near the headwaters of the Lyre River you’ll find the Spruce Railroad Trail that is also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail. The Spruce Railroad Trail connects the North Shore of Lake Crescent and Lyre River trailheads. Much of this relatively flat 4-mile trail runs on or adjacent to the World War I Spruce Railway bed and offers excellent Lake Crescent views.

Have a safe, warm, adventurous time!

Family List #100 – Twenty-one Free Things to Do on the OP

for web_ hurricaneridgepanolorespurchased - CopyTwenty-one free things to do on the beautiful

Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Family List #100.  If you are family travelers, start here to find 21 free things to do on the Olympic Peninsula. Have a great time planning what will intrigue, excite and stimulate your family. You can build your own itinerary at: OlympicPeninsula.org.   back pack iconSign up and then click on the Backpacker Icon to get started. You can make more than one itinerary. Have fun deciding what you are going to do on each trip.  
  1. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK. Several times a year, National Park entrance fees are waived. Consult http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm. These days usually are:
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January;
  • five days in April for National Park Week;
  • August National Park Service Birthday celebration;
  • National Public Lands Day in September; and
  • Veterans Day weekend in November.
With nearly one million acres of playground in rain forest valleys, alpine meadows and 60 miles of unmatched wilderness coastline you’ll find plenty to explore: Hurricane Ridge with vistas revealing glacier-covered peaks and steep river valleys; Lake Crescent with 12 miles of pristine, idyllic water; and the ocean beaches with rocky headlands and fascinating tide pools are three popular locations to entertain the whole family.  http://www.nps.gov/olym/
  1. Take a Twilight tour in Forks to look for vampires. There are organized tours to see places from the popular Stephenie Meyer book series, or you can simply stop by the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to pick up a free Twilight map to make your own self-guided tour. While you’re there, take a picture with a replica of Bella’s truck! http://www.forkswa.com/HomeofTwilighttheBook.html
Check out really BIG TREES. The Quinault Valley has some really big living trees. The largest in world of their species are Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Mountain Hemlock. The Yellow Cedar and Western Hemlock are the largest in the United States. The trails to get to these big trees offer something for everyone. The largest Hemlocks are in an area called Enchanted Valley, a 15-mile, one-way backpack trip. The Western Red Cedar is found after a short walk. You can climb inside the trunk of this largest tree in the world outside California. (They have Sequoias and Redwoods, after all.) On an easy, five minute walk you can see the Sitka Spruce that is estimated to be over 1,000 years old. http://rainforestgetaways.com/html/valley_of_rainforest_giants.html
  1. Travel the “Magical Misty Tour” on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. A delightful way to explore the Olympic Peninsula, the Waterfall Trail offers year-round adventures and dramatic beauty. From the cliffs of Cape Flattery to the glacial fjord of the Hood Canal, waterfalls of all sizes and shapes abound. A sweet little summer trickle can be a thundering torrent during spring run off. There is a falls for every level of adventure. One waterfall can be seen from a paved, wheelchair accessible path, one can only be reached by kayak or raft, others require short hikes, some can be seen from the car, while others require route finding skills or a backpack trip. http://www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com
  1. Walk the fragrant lavender fields in the Lavender Capital of North America™ Sequim, Washington. Visit the many colorful lavender farms in the Sequim Valley. With over 40 farms, lavender is one of the most fragrant and useful herbs. The weather conditions in Sequim are perfect for lavender. The U-pick season typically lasts from July to the first of October. America’s largest celebration of lavender is always held the third weekend in July with Lavender Weekend in Sequim activities throughout the valley. http://www.lavendergrowers.org/
  1. Explore World War II forts. Three forts offer history buffs in your family an opportunity to see where guns were located to protect Hood Canal, to check out the still-in-place bunkers or visit the museum at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. Hiking, camping, tide pooling and other activities are also in the areas of these historic reminders of our past.
http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/interpretive.aspx http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Fort%20Flagler
  1. Speaking of tide pools! Check out mysterious critters in the tide pool areas around the Olympic Peninsula. Salt Creek with its stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia, is the perfect setting to explore some of the most exceptional tide pools in the Northwest. Come during low tide, and you'll see starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, sea anemones, and urchins among the plentiful sea life on display. Many of these tide pools are located at the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary, which is under water at high tide. Slip Point near Clallam Bay and areas in Port Townsend also have great tide pools. http://www.visitolympicpeninsula.org/tidepools.html http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/salt-creek-recreation-area
http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/its-time-tidepooling
  1. Take a hike to the ocean in search of petroglyphs. A nine-mile triangle hike (three miles into the beach, three miles along the beach, and three miles back to the trailhead) can be customized to your hiking level. Do the complete nine-plus mile triangle or opt to walk the northern trail to Cape Alava to see ancient petroglyphs of humans and whales.
http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/ozette-wilderness-hike
  1. We have a 5-acre outdoor art gallery in Port Angeles. Part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the Webster’s Woods Art Park features art in many mediums from metal sculptured ferns to a “shoe tree” to a large labyrinth to walk in the meadow. The Woods are open all daylight hours year round. http://www.pafac.org/websters-woods.html. Port Angeles also has a free Art on the Town self-guided sculpture walk through downtown with its award-winning Avenue of the People.  http://portangelesdowntown.com/avenue_of_the_people.php
  1. Experience our wonderful native cultures. Each Tribal community offers places and/or activities for respectful visitors. In late winter and spring in La Push watch the migrating gray whales or join in traditional song with the Wednesday night drumming group. On the grounds of the Makah Cultural and Resource Center and Museum in Neah Bay there are several large totems. And, in Blyn, location of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center, Longhouse Market and 7 Cedars Casino you can find many more totems. The Resort at Port Ludlow in Port Ludlow and the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course in Sequim also have totems. To watch this ancient art being re-created with traditional tools and methods, check out the House of Myth on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center property. Take a walk on the Warrior Path to an estuary of the Elwha River near the Lower Elwha Tribal Center to see birds and maybe even some river otters. To learn more about the Olympic Peninsula’s native people and cultures visit the web site www.explorepacificnwtribes.com

http://www.makah.com/mcrchome.html

http://www.jamestowntribe.org/#

http://www.elwha.org/

  1. Watch for real “tweets” at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. Want to see the detail of Bald Eagle tail feathers or the webbed feet of a seagull? Here’s the place to get up close to native species. Or, you can join a group for a Wednesday morning bird walk to check out birds in the wild. The Dungeness River Audubon Center is located at the site of the historic railroad trestle that crosses the river north of Highway 101. The trestle has been converted to a planked section of the North Olympic Discovery Trail. Territorial views of woodlands, river vistas, local wildlife and native flora beckon from th nature trails. The Center offers interpretive programs, summer science day-camps, and river talks and classes in the River center building, as well as exhibits, displays and specimens.

http://www.dungenessrivercenter.org/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/dungenessriverauduboncenter

  1. Sit in an old buggy at the Joyce Depot Museum. The original log train depot built in 1914 is home to the Joyce Museum.  Housing historical memorabilia from the towns of Joyce, Lake Crescent, Twin Rivers and the former town of Port Crescent you will find yourself surrounded by the rich history of the area.  The many displays of various artifacts are but a small part of what makes this museum stand out.  On shelves casually housing many historical books, you can find nuggets of treasure that bring history to life. Don’t forget to visit the Joyce General Store across the street. If you can’t find it there, you probably don’t need it! Be sure to take a photo of the mailboxes on the wall. The bulletin board outside the store will give you a good idea of things going on in this rural community.

http://www.joycegeneral.com/muse.htm

  1. Watch for whales on the Whale Trail. There are several locations on the OP designated good spots for seeing whales, if they are in the neighborhood. Bring your binoculars for scouting on the horizon, but don’t miss seeing ones that may be very close to shore. Keep your eyes peeled for other marine mammals, too.

http://thewhaletrail.org/

  1. See how far you can skip a stone in the ocean. Ruby Beach with a meandering creek, dramatic sea stacks, and drift logs is named for its sometimes garnet-colored sand. Witness this phenomenon especially near sunset. A gold mining operation was located here in the early 1900s. Olympic National Park protects over 73 miles of the some of the most primitive natural coastline in the 48 contiguous United States. The views of ocean, cliffs, headlands, islands and sea stacks, coupled with the dramatic changing sea, provide a unique wilderness experience. Most of the coast can only be accessed by foot. Rialto Beach and Kalaloch beaches, including Ruby Beach, are accessible by road. You’ll find prefect skipping stones at Rialto Beach near La Push.
 
  1. Indulge in a section of the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop. Local farms and markets are a source of entertainment for young and old alike, to say nothing of tantalizing the taste buds. Check out the open-air markets during most of the year across the peninsula. Or, introduce yourself to a row of carrots, some bushes of blueberries or take some photos of salmon in a stream or on your plate.

http://olympicculinaryloop.com/

  1. Pedal the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) or challenge yourself on the Adventure Route. There are many places to enter and exit the ODT that will eventually connect Port Townsend to LaPush with a 130 miles of paved, multi-user trail. This is a perfect place to bring the bikes and get out to see the area. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take on the 25 miles of groomed, single-and double-track trails.

http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/

http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/side_trips/adventure_route.html
  1. Explore a Lighthouse. At 5.5 miles in length, the Dungeness Spit is the longest naturally occurring sand spit in North America and home to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a sanctuary for over 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals and eight species of water mammals. Its trails and picnic areas offer breathtaking views of beaches, the Dungeness Harbor and the strait of Juan de Fuca. If you’re up to hiking the spit, you’ll find the old Dungeness Lighthouse, built in 1857 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. Access to the light Station is limited to hikers at low tide

Wildlife Refuge:  http://www.fws.gov/washingtonmaritime/dungeness/

Lighthouse:  http://www.newdungenesslighthouse.com/

  1. Indulge your inner cowboy at John Wayne Marina. The great film legend, John Wayne, was a frequent visitor to Sequim Bay aboard the family yacht, the "Wild Goose." John Wayne was struck by the pristine natural elegance of Sequim Bay and believed it was the perfect location for a marina. An ideal destination for water adventurers, the marina stands on land donated by the late film star in 1975. The main Marina building has a collection of John Wayne memorabilia on display. The facility is designed to be compatible with its surroundings, so barefoot mariners can look forward to a quiet cove and excellent amenities. Visitors seeking restful waterscapes as a backdrop for picnics and uncomplicated walks will find this picturesque setting ideal.
The Marina offers a restaurant, showers, laundry and banquet facilities, and provides boat launch ramps, fuel facilities, public beach access and picnic areas. Transient moorage is usually available for those who wish to boat up to Sequim Bay and enjoy the weekend.

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/john-wayne-marina

  1. Get a history lesson at the Forks Timber Museum. Harvesting timber plays an historic and important role in the economy and development of the Olympic Peninsula. The museum displays exhibits depicting local history dating back to the 1870s. It is located next to the Visitor Information Center in Forks and is open May through October.

http://www.forks-web.com/fg/timbermuseum.htm

  1. Drive one of the newest Scenic Byways. Highway 112 from Joyce to Neah Bay is truly “scenic” – all 249 curves of it! Take the beautiful drive and count them yourselves! Make extra time to stop along the way at overlooks and at the easy-access beach turnouts! No telling what you’ll find.

http://www.highway112.org/

  1. Explore the historic Dungeness Valley. Driving around the Dungeness Valley Scenic Loop and around the outskirts of Sequim, (pronounced skwim), you’ll find an abundance of things to do and see. The organic farms, lavender farms, Audubon Center, Olympic Discovery Trail, and Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse (mentioned separately in this list!) are only the beginning of the story with this fertile valley. Steeped in history, this special place is located in the so-called “blue hole”. Contrasting to the 120 inches of rain in the rainforests to the west, Sequim is nestled in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains where the area only receives about 17 inches of rain per year. With the fertile valley and easy access to the Strait of Juan De Juca there is a rich history of this area. Some of these locations are geocache sites on the Geocaching.com website. To get more information about geocaching, check out https://www.geocaching.com/
Start your journey into history with the uncovering of bones from a 13,800 year old Mastadon by Emanuel Mannis in 1977. You can visit the field where he found the bones and then view them in the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. http://www.macsequim.org/exhibits/45-manis-mastodon.html Pioneer Memorial Park has a spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. Many early settlers and their families were buried here, but have since been moved to other cemeteries. There are old tombstones and a lovely garden to see here. http://www.sequimwa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/6 Stop to see where a double-hipped carriage house stands to signify the location of the Evergreen Farm off North 5th Avenue in Sequim. The original barn, which is no longer standing, was built in 1911, attesting to the long-standing agricultural record of the area. The second story of this building has a solid wood floor so the children of the family would have a place to roller skate! Another stop along the Dungeness Scenic Loop is the Dungeness schoolhouse, which opened in 1893 with 73 students, aged five to 20, closing in 1955 with the Dungeness and Sequim school districts merged. http://www.dungeness.com/schoolhouse/history.htm The Knutsen Family Farm house still stands. It was ordered from the Sears, Roebuck and Company’s mail-order Modern Homes program! It is private property, so please park at the edge of the property. http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC41702_mac-9-knutsen-family-farm You know we’re all about big trees! One of the largest cottonwood trees in the area can be viewed by traveling south on River Road, west of Sequim. If it’s spawning season, you’ll be treated to a miracle of nature watching the salmon return to the river. Good viewing is also at the Dungeness Railroad Bridge at the Audubon center. NOT QUITE FREE!!  Walk to the edge of the NW United States. OK. We realize that this is not exactly FREE because you need to purchase a parking permit for the Makah Reservation for $7.00 per car. But the price is worth the experience, view and bragging rights! You will have planted your feet at the most northwestern point in the contiguous US on Cape Flattery bluff overlooking views of the Tatoosh Island lighthouse, the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Tatoosh Island is sacred place for the Makah. The trail to the overlook is a cedar plank boardwalk that takes you on a moderate hike. Likely you will see eagles, cormorants, sea otter and, if you’re lucky, one of the resident whales! Anticipating hearing the sound of the ocean as you walk through the trees is finally satisfied with the sound of constant wooshing waves when you.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cape-flattery

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/destinations/neah-bay-cape-flattery

http://www.neahbaywa.com/where.htm