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512-730-0291 greg@gregdaily.com

My Trip Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest 

Our trip started off with Linda arriving early to my house and our trip to the airport and our nonstop plane ride to Seattle was fairly uneventful. We were excited to begin our journey to the Olympic National Park, and once we arrived in Seattle, Linda’s fears came true. The lock that she just purchased for her luggage did not work so she had no way of getting into her luggage without finding a way to cut the lock. We were going to have to take some time to look for bolt cutters.

As I was plugging Home Depot into the GPS I overheard Linda ask the rental car agent if they had any bolt cutters. They called maintenance and 15 minutes later her lock was cut. We were on our way, well almost. They gave us the set of keys and the key ring was a wire cable with both keys attached. Why both keys were together on a wire cable just did not make any sense. We asked them to cut the wire cable so Linda and I could each have a key. Another 15 minutes and we were finally on our way. Wish we would have thought to ask them to cut the wire cables before the bolt cutters were taken back to their home in the maintenance room.  

We left the airport and we knew we had a couple more stops to make before we would arrive at our first photographic destination. We grabbed a bite to eat and then we made our way to the grocery store. We knew that we would be in remote locations on this trip. With food in the car we would have options to stay out in the field photographing and not worrying about making it back in time before all of the restaurants closed. It was not uncommon to arrive at our motel after 11:00PM.

We did not stay in any spectacular places but all of the rooms were clean and the beds were amazingly comfortable.  I only saw one roach and after he met the bottom of my shoe he was left behind for the maid to find. We always tried to get rooms on the first floor but that did not always work out. Out of the 7 places we stayed, Linda had the first floor room all but once. I was the nice guy and offered to trek up 2-3 flights of stairs to my rooms a few more times than Linda.    

Olympic National Park Sign

Day 1 in Olympic National Park

This first day of this trip is a partial blur to me. I remember most everything except the drive from Seattle to foothills of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  Maybe the reason was the excitement of the beginning of the trip and what happed up on Hurricane Ridge and then the power being shut off in our motel rooms that evening. So the between parts are a little fuzzy.

Before we headed up to Hurricane Ridge, our first planed destination, we made a phone call while we still had a cell signal. Our motel was an hour and 45 minutes away so we knew we needed a late check in. We got the late check in instructions and just a few minutes later they called back and told us that the power for the entire section of town was going out at 11:45PM and not coming back on till 8:00AM the following morning. There was nothing that we could do at this point in time with this new information, so we drove on up to Hurricane Ridge.

The trip up the mountains was spectacular. I was a little jealous as Linda was taking pictures and video of the winding road and the snowcapped mountains. The roads were very curvy and since I was driving, taking photos was not an option for me. We finally made our way to the top of Hurricane Ridge and it was specular.

After an hour or so, all of my shots started to look like the same as the one I took before, so I was ready to go to another location. I talked to another photographer and he was headed to shoot sunset at Lake Crescent. So in the back of my mind I thought that would be a great option as I did not think I would be able to shoot anything differently than I already had. Lake Crescent was on the way to our motel so I asked Linda if she wanted to leave and she was OK with our new plan. 

Black Tailed Deer at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park

We saw tons of black tail deer, unlike the white tail deer we find here in Texas. They were relatively tame and definitely not afraid of people. We ended up chasing them around hoping to photograph them in the snow with the mountains in the background. Before we knew it, our window of time slipped away to make the move.

If we wanted to shoot a sunset we had to stay put. Then it started to happen, what we witnessed was truly magnificent. The heavens opened up and an amazing light show painted the sky with colors typically only seen in paintings. We saw reds, oranges, pinks, magenta and all of the shades in between. This sunset was well beyond beautiful, it was epic, and one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Our 1st day in the Olympic National Park was one I will not forget!

Epic sunset with snow capped mountains

Eventually the light show ended and we knew we had to begin our long trip to the town of Forks. On our way back I could not help but wonder if the photographer I talked to was able to get some great shots at Lake Crescent, he truly missed an opportunity up on Hurricane Ridge. Also on the back of my mind, I wondered if we would get to our hotel before the power went out.

We arrived just in the nick of time as we had 10 minutes of power before they turned it off. It did not come back on till we were about to head out the next day. We were exhausted so went to sleep immediately so the lack of power was not really an issue. Although I was worried that I would not be able to heat up water for my tea in the morning. Well, the power came on 10 minutes before we left so I stared off the morning with a cup of hot tea, which was awesome.

Day 2 in Olympic National Park

With a cup of hot tea in hand and our itinerary plugged into the GPS we were off to explore more of the Olympic National Park. We made our way to the HOA Rainforest, Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach. Our favorite was the HOA rainforest and we spent a lot of time exploring the area. Wish we would had allocated 2 more full days to explore the rainforest. We were amazed that there were very few people in this area. We saw moss covered trees, streams and wildflowers. Although relatively quiet and void of people, sounds of birds singing to each other filled the air.

Trees in the Pacific North West - Olympic National Park

As we regrettably left the HOA Rainforest we made our way over to the beaches. It took us much longer to get there because we ended up seeing some Bald Eagles that begged for their picture to be taken. They kept posing for us and eventually we decided that it was time to let them get on with their day and for us to hit the beach. I think we were only a mile or so away, so once we got our long lenses packed up, it was only a couple of minutes’ drive before we parked and grabbed our gear and put our feet in the sand.

Bald Eagle on a rock

The beaches had a lot more activity and people but still not overly crowded. We enjoyed seeing and taking pictures of the sea stacks and the drift wood that covered the beaches. The skies were really cloudy and we knew that there would not be much of a sunset so when we finished playing in the surf we decided to head towards Port Angeles, to grab a bite to eat and check in to our motel.

Beach with driftwood and sea stacks

Day 3 in the Olympic National Park 

Our 3rd day in the Olympic National Park provided us an opportunity to explore some tide pools and waterfalls. Once we made it over to the tide pools we had fun searching for and photographing all kinds of creatures typically found in tide pools, such as sea urchins, sea anemone, muscles, starfish, etc. This is where someone slid down the cliff face. I am not naming names but this could have been ugly. Fortunately other than a bruised ego, camera gear and all appendages were intact.

Our biggest find however was not found in the tide pools. It was found where the stream dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. We found a very cute and playful sea otter. He / She, not sure as I did not get close enough to check, was busy searching for and eating its catch. It looked like the sea otter enjoyed every bite. This is also where a Stinging Nettle stung. The plant left its mark and it lasted for 3 plus days.

Sea Otter munching on a fish

Later in the day we explored areas around Lake Crescent and got some exercise and hiked a couple of miles to a Marymere Falls. We then made it to Lake Crescent and ended up spending a lot of time at Fairholme Campground. We photographed the mist, fog and rain which created an amazing backdrop for moss covered trees and a very moody lake.

Blog A mossy tree with huge branches

Our 4th day was our last day in the Olympic National Park. We headed towards Port Townsend and explored the beaches and areas near the ferry terminal. Here we found crabs, starfish, some cool beaches and sailboats. Linda was disappointed as we did not find any starfish in the tide pools the day before. Linda wanted to find a red or orange starfish and we finally found one. I knew that out of the hundreds of photos I would end up with one that I could post. Our next destination was Whidbey Island which was just a short ferry ride away. 

This is the 2nd of a 4 part blog. The next post will be focused on the time spent on the islands (Whidbey and San Juan) and the North Cascades area will be the last post. If you missed the first post it was on the planning of my trip. Next time you are thinking of scratching the itch, you should definitely consider a trip to Washington State n the Pacific Northwest.

Please come back to visit as I will be adding a lot of pictures and then eventually I will post a gallery of my favorite images from this 9 day adventure.