Salt Creek and Olympic National Park

View from our rig. Salt Creek Campground.

It was with some regret that we left Kalaloch. It was hard to believe we could do better than this place. We headed north a bit and overnighted in the town of Forks. Forks is known as being the town the Twilight movies takes place in. This is something I have no interest in. Mary has seen a couple of the movies, and we had the option of checking out some of the locations, but thankfully, Mary chose not to. We restocked, did some laundry and headed for a campground some of our fellow LD’ers recommended in the Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles. There are a number of RV parks in the area, but this one is a county municipal park, and among the nicest of it’s kind we’ve seen. It had water and electric with a dump station, as well as non-hookup sites. We might have opted for the cheaper non-hookups, but all of them were in the trees which would mean little exposure for the solar panels. The hookup sites were wide open with a spectacular view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. On a clear day, Mt. Baker is visible. All for 20 bucks a night. We set up and took a short hike around the park. We did have to beware of a cougar that was active in the area. It had been sighted 4 times IN the campground during the past 2 weeks. Always helps the energy level to have a wild animal lurking in the forest. But we had a nice stroll with no incidents.

Straits of Juan de Fuca

In the morning, we took a drive west up the Olympic Peninsula to Clallum Bay. We had it on good authority that this was the place to go to find beach glass – glass that has been washed ashore after being scoured by sea and sand. I didn’t really think we would find much – why here and not other beaches? But it wasn’t long before it started appearing before us as we walked along. It was a matter of fixing one’s stare among the various pebble piles as the waves broke over. We also found shards of porcelin. The same person told us this was possible, and the thinking was that it was from the tsunami waves from Japan. Well, who knows really. Some of it was pretty worn, but it could have just as easily been from some cruise ship passing by. Towards the end of the beach, where the river ran into the sea, we decided to turn back. But not before I got a little too close to the edge of the river. You would not believe how deep and quickly I sank into the sand! In an instant I was up to my knee. I tried to turn and step back the way I came, but that next step I also sank just as deep, and the one after. My shoes immediately filled with sand and water, but they stayed on and I managed to get out just after another couple of steps back. So, with wet feet and shoes, we headed back to camp. A small price to pay for a fun day of beach combing.

Day 2 here, we decided to hike the Hurricane Ridge trail in Olympic National Park. It’s only a 3 mile round trip hike, but has a 600 ft. rise in elevation at 5500 ft. We wanted to do this hike mid-week. It is probably the most popular hike in the park and promised to be way more crowded on the weekend. It was really pretty easy. While steep, it was also smooth and well maintained so just taking it slow was quite enough.

Hurricane Ridge

Mary on the ridge.

Rainbow over Hurricane Ridge and Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Passing shower over Hurricane Ridge.

We had great panoramic views of the Straits and surrounding mountains. It was windy as you might expect a place called Hurricane Ridge to be. But the way the trail was constructed, it turned out to be quite protected. On some turns, the wind blew like the devil, on others, calm. We could see accumulated cloud cover on the mountains around us, and even a faint rainbow blew by, but we stayed dry. On the way up we saw a couple of plump Blue Grouse. They were so fat that Mary mistook them for marmots at first. But marmots don’t have beaks. The marmots we heard on the way up, we finally saw on the way down. They were perched on a rock outcropping overlooking the valley below and we needed out binocs to see them – but they were there.

So far in this entire trip, the weather has been virtually perfect. That doesn’t mean always sunny and warm. For me, cloudy days mean even light and potentially, much better photographically. As the clouds break up, interesting lighting situations often occur. If it rains, it’s during the night. The days have been great, especially in the rain forest.

Early morning view of Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Morning mist in the campground at Salt Creek.

While talking about various hikes with a ranger at the visitor center, we discovered one of the mountain hikes we wanted to do was inaccessible due to road damage. We decided to go back into the rain forest to hike the Sol Duk waterfall trail instead. It was a longer drive, but sounded like it would be worth it. It was a 6+ mile hike but the waterfall sounded pretty nice. The light was so good. Variable – largely overcast, but when the sun came out, steam from the warming wetness began rising, adding an intriguing atmosphere.

Our trail to Sol Duc Falls. Olympic National Park, WA.

Tree Fungus and Ferns.

Tree moss.

Sol Duc River.

After 3 miles of pleasant hiking we arrived at the falls – we thought. They were nice, but a little less than what we were expecting. Oh well, still fun to photograph, and it was a nice walk.

Sol Duc Falls - NOT!

 

We started back after an hour or so, and came to a trail junction telling us the Sol Duc falls was a tenth of a mile up the trail. We stopped too early. Fortunately we decided to make a loop out of our walk instead of returning the way we came. We would have missed the real falls altogether. Sol Duc did not disappoint – triple falls that thundered over the edge into a narrow chasm. I’m not sure the images I’ve posted for Sol Duc really convey the experience of being there. In some ways, the earlier falls were nicer to photograph, but Sol Duc was much more impressive to see. We were already tired, but we stayed a while longer to photograph before heading back. Another great day in the rain forest.

The real Sol Duc Falls.

Triple falls into a cavern.

We are leaving the Olympic Peninsula and will be heading south down to the Seattle area to visit friends and relatives. The weather report tells us our luck with dry weather is about to end. Word is the weather system that brought a typhoon to Japan is about to hit northern Washington and Canada. High winds and driving rain is expected. We’re going to find an RV park to hunker down in until it passes. It will actually be some welcome down time. We’ve been really busy with hiking and driving, so some forced sitting will be nice.

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2 Responses to Salt Creek and Olympic National Park

  1. Mike D'Ambrosio says:

    Dave, What fantastic photos! Congrats on your current show at the Viewpoint Gallery. Mike

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