We spent 11 days in April on a roadtrip through Washington and Oregon, spending most of our time in and around Olympic National Park. We thought it wise to bring baselayers, fleece jackets and rain gear, but ended up in summer sunshine without any shorts to wear. We didn't complain.
Special thanks goes out to our Vancouver friends Paul and Sylvia who helped make this trip such a success.
The photos in no way do justice to the variety, magnitude and magnificence of this part of the world, so I recommend you go and visit as soon as you can.
Olympic Mountain National park lies on a peninsula west of Seattle, and contains alpine areas, Big Sur-style pacific coastline, temperate forests, and proper rain forests. We started off in Port Angeles, which lies on the Strait of Juan de Fuca—the major connection between the Pacific and Salish Sea (Vancouver and Seattle). This is the view back to the Olympic National Park and along the Strait.
Gorgeous Hurricane Ridge Road leads up the mountain through the mist. As we emerged from the mist we could see snowcapped peaks all around, surrounded by lush, undisturbed forest.
Our attempted hike had to be cut short due to the still heavy snow, though it's a lovely place to walk around and discover different views. You can easily see the Strait as well as Victoria, Vancouver Island's capital.
On our way towards Sol Duc we passed Lake Crescent.
Sol Duc valley offers hot springs for the traveler in need of rest, and impassable tracks for those seeking adventure. Our hike led up through temperate forest up to Deer Lake, shown here. Our intention was to hike west from there and then north towards Sol Duc. It quickly became clear that this is wholly impossible in April, the already minimal trail being covered in a good meter of snow.
Elsewhere in the Sol Duc forest of the National Park
We were eager to go further west and see the Pacific Ocean. We had heard big things about the coastline here, and we couldn't believe our luck the sun was still out in full force. During big bouts of rainfall, Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock, Douglas fir, and Western redcedar (I think of them as 'the Big Four') that have grown on the mountains and in the rainforests for hundreds of years may fall and wash down to the sea. After floating for a while and shedding their bark, they wash up on the coast. Apparently pretty dangerous with high tide, as they can easily crush you once moving.
With these corpses spread along the coastline, big clouds over the ocean, and cold waves relentlessly hitting the beaches, the coast is hugely awe-inspiring and feels timeless.
La Push, Oregon
Gorgeous Ruby Beach
In the southwest corner of the Olympic National Forest is Quinault lake and forest. Thanks to 4 meters of rain per year this little forest contains the world's largest of each of the Big Four except the Douglas fir. Another fun fact: Lake Quinault is a moraine-dammed lake, meaning the water is prevented from running down into the sea by a natural dam left behind by a glacier that came down from Olympic Mountains.
This is Lake Quinault
A big tree (Douglas fir I think, but I mix them up)
Cannon Beach, Oregon, as seen from Ecola State Park.
Fresh water from a little stream flowing into the sea at Indian Point.