July 20 – After leaving Glamping, we spent the night at Ocean City S.P. Bernie and Neil came in and camped near us. We were all going our separate ways in the morning but we had a fine campfire and visit that night. We packed it up and said our goodbyes the next morning after which we went into Ocean Shores to get groceries, do laundry, and head north. Time to explore the Olympic Peninsula!
After a drive up the coast a ways, we went inland to Lake Quinault to find a campsite. We ended up near the Lodge and on a creek. We walked over to the Lodge and had a coffee, took some pictures, and went to the tiny local museum. Driving east, we saw lots of signs from unhappy residents regarding Olympic N.P. “Taking over acreage and causing problems on the river.” We stopped for a hike to the “Big Sitka Spruce” before heading back to camp. As we were driving in, a German couple spied the “Roadhaus” license plate and began speaking to us in German. While we were talking to them (in English), a Westy came up behind us and we were blocking the road. We pulled into our campsite and discovered that it was Neil behind us. He had gone around the other side of the lake and done some exploring before ending up next to us again. We think he just might be stalking us! We shared a dinner of bacon, scrambled eggs, and biscuits fresh from the Roadhaus oven.
Neil took us to breakfast the next morning at the store across from the lodge. The food was good but the service was slow, slow, slow. We then packed up, said goodbye to Neil again, and started up the coast. We passed Kalaloch (no campsites) and stopped at the “Big Cedar Tree”. Up the road a short distance we saw a sign for “Memorial Big Tree”. We drove down winding dirt logging roads and finally came across it. The rainforest has big trees – really big trees.
We drove up to the Hoh River and checked out Hoh Oxbow campground – but decided to push on toward the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center and campground – about 18 miles further. One lane was blocked for a short distance where a film crew was working. Rumor has it they may or may not have been shooting a Toyota commercial. The river was a beautiful turquoise color but didn’t translate well for taking pictures. When we got to the campground, there were plenty of spaces available, but none right on the river. We picked a nice one and settled in. It was a beautiful day with temps around 70 degrees. There was rain in the forecast, but what can you expect in the rainforest?? We brought out the camp oven and roasted veggies for dinner – sweet potato, red potato, bell pepper, tomato, onion, zucchini, garlic and rosemary. Oh yeah.
It was, as expected, raining lightly the next morning so we had a leisurely hour (or two) of coffee in the bus before deciding to go hike the Hall of Mosses trail. The rain had let up and it was just misting a bit. It is difficult to convey the scale of this place. The park itself is enormous, and it contains a forest of giants. Any of these trees would be completely out of scale anywhere else except in the redwoods. The Hall of Mosses is a surrealist’s dream – a Dali-esque nightmare grove – beautiful and dripping with moss and moisture. We walked about and spoke in hushed tones, as if in nature’s own cathedral. Magical.
The next morning we were up and out of the park by 10 – a bit later than usual. We stopped at the Hard Rain Cafe on the Upper Hoh Road for a mocha and showers. On our way out of the rainforest, we caught a glimpse of movement through the trees. Although only a momentary sighting, we feel sure that Bigfoot was afoot (pun intended).
We drove on to Forks and visited with a couple from Santa Fe while we did laundry. We had lunch and drove on to Ozette Lake. We got our wires crossed somehow and thought that the beach was a short hike from the campground. It was not. The campground was small and had only a couple of sites left. We took one and settled in before going for a short walk. We weren’t up for the six mile round trip to the beach and we had no canoe or kayak for the lake. We built a difficult fire with wet wood and planned to leave first thing in the morning for Neah Bay.
July 25 – We were out of camp by 0800 to drive the curvy 40-mile road to Neah Bay, which is a part of the Makah Reservation. The drive along the coast was both scenic and pleasant with sun and cool temperatures. We stopped at the cemetery coming into Neah Bay to take pictures of totem poles and grave decoration. We drove through town and got to Hobuck Beach campground before noon. We picked a camp spot just a few yards from the beach but in the shade of some trees, then went into town to visit the Makah Museum.
In 1970, a group of longhouses washed out of the beach 15 miles south of here, resulting in an archaeological dig of many years. The houses had been buried in a landslide some 500 years ago. 55,000 artifacts and a number of longhouses were recovered during the excavations. The subsequent study of the artifacts have helped the modern Makah reconnect with their past and helped them in the present by proving through artifactual evidence that they had used nets prior to European contact. This enabled them to obtain permission to use nets in the present. The museum was built to house the artifacts and a reconstructed longhouse.
After the museum, we drove to the Flattery Point trailhead and hiked the trail to the furthest northwest point in the contiguous 48 states. It is a beautiful spot, with many large sea caves and turquoise waters. A gray whale surfaced here in one of the coves and was spotted by other hikers, but we didn’t see it. A nest of young seagulls was perched precariously on a cliff above the rocks. The view at the end of the trail is of Tatoosh Island and the lighthouse off the point. Note: our photos of Flattery Point have been lost–the following is an internet loaner.
Back at Hobuck Beach, we set up our camp and noticed several campers coming in for the weekend. A couple of surfers pulled in near the bus and began setting up tents. They asked if we minded and we said “No” seeing as how they were so polite and all. We began to worry that we were camped in party central. We had inadvertently parked at the main entry from the campground to the beach and there were more surfers and fishermen coming in as the evening wore on. The campground is a free-for-all. There are no designated sites – you just pick a spot and set up camp. Our nervousness was unfounded however, as everyone behaved as well as could be expected in such close quarters.
We built a campfire and attempted to cook hot dogs, but the wood was still wet and difficult to get going, so Lar pulled out the grill and toasted them well-done. A hot dog and a Corona seemed a good ending to the day. One of the surfers, Jarrod, came over and visited a bit, telling us about the surfing here being about the best you can get in this part of the country. He and his friends, Jason, Brad, and Jen, came from Seattle to surf. Jarrod encouraged us to consider hiking to Shi Shi Beach, further south, during our stay.
Next morning, after a pancake and two-coffee breakfast, we sat out in our camp chairs on the beach. It was a cool 65 degrees with heavy fog, which didn’t burn off until the afternoon. We took a walk on the beach at low tide. Our surfer neighbors went out to a less well-used cove and later reported seeing three gray whales that came within 30 yards of them. Another camper showed us a video of a gray whale surfacing at Flattery Point. After dinner, a nice pesto pasta cooked by Lar, we had coffee and sat out on the beach again for sundown.
We had only planned to stay a couple of nights, but this was such a spectacular spot, that we decided to stay another day and take the hike to Shi Shi Beach. After breakfast, the surfers were packing up to leave later in the day. We visited with them and Maggie asked if they would mind if she took pictures of their tattoos. She took pictures of Jarrod and Jason’s tattoos, but Brad allowed as how he didn’t have any and said “My mother still likes me.” If Jen had any, she was keeping them to herself, so we took pictures of the group and said our goodbyes.
We drove to the Shi Shi Beach trailhead. The hike was 2 miles out and 2 miles back, but we didn’t know about the surprise at the end. The first half seemed an easy, slightly up and down walk with occasional boardwalk and bridges. Not so the second half of the trail, which was mainly mud bog – large puddles surrounded by deep mud. There were occasional rough side trails that had been created to avoid the worst of the mud. Early on, our goal was to avoid the mud. Later, we tried to just avoid the deep mud. By the end of the trail, we just tried not to get mud above our ankles! As we got near the end of the trail, Mag realized that the beach was at the bottom of the cliff and a steep trail had to be negotiated. She wanted to opt out, but Lar persuaded her that after helping her partway down, she would have access to ropes the rest of the way. So down we went, using four ropes in all, and found a most beautiful and secluded beach at the bottom.
A few people had backpacked in and were camping on the beach. We got there at high tide and took a walk and photographed the beach. Lar found a rock that he thought Maggie would like for her rock collection. It was a cool rock—covered with smooth depressions on all sides—but it was a big rock. Against advice, Lar put it in his backpack and carried it back up and out the two miles back to the bus. We later discovered, while mailing it home in a flat-rate box, that it weighed 16 pounds and 6 ounces! We recovered by driving back into Neah Bay and having an early dinner at a restaurant.
Back in camp, a lot of weekend folks had left but there were still several there. Over the weekend, we had counted 13 Vanagons and 4 Eurovans in camp. This always amazes us as we only rarely see Vanagons in Oklahoma. We took showers, baked brownies in the camp oven and enjoyed them with coffee on the beach on our last night. We thoroughly enjoyed this mellow beach camp for three days and nights.
Reluctantly departing Neah Bay, we drove to Crescent Lake and found a camp site at Fairholme campground, part of Olympic National Park. We walked down to the lakeside store and rented a kayak to paddle around the west end of the lake. The lake is a pure and beautiful turquoise color, consisting mostly of glacier melt. Back in camp, we battled small biting flies and mosquitoes, did another veggie roast in the oven, and finished off the leftover brownies with some decaf. Life is good.
The next morning we drove to Sol Duc Hot Springs to soak in the mineral waters in the warm sun. We then treated ourselves to a lunch at Lake Crescent Lodge and drove around the north side of the lake to Log Cabin Resort. We needed to catch up on some rest after the few days of hiking and kayaking, so we improvised dinner and went off to bed early. We had just touched the surface of the Olympic Peninsula’s offerings, but it was time to head to “civilization”.
We left next morning and drove to Port Angeles, stopping for coffee and a bagel and to mail home “the rock”. We called Mag’s sis to tell her to expect a “rock-in-a-box”, did some grocery shopping and then drove on to Sequim (pronounced Squim) and continued on the road east. It was a beautiful drive along the Olympic Mountains with Mt. Baker in the distance, and later Mt. Rainier – both snow-capped. We are heading to Olalla…..
For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;
Happy trails … Maggie & Larry