Days 42 (September 7-9)
Port Angeles, Washington & Olympic National Park: Hurricane Ridge
Our next two nights will be spent at Heart O’ the Hills campground, at the base of Hurricane Ridge. With rain threatening to move in soon, we quickly set up camp and drive up to Hurricane Ridge. The scenery, including vistas of Mount Olympus, is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. There aren’t many places in the world where one can see both glacier-capped mountains and a salty sea with just a quarter turn of the head.
My eyes hurt from focusing..focusing so hard in an attempt to spot any mountain goats, a fruitless effort. The park system has begun their permanent and controversial removal of the goats, which are not native to this area and are damaging the ecosystem. Always a treat but almost daily sighting now, we do spy a herd of not-so-shy black-tailed deer (surrounded by iPhone-snapping tourists).
Clear skies afford views of the Northern Cascades, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, Canada & the British Columbia Coast Range.
After hiking all of the paved (but steep) trails, we take a spin around the visitor center. The probability of the skies opening up at anytime prevents us from driving the precarious 8-mile mountainside dirt road to Obstruction Point, yet we remind ourselves how fortunate we are to experience Hurricane Ridge on what what may be the last clear day before the rainy season begins.
The rain moves in just as we make it back down to the campground. Sitting in the tent never appeals to us during daylight hours, so we drive down to Port Angeles to walk around downtown and browse the shops.
Downtown Port Angeles’s busy waterfront is where one can catch the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. The downtown commercial district consists of several blocks of historic buildings with some interesting mid century hotels and restaurants thrown in for good measure.
We walk a great-looking residential neighborhood on the hill overlooking downtown and the waterfront.
Escaping the rain for a bit, we tuck into the aptly named First Street Haven for a late lunch. Everything here is made and baked on site, and the cafe highlights local ingredients. This is definitely one of the best meals of our trip!
Back at the campground we huddle in “the magic dry spot” for a while, eat a quick snack dinner, and tuck into the tent for our evening ritual of writing & reading.
On our second day in Heart O’ the Hills, we hike from our campground up to Lake Angeles via a trail of the same name, about a 7.5 miles hike round-trip, with a 2700 foot elevation gain.
Beyond the first very scenic mile, and until one nearly reaches the lake, the trail isn’t the prettiest in the park, but is interesting in that it travels through a large area that appears to have seen an avalanche in recent years. The hike is steadily steep but on a soft evergreen needles that are nice under the foot.
The fog rolls in and chills us (we are now around 4200 feet elevation), so we stay at the lake for a just short time before heading back down the mountain.
The rain begins again just as we reach the trailhead, but we’ve got another third of a mile hike to the Heart O’ the Hills campground and arrive back at camp soaked.
On Robert’s suggestion we make a second trip to Hurricane Ridge, and enjoy drying out with some Subaru heat while making our way back up into the clouds. A cup of good coffee and tasty bowl of chili from the Visitor Center Grille hit the spot, as does the hour of warm indoor time we spend eating and listening to a ranger’s geology talk. Visibility is nil up here, so we take no pictures of Hurricane Ridge today.
Rain keeps us in the tent for the majority of the evening, although we do have a break long enough to cook a yummy gnocchi dinner.
En route to Port Townsend the next morning, we pass a Squatch Merch (a gift shop) / The Hidden Bush (a marijuana dispensary). Only in Washington!