Forks, WA was our chosen base camp for the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. We found space at the Forks 101 RV Park, right in the middle of town along Hwy. 101. The RV park was a grass field with FHU’s, pretty primitive showers/bathrooms, and basically no amenities/activities located on site. It is overpriced as well, $50/night being their base rate, but at least they give a 10% discount to first responder retirees. It is centrally located to many of the features of the Olympic National Park. At Olympic National Park be prepared to do a lot of driving, similar to Yellowstone and Glacier N.P.’s. There are no interior roads to drive around inside the park, only spur roads off of Hwy. 101, which encircles the park.
Outing number one took us to La Push and Rialto Beach. I’ll tell you right now, don’t waste any time driving into La Push. It is a very typical Indian Reservation town, run down, nothing there, waste of time. We even tried to stop off at the one restaurant in “town” for a seaside beer, but were told they had a rule if we were going to order beer, we also had to order food. Good bye, La Push. It did not even merit (1) photograph…We quickly headed for the other side of the river to Rialto Beach, but Mother Nature slammed us again. To walk the 2 mile hike down the beach to see the Hole in the Wall rock feature, it really needs to be anything but near high tide, which it just so happened it was at the time we were there, sooooooooo, no Hole in the Wall. We would have to save that for another day.
We headed out early one morning to hit the Hoh Rainforest along the Hoh River. There are 3 trails out of the visitor’s center there. Since Woodrow Wilson is not allowed on park trails, he had to stay home. The Hoh River Trail was automatically out for us, it is over 17 miles one-way and I don’t think the little Chihuahua-mix has a sufficient sized bladder for us to be gone that long. But we did take the other two trails, the Hall of Mosses Trail (0.8 mile loop) and the Spruce Trail (1.25 mile loop). The Hall of Mosses was eerily spectacular with some massive trees covered in moss, I don’t know if it is considered Spanish Moss, but very similar in nature. We also noted the chrystal clear nature of both the Hoh River water as well as the springs within the rainforest.
A quick lunch break and we picked up Woody and headed south to Lake Quinault. There is a 31 mile loop road encircling the lake, through more rainforest, with a couple of waterfalls along the way. The North Shore Rd. was part paved, part gravel, lots of thick trees, but not a lot of other views besides trees. Once we began the trip back on South Shore Rd. we quickly found Bunch Falls and Merryman Falls, both small but still scenic (c’mon, face it, waterfalls are pleasing to the eye in just about any form or size). On the way back home we stopped off to walk the beach at Ruby Beach. I guess the name derives from the appearance of the rocks/sand at some certain time of day and year, but at this time, that appearance was not to be. Still, the coastline at Ruby Beach has some stand-out rock formations and, like most areas around here, would be a driftwood hunter’s dream location. Mother Nature still laughing at us, the tide was up, taking away our opportunity to check out any tidal pools that are allegedly here at this location.
Getting another early start, this time on a blue-sky-sunny day, we drove out to Sol Duc Falls and hit the short 0.8 mile (one-way) trail to see the waterfalls. Before we got to the trailhead we came upon an area of the Sol Duc River called Salmon Cascades. These were beautiful cascades into some of the clearest pools of water we’ve seen. A few pix for posterity and we continued on to the trailhead for the falls. The hike was easy on a well maintained trail, through more rainforest and moss covered trees. Sol Duc Falls did not disappoint in the scenery department. Now, for those of you daredevil hikers out there, there are many other trails that are accessed off of this one as you hike past the falls, traversing many many many miles of rainforest terrain. These would be the type of trails used by back-country, overnighting back packers who are required to purchase permits for said types of hikes. We are not that level of hikers…yet.
Since the weather gods were smiling on us we chose to head back to see Cape Flattery again, this time without the shroud of clouds. We got there with fairly blue skies and were treated to unobstructed views of that area that were in stark contrast to how we saw them less than a week ago in a heavy drizzle, clouds, marine layer, fog, you name the marine obstruction and we had it! Wow wow wow! Very nice! I even got to get a good look at what I previously described as “ghost island” from our first low-visibility visit to the Cape. Turns out it even has a lighthouse on it and Jeanne later discovered the island to be Tatoosh Island, a sacred island of the local Makah tribe of Indians. We topped the day off with “linner” at the By the Bay Cafe in downtown Sekiu, looking out onto the marina area and watching some of the locals cleaning their catch of the day.
Since the weather gods were feeling generous with us, we made another return trip to Rialto Beach but this time paying attention to the ocean tide tables. With tides low enough, we hiked down the beach to the Hole in the Wall. The sun did not want to come out to play, but the marine layer/fog stayed away as well, with just overcast skies and visibility good. The area of the Hole in the Wall is jam packed full of tidal pools at low tide and we got treated to some very colorful sea anemone(s), starfish, and even some well camoflaged fish swimming among them. The Hole in the Wall is just that – a large hole in the rock wall. You can walk through it and as you do, there are many little tidal pools in the tunnel with sea anemone(s) glowing in their brightness. All in all, we definitely got our money’s worth in the scenery department.
Our last day in the area was, surprise surprise, another crappy weather day, so we just hung out and prepped for travel day. That about wraps up our stay here at Olympic National Park. Until next post…