Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hiking Olympic National Park with UnCruise

A Taste of Alaska in Washington's Olympic National Park

View from Hurricane Ridge
Inside the forest at Lake Crescent
Port Angeles describes itself as the gateway to Olympic National Park. This is where we dock the Safari Quest on the last day of our Pacific Northwest trips here in Washington. Scenic, 5000+ ft Hurricane Ridge is a 45 minute drive, and the glacially carved Lake Crescent is only 30 minutes away, giving us two great options to choose from.

  I have been taking my groups to Hurricane Ridge, to explore the totally different environment that one can find at 5000+ft . Mountain firs and hemlocks abound, grey jays jabber from the limbs, and Mt Olympus pokes up from behind the remaining glaciers deep within the park’s 1,000,000 acres.  During the spring trips we encountered 10ft snowbanks… I’ll be sure to bring snowshoes next Spring. During the fall we found that we could escape the heat from below and exchange it for nice crisp mountain air above.

Walking the ridge, 5000+ ft
 However, this week the rain and snow had settled in high in the mountains and on Hurricane Ridge, so I decided to switch things up and take the group south and east from Port Angeles to Lake Crescent.  I expected the lake to be clear and beautiful, as it was carved out by a glacier and has an unusually low nitrogen content making it difficult for phytoplankton to grow and murk up the water. What I didn’t expect was to be blown away by the forest on the trails around the lake. 

  We hiked the moderately easy 1.5 mile trail to Marymere Falls, and almost instantly I was transported to an ancient old growth forest of Alaska. The trees were impossibly strait and tall. We reached a douglass fir that took five people with outstretched arms to wrap around. Then we reached a bigger one. Then there was a seven person western red cedar. The big leaf maples were in full fall colors, reflecting off the river below the falls. My photographers in the group just couldn’t get enough. I’m surprised I was able to get them back to the bus at all. 

  We finished the visit with some free time around the Lake Crescent Lodge. Some folks sat by the fire, while others walked the pebbly beach lakeside, while a few others dug into the legends and history of the area, even finding out the storied history of the phone booth at the Lake Crescent Lodge.

  We just get to break the surface of what Olympic National Park has to offer… and after today everyone wants to come back for more.