Olympic National Park Fun Stuff© Part 2

Continuing on our grand tour of Olympic NP…we headed off Wednesday morning for a trip back over to Crescent Lake then had plans for a hike to Marymere Falls then a second one at Sol Duc Falls…but it turns out that we also passed Salmon Cascades…bonus waterfall!

We got stopped again at the road construction right off of Crescent Lake…they’re doing a rebuild of the road right next to a bluff that obviously collapsed before. There’s a bunch of equipment removing more of the bluff and then they’re going to put up some retaining barriers to keep little ones from falling onto the road and cars. If there’s another major rockfall the barriers won’t help but smaller stuff should get caught by them. There’s only a single lane open by the construction site so they’re stopping traffic for 20 minutes while they work…then pausing work for 10-15 minutes so the backed up traffic can clear and then they get back to work.

We arrived at the Storm King Ranger Station on Crescent Lake and got parked then headed off towards the trailhead for the Marymere Falls Trail…on the way we stopped for a few shots of Crescent Lake. You can see the dust from the construction zone on the right side of these photos…in the third closer view the road is at the bottom of that bare area where obviously the ridge slid down. 

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Marymere Falls is reached by a 2.1 mile round trip out and back trail with a rise of about 180 feet over the outbound leg…with almost all of the rise in the last 250 or so yards…you’re climbing stair steps set into the ridge by that time. There’s a slight dip from the parking lot down to the lakeside then it’s pretty flat for the first 0.9 miles then the fun part begins. Luckily it’s downhill on the way back. The falls are located on Falls Creek and drop 90 feet from a notch on top of the ridge.

A couple of shots taken of Falls Creek just north (downstream) from the falls…right before the climb begins. You can see the bridge across the creek in the second photo, one across the bridge you turn right and head out of frame to the right side and then up.

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Once you’re to the top of the ridge looking across to the falls…there is both an upper and lower platform to view them…naturally we stopped at both.

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While Neil was getting the bracketed slow shutter speed shots…that’s what gives you the really smooth water in the processed shots, Connie took a few closeup shots of various areas of the falls.

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We headed back down towards the parking lot…Neil grabbed a shot of Connie heading across one of the small bridges you need to cross…she turned around halfway across so he could get this shot.

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When we got back to the parking lot…we sat at one of the picnic tables there and had leftover Mexican Chicken sandwiches…they were outstanding. This Steller’s Jay was sitting in the tree above our table…Neil also got a shot of it from the rear showing off it’s brilliant Royal Blue plumage…even though you’re “supposed” to always show the bird from the front. Beautiful bird.

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This squirrel was running around hunting for food…Neil pretended to drop a Dorito on the ground next to our table and he came right over for this close up portrait. Four steps later he was on his lap…but he was quickly evicted.

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We then headed off for Sol Duc Falls…or maybe it’s Soleduck Falls…or maybe it’s Sole Duck…or Sole Duc…we found all of those spellings in various spots as we were doing research…Ima sticking with Sol Duc as that’s what the Park Service calls it.

Sol Duc Falls is another 15 miles west of Crescent Lake then south a dozen or so miles into the park. We figured that the “off the beaten path” part would keep the riffraff down and result in fewer folks on the trail…but it turned out we were in error. After entering the park we…well, Connie actually…spotted the Salmon Cascades and said we needed to stop there. Back in the day…there was a considerable salmon run on the Sol Duc river and this was the chief obstacle to them getting upstream. We weren’t sure whether it was worth stopping for a look…but as it turned out it was a great idea as we got a bonus waterfall and some great photos.

It’s only 10 or 11 feet from the top flat water section down through the two cascades the lower pool but obviously was quite a challenge for the salmon. Really gorgeous photos though…Neil had to hike a 70 yards or so to get down to the riverside to get these while Connie waited up on the viewpoint at the top…it’s just about even with the cascade and is out of the frame to the upper left maybe 20 feet…but it wasn’t such a great photo from there as you’re looking almost straight down onto the cascade and while that is a beautiful view it makes a lousy photo.

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We continued up past the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort to the falls trailhead and on arrival at the parking lot…we found zero, count ‘em zero…parking spaces open. So…we did what seemed right…sat at the entrance and waited on somebody to leave. We spotted a few people walking towards their cars and also another visitor coming in behind us on the road…so we moved up and waited on one to leave then got parked and set up for our second hike.

Sol Duc Falls is another 2.1 mile out and back hike…but unfortunately it’s not one of those convenient up on the way out trails. You drop down 40 or so feet from the parking lot to the edge of the river then it’s up and over a ridge and down a bit to the falls overlook. Total elevation change is only 120 feet or so but almost all of the up is over less than a quarter mile as you head up and over the ridge.

The hike itself was actually not too crowded…it turns out that there are a couple of backcountry trails that continue on past the falls so most of the cars at the parking lot most likely belonged to backcountry backpackers. 

Sol Duc Falls is only a 48 foot drop…but it’s a sideways drop into a narrow canyon with up to 4 drops depending on water flow conditions. Although relatively short in height…it’s got a whole bunch of character and actually looks completely different depending on which angle you’re looking at.

As per usual…Neil got the tripod mounted slow shutter speed shots while Connie got various closeups. Rather than divide them into his and hers like at Marymere…they’re just mixed together. If you really want to tell them apart…the key is looking at the water. The first few is one of hers…you can see some definition and detail in the water flows. 

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First shot of Neil’s…again look at the water and you can see it’s all smoothed out into a more flowing appearance. I’ll leave the rest of figuring out the his and hers as an exercise for the reader.

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Some really tall trees…these have to be at least 200 feet tall.

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Looking from one of the upper viewpoints, downstream in the canyon is to the left and top. Nice to be able to see underneath this drop in the falls…

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We spent a half hour or so at the falls…after getting the photos we stopped for afternoon snack and then headed back down the trail to the parking lot. We headed home…got luckily and never had to stop at the construction area on US-101…just as we pulled up into the line it magically started moving and we got straight on through. Stopped for diesel…91 gallons at $2.76 each…and at Safeway for some French bread to have with our lasagna for dinner.

Thursday morning we headed off for our next adventure…and I say that advisedly as will be explained in a bit…which was a drive up to Hurricane Ridge. We headed back east a bit and past the park HQ and main visitor center that we visited the other day then continued up Hurricane Ridge Road towards the visitor center. It’s named Hurricane Ridge because of the high winds it experiences…it’s up to an elevation of just about 5,200 feet according to the Altimeter app on Neil’s iPhone and at the visitor center you’re within about 16.5 miles of Mount Olympus which the park is named after. It’s a pretty decent drive…18 miles from the park entrance to the visitor center and you’re about 9.5 miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the visitor center. There’s not much at the top except for the visitor center…we watched the movie (it was way better than the movie at the main visitor center down in town) and spent $240 on stuff. We’ve been getting t-shirts, a ball cap for Neil and park coffee cups at each of the national parks we’ve visited this summer…and also got a nice pair of earrings that Connie liked as well as stuff for Alex.

Park main entrance…although this is pretty much a misnomer as the park has a dozen or more “entrances”. Hurricane Ridge is the most popular place in the park as it’s the easiest to get to…but the vast majority of the park is not only undeveloped but actually not accessible unless you hike in. The park is about 65 miles in size both N/S and E/W…and of the dozen or more entrance stations scattered around the park but mostly on the north and northwest sides…few of them have roads of any kind more than 7 or 8 miles into the park…after that it’s just wilderness and back country trails…probably 875,000 of it’s 922,000 acres is only accessible on foot. It’s really one of the most undeveloped national parks we’ve been.

In fact…Connie thinks it’s her favorite national park taking over the title from Acadia NP in Maine…because of the breadth of things to see here. Mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, rain forest, rugged coastline…you can easily find all of these in the park. 

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Mount Olympus…second shot from Connie’s camera at a slightly different angle. Not very impressive…is it. We tried hard…but could not pick out Zeus on his throne despite our best efforts.

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Connie’s shot…still not very impressive…but then it’s only 9,573 feet high…and really doesn’t stick up any more than the other peaks in the Olympic Range. Connie says its got glaciers on it, so its impressive, by definition.

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Pano shot looking basically south from the visitor center…about 160 degrees of angle in total with Mount Olympus about 4/5 of the way from the left.

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Another shot Connie took…she tends to get more of the closeup views of various things than Neil does but their respective points of view give us a lot of interesting photos. Neil didn’t even see the possibility for this shot with the tree covered ridge in the foreground fading back into the more distant peaks of the Olympics.

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After that…Connie had scheduled us for what we call “the adventure portion of the tour”…a drive out to Obstruction Point about 8 miles east from the visitor center…you turn onto a dirt/gravel road just as you exit the visitor center parking lot…and well…it immediately got a little more adventurous than anticipated. Sure…we had Big Red and he’s got 4WD and all that…and we’re used to going onto gravel or dirt roads in the pursuit of Fun Stuff©…but Obstruction point road was about a 9.5 on the scale of “we should not go on this road”. Usually “the adventure portion of the tour” means we’re on the unpaved road…and we normally like adventure a lot…but we prefer not to fall off of the cliff too.

We only made it out about 2/3 of the way to Obstruction Point…mostly because the first place we could really turn around was that far out. By the time we got a mile into the drive we were ready to go back. The road’s right on the side of the cliff…no guard rails and a drop of 1,500 feet or more on the edge of the road. It wasn’t straight down but definitely too steep to walk up…probably about a 50 or 60 degree slope most of the way down. The road itself…well, it was gravel but it wasn’t even a good gravel road and in most places it would not have been possible for two small cars to pass in opposite directions, much less Big Red. We only passed 4 or 5 folks on the way out and back but in each case it was a matter of looking and figuring out which vehicle had a slightly wider piece of road and getting as far over as possible so the other one could go by…we usually stopped and let them pass us. Best of all…at least from Connie’s point of view…was that for most of the drive out she was on the outside looking over at the drop-off…she could not see the edge of the road from the passenger seat at all.

We did get a few photos on the way out and about 2/3 of the way there there was a big enough pullout that we could turn around and Connie announced that she had had all the fun she could stand…so we got out, grabbed a few photos, and headed back.

Fireweed…same stuff as we saw up in Alaska but not the large fields of it we saw there…but then it’s earlier in the season and some of it hasn’t bloomed yet.

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More interesting wildflowers…or maybe weeds for all I know…after all Ima a bear, not a horticulturist…they’re purdy anyway.

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Looking northward from our turn around point towards the straits…you can almost see Canuckistan in the far distance if you try hard enough.

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Here’s a few shots we took out of Big Red’s windshield on the way back to the paved road…I left them unedited with Big Red in the shot for scale…definitely not a place we really preferred to be.

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My favorite…this is within about 50 yards of the parking lot on the way back…it’s just around the bend after you make the hairpin turn on the edge of the 1,500 foot ledge. There were several places on the adventure where we were on a 12 or 14 degree slope on a single lane road about 4 fee wider than Big Red is with a drop-off of that much or more…Connie was definitely not shipping over for this.

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Friday…scheduled to be another pretty long day…we were headed out to Cape Flattery which is the farthest northwestern point in the lower 48…and as far as we can get from Fort Myers while remaining in the lower 48. It’s at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula on the southern side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It’s only about 70 miles from Elwha Dam RV Park…but it’s a 2 hour drive since we had to go out WA-112 which is a twisty curvy road right along the edge of the strait. We were right on the water side sometimes then as much as 3 or 4 miles inland as the road wound up, over, or around the various ridges we needed to traverse. The cape itself is out on the Makah Indian Reservation…so we had to pay the usual $10 Baksheesh to the Indians before we could park on their land. On the way out…we got into some fog whenever we were down near the strait but luckily by the time we got out to the cape about 1115 or so it had cleared up. On the way we passed…the Makah Marina…and that damn song popped into our heads.

After arrival…we set out on our 1.6 mile round trip hike out to the Cape…about 200 feet down and then 200 feet back up to the parking lot…we really prefer the typical waterfall hike profile better as they’re usually up on the way out and downhill back to the parking lot. It was a nice walk through the woods and the Indians had built nice log board walks over most of the tricky parts…and a lot of steps over the last bit to the observation platform over the water. There isn’t any beach here in this part of the peninsula…just about a 100 foot bluff down to a bit of barely dry at low tide and invisible at high tide rocky gravel.

Couple of shots of a a cool looking tree on the hike down to the cape.

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Looking southwest along the coastline at Kessio Rocks…once again we were struck by how similar this is to the coast of Vancouver Island where the series Alone is filmed…an awful lot of the Pacific Northwest we’ve been in looks eerily similar to that location.

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Juvenile Bald Eagle…we probably saw a dozen or more of these but only 2 or 3 mature ones. Two of the juveniles kept flying up and perching near an eagle nest we could see but it wasn’t close enough to get a decent photo…clearly they are this year’s eaglets that have fledged but not left the nest and their parents yet.

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A bunch of Murre perched on the rocks.

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And closer view of the Murre.

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Testing his wings…or maybe just fluffing up…or something.

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Murre flying away…the only ones we saw airborne were from the rocks below us and not a very good view…but you take what you can get sometimes.

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This is known as the “Hole in the Wall”.

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The lighthouse on Tatoosh Island about half a mile offshore…it marks the entrance to the Strait. We didn’t notice the eagle until after we looked at the pictures later.

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Rock right off the northern end of Tatoosh Island.

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California Sea Lions on another rock just north of the island.

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Another of the juvenile Bald Eagles.

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Canuckistan across the Strait…about 15 miles away.

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A couple of shots across Neah Bay on the drive back…nice rocks offshore and the coastline of BC in the background.

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Ok, on to interesting stuff from the net.

ESPN takes on the Confederacy…according to http://outkickthecoverage.com and as confirmed by an official ESPN press release…after the recent flop and twitch/twitterverse meltdown/liberal outage over Confederate monuments…ESPN actually pulled a scheduled announcer from the college football telecast of William and Mary vs the University of Virginia. The stated reason for the change…ESPN was afraid that somebody would be offended by his name. The announcer…an Asian man named Robert Lee…who is not the famous general with middle initial of E (or even Antonio Banderas if you’ve seen the recent Heineken commercials)…but rather just plain old Robert Lee…an Asian man…still alive…who did not fight in the Civil War.

Quick…alert the media so the talking heads can demand that everyone with the name of Robert Lee (with or without the E)…should be forced to change their name to something else.

Incredible…is there anything more stupid but wanting to be politically correct than ESPN thinking that an Asian guy named Robert Lee calling a football game would offend anybody?

Mr. Lee’s photo…our sympathies are with Mr. Lee for working for such an idiotic, politically correct company. Obviously this was taken before he was informed of this insane decision.

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Morons I tellya…morons.

Spotted this at the pit toilet at Sol Duc Falls on Wednesday.

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So that’s why it’s wet.

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Who knew???

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Be a good parent…so many aren’t these days.

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And now it’s clear.

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Cyas.

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About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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One Response to Olympic National Park Fun Stuff© Part 2

  1. Mj Trainor says:

    Holy crap! It’ll take Mims x3 days to digest/interpret all that @FunStuff! Come kidnap me! BabySis

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