The Olympic Peninsula in a Weekend

In classic Martinson fashion we hit the road in pretty good time, only an hour and a half after our agreed upon departure time. We stopped at Port Angeles and had breakfast at New Day Eatery, mainly because they had an outdoor table and we’re dog conscious with Zoey here, but it was also a good meal.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day so we had a nice view of Mt. Baker looking North East across the Straight of Juan de Fuca.   This isn’t always the case, last time we were in Port Angeles we had no idea that it is visible from here, let alone how large it appears!

Sunset at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington.

Looking across the Straight of Juan de Fuca

So we made our way into Olympic National Park and towards Hurricane Ridge.  Being memorial day weekend, the crowd was thick and the traffic congested.  When we got to the gates the park ranger said, “the lot is full at the ridge so we’ve got to stop traffic for a while”.  Quickly he followed that up with, “do you have an Access pass?”, which we did, so he decided to waved us through.  Not only does the Access pass save money, but it saves time too! We highly recommend getting one if you visit National Parks more than 3 times a year.

Angelina sleeping in a chair at Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park, WA.

Somebody couldn’t keep their eyes open…

On our way up to Hurricane Ridge we spotted Heart of the Hills Campground and decided to check if there were any spots available.  It wasn’t where we intended to stay for the night, but we were nervous that all campgrounds would be full up so we decided to check it out.  Turns out it was a large campground, 105 spots to be exact, and they still had a few spots left so we changed our plans and pitched our tent here for the night.  We got set up for the night, explored the campground, and lounged around in the hammock before heading back to town to grab s’mores fixin’s and hot dogs for dinner…..Turns out we should have done that before coming up the mountain the first time.  In the few hours we were at camp, the line not only didn’t move, but it got a loooooot longer. On our way back in the line was huge and we were waiting for the better part of half an hour before a ranger let the campers jump ahead to get to their sites, otherwise we could have been stuck for an hour or two.  So we cut the line and were able to make our hobo meals…roasted wieners and a fire cooked can of beans.

Us on top of the Olympic National Park sign in Port Angeles, Washington.

This is how we take family photos

We didn’t make it nearly as far as we hoped today, but there is always a silver lining.  By staying at the base of Hurricane Ridge we were able to see the ridge in all its glory, at sunset.  The view was epic.  We could see the Olympic mountains in one direction and Victoria, BC across the Straight of Juan de Fuca in the other, all the while the sun is painting an intense gradient from rich orange to deep blue.  We’ve already decided we’re coming back to the ridge for stargazing this summer.

Angelina holding her leg above her head at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington.

On top of the Olympics

Greg & Marianne car camped in the Subaru with Zoey, and we camped in the tent. Greg left the hatch open on the Subaru so it would be easier for them to get in and out of the car.  Zoey tends to lean against whatever she can, a wall, your leg, whatever, when she lays down & she must have leaned against the hatch in the night.  She rolled right out of the Subaru and moseyed her way over to our tent. Luckily, Nick woke up and let her in.  She was nervous for a bit because she could hear, and because we didn’t have the rainfly on,  see everything, too. But she was really confused why she couldn’t get out of the mesh material. She eventually settled down, and slept soundly in the tent with us, so it was her first night car and tent camping all in one night!

Early the next morning we took a little walk around the campground to stretch our legs and let Zoey do her thing.  We made our way to a campground a couple loops away from ours and as we were passing by Nick heard the bathroom door so he glanced back, then did a double take, it was his cousin, Austin, from Iowa!  He also lives in Seattle now, but each time we meet up is through a totally random encounter that baffles all of us!

Random encounter with Nick's cousin in Olympic National Park, Washington.

Random encounters

We planned on driving all the way to the Hoh Rainforest, but once we saw the gem that is Crescent Lake we couldn’t pass it up.  We found a campsite and chilled there for the day.  Zoey swam for her first time & even jumped off the dock…after we showed her how to do it…and man was the water cold!  Greg & Marianne rented a canoe and we rented a kayak, so Zoey had another first by riding in the canoe.  We stayed close by & she decided to jump over into the kayak.  Greg & Marianne headed back after feeling awfully shaky in the canoe, and we followed them to the dock with Zoey on board.  When we arrived at the dock the Lady in CHARGE said we should go out for another spin on the kayak – so we did!  This time we went out a bit further and spotted an eagle in its nest!

Starry night at Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park, Washington.

Starry night at Crescent Lake

With Greg, Marianne, and Zoey back on land they decided to go get grub, while we did our last loop on the kayak. They were gone for what seemed like hours, and we began to get a bit nervous since we had no way of contacting them.  We noticed a lady chopping wood with a baby on her back.  With every swing of the axe the baby rocked forward…and then back, forward…and then back, so we couldn’t help but to stare.  She came over to our campsite and offered us some of her wood & even her ax to chop it ourselves.  She was a masseuse by trade & taught us some good techniques for massages.  We spoke to the volunteer rangers that were making their loop about our parents being gone for some time now, and they completely contradicted each other with every question we asked.  We were getting more confused talking with them so we decided to walk to a pay phone…we didn’t have any money because our wallets were in the car with Greg & Marianne…luckily they ran into us on our walk and explained their long absence.  The nearest spot to get some hot dogs, the Texaco, shut their doors as they walked up! So they drove all the way back to Port Angeles. We had Mountain House food and could have done without the extra miles for wieners, but it all worked out & no one starved.  Communication is key & making sure you have a way to communicate (granted, we didn’t have cell service) or a cutoff time before regrouping is key!

Angelina holding an elk antler up to her head in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, Washington.

An Angelina elk

The next day we finally made it to Hoh National Rainforest – but it didn’t look like a rainforest that day! It was bright and sunny, and almost appeared dry. Greg & Marianne did about a mile loop on the Hall of Mosses to get a small feel for what the Hoh offers, while we watched Zoey.  Dogs aren’t allowed on trails in National Parks, so we had to keep that in mind.  While we lounged in the grass we met some Iowa fellas & one was from Greg’s hometown, Sigourney, IA.

Dog at Ruby Beach on the Washington Coast in Olympic National Park.

She runs this beach

After the Hoh we headed over to the coast to a known dog-friendly beach, Ruby Beach! We collected smooth flat rocks to paint, and climbed over tons and tons of driftwood.  Unfortunately, we missed low tide so we didn’t see any sea life, but we did spot some bald eagles and oyster eaters.  In our limited experience in the area, the Washington beaches are nothing like you would find central/southern California, or other locations with pristine beaches.  The water is ice cold, massive pieces of drift wood litter the beaches, and large sea stacks rise out the water.  But that’s the beauty of traveling to new locations, you get to see and experience something new, and hopefully, something completely unexpected that you had no preconceptions about going in.

Overall we were a half mile shy of 600 miles on this road trip and we covered subalpine, rainforest, and ocean environments.  There aren’t many places on this blue marble we call Earth that offer that spectrum in such as small area, along with other amazing attributes.  We have a LOT of exploring left to do in the Olympics, so if you have a recommendation, let us know!

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4 Responses

  1. Great post. I hope I can make it to Olympic National Park one day. It looks beautiful. Someone is pretty talented with the camera. My newspaper job has left me a little rusty for the artistic stuff. I need to work on that so my blog posts are a little more graphically intense like yours. That night shot is to die for.

    Camping can take a while to get used to if you don’t do it frequently. When my head hits the pillow I am out but my girlfriend and frequent camping partner doesn’t deal with strange places and noises the same way. The first night is always the hardest for her.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Tobias! Photography is a passion of mine so I’ve been trying to build up that skill for a while. I just checked out your blog and it looks awesome, I really like the design. And I highly encourage you to make it out to the Olympics sometime, it’s an amazing area with a lot of different environments to explore. I’m from Iowa, so pretty near to where you are, so it’s incredible to see the landscape out here in the west.

      It’s been a while since my first time camping, but I went solo camping for the first time a year ago and I felt that way exactly haha I thought every little noise outside was an animal rubbing against the tent, or the wind blowing was a something wandering around in the grass. But when I looked outside there was nothing, so it was all in my head haha.

  2. For sure go to Sol Duc falls, Marymere falls and Staircase. Remember to make a stop at the Dungeness Spit on the way back home – a little bit of a drive, but worth it.

    • We’ve seen pictures of Sol Duc Falls and it looks amazing, it’s on our list of places to go. We’ve never heard of Dungeness Spit, but it looks like a unique place to check out, thanks for the suggestion!

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