After Jane read an article in Sunset Magazine, she became increasingly intrigued with visiting Olympic National Park in the northwestern corner of Washington. In a conversation with our daughter, Amy, she discovered that Amy and her boyfriend, Joe, were independently planning a backpacking trip to Olympic National Park in August prior to Amy’s enrollment in the Pacific University physical therapy doctoral program. Our son, Dan, meanwhile had a two week window between finishing his summer internship in Minneapolis and returning to Duke for the second year of his MBA program. The planning all came together, and Jane and I found ourselves on a Frontier flight on Saturday morning August 9 to Seatac Airport in Washington.
The plan was for the five of us to meet in Tacoma for lunch. Jane and I would drive the rental car from the lunch spot to the northeast visitor center in Olympic National Park and transport Dan and his gear. Dan, Amy and Joe would then drive to the trailhead and begin their backpacking adventure while Jane and I continued to the west side of the park where we reserved a room at the Forks Motel in Forks, WA. Forks, WA I quickly learned was the setting for the Twilight series of books and movies. We would undertake daily tours of the Olympic National Park attractions on the west and central side of the park while the kids did their backpacking.
Once the threesome completed their backpacking loop, they would drive west and meet us in Forks for a couple days. Joe and Amy would then drive back to Portland, OR while Dan, Jane and I planned to return to Seatac and then fly back to Denver.
The actual visit pretty much followed the script, and Jane and I arrived in Forks, WA late on Saturday afternoon. We spent the rest of the day gathering information and food and getting situated in what would be our home base for the next week.
We were surprised to discover that the western part of the Olympic peninsula was in a bit of a drought with the rivers quite low and the trees and shrubs actually showing signs of changing color in early August. For our first adventure we elected to drive south to explore the Hoh Rainforest, and Sunday was no different from recent weather patterns with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. The Hoh Rainforest was a great place to spend a day in abnormally hot weather as the giant evergreens provided massive amounts of shade. Our first stop was a roadside pullout that featured a huge sitka spruce tree. We moved on to the ranger station where we did a quick .8 mile loop trail called the Hall of Moss. This was our initial exposure to a dense rainforest featuring club moss, huge trees, mushrooms and ferns.
After completing the Hall of Moss, we departed on a 5.8 mile out and back trek on the Hoh River Trail. Despite the warm temperatures, we enjoyed a great hike that gave us intermittent views of the aqua-colored Hoh River. We set a goal to reach Mt. Tom Creek before turning around, and we achieved our destination. We explored the Mt. Tom Creek campground a bit, and this provided a convenient path to the blue Hoh River where we dipped our hands in the ice cold flows. When we returned to the main trail, we found a large stump and ate our lunches.
When we returned to Forks, we decided to search out the Rivers Edge Restaurant in La Push, WA. We arrived early and elected to explore Beach One, but somehow missed the sign and ended up hiking a bit further to Beach Two. This was probably a fortuitous change in plans as Beach Two was quite nice; whereas, we later discovered that Beach One was right in town. Numerous campers had their tents set up on the fringe of the beach, and many hikers were arriving to view the summer sunset.
After our beach stroll we found the restaurant where we both ordered seafood entrees. The food was not as delicious as we expected, but it served to satisfy our appetites. We returned to Forks and made our plans for Monday in Olympic National Park. In one day we had already experienced the Pacific beach and a rainforest.