WA and Olympic Peninsula, May 2011 – Part the Second, a Photographic Interlude

Not so much going on of late – we put in a raised bed and I put out my seedlings. Good times, but not quite as exciting as being in Washington on the Olympic Peninsula 🙂 So…where were we? After our first couple of days and having dinner in Forks, well…we set off to the next part of our trip. More beaches and more trees – yay! (This post is rather photo heavier than normal – just too many for me to pick from, too many I loved. Apologies!)

I think perhaps my favorite photo from the whole trip.

The next morning we got up, packed up, and set on south (stopping for drive through coffee in Forks…I do love WA!). We stopped briefly at a Visitor’s center to get a bit more info, some stamps, and some other little stuff, then continued on to Kalaloch. We pulled over right at the beginning, at the Ruby Beach area : http://g.co/maps/ynznt When we got into the parking lot, I was amused to note that there was a Border Control vehicle in the lot. Then I went to the bathroom, and came back after a couple of minutes to determine that Dave had had a gun pulled on him by a man in the minivan parked next to us! Dave said he had noted the minivan’s tailgate open, didn’t see anyone around, and was worried about the lights on running down the battery, maybe stranding a family, and closed the tailgate, at which point he woke up the man napping in the front seat. This was all a little awkward, so we headed down to the beach.

Just sharing because I always love these signs.

Wouldn’t want anyone to be smuggling in from Canada.

When we got down to the beach, we found that our forward progress was being impeded by a fairly large slough. We pulled over some logs to try and make a sort of bridge, which was kind of failure-prone, but we did eventually get over. As we were working on this, we noted the border control agent heading back across, and made our greetings, and then continued a bit down along the beach. The day was really clearing up beautifully.

We walked along, and found some creepy moving seafoam scum, and more tidepools (which were pretty rad, though our “impressed” bars had been set far higher by the tidepools the day before. We eventually got to an area with some nice big rocks with waves crashing all around, clambered on up, and then rested there for a little while. On the way back, we tried even harder to build some bridges across the slough, but mostly miserably failed, though we all did make it across eventually. Alex showed some more raw strength by carrying logs, and even Dave got into that act a bit 🙂

Alex, carrying heavy objects

Coastal island

Our first effort at a bridge. First failed effort? Same either way.

Anyway, then we got back up to the parking lot, where we were greeted by the Border Patrol agent and the gentleman who had threatened Dave with the gun. He claimed that Dave had broken his tailgate – it would no longer automatically open, and he said Dave must have done something to it. This was pretty roundly disputed, and Dave clearly repeated that he was only worried about people’s battery running down (“soccer mom” came up a few times) and eventually we were asked to wait, since the agent had called over to the NPS who were sending over a ranger. What followed was a bit of an unpleasant little bit of time, the ranger quizzed everyone, they tried to get all of our ID, I refused to show mine, later got called a smart-ass, were lectured not to touch other people’s cars (fair enough, but really, dude), and the ranger also seemed really interested in why the man had a gun in the park… Anyway, the whole thing left a fairly poor taste in my mouth, but eventually we got back on our way.

We then drove up the road a bit to Big Cedar, which is, as you might expect, a large cedar tree. The original tree is actually dead, but there is a remaining absolutely enormous stump which is largely hollowed out making for great photo opportunities. It is only a couple minutes walk from the car, so a quick jaunt over. There are lots of other trees and plantlife growing from this, making it a truly lovely (as well as pleasantly scented) area. Alex did a traverse of the tree several feet of the ground, and impressed us with many pullups on an overhanging root. The inside of the tree was also awesome, since there were various holes in the trunk, providing several places where light beams pierced the interior in an excellent fashion.

Group photo…and a biiiiig tree

Shooting up the interior of the tree. Alex above me; lightbeam above us both

We then continued on to Beach 4 in the Kalaloch area. There is a fairly steep walk down to the beach from the parking area, but when you do get down, you cross over an absolutely gorgeous driftwood bridge to the beach itself. The bridge crosses over many excellent rocks that have holes in them from clams. We then wandered a bit along the shore, looking at more tidepools, crashing waves, spectacular shoreline, rocks, surf, and just generally basking in the absolute glory around us. We then headed back up the parking lot, and had lunch on a table that seemed to be set rather high off the ground!

annabarr: Olympic National Park - May 2011 &emdash; bridge

annabarr: Olympic National Park - May 2011 &emdash; clam-holes

annabarr: Olympic National Park - May 2011 &emdash; closeup

annabarr: Olympic National Park - May 2011 &emdash; lift-that
Really lifting it? …I’ll never tell.

annabarr: Olympic National Park - May 2011 &emdash; kids-table
This table was TOO TALL

Continuing on our way, I think we *then* actually stopped at the ranger station, but that’s neither here nor there. We continued on to Lake Quinault, and headed on to the road that runs along the north side of the lake. We stopped in to see the Quinault Big Cedar which is, as you may guess, another very large cedar tree. This involved…many stairs, wonderful cedar scents, wondering if we would ever get there, trudging through a lot of rain, and finally seeing, well…quite a large tree. We tried to get our camping permit at the NPS ranger station on the north road, but signs posted there send us back to the south road, where we would go to the multi-purpose both FS and NPS ranger station to pick up our backpacking permit. So we looped back around, and headed that way.

Downed cedar wood in the rainforest. It smelled *amazing*

After a brief stop in town, we continued along the road until we hit the Graves Creek campground. This is almost 19 miles along the road, just 0.2 miles before the end of the road, and first the road is real macadam, but then shortly drops off into being “improved”. Improved in a rain forest is about as muddy and rutted as I would expect a non-improved road to be, and I have to admit, I wasn’t super comfortable driving along it, but needs must. My white rental Camry definitely had some mud streaks to show for it though!

So green. So very very very green.

Though the springy moss bed made for some nice padding

When we finally did arrive at the campground though, we found a lovely, green, mossy place set under the trees, with no one else there at all, other than the campground host. It was…pretty unbelievably green, and we pitched our tents on the mossy, springy ground, creating one of the softest campsites I’ve ever been in. It was, however, also damp and drizzly, so making a fire was a rather smoky affair. I took a little walk around the campsite with Beth, and we checked out the river, saw a few pieces of unfortunate trash, and the stump of a tree that was just…hanging…on. Anyway, the campground host came around a bit, and we talked with him, but then mostly just went to bed in the evening.

White car; dirty road

And as we say farewell, a tree that may already have said farewell…

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