Breakfast was rolled oats and freshly squeezed orange juice (prepared by Bryce). The setting was exquisite! A small, pretty tea room that was used for clients of the spa/massage centre. Vivian, Bryce and I sat and talked for a while, getting to know each other. Bryce told me that it would cost me $45 to get a ride to the Hoh River rain forest and back. I wanted a bit more flexibility than that so I decided to rent a car.
I walked down the road to Green's Rent-a-car and hired a "Tercel" for $28 + tax + insurance + excess mileage. I called back to the hostel to collect a few things and asked Vivian if she wanted to accompany me. She was very hesitant but said she would. She was probably hesitating about accepting the offer of a ride in the country from a male foreigner whom she didn't know a thing about (she was quite correct of course).
I enjoyed Vivian's company. It was a long drive (90+ miles) to the Hoh River. This was my first time driving on the right side of the road. It took a lot of concentration! We drove through some magnificent forests, especially around Crescent Lake. It was an overcast day with mist and light rain. I kept stopping to relax my brain and take in the scenery.
We stopped for a coffee and to buy some lunch at Forks - a dying timber town on the western fringe of the park. It was a little further to the Hoh River walk trail and on the way into the park, we had a stroke of luck. Off to the side of the road, right near the river, were two magnificent elks. There were quite tame and I was able to take some good photos.
What a great start! It was almost matched by the splendid, moss covered forest we were driving through. I was feeling exhilarated.
We arrived at the Trail Headquarters at 12:30pm. There were a number a trails but we decided to walk part-way along the main Hoh River Trail which is about 18 miles long and ends up at Mount Olympus.
Well! My mind was blown away! The rain forest - huge trees (mainly Spruce) and moss covering just about everything - was beyond belief. It was dark and imposing and almost silent. All we could here were our footsteps, water trickling in streams, and occasionally water flowing in the Hoh River. This was an extraordinary experience. I took lots of photos but hardly any of them turned out due to the light (and my inexperience).
We walked about 3 miles passing this small, but beautiful waterfall. I bit further on we stopped and sat on the river's edge and ate our lunch. While Vivian waited, I walked on about another mile and a half, hoping to get a glimpse of Mount Olympus.
I passed through some even more impressive forest and ended up in a grove of truly majestic Spruce trees. The ground was carpeted by fallen leaves, ferns and moss about a foot thick. I was all alone in this "Eden" and I felt privileged to be experiencing the solitude in such a beautiful place.
After resting for a short time (too short) I turned to walk back. I had lost track of time and it was getting quite late. I ended up running for a good part of the way back to our lunch spot. By this time it had started to rain. Our walk back was a treat. We were walking into the sun and the different light and glistening water that covered everything meant that it was like we walking in a different forest. Again we were lucky! Rain in a rain forest!
We arrived back at the car at 5:30pm exhausted! We had a 90 mile drive back to Port Angeles!
Our luck kept with us! The drive back was also magnificent. The sun was now shining and it was behind us as we drove east towards Port Angeles. The colours were gorgeous. Lake Sutherland was particularly beautiful in the early evening. Another highlight as we approached Port Angeles was a splendid view of Mount Baker way off in the Cascades - the setting sun had caught the top of the snow capped mountain and it was glowing pink ("alpine glow")
When we arrive back at the hostel, another three people had arrived. They were young Germans. We all sat around and had a beer or three which was really nice. I went down to town and grabbed a rather ordinary Chinese meal before hitting the sack.
This had been a memorable day!Top
My first plan for the day was to drive up to Hurricane Ridge for an hour or two and then catch the 1pm bus to Seattle. I changed my mind after talking to Vivian who suggested I stay at least another day. She was leaving to return to Seattle, as were the Germans.
I drove up to Hurricane Ridge. According to tourist information, "Hurricane Ridge at 5,200 feet above sea level, is one of Olympic National Park's most scenic areas, offering a panoramic view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the alpine meadows and glacier-clad peaks of the Olympic Mountains."
The scenery was breathtaking. The drive up was magnificent but the views from the top were awesome - the mountains the glaciers, the sub-alpine meadows, the forests of Jackson Fir. I walked up to Hurricane Hill and sat in wonder at what surrounded me. To the south Mount Olympus, to the north the Juan de Fuca Strait and Vancouver Island (I could even see Victoria), to the north-east Mount Baker (again!). The meadows, the trees, the snow - all magnificent. It was a clear day but occasionally cloud would close in. Bryce later told me that today was the clearest it had been for a month!
On the move again!
I had to wake early to catch the bus at 7am to Seattle. I slept for the first half hour or so but forced my self to stay awake for the rest of the journey. It was quite a scenic trip driving through farming country and forests. The mountains were in view for quite a while before the clouds moved in and it started to rain. We passed through Port Gamble, one of the most picturesque little towns I have ever seen. Obviously every house had been completely restored. The beautiful old timber buildings were set in lush green surroundings. It was all over far too quickly (no photos unfortunately!). I made a pact with myself to return there some day. Not long after we caught a ferry across Puget Sound and then drove on down to Seattle, arriving at 9:30am.
From the bus station I walked about 10 blocks to the Seattle Hostel and checked in. It had a nice feel about it. I immediately hit the streets and spent the next 6 hours walking the length and breadth of the city of Seattle.
First, I went to Pike Place Market (right next door to the hostel). I enjoyed browsing the stalls and viewing the fresh produce. I saw the "flying fish", tasted Russian Piroskis and drank some wonderful Seattle coffee.
I walked to the Seattle Centre and Space Needle and then caught the monorail back down town. I had lunch, did a bit of shopping and then kept walking south. I came across the Smith Tower and caught the very old lift to the observation deck. Inside was plush (20's or 30's in style). Outside, the narrow deck went all around the building and the views were quite spectacular. Mount Ranier was beautiful but the haze meant that it was not at its best.
Smith Tower with observation deck just near the top!
I continued walking south to Pioneer Square, the old part of Seattle. The small square is shaded by large trees and there are many restaurants and "boutique" shops in the area. I then walked down to and along the water front. I saw a demonstration of native American dancing and salmon being barbequed.
I arrived back at the hostel about 4pm rather exhausted. I spent the rest of the day and evening just relaxing. I met Christina from Port Angeles and we had dinner together (actually I ate her left overs - I was too tired to go out!)
I had a very quiet day today. It was overcast, cool and raining. I checked out about 10:30am and just wandered around the Pike Place Markets and bought some gifts and some food for the train. I ran into Christina and we sat for about an hour drinking coffee and talking about our lives in Australia and Germany.