Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Olympic Backpacking 2013

Backpacking the Olympic Peninsula in May

After a disappointing trek in Turkey in March, we were super excited to do some more backpacking.  We were itching to compare our luxurious, well groomed, wonderful hiking trails in the U.S. National Park to the confusing, rocky, scrubby, "Grade 1" goat paths we had been suffering on the Lycian Way.  Oh, we knew how spoiled we were with the U.S. Parks, Forest, and Wilderness.  But boy oh boy how sweet it is to be so spoiled!

Friendly forest creatures;  What do you mean there aren't any goats?
We're not the best planners on our drop-of-the-hat-let's-leave-right-now lifestyle.  But we are open to options so it usually works out for us.  For instance, on this trip we thought we were going to go to Olympic Hot Springs.  Turns out, they drained the lake and were tearing down the damn and we couldn't get to there from here.  Oh well.  How about we hike along the Elwha river instead?  Great!

Home Sweet Home
We left late and didn't make it very far the first night, but no matter.  The trail was brilliant.  There was no one else around.  The deer were fun to watch despite not being goats. And we had a great little campsite overlooking the river.  And it didn't even rain that much. And we didn't have to follow red and white graffiti to know where to go, 'cause there is a TRAIL!

I'd like to say we're model wilderness citizens. We do our best.  We carry a bear canister for our food, pack out all our trash, as well as other's trash we find along the way. We leave our campsites cleaner than we found them. But our box of wine just didn't fit into our bear barrel, and so some critter finished our half-box of wine for us. Sad. Poor little drunk racoons...We are so embarassed to admit this.  On top of that, upon packing up our camp, we found bear wires just past our campsite. We could have easily hung our wine and kept the forest creatures a little more sober...

Lush Olympic Hiking

So we decided to hike back to the car and resupply (more wine) and go out to the coast for our next hike.

Beach Wilderness
We headed out towards La Push, hit the Second Beach Trailhead and hiked down to Toleak Point to camp.

The changing beach hike
We were rewarded with proper Washington Coast weather - lots of clouds, moments of no rain along with moments of pissing rain.

Beach wilderness can be challenging
The beach trail is really wild.  Some beach walking followed by some bluff climbing and forest walking then back down the bluff to the beach.

Lots of ups and downs
The bluff sections are a little bit challenging but they have rope and step aids when needed.
Nevertheless, when negotiating the beach sections you must be wary of the tides.  When we were crossing a beach section, we had to wait for the waves so we could scramble along the beach and keep our feet dry.  At one point,  while rushing to time the waves, Robin slipped climbing over a wet log, almost hitting her head on a beach boulder. As I rushed back to help her up and encourage her to stand due to the incoming sea water it was clear she was a bit stunned.  In trying to catch herself, she wrenched her shoulder in what later turned out to be a rotator cuff injury.

Home Sweet Home again - not TOO wet despite all the rain
We bypassed the perfect camp spot in search of water. By the time we found the water we were caught in a great rain squall that just about made Grant cry like the little baby he is. After getting soaked, more, we then put on our rain ponchos and considered our options.  We collected some water and headed back to the good camp spot rather than hiking further down the beach.  While crossing back over the creek, Grant slipped on the wet log and almost fell into the creek himself, landing roughly on the driftwood logs. A little stunned and a bit irritable, we retreated to set up camp. The wilderness can be intimidating.

OK, not TOO wet as long as you carry some wine!
We set up camp and it's amazing what dry clothes, warm food and a little bit of sobriety wine can do for the spirits.

Washington Coast sea stacks
You just can't beat a great beach view from your tent after a long day on the trail.

Perfectly fun obstacles; but boy does it hurt when you slip and fall

Tide Pool Life

Did I mention the ups and downs?
At least they left us aids for the cliff-climbing

We love Hiking!!! And when you do it in the pissing rain and cold, you might have the whole world to yourself :)

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