Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is comprised of nearly a million acres surrounding the Olympic Mountains.  In addition to this vast wilderness, there is a little over 50 miles of rugged Pacific coastline included in the park.  This is not a drive-thru park; that is, there isn’t a road which cuts through the middle from one side to another.  There are a few roads around the parameter of the park which give the visitor very limited access to the interior.  As a result of this limited access, the largest old-growth forest in the lower 48 and its abundant species of birds and mammals remains virtually undisturbed.  This wilderness of crashing waves to glacier capped mountains has earned this park the distinction of being named both a World Heritage Park and an International Biosphere.

There are hundreds of miles of trail to be hiked here.  On foot is the only way to get into the heart of the park.  Today, we chose to drive the 17 miles up Hurricane Ridge to hike a short distance along the High Ridge Trail.
A rugged mountainscape

We got a relatively early start.  Today, early was good because we were fortunate to have a few views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca before the clouds rolled in.  The trailhead left the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and gained and lost, and gained and lost a couple hundred feet in elevation.  There were a couple of steep spots, but they didn’t last long.  This trail had it all--open meadows, ridge-line exposure, terrific views of the Strait, and a short woods walk.  Then there was the wildlife.  We saw several black tailed deer and a couple families of blue grouse within the first half mile.

Visitor Center

After our walk, we watched another film at the Visitor Center and rummaged around the gift shop for a few minutes.
Strait of Juan de Fuca
Tomorrow, we have a couple chores for the morning hours, then we’re gonna see what we can find in Port Angeles.

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