Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Long Beach to Forks to Tacoma (WA)

I left Long Beach, WA continuing north along Hwy 101.  I would be entering Olympic National Forest & Park for the first time, and was not sure what to expect.

The scenery changed the further north I traveled.  It transitioned from rock and sand to more prominent forests - very tall trees, very dense forests.


I arrived into the southwest corner of the park.  Much of this area was residential and campgrounds.  I couldn't find a definitive answer on how far the road I was on went into the park - I had read that all roads in Olympic were spur roads, and did not connect.  Knowing this, I only drove in about 12 miles.  The road ran parallel with Lake Quinault.  Fantastic lake views!  I did stop for a brief session to photograph a waterfall area.

This image does not do it justice - better images to come.

As I continued along the highway, there was an overabundance of parking areas for beaches.  These beaches were the ones that you often see in photos and movies... with the open water and the large rocks out in the middle.  I stopped at a LOT of these beaches on the way... I mean, a LOT.












































































I arrived into Forks, WA mid-afternoon.  I stopped off at the visitor center and got a couple of the area waterfall maps and the map for Olympic NP.  After driving through town, and stopping for fuel, I drove to the LaPush and Rialto Beaches.


























At the entrance of the LaPush boundary...

























The beaches at LaPush were more impressive than what I had seen earlier!






















































































































































Although the sky was very overcast-y, I decided to come back to Rialto Beach later and try to photograph the sunset.  In the meantime, I went back into Forks and had dinner at Pacific Pizza.

The sunset on the beach wasn't a complete bust... it wasn't breathtaking or anything, but there was color.  And I watched the Coast Guard helicopter patrol the beach and the water in that area.  Once most of the light had gone, I returned to Forks to park and sleep.

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I woke very early this morning - pre-6:00 am, which is quite early for me on this trip.  Instead of trying to go back to sleep, I stayed up and pushed on... in attempt to make up for yesterday's dismal distance.

I consulted the waterfall map that I got at the visitor center in Forks the previous afternoon, and decided to see if I could find the ones on/close to my route.

I ended up back in Olympic NP before 8:00 am for a short hike to find the Sol Duc Falls - a 2 mile round-trip hike from the end of the park road.  It was well worth the trip, and was probably the most impressive set of falls that I witnessed today.



I stopped and photographed a handful of other waterfalls (but this is the only other one I got with my phone).

I stopped off in Port Angeles to top off fuel and grab a quick lunch before heading up into Hurricane Ridge.


























What an unexpected contrast between the waterfall and forested areas and Hurricane Ridge!  I hadn't expected to see white-capped mountains within Olympic - it didn't seem right that somewhere so green and lush would also have these high peaks with snow on the ground.  But there it was, in all its glory.  And it was amazing!



















































I took the road from the visitor center toward Obstruction Point - an unpaved road that most people don't take.  It made a fantastic addition to the trek, and gave some alternate perspectives.


Eugene and I... we like it here.  :)

























After coming down from Hurricane Ridge, I thought it best to boogie along and get some miles in.  I'd lingered a lot today, and was out of the Jeep almost as much as I was in it.  I needed to make up some time.

From Port Angeles to Tacoma, WA - which is where I am now.  For now.  I was looking at driving down into Mount Ranier National Park tomorrow... but I think I may start that journey tonight.  That way I can be back into this area, hopefully, by mid-day tomorrow.  Then I'll jump on US Hwy 2, and begin the journey back eastward.