With the weather finally changing there are less excuses for not getting out. This month I have some free nights at Marriott that will expire so this weekend I booked a trip up to Olympia to burn through one of my nights. Years ago I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning that talked about the quietest place in the continental US and since then I have made it a point to check out the spot. Now they didn’t say exactly where it was but I think its in the Hoh Rain Forest some where in Olympic National Park.
I would have much rather camped in the forest but the hotel worked out. Its only a couple hours from home but much closer then my house to the hike. The first real hike of the year and I knew I would be exhausted afterwards so closer was better. On the trail I ran into many people that where out for the weekend hiking. From the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center you can head deep into Olympic National Park. There are really only foot trails into the interior so if you want to go exploring, you better start walking.
From my house I got an early start and left just before 7am. The park is pretty deep in the interior but you are still only barely in the park. Its amazing how much of this park is not accessible by road. You really must hike if you want to get anywhere. There was certainly no shortage of 20+ mile hikes starting from here.
From the visitor center I headed down the Hoh River Trail. My time was limited and in the end I only got two hours to hike into the forest but I managed to make it to Tom’s Creek and hung out there for a while before turning back for my car. Next time I am planning on an overnight stay to really enjoy the park. It was still early afternoon when I had to head back with plenty of daylight left.
So the whole reason to come out to this park was to find some peace and quite. It was a beautiful day so I expected the trail to be busy with hikers. Despite being so hard to reach, the weather was to perfect to pass up. First off in the lower section of the trail you are walking right along the river for the most part. This provides a huge amount of noise as the water rushes over the stones and debris. This isn’t that bad but what I kept noticing was the air planes. At least this part of the park is right over a flight path which is super annoying. Even when I found a nice quite spot near Tom’s Creek to get some writing done I could hear the planes over head.
The hike itself is great. Now and again you get a cutout in the trees so you can see the river below and in the back ground are snow capped mountains. It was so crazy seeing the snow topped mountains. Coming from the mid-Atlantic you never see anything like this. I have hiked in the Shenandoah when it has snowed but that disappears just as quickly as everywhere else in Virginia. The forest was also just starting to come to life. The ferns and other leafy trees are starting to bloom. Not many flowers were blooming so not sure if I missed them all or just early. The temps on the mountains are probably in the mid 60’s so might be a little early still?
Along the trail there are also two small waterfalls. One you has a pretty good view from a small foot bridge. The second is approximately 200′ further down the trail and is much harder to see. You can hear it and that was the only reason I noticed it. The first has a pretty well defined trail to it. The second, not so much.
One thing you notice walking in the forest is the size of the trees. There are many huge trees in the forest and pictures don’t do them justice when you have no scale for reference. They really are amazing and it’s one of those things you just have to see and experience for yourself.
I had a free night at Marriott that was about to expire and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Olympia had the closest. Who knew that I would have difficulty finding a place to eat after my hike. By the time I got to the hotel and cleaned up it was almost 9pm. Not to worry, its a Saturday night in the capital city of the state of Washington. Surely something must be open. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire city shutdown at 9pm it seems. I ended up with fast food because I couldn’t find anything else open.
Originally I planned to hit Three Magnets Brewing Co. close to the hotel but wasn’t feeling it that night. Thankfully nothing to worry about because on Sunday at 8am and start serving breakfast and beer which is awesome. I got their BLT Benedict and their Robust Porter. The place was really busy for a Sunday morning which was nice to see. I took the opportunity to sample a few beers and get some writing done. Olympia isn’t that far from home so there was no hurry to leave.
After breakfast I explored some of the city. I found some great chocolate at Encore Chocolates & Tea. They reminded me Ranger Chocolate is just down from my house. The small art supply shop Olyphant Art & Media was tiny but I found a pen case here so another score. They even had a decent record shop. Rainy Day Records didn’t have anything to deep but certainly a well rounded collection of music. They have a movie club which I thought was cool. A bunch of cheesy 70-90’s cult classics. What a good idea.
Last thing on my list was stationary. What I found was more of a gift shop but Compass Rose had a good selection of cards. I bought a bunch of post cards and a couple note cards and got to work writing at a local coffee shop. The shop overlooked a small park. With such a beautiful day the park was alive with activity.
I really want to go back to Olympic National Park and camp next time. I loved the huge trees and the weather is pretty good for hiking out that way. With such a large park there is a lot to explore so I have a feeling it will keep me busy for a while. As for Olympia I thought that was a great little town. Sunday morning and the place was busy with activity in downtown. I have one more free night that’s about to expire……where to next?