We’re back in Jackson Hole spending sometime exploring the valley with Katharine’s family.
Epic Trip Day 22-24: Olympic National Park (8/25-8/27)
After our 3 days in Rainier, we stayed in a hotel in Hoquiam, WA near the southwestern entrance of Olympic National Park. We were glad to have a shower and chance to reorganize our gear and packs for backpacking. Olympic National Park is pretty large spanning several different climate zones so we planned to visit the Hoh rainforest as a day hike, then backpack Shi Shi Beach in the far NW corner, then head into the mountains (Grand Valley) near Hurricane Ridge.
The rainforest was mossy and incredibly lush as expected. The moss and other air plants covered the trees and ground.
There were many rows of trees with exposed roots due to a fallen tree which then became a nurse tree providing nutrients for the next generation of trees.
After our day hike we drove to Shi Shi beach trailhead. The trailhead is located in the Makah Reservation and there isn’t any official overnight parking provided by the park service so you have to pay a family to park in their front yard. The hike into Shi Shi beach is a muddy 2 mile long trail weaving through a dense forest.
The hike through the mud is slow and dirty, but once you emerge from the forest and onto the sandy beach the view is well worth the hike.
We took off our boots and cooled our feet off in the surf.
We enjoyed our last unimpeded sunset over the pacific ocean.
Once the stars came out we took some awesome star/sunset photos with our tent on the beach. It was a coordinated effort with Katharine painting the inside of the tent with a headlamp while Nathan adjusted the camera settings.
24mm, f/4, ISO 400, 30 seconds [Click to enlarge and see the stars]
The next morning we hiked a mile down the beach to Point of Arches. It was a long walk down the beach, and we started to doubt our secluded camping location but as we approached the Point and saw how many people were camping in the area, we decided the solitude was worth the long walk. We spent an hour exploring the rocks and tide pools.
We then packed up camp, hiked 2 miles back through the mud and then drove inland to the Grand Valley trailhead to start our next backpack. As we opened the doors to get our packs, it was quickly apparent that we were not at the beach anymore. It was raining, windy and in the low 40’s. We had gotten a later start from Shi Shi and the drive took longer than we expected, so it was late in the afternoon and we still had about 5 miles of hiking to reach our campsite. It started raining harder as we finalized organizing our packs and we realized that we were not really all that prepared for backpacking in the rain (mentally or gear-wise). Given that it was 42 degrees and quite late in the day, we decided it wasn’t the right situation to try rainy backpacking for the first time, so we instead drove down the mountain to a warmer and dryer car camping site.
The next day we did our intended backpacking trip as a 10 mile day hike. When we started the hike the weather was still miserable and the treeless ridge line left us exposed in the cold wind.
After a couple miles we felt confident about our decision to forgo the backpack. The gray clouds hiding the Olympic Mts and the lack of marmots and other animals made the valley seem a bit desolate and unfriendly even when we reached the lakes at the bottom.
We saw hundreds of marmot holes, many in the middle of the trail, but not one marmot! We did see a couple deer and this intriguing looking frog.
As we headed back up out of the valley, it had warmed up quite a bit, even allowing us to wear t-shirts. The hike back up felt tougher than we expected, but gave us a sense of accomplishment. As we reached the top and looked down at Badger Valley, we definitely saw the potential of the area and hoped we’d have another chance to see it in better weather conditions.
Epic Trip Stats:
- Days: 24
- Nights in a tent: 18
- Miles driven: 3357
- Miles hiked: 106
- National Parks: 7
- Nights camping in the rain: 2