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Staircase into the Olympics!

Day 19: 12/09/2021

Wow! Seattle was pretty cool, but there’s at least one more spot we intend to see in the Pacific Northwest. Next up, Olympic National Park. Olympic National Park is one of the more interesting parks to see. It’s vast size of 1,442 sq. miles allows room for many different environments and ecosystems. The park is home to coastline along the Pacific Ocean, glaciated mountains in the Olympic Range, and a temperate rainforest. Again, the Pacific Northwest rain has put a roadblock in our plans. We had hoped to be able to hike through the Hoh Rainforest, but because of intense rainfall the rainforest was flooded. We decided on seeing the Staircase loop along the Staircase Rapids of the North Fork Skokomish River.

To get to the park, we take a northern route up and around the Hood Canal. This route was neat, as it hugged the shoreline of the canal and curved along the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. We got there just fine until we were about 15 miles out from the park, when Google Maps took us on an unexpected turn! It took us from a smooth state highway to a rough unmaintained forest road. Looking back at this little stretch of the drive is comical as we crawled through thousands of potholes, rocking back and forth thudding into many of them. As we made our way through the forest, we finally came out from the trees and were just a few miles from our destination. We continued along Lake Cushman towards the Staircase Entrance and made it to the park entrance where we gave our attempt of trying to get a good picture in front of the park sign.

Our hike was pretty simple just following the trail through towering trees lined with moss and climbing over boulders along the way. The river ran along the side of the trail which provided nice background noise to the exquisite ambience. It was awe-striking to watch the rapids powerfully tumble over boulders within the river. The trail led us to an industrial wooden bridge that brought us across the river and gave us views of the snow-capped mountain peaks in the far distance. As we continued back down the opposite side of the river, a slight drizzle fell upon our heads and we stepped through muddy slush beneath our feet. The short loop led us back to the truck and we hopped in to head back to camp. We said “NO WAY” to the rough route we came in on, so we traveled south-bound further along the Hood Canal. As we curved around bends and through tiny little towns, the clouds blew away and the sun beamed against the magnificent Olympic Mountains. This view itself was worth the drive into the Olympic Peninsula and went far beyond our expectations. The drive back to our camp was a nice end to our day and we had time to rest and contemplate what to do next.

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