Friday, September 16, 2016

Counterclockwise around the Olympic Peninsula

In the vicinity of Puget Sound, road trips start with a drive to the ferry dock. Mine began a week ago, on Friday, a few miles from the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. From Edmonds we proceeded across Puget Sound, then to Port Gamble, across the Hood Canal Bridge, to Hwy 101 and west then south (and up!) to our first destination: Hurricane Ridge, overlooking the receding glaciers of the Olympic Range.

I'll describe the route and include photos of some of the spots we visited, then I'll include a few wildlife shots and a sampling of the mushrooms and other fungus that blooms across the well-watered Olympic Peninsula, especially in its rainforests.

We stayed in Port Angeles on Friday night, in a modest hotel with a million dollar view of the port and the ferries coming from and going to Victoria, BC, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

After dinner, we watched the sun set over the port.

The next morning we headed west toward Cape Flattery, first stopping for a short hike into Olympic National Park to visit Marymere Falls.

Then, leaving Hwy 101 at Sappho we turned north toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and west once we reached the shores of the Strait, into the Makah Reservation, Neah Bay, and out to the northwesternmost point in the continental U.S. Here's the Cape Flattery Lighthouse, on Tatoosh Island just off the cape:

The photo of cormorants settled around the mouths of sea caves, among the wildlife photos below, was taken just a few yards back from the observation deck overlooking the lighthouse. After a picnic back at Neah Bay we headed back to 101 and the hotel we'd reserved on the outskirts of Forks.

Though we stayed there on Saturday night, I have no photos of Forks, the town where Stephanie Meyers set her Twilight novels. Disclaimer: I saw one of the movies, couldn't say which; wasn't interested enough to read the books.

I wasn't charmed by Forks. The hotel we'd booked was functional. Everything on offer at the restaurant recommended by the fellow who checked us in was fried in the same vat of oil. The waffle-fried potatoes tasted like fish, know what I mean? But the signature quality of the meal? Every single one of the waitstaff, all of them young women, looked like they'd dressed to catch a vampire's roving eye, or that of a casting agent: tight skirts; pale, flat makeup; a deadpan affect that shouted, c'mon, bite me in the neck already! It seemed every commercial establishment had a poster from one or another of the Twilight movies prominently displayed. The supermarket's deli showcased wraps named for a vampire or a warewolf. It was sad, really.

We couldn't get out of Forks fast enough. On Sunday morning we headed for the Hoh Rainforest, which was gorgeous in a spooky kind of way, sans the undead.

Least-expected wildlife spotted in the Hoh: an owl sleeping on a high, sunny bough. Check out the photo below.

Ruby Beach was lovely, but it felt a little crowded compared to the sparsely peopled beaches I'm used to visiting on the Northern California coast. I waited for my moment, and snagged a shot of the beach from which only a single fellow-visitor needed to be cropped out:

From Ruby Beach we headed inland to skirt the Quinault Reservation, then west again to Moclips, where we stayed Sunday night. On the drive to Moclips we passed field after field of clearcut slash. Not so pretty.

On Monday, looping back to Seattle, we headed down to Grays Harbor, then turned east through Aberdeen, then north along the inside of the Hood Canal -- and soon arrived back at the ferry terminal in Kingston.

The Wildlife

A caterpillar; cormorants at Cape Flattery; an owl (barred? northern spotted?) napping high up in a tree in the Hoh Rainforest; a doe and fawn, also in the Hoh; and -- look carefully, I wasn't fast enough to zoom out my lens -- a bald eagle overhead, at the edge of the Hood Canal:

One, two, many fungi

As you can see looking up past that majestic eagle, as well as in other locations on the west side of the Olympic Range, the sky was surprisingly blue for this part of the world (the Hoh Rainforest gets twelve to fourteen feet of rain per year, according to the National Park Service). And so, blue sky or gray: fungus, and plenty of it. Here's some of what we saw:

All in all a gorgeous trip around a corner of the Left Coast I'd never visited before...

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
A day at Bodega Head
Point Reyes National Seashore at the start of the year
Never mind Election Day 2014, consider Fall in Northern California
Tafoni at Pebble Beach on the San Mateo County coast