Olympic national park
Olympic national park situated in northwestern Washington is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful parks in the USA. We became enthusiastic fans too, but first thing first. Heading north to Olympia was the easy start, which was followed by the long loop around the park. Olympics is organized without crossing roads, so you must go around and choose a road which goes in, you hike a trail (or a few) and than back to the loop road (101). It could have been simpler with camping inside the park, but it is extremely popular and there were no available sites.
Our first drive into the park was through the majestic Cushman Lake where we stopped to admire the crazy guys jumping off a huge rock into the lake, not something reasonable for any of the Bar-Gads on the trip (our girls in Israel would probably have tried it). At the edge of the lake, we continued to the Staircase Rapids trail. An excellent trail in the green forest along the river. We even braved entering the icy water of the river for a (very) short dip. From there we rushed to our next KOA which was situated near Port Angeles, a nice little seaside town. This KOA was even more advanced than the previous one and had great amenities but sadly forbade setting up a campfire due to the district rules, so we went for some Vietnamese food in town.
The next day, we woke to a chilly morning in the KOA and were thrown out of our sleeping bags by the over-active Shibolet who was eager to pack and go. The camp offered excellent access into the park to the road going up to Hurricane Ridge. The morning was very cloudy, and we drove up into the mountains within a cloud and were really worried about the outcome of the day. Suddenly, we found ourselves above the clouds and looking into some of the most amazing views that we have ever seen of the snowy mountain tops looking into the clear blue skies while the valleys below were filled with clouds. We hiked the trail over the ridge to Hurricane Hill. A steep ascent of 250 m while walking on a beautiful trail overlooking the Olympic mountains, including Mount Olympus itself. Both Shibolet and Yoav managed to overcome their worries about heights and steep slopes as we hiked surrounded by forests and meadows with deer running around. The last stretch was dominated by Yoav’s quest for snow. He has never touched snow and most snow patches were of steep unapproachable slopes. Fortunately, at the peak of the mountain we found a small patch of snow were we built a tiny snow-man had a small snow-ball fight and even did the angel shapes. Heading back to the car was much easier (and faster as Yoav tried to take his pet snowball back to the car before it melts). After a short mountain-top picnic, we bid this area goodbye and continued our circle towards the tiny town of Forks. Here fortunately, as a drizzle started, we had a motel waiting for us. Little did we know that we still had a little adventure awaiting us, at 7PM we decided to find some dinner, turns out that all the spots mentioned by Google Maps as open, are either permanently or semi-permanently closed. We found ourselves in the local diner which was full of the town people and…. the Israeli families we met near St. Helens, after a long chat we got our surprisingly good food and happily finished the day.
Our last day in Olympic park was an example of great planning gone wrong. We woke up for a morning run which led to leaving the motel pretty late, we drove in the entry road to Hoh Rainforest just to find our that there is a huge queue of cars waiting to enter the park. The parking lots were full so only one car could enter for every one leaving, which took 90 minutes! We kept the spirits up by singing and eating a messy breakfast, but it was still a looong wait especially for the hyperactive Bar-Gads. It also changed the nature of the day to a race against time as our next hotel was in Tacoma, four hours away. We thus had to suffice with two short trails in the mossy rain forest which reminded us a greener, mossier version of the redwoods.
On our way back to civilization we made our last stop in the park, Ruby Beach, while surviving a light but persistent drizzle. The beautiful beach is covered in pebbles and with huge rocks on it and within the sea. It also has a lot of driftwood, so Yoav walked nonchalantly on one of the long logs over a sea pool just to find himself losing balance and falling into the icy water with severely hurt pride. He found comfort in the warm car and later in the beautiful full rainbow that we saw heading into the big city while leaving this amazing park behind us.