Travel isn’t always perfect. It’s easy to post the good stuff on Instagram (who wants to see the bad stuff there?!), but sometimes things just suck a little. This was the case for our visit to Olympic National Park. Yeah, we made the best of it like we always do in these less than ideal situations, but still – it sucked. And I want to tell you about the sucky stuff too, because sometimes travel isn’t always sunshine, beautiful beaches and epic adventures. Sometimes it’s rainy, windy, foggy and cold. Sometimes the rain forest is even on fire. And, sometimes, like in this case, it is all of the above.
We noticed the weather forecast for Olympic National Park trending towards terrible a few days before our scheduled flight, but the weather in this area is always changing, and sometimes rapidly. Nestled between two mountain ranges and the coast, the Olympic Peninsula is a planner’s nightmare (hi – planner here). We considered our options and decided to forge ahead anyways.
We arrived late into a cool and dark Seattle, and it starting drizzling as we made our way to our first stop in the Olympic Peninsula – Port Angeles. After about 4 hours of sleep, we awake to seemingly normal day. The sun was actually shining. I remember telling Dan – “Those idiot weather people were wrong!” with a giant smile. Spoiler: they were not.
We made our way up to Hurricane Ridge, where slowly the weather turned from sunny to cloudy, to rainy, to so rainy and windy that we turned around. That area does not get the name Hurricane Ridge for nothing. We trudged along towards Lake Crescent to hike to Marymere Falls. The wind was picking up now, but we didn’t think much of it.
We stopped for lunch at the Lake Crescent Lodge (side note: the food there was absolutely terrible, and expensive, I would not recommend it. Nice views though). We watched the wind turn Lake Crescent into an ocean, tree limbs started to fly like leaves and it finally sunk in that it may not be safe to continue hiking. The idiot weather people weren’t wrong, but I still damned them under my breath for being right. On our way out of the lodge, the employees confirmed the worst: they were closing part of the park.
That’s OK, I thought. We will just head to the beach – it’s bound to better there, right? Well, you know what’s at the beach – sand. You know what REALLY hurts when it hits you? Sand being pelted at you with 70 MPH winds. Here’s my best shot of the beach at La Push that day…
So we headed to Forks to check into our motel and wait out the worst of it. We ate crappy Chinese food in Bella’s hometown and crossed all our fingers and toes that tomorrow would be better. For those of you who don’t know, Forks was the town that the Twilight moves take place in. It’s quite hilarious to travel there with all the mentions of vampires and werewolves.
The day after the storm, the area was surprisingly calm and the sky was clear enough you could see the moon. On our way towards our morning hike to Second Beach in La Push, it felt like if we just kept driving we could eventually touch it.
At the beach that morning, it was the basic definition of the calm after the storm. If we hadn’t climbed over so many massive trees to get there, you would have never known the turmoil that had surpassed the day before.
Trees were down all over the park, people were stuck, so it definitely could have been worse. We climbed over several fallen giants to get to the beautiful beach. Over the next few days, we would see many of these old trees… here’s a brief tribute to them and the beauty they still provide, decaying so that new life can form.
The rest of the week was filled with beautiful hikes through the rain forest. It wasn’t the views I had in mind, but the forest was breathtaking and peaceful in the rain. One our final day, the clouds finally parted as we made our way back to Hurricane Ridge, where we started our journey to Olympic National Park. They stayed at bay just long enough to give me a glimpse of what we could have seen. I’ll be back.
Have you ever had travel plans go awry? Tell me in the comments!