Saturday, June 18, 2011

Travel TidBits: On the Road again - Olympic Peninsula, WA

Sunrise over Discovery Bay

I woke up as sunrise colored the puffy clouds pink. It’s 5:20am! as the first sunrays already skim the surface of the water. The view from my bedroom over Discovery Bay towards east is gorgeous, specifically since the other mornings I saw only low hanging grey clouds and mist over the water. I am reminded that the Olympic Peninsula, WA, gets about 12 feet (144 inches) of rain each year – compare this to the ~12 inches that we experience in Palo Alto!

This is the day that I decide to drive up Hurricane Ridge – will I have a clear view of the Olympic Mountains? It is worth a try since so far they have been shrouded in clouds every day.

I am staying in Port Townsend (lower left hand corner) and my drive will take me to Port Angeles and then up into the mountains. Defying normal map conventions, the coast in the lower part of the image is actually pointing north! My drive will take me from sea level to 5242 ft in 17 miles – and from summer to winter!

The road up to the top of the mountains is steadily climbing and half way up the snow is still on the side of the road. On top, it’s over man’s high! The thin air and the twists and turns must have made me dizzy - 

but the view from here is magnificent with a panorama of snow-capped mountains.

As is so typical here, the weather changes, clouds are gathering again and soon the landscape is shrouded in mist and grey. Time to roll down to sea level again and explore the rain forest.

Back in Port Angeles, I am back on highway 101 (!) but far less crowded than in the Bay Area that will take me to Crescent Lake and the Marymere Waterfalls.

On my left is a lavender farms. The area around Sequim (pronounced Skwim?!) is sunny and the lavender is a big business here in this rural community.

Unfortunately, the plants are just sprouting – no colors yet - and their peak time is only in July with a big Lavender Festival – but I will be long gone by then.

Sunshine Lavender Farm

I soon reach Lake Crescent, a lovely lake nestled between the mountains that remind me of the lakes in the Canadian Rockies.

Lake Crescent Resort looks very inviting and I stop for a coffee before hiking to the Marymere Falls.

Lake Crescent Resort with lovely blooming rhododendrum bushes which are blooming profusely this time of the year. Rhododendrum is the WA State flower and I have been admiring many wonderful bushes in full bloom along the way.

As I leave the green meadows colored light blue by the myriad of Forget-Me-Not and enter the forest, there is Spanish moss everywhere, dripping from trees and branches. The new leaves sport their young bright green contrasting against the dark bark.

Spanish moss – telling the story of moisture and many, many days of rain!

The trail leads me along a small creek as I climb higher. I cross the creek on a bridge carved from a bit tree trunk balancing my tripod and camera as I reach the other side.

I can hear the roar of the waterfall getting louder and then I can see it through the trees:

With so much snow this winter – well over 150% of normal – the Marymere Falls are cascading down from enormous heights – well worth the hike!!

Marymere Falls, close to Lake Crescent

Just as I packed my tripod, the first drops of rain were falling. All the locals were retrieving their rain jackets from their packs – while mine was safely stored in my car!! Well, we Californians are just not prepared to that kind of changing weather. Live and learn. But my camera was well protected under my jacket while I briskly walked down the path while the rain was steadily increasing.

Once dry in the car, I had fun photographing through the windows capturing a wet world.

The rainy road home!

Rain or Shine - it was a great day out on the Olympic Peninsula!!

Til next time,