Over a month gone by on the Olympic Peninsula already and it feels as though I am just getting settled in. First impressions? This place is rad. The first few weeks saw my time being split between Port Angeles and Quinault which gave me the opportunity to explore both sides of the park a bit. Port Angeles is a great little port town with a mountain scene backdrop and views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca out to Mt Baker, the North Cascades, and Vancouver Island. Hurricane Ridge road leaves right from the south side of town giving easy access to the alpine; one of the few roads in the park to do so. When in PA (as the locals say) I take full advantage. Afternoon runs up Mt. Angeles and out to Obstruction Pt have been my favorite times in the park thus far, even though they are front country trails. The trendy community of PA provides numerous coffee shops and local restaurants, a great balance between nature and civilization exists; reminds me of Boulder a bit.
IT is a long, three hour drive around the Olympic Mountains from PA to Quinault (no roads cross the park), where most of my summer will be spent. Quinault is a tiny community of 191 local residents situated around Lake Quinault. The lake itself is administered by the Quinault Indian Tribe while the shores are a mix of private, forest service, and national park land. The Quinault River valley is one of three main areas in the lower US holding true, old growth temperate rain forest. A number of world record trees (6 I believe) live around the lake and up valley. Forest service front country trails leave the front steps of my forest service bunkhouse providing a good option for shorter runs before/after work. When feeling a little more ambitious trails up valley provide miles and miles of valley bottom running alongside the North & East Forks of the Quinault River and up Graves Creek; it has taken a bit of getting used too. The trails are generally overgrown, wet, loose, and can become some what monotonous after the first couple miles. Getting up into the alpine from the bottom of the Quinault valley entails a big effort (7.5-15 miles one way) to get above treeline; a little too much time in the trees IMO. Solid rock is non existent. As expected, the rainforest is wet with cloudy skies most days, and sun overhead fewer than I could have imagined. Everyone keeps saying by July this will most likely change, we shall see. It is a wild & beautiful place though and the ocean is a quick 45 minute drive to the west if some open space is needed.
Great start to the season, excited to get out in the backcountry and explore a bit.