Port Angeles, Washington, USA
After leaving Seattle I headed straight to Port Angeles, to an AirBnB I have been uber excited to stay in. It’s not the place particularly, it’s more for the animals! I was staying on a farm tucked in the mountains, see the picture below, this is a view of the front yard from the front porch.
This place also included a private outdoor area in the back with a hot tub and pool accessible 24hours. I was so excited to get here, I arrived around 15:00. I had a tour of the house and met about 12 animals- 5 of which were dogs. I couldn’t remember any of their names, but the st. bernard was my favorite. He liked to watch me cook in the kitchen. I was staying in Port Angeles, close to the Olympic National Park. Once I unpacked my car I jumped back in. I didn’t want to waste the daylight. I decided to check out the closest park entrance to my place: Hurricane Ridge.
Olympic National Park
This is a beautiful mountain range and I made it just in time to catch a few scenic walks before driving to the end of a secluded dirt road to watch the sunset. While on one of my walks I found a sign that labeled the scene before me. Two of the peaks included unicorn in their name, and then I saw it ‘San Juan Island’. What?! I was standing in the beautiful mountains I had been taking pictures of just days before! This was mind-blowing and really cool.
After a little, I drove down the road to where it was blocked off to catch some shots on the middle of the street and to get away from the crowd. It was barely crowded, maybe like 3 other families. I decided to go back and look for this little dirt road. Little… that’s definitely falsely scaled on the map. This road went on and on. Luckily I didn’t run into many other cars out here, maybe 2 that I had to pass- this road was narrow without a guardrail curving around the cliff of a mountain.
I stopped many times, the views kept getting better and better every few yards was another picturesque moment, all the way until sunset. I decided to drive back before the sun fully went behind the mountains so I could safely see. I made it back to my AirBnB and had some pasta before bed. I was unsure of what the next day had in store. I began scrolling through Instagram before falling asleep and guess what I found out?
The Hoh Rainforest had reopened to the public! This was scheduled to be closed during my visit when I originally checked the park site. I had really been disappointed about that- I really wanted to see the Hoh rainforest. I quickly reverted my plans back to being in the rainforest. This is the only rainforest in the continental United States! I was also so excited to wake up and feed the llamas- I told my nephew I would FaceTime him before heading to the rainforest. I was so excited… I couldn’t fall asleep.
I don’t know when I finally fell asleep but I slept in until close to 10:00. I woke up and made myself a bowl of cereal; I ate breakfast with Brad from TN. Then I was off to the rainforest. Before I left I fed the sheep and watched the llamas walk nearby. At some point the horse came over, too. Then when I had my nephew on the phone the llamas came over for food and got upset and started spitting at each other. Not exactly what I’d envisioned.
Hoh Rainforest, Olympic NP. USA
The drive to the rainforest only pumped me up even more so for my arrival. The trees were all covered in droopy moss and it looked so creepily beautiful. I couldn’t wait to get out and photograph this new paradise. Literally, I couldn’t wait- I kept stopping off the road to capture pictures before I even arrived to the ‘fee gate’. Eventually I did end up reaching the trailheads.
There were 3 immediate trails and 1 that lead to many others. I chose to do a loop, thinking I’d have time for 2. I planned to do the Moss trail and the Spruce trail. Who was I kidding?! Taking pictures on one of these short mile loops would take over an hour! Fortunately, I chose to start with the moss trail. It was a whole new world out there. I took so many pictures. I have never seen anything like this; I was inside of a story book. I was like Alice once she fell down the rabbit’s hole. I was so enamored. I was surrounded by other curious minds until finally, I wasn’t.
I have been feeling subconscious about taking selfies. In the beginning of my trip I didn’t care at all, who cares what these strangers think, I need to preserve this memory. I have to have pictures of me at all these amazing places, and I’m solo, so selfies it is. I’ll never see them again! I don’t know when my mindset changed. All of a sudden the past few days I felt subconscious. So, it was a very welcomed loneliness… or so it began. I was taking many pictures with no awkwardness and then I started hearing all these forest-y sounds.
I looked around and the difference really stood out; the difference between a normal forest and this rainforest. It was so tropical like, and I was in cougar town with black bears… both of which could climb. I was looking all around, including up! Noises surrounded me. I was quickly freaking myself out. Terrified, I hurried out to where I could hear people again.
Not only is the forest huge, dark, wet, and full of moss but there are huge trees, some standing and some fallen- the fallen ones creating small cave like structures. I wasn’t as scared of the black bears as I was the cougar. I could care less about snakes in this situation and snakes scare the shit out of me. The signs warning about the mountain lions (cougars) said ‘if you encounter one, fight back’. This sounded like a losing battle I was not ready for.
I was so happy to have went to the rainforest and just as happy to hear people again! In hindsight that is the MOST beautifully creepy place I have ever visited. I loved it. I came out just in time to grab dinner and find another cool place to watch the sunset. The closest town was Forks, WA. I found a small bar called Blakelees Bar and Grill. I had a burger and the fries were so good! For some reason afterward, I sat in my car way too long. I figured the best place to watch the sunset would be at the lake hike. Only to realize this hike would be too long and I wouldn’t be able to easily get back to my car before sundown.
As much as I really would’ve been okay, I was still a little too spooked from the rainforest. I ended up just heading back to my AirBnB. I also realized on my drive back that I still had a lot left to plan for Portland. I needed to find a hair salon and a mechanic. And I still hadn’t booked my hotel. I arrived to the house for sunset, it was beautiful. I took a nap and then I woke up and figured out Portand (the basics, atleast.) I’m writing from here now. Anyway, it would be a short drive and wanted to go back to the National Park for one more thing. The beach!
Ruby Beach, Olympic NP. USA
I picked Ruby beach to soak my toes- it’s been a long time since I had my feet in the Pacific. It’s been way too long. I went to the beach and immediately started taking pictures. There were HUGE rocks on shore. This reminded me of pictures I had seen of Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. I remembered this was the beach that had warnings all over the NP website- KNOW THE TIDES, DON’T GET STRANDED. Can you imagine? Being stranded on a beach- stuck at the rocks in cougar town?! Terrifying! Yet still, I wandered around rocks, places where if the tide was high, there’d be no going back.
The tide was already rising when I decided to cross the water to get around the bend. Other people were over there, so it felt safe. I had to cross the water- it was like a wide creek cutting the beach in half. In order to cross I had to get my feet soaked- through my boots. My hiking boots are waterproof; except the water was halfway up to my knee. Well now that I did that, I had to stay on this side for a while, make it worth my effort. I took more and more pictures.
This part of the bench had less people, not many were willing to cross the deep beach creek. Lots of people stood on the edge trying to figure out a way to cross, still not many did. Not now anyways- as I said, some people were already over there. People were sparse and some were leaving as I took pictures and got wet again going out into the ocean and standing on a rock. Eventually I found myself on a similar situation to the rainforest. ALONE.
I immediately started freaking myself out again and trying to figure out if I still had time to go around another corner before backtracking back over the creek before it became a very wide river. Probably not… but I went to the edge to take a peek. No, this would be a bad idea. I headed back in the opposite direction to make the original crossing. On the way I found a few ‘worse-case scenario hideouts’, hideouts that would only keep me from drowning. I’d still have to face the cougars of the rainforest.
I’m starting to see a realistic ‘cowardness’ of myself, a common theme of mine at Olympic National park. It’s funny because many people consider me to be daring. Everything is seemingly so new and foreign to me here. I’m frightened of everything; yet I feel like I can do anything. How strange. This trip is definitely becoming something of a self-discovery; Accidently, but definitely. Next stop Portland.