After spending the last three weeks of August (2015) amid the smoke from Montana and Idaho wildfires, we were thrilled to see blue skies ahead of us as we headed West. This same stretch of the interstate through central Washington was clouded with smoke when we came through here in July… and now?
But… this wasn’t where we’d planned to be. We’d made two RV park reservations for summer and fall of 2015. We hadn’t made reservations since our first year of full-timing (2009), but popular spots at popular times of the year sometimes make it necessary if you want to stay more than a night (especially with more people than ever buying and using RVs).
While in Montana, we’d tracked regional wildfires not only with an eye on where we might move to (nowhere) but on our next destination as well: Joseph, Oregon. We’d been here on a shorter visit but wanted more time to explore Hell’s Canyon. It was not to be: smoke, smoke, smoke everywhere.So we pointed ourselves even farther West — toward the coast.
Everyone who travels this stretch of highway through Washington probably appreciates the town of George as much as we do:
Long-time readers know we spend at least a few weeks every year, usually in the fall, in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. This year we decided to stay in a couple of different than usual.
First, Port Angeles. Instead of parking our home in Chimicum and driving the forty minutes or so to P.A., staying here meant we had more time to explore this neat town and area, including this sliver of land stretching from the paper mill into the Strait of Juan de Fuca:
Watching the birds, we noticed something on one of those breakwater extensions — a harbor seal (or maybe a sea otter? Hmmm… Feel free to correct me :)):
Of course, hiking in the Olympic National Park is a huge draw for us to this area. With less travel time to get to the park, we had more time to hike, and more time to seek out the less-traveled trails.
Our first choice was the Switchback Trail:
We’d hike as far as we wanted, then turn around when we were ready (much more freedom this way than feeling as though we have to get to X because the trail sign says that’s the “end”). And this trail was a stunner on that early September day…
…with views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains and the road to the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center in the distance…
…as it wound us up and up…
…into the foggy heights:
When we reached Klahane Ridge, the fog effect was surreal, completely curtaining one side of the ridge…
…leaving the other side in mostly blue skies:
A few days later we found another trail popular primarily with the locals, the Heather Trail. Less steep than the Switchback Trail, it also lacked the views of the Switchback, but it was a fabulous hike in the woods:
We met one man, short and spry, coming and going. We chatted a bit, learning he was a local (“since 1961” he told us) and a regular on the trail. He was next to us, then gone so fast that despite the winding switchbacks and views up and down the trail, we never saw him come or go. Could he have been a trail sprite?!?