Pacific Northwest Part 3: Olympic National Park

This is the third and final part of me and my brother’s Pacific NW trip to celebrate our college graduations! You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. As usual, at the end of the post, you can read more about the hikes we did!

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After the first two legs of our trip, we made our way to our last national park — Olympic. Researching the hikes in Olympic was complicated, since the park is enormous and consists of everything from ocean, rainforest, and alpine hikes. Not only that, but driving to each trailhead would take 1-2 hours in either direction. Taking all of this into consideration, I decided to book a spot in a hostel in Port Angeles — Toad Lily House.

It was our first experience in a hostel. Some things that took me by surprise was hostelling ettiquette, which I sneakily Googled before going to bed my first night there. I learned the hard way that you should always say a quick “hi” or “good morning” to other guests, because once the moment has passed, it will probably be too awkward afterwards. I failed at this twice with the same guest after we made eye contact (first time) and after he said hi (second time). The good news, however, is that after your stay you probably won’t see them ever again.

The other big thing that took me by surprise were the living conditions. After being spoiled by luxurious Airbnb’s, we were taken aback by the humid communal shower and the unkempt kitchen. It was certainly not horrible (and possibly even better than my college apartment — no offense, roomies) and we adapted to the new conditions within a day.

Other things I learned from hostelling — bring earplugs and an eyemask, save money by buying a lot of French bread and deli meat, and conform to the sleeping schedule of the other guests.

Now, onto the hiking! We got to see a variety of things. My brother’s favorite was our ocean hike from Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches, which felt like an escape into the seaside of Narnia. We also got to see jellyfish washed up on shore and some deer. On two other hikes, Hurricane Hill and Klahhane Ridge, we saw a total of 12 mountain goats! On the downside, I was also scared after rounding a corder and seeing a deer using our trail in the opposite direction — probably within 30 feet of me. The good thing is that it was scared too and ran off.

Our final hike of the trip was to Lake of the Angels, a more remote and unknown hike that is only indicated on topographic maps. It was one of our not-so-pleasant experiences, due to getting lost for 1.5 hours on desolate, unmarked dirt roads, our steepest ascent, cloudy views, and very few people. It felt so eerie, like someone could’ve popped out from the woods without a moment’s notice. We survived though, but not without declaring the “no more hiking for a year” policy. We made up for this day by going seakayaking the next day where we say otters and seals 🙂

Overall, this trip was much more tiring and expensive than I planned for, so in a sense, it was easy to take for granted all the amazing sights we experienced. But as I reflect, I’m in awe of and thankful for my parents for allowing me to travel, for my brother, who put up with all of the physical activity, and for creation — it’s beauty. It was what I needed to make the most of my last few months before moving and starting work.

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The south end of Shi Shi Beach
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A mountain goat at Hurricane Hill
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Hiking a dicier section of Klahhane Ridge

 

Hikes:

  • Olympic:
    • Shi Shi Beach to Point of Arches: This 9+ hike is half forested and VERY muddy, but the beautiful beach and rocking formations are worth it.
    • Hurricane Hill: This moderate 3 mile hike is great for anyone and leads to a beautiful open hill with 360 degree views, and maybe even goats!
    • Klahhane Ridge to Mt. Angeles: This sub-6 mile hike is mostly along a ridgeline with lots of views, even though many were blocked by clouds when we went. You can extend this hike even further if you want!
    • Lake of the Angels: This 7.2mi, 3300ft+ hike is extremely strenuous, but on a clear day, it is worth it. But ONLY on a clear day.

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