Around the Olympic Peninsula, day 2

I really had the best of intentions, but here, five days later, is the second and last day of my friend’s and my trip around the Olympic Peninsula in July.

Both of us woke very early that morning (I’m talking six a.m., which is the middle of the night for me normally), but fortunately, the little restaurant attached to the motel was open. It did breakfast about the same way it did supper — I asked the cook/waiter if I wanted a single pancake or a short stack, and he said I probably wanted a single pancake. I don’t know what this trend is for restaurants to serve pancakes the size of Mt. Rushmore, but the one I ate about half of definitely fell into this category.

We were on the road by seven. Lake Crescent is beautiful at that hour of the morning. Alas, I wasn’t awake enough to think to stop and take photos, but here’s one from a previous trip. Lake Crescent is actually quite gorgeous at any hour of the day.

Lake Crescent at sunset, on another trip.
Lake Crescent at sunset, on another trip.

Our main stop for the day was Hurricane Ridge, so after stopping to get gasoline, we took a right turn in the heart of Port Angeles and headed up into the mountains.

The road up to Hurricane Ridge is seventeen miles long, and gains 5242 feet in altitude, straight up from sea level, so you can imagine how winding and steep it is. There are a couple of tunnels, and lots of pull-outs to enjoy the view across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island, but you can’t really see the Olympic Mountains themselves until you’re almost to the top.

We stopped at a trailhead along the way that I always stop at. It’s usually a good place to see yellow monkeyflowers. This time there were no monkeyflowers, but there were several large clumps of larkspur, of a type I’d never seen before.

Tall larkspur at trailhead on Hurricane Ridge Rd.
Tall larkspur at trailhead on Hurricane Ridge Rd.

From there we went on up to Hurricane Ridge itself, where we got out and walked the paved pathway up the hill to the viewpoint, where in one direction you can see back towards Vancouver Island again, and, if you turn halfway around, you can see the heart of the Olympic Mountains spread out before you.

The view north towards Vancouver Island.  One of the weird things about this part of Washington is that most of the radio stations you can get receiption on here are actually in Victoria.
The view north towards Vancouver Island. One of the weird things about this part of Washington is that most of the radio stations you can get reception on here are actually in Victoria, BC, Canada.
The Olympic Mountains.
The Olympic Mountains, from the trail at Hurricane Ridge.

I was a bit disappointed in the wildflowers this year. Most of them had already come and gone by the time of our visit, except in very protected, north-facing slopes.

The last of this year's lupine in a sheltered spot at Hurricane Ridge.
The last of this year’s lupine in a sheltered spot at Hurricane Ridge.

But it certainly was deer season. We saw at least three or four, and after my friend called it a day (she was still sore from the walking we’d done the day before) and went to sit on the deck at the visitor center to enjoy the view, I strolled further around the paths and saw a doe with a fawn. So that was fun.

Deer at Hurricane Ridge.
Deer at Hurricane Ridge.
Doe and fawn (fawn still has spots) at Hurricane Ridge.
Doe and fawn (fawn still has spots) at Hurricane Ridge.
The Olympic Mountains and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
The Olympic Mountains and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

I also saw some other critters.

A butterfly along the trail.
A butterfly along the trail.
A raven prowling the bistort (the white fuzzy flowers) along the trail.
A raven prowling the bistort (the white fuzzy flowers) along the trail.

When it got to be lunchtime, we drove back down to Port Angeles and ate, and then set out on the three-hour journey back home.

And that was the second day of our trip around Olympic National Park!