Mid week, we packed up our stuff, stopped by Ruby Beach one last time, and headed for Cape Flattery - the northwestiest northern westerly point in the lower 48!
There we found a pleasant trail that leads you all the way to the edge of the country. All of these trails smell very nice. I just thought you should know that.
Once you reach the coast, there are several offshoots of the trail that take you to various vantage points from which you might spot a whale if you're lucky. We spotted a wee bit of one from very far away - just a blowhole and a black, bumpy back that surfaced briefly before rolling back under the waves. That made me hate myself for not bringing my zoom lens. A seal mocked my forgetfulness from afar.
Waves pound the peninsula constantly, and if you sit quietly, you can actually feel the landscape swaying beneath you - a motion reminiscent of driving an overloaded pickup truck down a windy I-10.
After we had had our fill of not seeing any more whales, we retraced our steps up the trail and got on our way. Much to see on this mini road-trip from Lake Quinault to Port Angeles!
By now the clouds we had spotted from the lookout had started their steady creep across the mountains, and they chased us inland.
Before long we found ourselves on a cold and rainy descent to Lake Crescent, via the winding and scenic Highway 101.
FINALLY a chance to try out my new boots in the cold and wet.
The lake's waters have very little nitrogen, which limits the growth of phytoplankton and enables the water to be unusually clear on nice days.
The very prospect of seeing deep into a lake that is of unknown depth weirds me out, so I was glad we were there on a crappy day.
Even the Ranger Station is charming, with an illustrious history of its own.
We took refuge and had lunch in the nearby Lake Crescent Lodge. There we met a duck who came so close to us, I'd say he didn't know that his former colleagues were being served at the adjacent table. (as the entrée)
Once we realized the rain would be eternal, we set off on a soggy hike to Marymere Falls.
The final section of trail to the actual falls was closed, but we appreciated the trail itself for its colors, aroma and atmosphere.
Soggy and tired, we headed to Port Angeles for a hot lunch.
Something I forgot to mention earlier - back on Ruby Beach, a hiking couple told us we simply must see this mural of a ship called the Kalakala, while we were here. I thought they were a little too enthusiastic about the whole thing, but when I stumbled across the mural (completely on accident) and learned more about this weird spaceship of the sea, I came to understand their excitement. It's so utterly lifelike and vibrant, it's a little weird to see its splendor in such an ordinary part of town. I won't give away the history of the ship, go look it up yourself.
From Port Angeles we took the road up Hurricane Ridge. To Albertine's delight and my mortal terror, black-tailed deer are incredibly common along this route. The black-tail subspecies is unlike any deer I've seen before - almost unique to this area, and yet they're about as smart as any other deer (that is, daft as doornails) when it comes to leaping in front of unwary motorists with no apparent provocation.
Don't be tempted to gaze at the views out the other window.
When you finally reach the top, the view of the mountains will be unparalleled, and Albertine will sing Misty Mountains from The Hobbit soundtrack to you.
Windblown and freezing, we headed back down the mountain through God's smoke machine.
Upon reaching the bottom of the hill and realizing we had some time left in the day, Albertine and I decided to hike this trail -
Maybe it was to do with the moody weather, time of day or our own fatigue, but to me it seemed like Soleduck Falls (also spelled Sol Duc) was a whole different animal from the trails we had hiked previously. The trees strewn across the hillside seemed older and gnarlier, and the little light that made it past their leaves was soaked up by the dark soil, roots and rocks under our feet. Dark and spooky for sure.
We pressed on, determined to get that "soft water" shot of the falls we had been craving all week.
And with the help of our tripod, we got it!
More to come!