Mount Olympus

  • Date: May 25-27, 2019
  • Start: Hoh Visitor Center
  • Distance: 44 miles
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Elevation gain: 7,400 feet
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Resources: The Mountaineers

Slivers of dark blue sky beyond the trees gradually gave way to a visible, mountainous horizon as we emerged onto the open meadow below the glacial moraine. The confinements of lowland and subalpine scenery–nearly 18 miles and endless hours of it–were now behind us. The half moon glowed above, bordered by pink, wispy clouds, and the sky grew lighter with every upward step we took. I knew what was located beyond the moraine. I’d seen the photos on various trip reports while researching the route. But as we stepped onto it, no longer obscured by forest and fog, I was once again reminded that no photo can ever do justice to experiencing a place like this in person.Β 

Before 2019, Mack and I had only ever experienced the Olympics once: backpacking *most of* the Hoh River Trail in early spring in 2016. It was probably one of the most miserable backpacking experiences because of the heavy rain. By the last night we were literally sleeping in a puddle in our tent, unable to get all the water out. We saw zero mountains on that trip and, even when summers rolled around, never felt quite motivated enough to make it back out. Regardless, Olympus remained high on our list of mountains we wanted to experience. Fast forward to April 2019 on a casual crag climbing trip with friends. Naturally, upcoming mountain goals is a hot topic of conversation. Stacia and Jon are pushing for Olympus the following month. Would we like to join?Β 

Day 1: Hoh Visitor Center to Glacier Meadows (17.5 miles; 12 hours 5 minutes, breaks included)

Mountaineering boots…trail runners…mountaineering boots…trail runners? The question raced through my mind as we stood in the parking lot waiting for Stacia and Jon to get the last of their gear packed. Three days in mountaineering boots and no back-up shoes to avoid strapping the boots to my pack, while everyone else in our group was doing just the opposite. “Meh,” I thought, “I can handle it.”

We all groaned beneath the weight of our packs as we started our long walk to base camp. I realized how soft “ultraneering” had made me. I was complaining about a 27 lb pack, and everyone was carrying well over that amount! We all moved pretty conservatively as we adjusted to the unfamiliar load, but it gave us a chance to enjoy our surroundings. Moss dripping from spruce and hemlock trees, lush ferns lining the narrow singletrack, the sound of flowing water always within earshot. Memories of our very first trip came rushing back to me as we sauntered beneath an endless canopy.

Despite our relaxed pace, the nine miles to the Olympus Guard Station passed quickly. We enjoyed lunch on the covered porch, happy to be eating off some of the weight in our packs (although no amount that Jon ate was going to alleviate the weight of the giant bag of chicken he’d packed in for his and Stacia’s dinner). A number of groups with ice axes, helmets, and pickets strapped to their packs walked by as we ate. Olympus was going to be crowded this weekend…

Mack takes fantastic iPhone photos sometimes
A smiling Stacia with her camera in hand
Me, Jon, and Mack (PC: Stacia)
Olympus Guard Station

Rain started to fall shortly after we passed Lewis Meadows. It began as light drizzle, but soon we found ourselves pulling out rain jackets and throwing on bulky pack covers. Moments later, we sat huddled in a dry spot beneath some trees, laughing and joking about the current conditions (expected though they were) but also hoping that we weren’t hiking all this way to get weathered out the following day. More folks–all loaded down with mountaineering gear, including a couple of crazies carrying skis!–passed us while we waited for a clear window. Another worry all crossed our minds: would we be able to find a campsite?

Following campsite 12.4, we began the five-mile ascent to Glacier Meadows. The forest became progressively moodier the higher we climbed. Fog and mist shrouded the tops of the trees but did not detract from their vibrancy. On the contrary, our surroundings were even more illuminated and, though a bit more anxious to reach camp, we stopped to soak it all in. At mile 15 or so, we arrived at Martin Creek, the furthest Mack and I had hiked before turning around due to snow conditions back in 2016. This time we crossed it–with shoes on instead of off!–and continued on. We were finally going to complete the Hoh River Trail!

Just before Elk Lake, another climber caught up to us and I noticed he was sporting a PMR (Portland Mountain Rescue) shirt. I looked up, hoping it was someone I knew so I wasn’t just staring awkwardly at some random person’s face. I was certain I recognized him (and fairly sure we were at least Facebook acquaintances), but just in case I blurted out, “Hey, don’t I know you?” Thankfully, I did. It was Matt, a climber who I’d run into a handful of times on the summit of Mount Hood! Unsurprisingly, he was also hiking in to Glacier Meadows to attempt Olympus the next morning. It was a funny and somewhat surreal experience seeing a familiar face all the way out here, but it also made me feel just a tad closer to the mountaineering community in the PNW.

These two are the cutest πŸ™‚
Starting the uphill section of Hoh River Trail
Typical moody PNW forest

We took one last longer break at Elk Lake before the final uphill push to camp. The clouds were starting to part a little bit and at long last we got a few brief glimpses of Olympus from the lake! Views improved the higher we climbed. While traversing a particularly steep slope, we could see Glacier Creek flowing thousands of feet below us, as well as look across at both Mount Olympus and Mount Tom standing guard over the entire valley. For some strange, illogical reason, I’d never thought much of the Olympic mountains, and I can’t exactly pinpoint the origin of my lack of appreciation. But now, the only words that came to mind as I stood there awestruck? What. Have. I. Been. Missing.

Looking down on Elk Lake
Mountains!!!

Sunset was close now and we were all very much ready to make camp. Once we reached the rickety ladder leading down a steep, scree-filled ravine, we knew we were getting close. Unfortunately, for safety reasons, we had to move one at a time down the ladder, which made covering this extremely short distance a tedious ordeal (but what a cool photo op!). After scrambling up to the trail on the other side, we arrived at Glacier Meadows within minutes, but it appeared finding a campsite was possibly going to be an issue. Fortunately, a friendly camper who saw us searching (and probably exuding a little bit of desperation in the process) provided some beta that led us to a campsite right off the main trail to Blue Glacier!

We dropped our burdensome packs and immediately set up. Mack was pretty adamant about getting to bed as soon as possible since we had an early, alpine start alarm set for the next morning. (As I’ve probably mentioned in many a post, he does not function well on low sleep) Following some brief excitement from a bear walking by our camp,–we only saw one, but apparently there were two or three more nearby!–we quickly moved through our in-camp routine and were soon tucked into our sleeping bags. Stacia and Jon remained outside, enjoying a meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, and, if I remember correctly, asparagus. The delicious aroma wafted through our tent wall and my stomach growled. They ended up cooking too much and I lucked out with some leftover potatoes and asparagus (thank you, Stacia!) a few minutes later. I went to bed with a happy (albeit a little gassy) stomach, both nervous and ecstatic about what the next morning would bring.

The dreaded ladder down climb
Black bear near our campsite (PC: Stacia)

Day 2: Glacier Meadows to Mount Olympus summit, then back to Glacier Meadows (9 miles; 14 hours 10 minutes, breaks included)

Our movement was slow going (more from sleepiness than pack weight this time) as we stumbled in the dark getting everything together for the long day ahead. Stacia and I were fairly awake and alert–maybe even a little bubbly with excitement–by the time we were ready to start hiking up. Jon and Mack would get there in the next hour or so. First light was upon us as we hiked to the top of the moraine overlooking the Blue Glacier. Here we were surrounded by rugged, snow capped peaks (a sight that immediately made me think of the North Cascades), looking out onto a sprawling sea of snow, ice, and rock, when less than 24 hours prior we’d been hiking through a rainforest!Β 

We sat for a few minutes at the top to watch the sunrise then began the careful, one-at-a-time descent to the glacier. With how loose the rock was combined with the grade of the slope, it was nearly impossible to not kick some rock down (always unintentional of course). The one and only time I ended up running over the course of our trip was when I had rocks–a few that could’ve caused some serious injury–barreling down toward me while navigating the final part of the descent. Despite the dangers of glacier travel, I was relieved to step onto one and be done with all the choss for a little while.

Traversing the moraine
Blue Glacier
Jon descending to the glacier

Although still in the shadows, we watched as sunlight gradually washed over Olympus’ three peaks as we roped up for the remainder of the climb. By this time, we could see other groups traversing the top of the moraine. There were already a few groups crossing the glacier and/or heading up to Snow Dome as well. It was time to get going if we didn’t want to get caught in rush hour traffic at the summit block. 

Navigating across the glacier went smoothly. We followed the boot track put down by the groups ahead of us. There were a few visible cracks, but overall the glacier was still well covered. The terrain steepened once we started the ascent to Snow Dome and I was grateful for the steps that had already been kicked in as it allowed me to conserve my energy. We took short breaks whenever we reached brief plateaus, taking swigs of water now that the sun was starting to beat down on us. We were high enough now that we could see beyond Matthias and Mercury to the southern peaks of the Bailey Range (the traverse of which is officially on my bucket list after this trip) and follow its curved shape to a slew of peaks to the north as well! 

Stacia and Jon crossing the glacier
Climbing up to Snow Dome
Mount Matthias and Mount Mercury (I think…)

After one final steep slope, we enjoyed a more gradual ascent (so gradual that it almost looks flat in the photo below) to the base of yet another steep snow section. At least from here we could finally see our objective: the West Peak of Mount Olympus. Unfortunately, we could also see the conga line of climbers all making their way up. As we got closer, we could make out a number of climbers hanging out at the saddle below the summit block, waiting in line at the base of the summit block, or crawling up various faces of the summit block. It was a shit show and none of us liked the look of it. My heart sank as I seriously began to consider that the summit might not be in the cards for us. We all decided it would be best to set our packs down and take a longer break rather than climb up to the saddle where it was bound to be colder and blustery.

The minutes dragged on as we watched (minus Mack who opted for a glacier nap) and waited, hoping to see groups beginning their descent. Nothing happened. The summit block was still crawling with climbers even after a half hour to an hour of sitting around. We decided to get moving. Afterall, we still had to climb up Fourth of July route, gaining at least another 1,000 feet to reach the saddle between the summit block and the false summit.

We followed the boot track, taking our time since we knew we’d have to wait our turn once we topped out. Being early enough in the season, snowbridges were still intact and we were able to get up close and personal with the bergschrund, peering into the gaping, cavernous crack that usually prevents this route from being feasible. One last steep snow pitch above the ‘schrund brought us to the saddle and the continuation of the waiting game. A three-person group descended from the false summit (probably having done the Crystal Pass route) and Stacia, who was acquainted with at least two of the members, approached them about setting up one rope for the summit block so we could work together rather than wait for each other. They agreed, and as soon as the remaining teams were completely off the summit blockβ€”another half hour to an hour wait…ughβ€”we climbed up more steep snow to the base of the rock.

Clear view of the west peak now!
Glacier naps
Heading up
Me, Mack, and Stacia (PC: Jon)
Me and Mack near one of the crevasses (PC: Stacia)
Mack and the bergschrund

Jon led the rock pitch to the summit. I can’t quite recall if his route stayed more on the northern aspect (rated about 5.4) or the eastern aspect (mostly class 4 with some 5th class moves), but either way it was nice to have it protected, especially with ice and snow still obscuring some portions of the rock. Stacia followed and cleaned, then belayed the rest of us up one at a time. Waiting was a little bit harder in this spot now that we were socked in and completely exposed to the ferocity of the wind. I was grateful when it was my turn to climb because I was able to warm up as I scrambled up the rock. Aside from the snow patches and my clunky mountaineering boots, the scramble wasn’t too bad, and the wind was far less vicious the higher I got! At the belay station, I made one more 5th class (maybe 4th class?) step to the narrow spine of the summit ridge and carefully navigated the snow and loose rock to join Mack at the summit.

The clouds broke sporadically, but only for fleeting seconds at a time. Never long enough to truly capture what Stacia believed to be one of the best views in Washington (this was her third Olympus summit). Nonetheless, we were all incredibly stoked to have made it safely and completely free of the crowds! No more anxiety and questioning whether or not we would reach the summit. The long morning of slogging and waiting around had finally paid off. After a whole bunch of picture taking–yes, even with the lack of views–we rappelled back down. Of course, as soon as the last person reached the base and was pulling the rope through, the clouds parted almost completely and the summit was clear. *sigh*

Jon leading the rock pitch
Mack on belay
Stacia and Jon belaying me up
Third straight year of a Memorial Day weekend summit! (First year: Shasta; second year: Hood via Cooper Spur)
Mostly socked in at the summit
Me and Stacia (PC: Jon)
Me rappelling off the summit

It’s amazing how immediately exhausted and beat you feel after reaching the summit of something. Like, your mind and body seem to become superhuman on the way up, then, as soon as that push to the summit is all over, all that energy and willpower is drained within minutes (seconds even!). Thankfully, after getting past the bergschrund, the way back was mostly easy, mindless plunge stepping. The scramble up the moraine was a little annoying and tedious, but after that it was downhill on “trail” to our camp. 

It was already late afternoon/early evening by the time we dropped our packs and flung off our boots and socks. Without camp shoes–I really should’ve at least packed flip flops–I walked around barefoot to air out my feet and spent the better part of my relaxation time peeling sap off. Similar to the previous evening, Mack and I crawled into our tent pretty early while Stacia and Jon hung out and enjoyed another hot dinner. We set our alarms and tried not to think about the next day’s long walk back to the car.

Back at the saddle below the summit block
Descending from Snow Dome
Camp at last

Day 3: Glacier Meadows to Hoh Visitor Center (17.5 miles; 8 hours 53 minutes, breaks included)

Nothing particularly special to describe about the hike out. We spent the morning and early afternoon leapfrogging with all the other exhausted,Β  cranky climbers dragging ass back to the comfort of their cars. And once we reached Olympus Guard Station with nine miles left, I experienced a whole tidal wave of regret about not having trail runners. My feet were in a world of pain and I could no longer keep up with anyone in my group (unless we were hiking uphill). With every footfall, I rhythmically muttered “F*** me, f*** me, f*** me, f*** me.” To add insult to injury, it was sunny, hot, and stuffy, and my dumb ass had only packed running tights and a long sleeve shirt to wear for the hike in and out. Not sure which decision was more stupid: the mountaineering boots or my cold-weather running ensemble. Mmmm…actually the boots. The boots were definitely the worst idea.

Having Stacia and Jon as company–even though I could barely keep up with them those last nine miles–definitely kept us from going completely crazy, and we all worked together to keep the morale up (an exceptionally difficult task at times when all of you are completely out of snacks). Before we knew it though, we were squeezing our way through the Disneyland hoardes of dayhikers and pit-stop tourists crowding the trailhead. We paused at Stacia and Jon’s car to say our goodbye’s, thanking them profusely again for allowing us to join them and for helping us summit a mountain that had been on our “must climb” list for years. I’m not sure we would’ve managed it all without their expertise and determination to make it happen.Β 

Mack started the drive home so I could air out my atrocious looking, god-awful smelling feet. As I lay slumped in the passenger seat, feet up on the dash (sorry Mack) while cool air from the open window whipped through my pruney toes, I scrolled through the many photos I’d taken the previous day. One of our biggest mountain goals of the year was complete and already I wanted to be back up high, back in one of those photos, gazing out at these mountains I hardly knew but desperately wanted to see more of. Olympics, I think this goes without saying, but we’re just getting started.

Me in my stupid outfit rushing to get out of the sun
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Hoh River Trail

  • Date: March 20-23, 2016
  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Start: Hoh Visitor Center
  • Distance: 35.1 miles
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Type: Out-and-back
  • Map: Green Trails Map 133S: Seven Lakes Basin/Mt Olympus Climbing
  • References: Washington Trails Association

Our Timberline Trail thru-hike back in October was the last time we packed up our Ospreys for an overnight adventure. We couldn’t wait to strap them on again and hit the trail for Spring Break. These past few months we considered various trip ideas (Zion Traverse, the Lost Coast Trail, Redwood National Park), but eventually settled on the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park. In all of our time growing up in the Pacific Northwest, neither of us had ever paid a visit to this nearby gem. It was time to change that.

Our original trip itinerary included the entirety of the Hoh River Trail, as well as the Seven Lakes Basin and Hoh Lake. Unfortunately, winter conditions only allowed us to safely complete about 30 miles of the intended 56.6 miles. Despite the setback, we enjoyed the low mileage days and came to appreciate them more as the weather became less and less ideal over the course of the trip. The title of this post really speaks for itself. Although the trail isn’t physically strenuous (with the exception of the last 4 or 5 miles up to Elk Lake, Glacier Meadows, and the base of Mount Olympus), I truly underestimated the mental toll the weather would take on us. What I thought would be an easy stroll through the woods (especially after we ixnayed the Seven Lakes Basin portion) ended up being our most challenging backcountry trek. However, as cold, wet, and miserable as the trip was at times, it never overshadowed the immense gratitude we felt at being able to experience such an incredibly beautiful place.

Beginning of the trail

 

Day 1: Hoh Visitor Center to Lewis Meadow Camp (10.3 miles; 6 hours 9 minutes, breaks not included)

Although this was our first hiking day, we actually arrived the previous afternoon. Due to an incredibly busy work week, we weren’t even able to pack up our gear until the morning we left! Having the afternoon to unwind in Hoh Campground was exactly what we needed, especially after the long five hour drive. We set up our tent for the first time in five months and crawled into our sleeping bags before it even turned dark outside.

We began our hike at 7 am. This was a later start than we anticipated, but at least headlamps weren’t necessary. The trail is relatively flat, so our hike was pretty moderate. However, we had to navigate around numerous blow downs and washouts, which were generally comprised of massive old growth trees. Climbing over these giants, whose diameter often exceeded my height, was no small feat! Despite the obstacles caused by the storm damage, the trek through the rainforest was magical, especially while the sun was still shining, highlighting the various hues of green surrounding us on all sides.

Hoh Campground site

Sunrise over Hoh River

We enjoyed breakfast at Five Mile Island Camp overlooking the Hoh River before continuing on. About a mile or so later, after filling up our dromedary bags from a nearby creek, I spotted a couple of bear tracks right on the trail! Needless to say, we were ‘whooping’ and clicking our trekking poles the rest of the way, though we didn’t see any more tracks the rest of the day (nor the rest of the trip). Part of me was hoping we might see a black bear (from a distance of course) at some point during our hike, but we never did. I imagine our obnoxious ‘whoops’ probably contributed to their absence.

Bear paw print!

Washout that conveniently served as a bridge

Very awkwardly angled bridge

Olympus Guard Station

As expected, our morning sunshine turned into on and off showers in the afternoon. This change in weather influenced our decision to stop at Lewis Meadow Camp rather than make the push to Elk Lake another 4.5 miles away. We found a spot with an incredible view of the Hoh River and the mountains in the distance. It also happened to be the one spot devoid of elk droppings, which had become increasingly frequent since Five Mile Island Camp. We tied our brand new bear canisters to some trees a little ways from our site and crossed our fingers that they would go undisturbed that night. We spent a little bit of time outside of the tent, however, the rain forced us inside for most of our stay. We fell asleep to the sound of rushing water and the pitter-patter of raindrops on our tent.

View of the Hoh near Lewis Meadow Camp

Camp #1 at Lewis Meadow

 

Day 2: Lewis Meadow Camp to Martin Creek, then back to 12.4 Mile Camp (6.3 miles; 4 hours 27 minutes, breaks not included)

The perpetual rain of the afternoon/night before continued on into the morning of our second day. A break in the weather finally happened around 7:30 am and we were able to get up and pack without having to worry about our stuff getting soaked. Of course the tent and rainfly were sopping wet, so complete protection was out of the question. The bear canisters appeared to have sat peacefully through the night. There were no new animal tracks around them, and the rope didn’t look like it had been chewed or gnawed. We hit the trail around 9:15 am, the latest we’ve ever started on a backpacking trip I think. But Elk Lake was only 4.5 miles away, so we weren’t concerned. Our spirits were pretty high, and I, personally, could hardly wait to get a glimpse of Mount Olympus.

Despite a few difficult blowdowns to get around, the first two miles of hiking were fairly easy. Then we hit 12.4 Mile Camp and the climbing began. Though not as steep as some of the other hikes we’ve completed, this section presented us with the first serious incline on the Hoh River Trail, and after 12+ miles of hiking! Our bodies weren’t ready for it, especially with the 30 lbs on our backs. “Just 2.5 more miles” was on repeat in my head.

Found this in the middle of the trail

Our day took its first sour turn just before we reached High Hoh Bridge. While crossing a tributary of Hoh River, Mack slipped and fell, soaking his socks and boots on an already wet weather day. In addition, he landed hard on his left hand and was nervous he might’ve done some serious injury to his middle finger. Mack makes a living as a guitarist, so this was cause for concern. Although there were no obvious signs of fracture or dislocation, we continued to keep an eye on it throughout the day.

We were still pretty hopeful about reaching Elk Lake after we crossed High Hoh Bridge. We had less than two miles of hiking left! The elevation gain after the bridge was brutal though and slowed us down quite a bit. But we pushed on, getting excited about setting up camp very soon. Then we hit Martin Creek, another bridgeless crossing. With no way across that was shallow enough for our boots, I donned my sandals and Mack crossed barefoot. It was painfully cold. Like ‘knives stabbing your feet’ cold. And there was just untouched snow (save for some elk tracks) on the other side. No trail in sight. I knew that Martin Creek Camp was just past this crossing, so picking up the trail wouldn’t have been difficult. But heavy snow here meant heavy snow the rest of the way up, and winter camping with our current gear would’ve been stupid. After one last longing gaze ahead, I reluctantly let go of my hope of seeing the mountains and we turned around.

Crossing High Hoh Bridge

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

Martin Creek

Potential claw marks?

Too much snow

Sad faces because we have to turn around

Although I knew we had made the smart decision, it was incredibly disheartening to turn back, especially since Glacier Meadows and Mount Olympus were what I’d been looking forward to the most. On the upside, we were done with our uphill hiking for the day and we could look forward to a snow-free campsite. We set-up at 12.4 Mile Camp, another site with an incredible view of the Hoh. The inside of our tent was wet from packing it up that morning, but our Therm-a-Rest ProLites kept us and our sleeping bags warm and dry. I have never been more thankful for our sleeping pads. We fell asleep to the sound of rushing water and rain for the second night in a row.

Camp #2 at 12.4 Mile Camp

Tent selfie after a hard day

Attempting to dry our socks and gloves

 

Day 3: 12.4 Mile Camp to Five Mile Island (7.1 miles; 4 hours, breaks not included)

The hike back to Five Mile Island (where we lunched on Day 1) was on familiar terrain, though a little muddier because of the recent rain. There were no surprises or unexpected setbacks like those of the previous day. The sun even came out for a short while! Then we arrived at Five Mile Island…

It started to pour. Now, since we’d been out, it had rained everyday and we’d pretty much gotten used to it. However, we’d been fortunate enough to have a break in the weather when we needed to set-up the tent. Not this time. At first we found it comical that at the exact moment we reached Five Mile Island the rain decided to come down full force. In fact, we sat and enjoyed it, hoping it would stop or at least lighten up after a few minutes. Instead, it poured even harder, and we were now soaked and starting to get cold. We had no other choice but to pitch our tent in the pouring rain, which was still soaked through and through from the previous two days. As bad luck would have it, the first spot we chose was too rocky and the stakes refused to stay put. We frantically searched for another spot. All the while our tent supplies continued to get more and more wet. Emotions erupted about this time as Mack and I argued over different sites and still ran into difficulty with the terrain. When we finally got the tent up, there were massive puddles covering the entire tent floor. I attempted to soak up some of them with my very small pack towel but to almost no avail. Thank goodness (again) for our sleeping pads. It was a mad rush to unpack and throw everything in before it all got too wet. It took a little while for both of us to let go of our frustrations, but once they subsided, we managed to enjoy the rest of our afternoon playing Crazy Eights, laughing about our recent misfortune, and dreaming about hot chocolate.

View of the Hoh from 12.4 Mile Camp

Getting water to purify

Tree root that doubles as a bridge!

Looking at on the Hoh from Five Mile Island; it’s pouring rain in this picture

Our poor tent

Camp #3 at Five Mile Island

 

Day 4: Five Mile Island to Hoh Visitor Center (5.3 miles; 2 hours 13 minutes, breaks not included)

It was still raining in the morning. Patience was in short supply due to the cold, wet start, so a few more unpleasantries were exchanged as we tried to pack up and get moving. But the trek out became more enjoyable once we started hiking. There was even some singing involved as we continued the responsibility of making our presence known to any nearby wildlife.Β Ironically, we did run into a trio of deerβ€”our first wildlife sighting of the entire trip!β€”when we were less than a mile from the trailhead. It’s amazing to me that even on an out-and-back route, the surroundings seem different and new when you pass them again. I guess that’s just part of the Hoh Rainforest’s inherent magic.

Heading back to the visitor center

Trail mix break

Finally saw some wildlife!

We were greeted with clean, dry clothes and shoes back at the car. As we drove away with the forest in the rearview mirror, I longed to be back out there already, despite the trials and disappointments we endured the last couple of days. A good piece of me never wants to leave these beautiful, wild places. At least we eventually got those hot chocolates we were pining for the previous night.

Summer can’t come soon enough.