Going West: July 17 (Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park)

Three miles. Three hours. The Hurricane Hill hike in Olympic National Park is absolutely unbelievable. Driving in from Port Angeles, there is only one road to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center. It winds uphill for 15 miles.


Driving up to Hurricane Ridge

This is where most people stop, watch the deer roam the parking lot, throw a few snowballs, take a few pictures, and drive back down. It was impressive to be above some of the clouds, and we were ready to hike.  We were more prepared this time than we were for our hikes at Mt. Rainier.  We brought water, we picked up lunch at the Wal Mart Subway store on the way in, and we had warm clothes with us (we packed hats, Julia and Elizabeth wore my coats, and I wore the extra flannel shirt and jacket we’d brought along for when we meet up with Mike). 



The Visitor’s Center:  We didn’t know we had to drive further to reach the trail!


A deer checks out our truck


A morning hike is going to require some coffee



Where’s that heat wave we keep reading about?


Those hiking the hill drive another 1.5 miles to a parking area. Today the lot was full and we had to park an extra quarter mile down the mountain. The walk up to the trailhead let us know immediately we were in a higher elevation. We were breathing harder and our hearts were pumping faster.

The hike is a paved trail (mostly) and winds through alpine meadows, snow covered pathways, and steep ridges. I could have used those hiking boots the dog chewed up a few weeks ago.


A glimpse of the alpine meadows we couldn’t see at Mt. Rainier



Starting down the trail



Just when you think the road should end . . .







Half way there!


We walked slowly and stopped to watch the animals. The people leaving the trail told us they saw 3 bears, and that made us pause for a minute before they explained they were small black dots on the distant hills. We only spotted one all day, and while it doesn’t show up on our pictures, we could see through the binoculars it was definitely a bear!  Better yet, he was at a suitably happy half-mile distance – my favorite way to see a bear. 





Julia loved the walk because she has a thing for small, furry, pudgy mammals. Today her favorite was the mountain marmot. She counted more than a dozen and took lots of pics of all of them.


It’s a marmot!


Marmot along the Hurricane Ridge trail


It took us more than an hour to reach the top (in the video below, watch for the marmot chilling out on the rock when I pass by the snowy side of the mountain – we didn’t even notice him until much later!). The view was amazing, though. We actually had 20 or so minutes at the top before heavy fog rolled in and the mountains disappeared completely. For a brief time, we could see the distant Strait of Juan de Fuca (we could actually see across the water, which was more than we saw standing on the beach yesterday!).

Hurricane Ridge: The top of Hurricane Hill


We ate lunch, shooed the chipmunks away from our backpack, watched the marmots, trailed some deer, and then headed back down. As Elizabeth reminded us, we had leftover fudge from Seattle waiting in the car!  Down was definitely easier than up, but going up was worth every step.


Tired hikers at the top!
















From here you can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca


On a clear day you should see mountain ranges, the ocean, and other landmarks.  Today, we only caught glimpses of these during breaks in the fog. 



The snowy parts were more difficult on the way down



Looking back at the top



Looking down at the trail ahead



We did it! 

If you look at the hill to the right of the post, the top of the climb was the cluster of trees about halfway between the post and the photo edge.

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