Olympic National Park

13-24 August 2020
Olympic National Park

This was the second half of my RV adventure with ZoZoZoom and Jim (aka mom and dad).  After visiting the Redwoods we plowed through Oregon in a single day and stayed at a small county park in Washington before arriving at the Quinault Rainforest the next day.  Jim was especially excited to visit rainforest, and this was the first of several we visited.

Our first stop was a nice walk to view the tallest known Sitka Spruce tree on the shores of Lake Qunault.

Into the woods
Sitka Spruce >> Jim

We had a tough time finding camping in the area so we headed deep into Olympic National Park to a remote campground with no potable water and just a dozen sites (North Fork).  Fortunately there was room at the inn.  And with good reason — the campground was weirdly soggy and dusty and buggy all at once.  But it was just fine with the RV to spend time in, and ZoZo and I also managed to do a short hike up to Irely Lake.

Massive root ball
Irely Lake

The next day we headed over to the Queets Rainforest and it looked *a lot* more like what we were expecting, with tall trees covered in moss suspended above a floor littered with ferns and nurse logs.

That’s more like it!
Jim finds a place to hide

The road to Queets was even more sketchy than the road to North Fork.  On the map it said RVs were “not recommended” but ZoZo’s RV is a small one so we thought it would be okay.  Aside from a few miles where the road narrowed to one lane, it was fine, and we did not encounter any oncoming traffic in a tough spot.

And the campground was absolutely magical.

View from our campsite

We did a mile on the rugged Sams River Loop trail before cutting back over to the road and walking on that back to the campground to avoid going back over several mossy blowdowns.  It was probably the most remote trail we did the whole trip, and it was really too stunning (and too dense) to photograph well.

The next day I had originally planned to  drive us to Kalaloch to camp, but there were no sites available, and Jim and ZoZo so were so enthralled with the rainforest that they wanted to press on to Hoh.  So we did!

And so did everyone else!  We sat in a line of dozens of cars at the park boundary for an hour while we waited for an equal number of cars to exit.

We were worried we would not get a campsite (the ranger said the odds were not great) but we did manage to snag one of the last ones, and it happened to be in the prettiest loop in the campground.

The next morning we hiked the Spruce Nature Trail.

Spruce Nature Trail
ZoZo can’t reach

And the following morning we hiked the Hall of Mosses trail.

Banana Slug!
A colonnade over a nurse log
ZoZo communes in the Maple Grove

After Hoh, we headed around to Sol Duc where we would end up in an RV campground with full hookups for the first time.  But on the way we stopped at the Ancient Groves trail, which was unexpectedly absolutely stunning.  Jim described it as a fairytale forest, just like the ones he imagined when when he was young (not so long ago!).

Beware of unicorns
JimmyJam naps on a bed of moss
A sprite
Cycle of life

The next day I gave my parents a break from me for a bit and did a 20 mile solo hike up to Seven Lakes Basin.  (To quote Marge Simpson, “Sometimes family time means apart time!”).

But they did not miss a beat, opting to do their own hike to Sol Duc Falls.

Fern porn?
Hey! This leaf is almost as big as my mask!
Gorgeous berries
Sol Duc Falls

The next day we headed over to a nearby dump station before heading on.  When we were done with our chores, we started up the RV and it made a slightly-disturbing explosion sound (okay, maybe a-lot-disturbing!).  All of a sudden the RV was louder than a dozen Harleys.  Something was wrong.

We decided to coast downhill until we were able to get cell service to call for help.  But we did not really get reliable service until we reached the Lake Crescent Lodge.

As it turns out, it was a beautiful place to break down.

Waiting for the tow truck

The tow truck took us to a shop in Sequim (pronounced like Squim) and fortunately there was a hotel within walking distance that had a room for the night.  But the following night they were already booked (it was a Friday night).  We were hopeful the repair would be done before the weekend.

I walked to another local repair shop that rented cars, so we would be able to continue to see the park while we waited.  And the next morning we went back to Crescent Lake to walk the Moments in Time Trail.

Welcome back!
Hiking buddy

When we were done with the hike I called to check on the RV and the news was bad.  The repair wouldn’t be done until Monday.  I immediately looked for a place to stay but everything was booked.  Yikes!

Fortunately, I found a tiny king bedroom for my folks on the waterfront in Port Angeles.  I set them up there, and then prayed I would be able to find a campsite for myself nearby in the park at Heart o’ the Hills campground.  Luckily, there were a few spots left.

My own King Suite

It was actually really nice to split up for a bit.  You know.  Family time!

The next morning I drove the rental car into town early, picked up ZoZo and Jim, and headed up to Hurricane Ridge.  We had good luck with the weather and we were happy to arrive early when it was still clear.

Mount Olympus
Hurricane Hill

We did a nice walk around the Visitor Center on the Big Meadow Loop.

Big Meadow Loop

Double Sub had just been here at Hurricane Ridge a couple of weeks ago (he rode his bike all the way up!) so we took the obligatory selfie to show that we made it to the top, too!

Selfie for Double Sub

Before leaving we had breakfast at a picnic area where we watched the clouds eventually obscure the view.

Slowly socking in

The rest of the morning we took our time driving back down, stopping to look at wildflowers.  Some of them were hard to reach.

Class 3 climb to a Penstemon (or was that Fireweed?)
Beautiful reservoirs

The next day we did a short trip over to Madison Falls, which were quite pretty but I guess we didn’t take a picture.  Instead, here’s a nice Mary Oliver poem that was posted on the walk to the falls.

A luminous doom

Then on Monday, while we nervously awaited news on the RV repair, we did a short hike out to Dungeness Spit.

A spitting image

After the hike we set up shop at a picnic table in the shade, playing cards and eating lunch until we got the good news: the RV was fixed!


We returned to Sequim, picked up the RV, dropped off the rental car, and managed to make it all the way to my sibling’s house in Portland just in the nick of time so we could all celebrate ZoZo’s birthday.  Whew!

Meanwhile, California was on fire.

The next day, ZoZo and Jim decided to take their time getting back to Davis, so I hopped on a flight to San Diego from Portland.  It was weird flying in the time of COVID, but I was happy to be on my way home.  It was a fitting end to a memorable trip, as I flew over the spectacular Cascade Range and the smoky plumes that covered the Sierra.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Awesome trip, thanks for sharing. What was up with the RV? failed AC compressor or power steering or fan or ?


    Liked by 2 people

    1. JimmyJam says:

      A blown spark plug.

      Liked by 1 person

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