It’s been a while since I blogged! So where do I begin again? Let’s start with an “How I spent my summer vacation!” essay. Here you go!
Our Hiking Vacation (with kids!) Begins
The treadmill and stair machine at the gym are no match for real life hiking. So although I’d been working out regularly, starting our hiking vacation at a place called “Staircase” was a little intimidating to my out-of-shape legs. Fortunately for me, Staircase is named after steps that have rotted away and no longer exist to torture untrained tourists’ quad muscles. The Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park is on the southeast side of the park, and it is less popular than the entrance by the Hoh Rainforest. However, the hiking is spectacular, and this old growth forest ended up being the perfect place to kick off our 12 days of exploring Washington.
Staircase Rapids Loop
The travel guide I was using during our trip said that this hike, the Rapids Loop Trail, was 4 miles, which was misleading. It was only about 2 miles, with mild elevation changes on the trail. The path was gorgeous, with huge, old moss covered trees and boulders. At the halfway point, hikers cross the river on a suspension bridge, which was built to replace a smaller bridge washed away by a flood. Although technically this is not a rainforest, I thought that the lush mosses that surrounded us were more beautiful than the mosses in the famous “Hall of Mosses” in the Hoh Rainforest. This is definitely a trail that should not be missed!
Hoodsport and the Hood Canal
We spent the night in Hoodsport at Glen Ayr Hotel and RV Park. The hotel owns a dock on the Hood Canal, where we sat for a little while that afternoon and saw a seal popping its head up out of the water. That evening, Emmy picked The Tides restaurant for dinner. She wanted to eat seafood, and assumed correctly that a place called “The Tides” would have some choices. The hotel also had a very nice hot tub in a separate building from the hotel rooms, which we took advantage of. Hood Canal is popular with divers and as we sat outside our room, we watched three divers suit up in hotel parking lot. They went diving in the evening during high tide. The next morning during low tide, we went back out to the doce and walked on the rocky beach. A family was bringing crab traps up on the dock and showed us a rock crab they had caught.
Mount Walker and Rainbow Canyon
Our handy guidebook said that the view from Mount Walker is incredible, with views of Seattle and also Mount Rainier. As we were driving up Mount Walker, all we saw was a curious deer and more and more fog. By the time we arrived at the viewpoint, we could barely see the trees in front of us. So much for the incredible views! We had also planned on hiking the Rainbow Canyon Nature Trail, but we couldn’t find the trail head! Supposedly, it was at the back of a campground in the same area as Mount Walker, but there were no signs for a campground or the trail. We were persistent, however, and stopped by a Ranger station to search the map for the elusive trail. The map showed that the campground entrance was right across the street from the entrance to Mount Walker. We drove back and parked by a gravel road that had been blocked off. As we walked back into the forest, we could see campground sites that we hadn’t noticed before because they were completely overgrown. This was obviously a campground that wasn’t in use anymore. At the very back of the campground, just like the guidebook stated, we saw the trailhead sign.
The trail was very narrow and closed in. No one else was there, of course, since it was so hard to find! As we descended into the canyon, wet ferns brushed up against our legs, and we felt as though we were walking in a Jurassic era forest. The girls were a little freaked out by the quiet, dense trail. The youngest started to look quite anxiously around the forest for mountain lions. That is the one thing we didn’t want to see!
Have you been to Olympic National Park? If you haven’t, add it to your vacation list!