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The Masarie Gang: Adventure Blog

Pacific North West Adventures 6_9_18 to 6_17_18

Posted on April 10, 2019 with 0 comments

I went on an eleven-day trip this past June to the Pacific North West. My friend Kurtis and I flew out to Portland, Oregon and rented a car.  Our trip included adventures in Washington, Oregon, and we drove thru the top of California.  My research prior to the trip included checking out a few library books about the area and taking a lot of notes.  I gathered a lot of information to use as a guide for ideas of things we could do. There are so many options and we did as much as we could in the time we had.  In hindsight it might have been better to spend more time in fewer places.  Even with my research, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about where we were going which I think is a good thing.

We stayed with my friend Kathy for part of the trip and we camped the rest of the time. Kathy, and her boyfriend Sean, were living in a beautiful place in Olympia, Washington.  Their home had big windows that looked out on the Puget Sound.  You could see seals swimming by, we saw a mama deer and her two babies on the shore one day, when its clear you can see the mountains in the distance, and the sunsets were amazing.  The photos below were taken out in front of their home, they are both long exposures taken at night.

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We visited four different parks, around the Olympia area, in one day; we got in about eight miles of walking. The terrain was flat and all of us found it hard to believe that we walked as much as we did. This included Mima Mounds Natural Area, there was a firing range nearby so it wasn’t very peaceful but it was still an interesting place.

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Tum Water Falls State Park is a 15 acre park that wanders along the river. When you pull into the parking lot it doesn’t look like much, don’t let that fool you. It’s really a nice place with waterfalls, fish ladders, and lot of interesting trees and foliage. 

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Priest Point is a small park outside Olympia that has some big trees and trails by the water.  We went there in two different weather conditions once when it was rainy and the other time when it was sunny.  It is interesting how the weather can make the same place seem so different.

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Our last stop was Niqually National Wildlife Refuge this area had some old barns and swampy areas that were interesting. Green and blue are my favorite colors and I am glad that the landscape in the Pacific Northwest has an abundance of these colors often seen side by side.

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While in the Olympia area we also visited Wolf Haven International. In addition to getting to see the wolves on our tour, they like rain and we got to hear them howl at the rain which was really amazing. One of the people in our tour group also spotted a bald eagle in the tree.  It turns out to that this wolf sanctuary has been taking care of wolves since the early eighties and as a kid I sponsored a wolf from this organization.  I didn’t know that prior to going but it was pretty cool to figure that out.

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We went to Seattle one of the days we were there.  I was amazed at how easy it was to drive in and out of the downtown area.  We found a place to park the car and walked around and explored on foot.  It was a rainy day but the rain was on and off misty rain so it wasn’t bad.  That’s actually how all the rain we experienced during the trip was and we had mostly sunny days while we were there.  We saw a nice rainbow between the buildings, which was an added bonus. We walked along the river in Olympic Sculpture Park, Myrtle Edwards Park, and Centennial Park. We also went to Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.  They had a cool playground around the museums that was like a big castle,  I monkeyed  around on it for a while.

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Kathy, Kurtis, and I went and checked out Mt. St Helen's and Mt. Rainer on the same day.  We went to Mount St. Helen's first and the thing I was most intrigued by was the noble pine trees. Thousands of these trees cover the hillsides of the mountains and when you look at them it looks like they are out of focus.    It’s really a very psychedelic thing to see.

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Mt. Rainer was a really cool place too.  We saw a couple of waterfalls along the drive thru the park; Narada Falls and Christine falls, enjoyed the banks of the Nisqually river, walked the Trail of Shadows and saw lots of amazing trees.  We also drove up to the road to the Paradise parking area and the snow covered peak.  I want to come back and spend more time exploring these parks. 

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After a few days in the Olympia area Kurtis and I set out to drive the Pacific Coastal Highway.  We cut across from Olympia and started in Astoria, Washington and drove down to the top of California. We drove the coastal highway in two days and on the third day after some hiking in the morning we cut across on highway 199 in Northern California to I5 and then back up to the Columbia River Gorge.  I think we should of spent at least one more day doing the coastal drive to be able to see more things.

Along the coastal highway we check out a couple of lighthouses and some nice trees at Cape Disappointment. This would likely been a more interesting place at sunrise or sunset when the light on the water would have been better. 

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We later hiked down to the Devil’s Cauldron; this was a short hike off the side of the road and a place we just happened upon.  This rocky area along the coast had some beautiful trees, lush foliage, and flowers.  As I stood out next to the Devil’s Cauldron with my back to it I was a little nervous thinking that if I lost my footing or if a strong wind came up suddenly I could easily find myself being an ingredient in the devil’s stew. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we proceeded down the coast. 

_I7A6350.jpgphoto by Kurtis Welch

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We stopped next at Munson Creek State Natural Area.  You can do a short hike here thru an old-growth spruce forest to Munson Creek Falls._I7A6482_resized.jpg

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The forest was very lush and magical.  I think it looks like you are going to take a trip down the mossy rabbit hole. 

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We stayed the first night at Devils Lake Campground.  This was a nice campground, the campsites are small and close together, but on one side of the campground is Devils Lake and just across the street on the other side is the ocean.  We got there in time to set up the tent before dark, check out the lake, walk on the beach, and watch the sunset.  You could hear the ocean waves crashing from the tents, which was really nice.

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The next day we continued down the coast and stopped at the Devil’s Churn, which was cool, but I liked the Devil’s Cauldron better. 

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We also walked along the beach and looked for puffins at Face Rock in Bandon.  We didn’t see any puffins but we did see some seals and a lot of other birds. The rocks and all the washed up tree stumps were interesting too.

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We camped that night near Gold Beach, Oregon next to the Rouge River at the Qousatana campground. This was the river area behind our campsite.

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This campground is close to the Frances Schrader Old Growth Trial, which we also hiked that day. Photographs can’t really capture the feeling of what it is like to walk in the forests among such giants. You can't tell how big the trees are from the photographs either.  Port Orford Cedar trees can be found here and they only grow in south west Oregon and north west California.

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Before leaving the next day we hiked to the nearby, Myrtle Tree Trail, which has the worlds largest Myrtle tree.

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_I7A7365_resized.jpgphoto by Kurtis Welch

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We also hiked the Redwood Nature Trail not long before we crossed into California.  This hike was ok in addition to Redwoods trees there were also many large Spruce and Cedar trees. It is always nice to walk in the woods and we did see some big trees. I was not in awe of the redwoods here like I have been in places like Muir Woods and other areas of California that have nice groves of redwood trees. As we drove across the top of California, to head back up to the Columbia River Gorge, we drove thru Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  This was the place to see redwood trees there were hundreds of them lining the sides of the road the drive thru here was amazing.  We didn’t stop and get out and in hind site we should of skipped the Redwood Trail and spent time here. I want to come back and spend time in that park and drive down to Avenue of the Giants.

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_I7A7758_resized.jpgphoto by Kurtis Welch

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We got on I-5 after that and drove to the Columbia River Gorge and camped at Beacon Rock State Park.  The next day we hiked to Hardy Falls and to the top of the Beacon Rock the trail was cut into the side of the rock and it really quite impressive engineering.  You get nice views of the river all along the way. 

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We then crossed over to the other side of the river and had lunch in Cascade Locks and went to ask for trail information at the ranger station here.  They ranger provided me with a map and let me know which trails were open, many trails and campgrounds in the area were closed due to the eagle creek fire in 2017.  We stopped at Multnomah Falls, which is 620 feet high, and you can see it from the highway.  We didn’t hike to the top of the falls but we did hike to a couple of the lower viewpoints of it.  We went to Crown Point after that which provides nice views of the river.  We were also able to hike to Latourell Falls and hiked a trail along Latourell Creek on the other side of the road from the falls. The river gorge will be a place to return to in the future when the closed trails are open again.  As the sun was setting we headed back up to Kathy and Sean’s in Olympia.

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The next day we all headed out to the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park along 101. We camped at Heart O’ Hills Campground and hiked at Hurricane Ridge.  Before sunset Kurtis and I decided to walk around and check out the campground and we discovered the Heart O’ Hills trail.   We walked thru the forest on the trail for a while until we turned around to get back before it got dark.  This trail was my favorite forest with big trees we walked thru during the trip.  The trail itself was flat and along a creek with many magnificent trees.

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The next day we stopped at Lake Crescent and hiked to Marymere Falls.

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We continued on afterwards to the Hoh Rainforest/Hoh River Valley.  We hiked the Hall of Mosses Trail, the forest was actually quite dry while we were there and this was the only day we experienced any humidity and the warmest temperatures of the trip.  This trail and the mossy trees were amazing. 

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The creek bed in one part of the park was an amazing blue color, which contrasted well with the green foliage.

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After hiking the trail we stopped and hung out down by the Hoh river. As we were walking out to it, I said I wasn’t going to bring the zoom lens down there so we would probably see and eagle.  Sure enough when we got down to the water we spotted a bald eagle flying on the other side of the river. 

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We stopped at the Duncan Cedar on the drive home, which is one of the tallest Western Red Cedar trees in the world. 

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Our last stop was Ruby Beach before we headed back to Olympia.  The next day we returned the rental car to Portland and flew home.

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Overall the trip was amazing and I am excited to go back in the future and explore and spend more time in some of the places we went as well as check out places we didn’t have time to this trip.  It would take multiple trips or living in the area somewhere to even begin to see a fraction of the amazing places that are out there.  I loved the forests they are so lush and green. Photographs don’t really due them justice or capture the feeling you get from being there in them. Some things are just best experienced in person as words fail to adequately describe them either.  I have done my best here to recall my experiences, I should of likely done it sooner. I took more photographs on this trip than any trip I have been on.  I think it had a lot to do with how much I like trees. A lot of them were not any good either but that’s how photography works you take a lot of images to end up with a few good ones.  After looking thru them I narrowed it down to a little less than 200 of my favorites which is still really too many to share but I decided to share most of them anyway.  Thanks for joining me as I revisited my adventures.