Bright Ideas in the Fog!

Sunday, August 12, 2007
Northern Olympic Peninsula, WA

As we move the camper to the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula, we travel along beautiful glacier carved Crescent Lake. Without even vocalizing it, Mark and I are both making mental notes to come back and check out the area. It doesn't take us long to get the camper set up between Port Angeles and Sequim (pronounced Skwim) leaving us plenty of time to visit another area of Olympic National Park.....Hurricane Ridge. We make a quick stop at the Visitor's Center because Vance has completed his Jr. Ranger and wants to be awarded his badge.

I overheard a Ranger give an elderly couple directions for a hike to a subalpine lake called PJ that's popular for fishing! Suddenly a second idea for something to do in the Park has been planted in my mind. For now, I'm just anxious to get up to Hurricane Ridge. Our day has been mostly overcast up to this point, but some rays of sun are breaking through the clouds. With any luck we can see the snowcapped Olympic Mountains this afternoon....maybe even hike to PJ Lake. It's hard to believe that we can be so close to the world's largest ocean and we'll see mountains with glaciers! Keep in mind that we're from the Southeast, and this geography simply doesn't exist on our coastline.

On this day, it just wasn't meant to be! The 17 mile drive to Hurricane Ridge takes us deeper and deeper into heavy fog and mist. The temperature is also dropping into the 40's. We can't see anything other than the car in front of us and a few deer that are grazing along the roadside. We go all the way to the top knowing that this is a place we'll want to revisit - hopefully, on a clear day.

We've learned to roll with the punches when it comes to weather on this trip. Perhaps you've noticed that we're wearing raincoats quite a bit since we arrived in Washington. This is the wettest, soggiest corner in the lower 48 and we happen to be here during the dry season! Gore-Tex is a wonderful thing. Here's the twist. Where we set up camp today gets less than 15" of annual rainfall. How can that be? Sequim is in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mtns. All the warm moist air coming off the Pacific Ocean gets blocked by the mountain range and soaks the rainforest to the west. Sequim is rendered arid with ideal conditions for growing lavender. Visiting a lavender farm is high on my list of things to do and see in this area.

Meanwhile, we get back to our campsite and Vance has a surprise on the computer. After posting a 'Vance's Viewpoint' with a forceful denunciation of the Hetch Hetchy Dam in Yosemite National Park, he gets a response! From the director of the Restore Hetch Hetchy organization, no less. It was very encouraging for Vance to see firsthand that even kids have a voice!

Mark has been wanting to visit the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, located in Olympic National Park on the Elwha River. Both of these dams are slated for removal. After Vance's note from a group that wants to remove the Hetch Hetchy Dam, these two dam sites get added to our must see list.

So today was a typical travel day for us, except we didn't have to travel all that far from one campground to the next. Only 65 miles...that may be a record for us. Even with the clouds and fog, we've put together some ideas for how to spend the next couple of days. Now all we need is a little blue sky and some sunshine. Keep your fingers crossed.

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