Friday, April 30, 2010

We made it, now - ONWARD!

We did it. Made it from Salmon, ID (these mountains) to Ephrata, WA to regroup and go for another week in the Olympic National Park.

The red bandit is STILL kicking. After some attention on a roadside pull-off (I was on cougar watch) we spent another hour or so in the nearby Wal-Mart parking lot...after getting pulled over for a newly "out" headlight. (Thank you Sheriff in a nondescript Idaho town who sits outside the Sparkle Inn.) The saving grace was that nothing had been too extreme, save a coolant hose replacement and some flushes. Once again, I've learned more about cars from this one than in the last 25 years of my life.
After a few days in Ephrata and yet another trip to the grocery store for easy cook everything, we packed and psyched ourselves up to camp in a rainforest...I forgot the coffee press and sporks. Lesson learned immediately. There were some very wet and creative mornings.

We started at Heart O' the Hills campground, nearby the main Olympic National Park visitor's center. The lighting within the greenery was stunning and just became more enchanting as the trip progressed. After a visit to the incredibly helpful visitor's center, we decided to hotfoot it to the west coast near Rialto Beach and hopefully catch a nice pocket of weather.
I had never seen tide pools and a few miles down a a rain storm (so much for nice weather), had us tip-toe-ing around muscles, sea stars, and anemones. The rain was picking up and we were starving so we slogged back to the car and back to Mora Campground for some hot clam chowder and a little afternoon reading snuggled up in our warm, dry sleeping bags.
Fast-forward through the night. Good morning ravens and slugs! On the floor of my fabulous Sierra Designs tent, of which I have sang many praises, was a pool of water which required a snorkel. My coaster sized thermarest was on the verge of floating and Rocky was already hacking up a lung from some crazy, western rainforest cold. Coffee anyone? Treated ourselves to energy drinks in the Quilleyute (sp?) reservation and enjoyed the brief bout of sunshine...when we should have been drying out the tent. I took some pictures instead and it was off to the Hoh Rainforest, further towards the interior.

It was a soggy, soggy day and spirits were...not low...but altered. (see the "new American Gothic" on left) After an uplifting hike through the Hall of Mosses and a very informative chat with the ranger about how it had snowed the previous night AND checking the status of the tent (it still had standing water in it), we bit the bullet and drove the 20 miles back out to Forks to find a cheap, DRY room. I'd have fought a little harder were we not headed to Alaska this summer to live in tents.
Anyone familiar with Forks? Yes you Twilight fans, THE Forks, Washington. Hilarity ensued as we watched crazed women stake out the sheriff station with telephoto lenses and drive past the endless "Twilight Fans" signs and stores. Baffled as I was, it sounds like commerce has returned since the timber industry there went bunk. So, cheers to silver linings.
We continued on dry and chipper the next day to do the Sol Duc falls mini-hike. Gorgeous area and the forest fairies were out for certain! Met up with David, an Alaska friend and his partners-in-crime (Titus the mastiff and Aloe the lab mutt) for one last night of camping. Great friends make great times even better and we finished with a big breakfast and hugs.
Bags are packed, boxes are shipped, ducks are SO in a row; we are Alaska bound! Flying out tomorrow and I for one, am anxiously awaiting the reunion with friends and the mighty Kenai river.

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