Here Comes the Rain: Adventures in Olympic National Park

Good thing we waited for our new rain jackets to arrive from REI before starting this trip because in Olympic National Park they were in heavy rotation. So. Much. Rain. Of course all that moisture makes everything beautiful with fairy tale type forests and beautiful flowers.

It started to rain on our way to Kalaloch beach were we camped (someone wanted to see the tide pools, that someone is me) and continued to rain for the next three days. Rain makes more difficult. Car camping or backpacking becomes an exercise in trying to stay dry and clean. I think I mentioned this before but a reoccurring theme on this trip was our being lucky. When we got to the campground it was looking pretty full but we found one spot facing the ocean that was open. Talking to the rangers they mentioned that the spot had been reserved but it was a no show. Lucky for us! When you fly by the seat of your pants and don't make reservations for anything you have to be flexible but for the most part we always found a place to camp where we wanted to camp.

We set up and made dinner while it rained and rained and rained. One of the windows on our truck topper leaked so our sleeping area got a bit damp and there was some heavy use of towels and curse words trying to get it all sorted. We slept pretty well while it stormed pretty hard that night.

The next morning it was just misty with a slight drizzle. D wasn't ready to face the world so I went for a hike down the beach to see the tide pools. I am glad I did. It was 4 miles of beach awesomeness.

I turned around to hike back to the campground and watched a wall of rain come my way. Awesome. Luckily my raincoat is awesome. After breakfast we packed up and headed north. We drove to Port Angeles to get a wilderness permit and then back the way we came for thirty miles to get to the Sol Duc Trailhead. The Sol Duc trail is 19 miles and a loop that goes through forest up into the mountains past the tree line and back down. We did the trail in three days. When we started I really struggled. Something about having hiked on the beach in the morning, having a heavy pack on and it raining made it less than fun. Luckily we only had to hike about five miles up a mountain to our first camp spot at Deer Lake. What rain does do is make you just want to lay in your tent and complain a lot when you have to crawl out to go pee. The key is waterproof stuff sacks to keep everything dry and to always have a set of camp clothes that are dry. This makes rain tolerable and less dangerous (no hypothermia).

The next morning we woke up and it drizzled off and on but no heavy rain so that was a win. We continued to hike up and up and up, high enough where there was still snow on the ground. The higher we got the more beautiful it was. I have learned I am not a fan of hiking through dense forest, I want to be up higher looking at mountain views. It also is dryer since you are not rubbing up against rain soaked plants. We hiked for a good five hours or so until we got to our second camp site at heart lake.

It continued to rain throughout the night at Heart Lake but when we woke up it was not raining so our final hike down the mountain was pretty dry. I fell once again (I fell on the Lost Trail down a big hill of rocks, and then here slipped in the mud cause it was everywhere and falling is a common theme for me. My pack seems to throw my center of gravity way off and I topple over pretty easily. It would be funny if I could avoid bashing my knees and elbows on rocks when I do it). We hiked for about another five hours down, down and down back to the trailhead. Once we were done we loaded the car back up with all our gear and headed to Port Angeles to spend the night.

This was one of my favorite backpacking trips. It was difficult hiking up the mountain but the mileage and time out in wilderness was just about right. If it hadn't been raining it would have been perfect. We ignored all of our rain and mud soaked gear for the evening since we knew we were headed to Tacoma to spend the week. We figured it could wait. My only focus was on getting food. Which is usually my only focus in life but after backpacking becomes even more important. We hit up a pizza place and then enjoyed our inside time for the evening. Olympic National Park was amazing. If you get the chance go, just assume it will be raining most of the time. It is one of the rainiest places in the United States. Next stop Tacoma.


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