October 28, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Four - Kestner Homestead Trail

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 (Part Two)
Day Trips: Olympic National Park - Kestner Homestead Trail

After our warm-up hike on the Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail, we decided to go in the other direction and hit the Kestner Homestead Trail, which is a 1.3 mile loop. Like the Maple Glade trail, the Kestner is well-marked and nicely maintained. It's a flat trail and on this particular day, fairly dry and absent any mud. The old homestead was very interesting to wander around, although if I let my imagination run free, I could easily get spooked there. Something about the rusty old truck and the vacant buildings reminded me of Stephen King's horror stories, particularly 11/22/63.

This part of the trail was full of enormous ferns.

I love this beautiful grove which is full of either birch or red alder.

This grassy area was originally the orchard, but it's pretty bare now with just a few apple trees.

Moss (and lichen) grows everywhere in the rain forest. This split rail fence was covered with it.


I'm really glad I wasn't alone on this hike!

A little spooky, right?

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October 24, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Four - Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 (Part One)
Day Trips: Olympic National Park - Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail

The Quinault River Inn (with its five RV spaces) is on the edge of a residential area and I spotted this bus waiting for the kids when I woke up and peered out the back window. It felt a little odd "camping" so close to these houses, but it was quiet in the evening so no complaints from us. 

It was chilly in the trailer, so I turned up the heater and made coffee. Another beautiful morning by the river.

Here's a shot of our campsite. Nice level gravel pad with some grassy areas and a picnic table.

Our neighbors on one side left after breakfast, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves for our final day.

After breakfast and puttering around, we drove over to the North Shore and stopped at the Quinault River Ranger Station. It was getting warm in the sun and the sky was full of beautiful white clouds against the bright blue sky. Thankfully, we didn't see a single cougar or bear! (Probably a good thing since I forgot the bear spray and bear bells* in the trailer.)

The fall colors were just beginning to appear. Another week or so and I suspect this view will look a little bit like New England.

The Maple Glade Rain Forest Trail is a well-maintained half-mile loop in a gorgeous glade. The bigleaf maples look as if they're dripping with moss and the ground is covered with enormous ferns. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves, passing only two couples heading the other direction. This lush forest reminded me of a couple of scenes from Star Wars and I kept expecting to see Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia fly past me on a speeder bike; either that or a group of Ewoks and Stormtroopers!

*For more about bear bells, click here. The jury's still out.

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October 17, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Three

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Day Trips: Lake Quinault Lodge; Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail and Loop Trail

First things first.

It rained on and off all night, at times pretty hard (which can be very loud on the roof of a travel trailer!), but it stopped as we woke up, so I took my cup of coffee down to the river. It was cool and cloudy, but still absolutely gorgeous. The water was clear and fairly calm; the only sound was that of a few fish jumping. A very peaceful way to wake up, if you ask me.

We continued to have a nice slow morning, enjoying our coffee and breakfast, but around 11:00 we decided it was time to go check out the sights. Rod was busy editing, so unfortunately he stayed behind while we headed over to Lake Quinault Lodge.

This is quite a rain gauge. 15 feet in one year!

Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926 in two months! It's one of those grand, old lodges that brings to mind vacation retreats and old money, the kind of resorts that are shown in movies like Somewhere in Time and Dirty Dancing. The view of the lake and surrounding mountains is quite spectacular, especially with the clouds and mist hovering over the trees. We decided to have lunch in the lodge and enjoyed the beautiful view from our table. I had a delicious cup of clam chowder and a pretty decent plate of fish & chips. After our leisurely lunch (the service was a tad bit slow...), we headed out for a walk in the Quinault Rain Forest.

The trails are well-marked and we found that we pretty much had one to ourselves as we headed down toward the path along the beach. The woods are filled with large ferns and the trees were dripping with moss. Lots of moss. We came across an enormous Douglas Fir that is estimated to be 400 years old.

We knew there were waterfalls further east along South Shore Road, but we weren't expecting to see this small waterfall, which is part of Willaby Creek, on our walk on the Quinault Loop Trail. It was lovely to relax for a little while, watching and listening to the water flow by with its rhythmic, burbling song.

Eventually, we made our way along the shoreline where the trail continues east toward the Lodge and Ranger Station. The sun drifted in and out from behind the puffy, white clouds, casting shadows over the water and mountains, creating an ever-changing picture. I could easily have sat on a dock, gazing out on the water and sky for the remainder of the day. 

It wouldn't be a hike in the Pacific Northwest without the ubiquitous banana slug.

Honestly, it felt like we were on the edge of an Alpine lake. Those mountains and water took my breath away!

We came across a lot of fallen trees, but this particular log caught my eye and it seemed to beg to be touched. It was so smooth, as though someone had spent a good deal of time sanding away all the rough edges. Did the rain do it? Time, sun and water? It also reminded me a bit of an elephant's head and trunk. Do you see his eye?

I love the way the dew drips from the moss, dangling like jewels on a thin strand of lace. This temperate rain forest gets an average of 12 feet of rain per year!

We enjoyed our hike, but it was time to head back to camp and start thinking about drinks and dinner. Rod and I took a stroll down to the river before the rain returned. 

(photo credit: Mike Jackson)

I'm so glad Rod travels with one of his guitars! It's very pleasant to sit and listen as we enjoy our cocktails.

Click on the photos for a larger view of the image.