Olympic National Park
Little known fact about me: I’m obsessed with the US National Parks! It started with a class project in the third grade, when Mrs.Dixon assigned each of us a National Park to research. I got Shenandoah, which is one of the few (two at the time, three currently) on the East Coast. Being pre-internet times, we had to write letters to the National Parks Services department and await an envelope full of brochures and pamphlets. There is a bit of a running joke in my family about “The Great Shenandoah National Park Project,” because while most other kids glued some stuff onto some cardboard, I used one of my dad’s old work binders to create my masterpiece, and made a model of the park using various train set components I found in the basement. This is probably not surprising to anyone who knows me – I love a good project! My parents, being good sports, actually took me and my sister there on a road trip that summer!
All this to segue into the fact that when drafting our plans for our epic two week road trip, Maria and I decided that we’d hit up a bunch of National Parks. The first stop was Olympic National Park, just a two hour drive south and west of Seattle. To be honest, this was probably the one we were least prepared for, both because we didn’t decide to go there that specific day until the day of, and also because it was our first park stop and didn’t really know what to expect. However, none of that really mattered as we had a great time.
We entered the park through the South entrance, which is preceded by 30 minutes worth of breathtaking views of Lake Cushman. It really made me feel nostalgic for the lake trips we do with my extended family!
A very helpful park rangers suggested that we start in the Staircase region, and pointed us towards a shorter hike, with optional extension.
It was a good first day’s hike! I would estimate that it was 4-5 miles total, which is moderate; however, the extension portion of the trail was STEEP! The sign we found at the bottom of the trail noted a 4000 ft elevation change in the span of 2.5 miles or so. We probably only made it halfway before turning around and taking a different loop back to the ranger station. The shaded/flatter hike around the base was much easier!
A fun way to kick off our visit to our country’s National Parks!