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Adventure Travel

Epic Olympic Peninsula Adventure

olympic peninsula, pnw, pacific northwest, upperleftusa, washington state, outdoors, nature, wanderlust, adventure

The Olympic Peninsula has been one of my favorite places to explore, or dream about exploring, since I moved to Seattle two and a half years ago. The second weekend after relocating, I spent a full day exploring the peninsula, which was my first true Pacific Northwest experience. I was able to cram in Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, and the Hoh Rainforest, all while making it back to Bainbridge Island in time for the last ferry back to Seattle that night. Although I covered a wide distance that day, I knew I had only seen a fraction of all there is to explore on the peninsula. It was always a goal of mine to make it to the coast, where I’ve only seen photos of the pacific ocean meeting the rocky, evergreen covered cliffs.

TL;DR…

 

A few weeks ago, a friend and I couldn’t get the idea of planning an Olympic Peninsula adventure out of our heads. We decided we would leave early on Saturday morning and spend the day near the edge of the forest, where we would minimize driving time and leave us a full day to explore. When we sat down with our coffee before catching the ferry that morning, we couldn’t shake the idea of going to the coast instead. We pulled onto the ferry, parked the car, and made a verbal pact, “we’re going to the coast!”

One of the biggest factors we had to take into consideration when changing our plans was the driving time. It takes about 3 hours to get from the ferry to the coast, but what I’ve learned from past experience is that driving along Washington’s scenic byways is an adventure in itself. Lucky for us, the entire route for this trip was along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway.

The first stop was Lake Crescent. I’ve been to Lake Crescent several times and each time I still take a moment to stare off into the crystal clear, blue water of the lake that’s surrounded by rolling hills with fog weaving through the evergreens. This time, the highest layer of trees were dusted with snow.

 

We wandered into the woods. We decided to do the short hike to Marymere Falls. Along the way, we lost track of the trail and found ourselves on the river bank surrounded by forest that can only be described as a wonderland. I have never visited the peninsula in the winter, which is the “wet” season. The water fall was bigger than I have ever seen it. The trail leading to the waterfall was blocked off because of danger conditions, but look at this waterfall and tell me you wouldn’t try to get as close as humanly possible too…

To the coast!

Our next stop was La Push, which is the first stop, and as far north along the coast that we wanted to go. The drive to La Push was bizarre and confusing. We were surrounded by lush evergreen forest, but our map led us to believe we were only minutes to the beach. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve never been so seemingly deep into the woods and yet be minutes from the ocean.

The road turned a corner which is where we got our first glimpse of the rough pacific ocean meeting the cliffs that lined the shore. We stopped at First Beach. At this point we realized how important the mountains are for stopping rain and wind from hitting Seattle. We didn’t see any signs of life which led us to contemplate whether the town had been evacuated because of a storm that we may be caught in. The view was too beautiful to care.

 

While in La Push, we also stopped at Second Beach which required about a 1.5 mile hike through the rainforest to get to the shore. Luckily, I was prepared for the weather but standing on the beach, completely soaked and trying to position my body to defend the angled rain sheets, was a surreal moment.

The last, and most anticipated, stop on the trip for me was Ruby Beach. After a quick lunch break in Forks, home of Twilight,we continued down the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, also known as highway 101. Driving down the 101 along the pacific coast in Washington is a much different experience than in California.


Ruby Beach was breathtaking. I have looked through countless photos of this beach, but being there in person is an experience that can’t be captured in a photograph. The shore is lined with “driftwood.” which is actually just entire trees washed up in a pile.

We finished the trip by looping around the peninsula, through Olympia and Tacoma, and back to Seattle. The full loop took about 13 hours to complete, but it was 13 hours full of the Pacific Northwest beauty that I set out to find, even while in the car. If you are looking for a day trip out of Seattle, I would recommend doing the full loop. Next time I go back, I plan to spend more time in Olympic National Park and make it an overnight adventure.

P.S. Snapchat has become one of my favorite places to document these adventures!

Add me: rcarre

Adventure Education Life Update

Should We Be Concerned About The PNW Earthquake?

This week The New Yorker published an article about an earthquake that could devastate the Pacific Northwest. The article went viral and “The Really Big One,” as they call it, became the topic of conversation across the country, and a particularly sensitive subject in my downtown Seattle high-rise office building.

The article seemed to pull real data and scientifically confirmed facts to illustrate a terrifying reality that could strike at any time. I will spare this blog post the life threatening facts and highlight that the article mentions a 1 in 3 chance that this earthquake will happen in the next 50 years. That timeframe doesn’t sit well with me. That’s a very small window in the history of time, but may not overlap with the time I plan to be in Seattle.

I needed more immediate answers and I knew just who to ask. Why not go straight to the source of answers? That’s right, I reached out to the Psychic Twins who have predicted multiple earthquakes and other natural disasters and extreme weather conditions, not to mention numerous large-scale world events.

 

They promptly tweeted me back leading me to a YouTube video of their 2015-16 world predictions. I sat quietly with my headphones in at work listening to the hour-long segment hoping to get answers. At about minute 52, they began making their weather related predictions. Then they get to their seismic predictions. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the green light to run home and pack up my apartment. They began discussing the Northwest and I was pleasantly put at ease. Although they do predict seismic activity in the PNW within the next two years, I didn’t get the sense that they are predicting The Really Big One. Washington experiences small earthquakes daily, and it seems that the more notable earthquakes will happen in other areas of the world in the immediate future.

I decided that it’s not worth worrying about when this earthquake will happen. I will check back in with the twins each year to see what’s in store for the next 1-2 years and that will be enough for me to move on with my life. If you want to hear more from the Psychic Twins I recommend listening to them on Shane Dawson’s podcast and check out their website. We can all go back to our daily lives as the Seattleites continue to sit back and roll their eyes at the frantic transplants who are just hearing about the earthquake for the first time.

Adventure Lifestyle Travel

Summer Adventure List

It seems that Seattle has awoken from hibernation and Seattleites have filled the streets and outdoors to enjoy the sun. The city genuinely feels more lively each weekend, and there are loads of events from markets to concerts and festivals.

I’ve been mentally keeping a summer bucket list and wanted to put it into writing to hold myself accountable for its fruition. I hope to blog each of these items as I mark them off my list.

  1. Attend the Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade
  2. Go camping
  3. Visit the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Northwest
  4. Watch live music (hopefully, many times)
  5. Hike in the Cascades
  6. Hike in Olympic National Park
  7. Spend a day or weekend in Leavenworth
  8. Drive along some of Washington’s scenic byways
  9. Visit some of Seattle’s breweries
  10. Bonfire & BBQ at Golden Gardens
  11. Go blueberry picking

I know I’ve already forgotten a few things I wanted to add to my list so I will continue to update and add as I remember or think of anything new.

For those who have spent time in the area, please send me any suggestions!

Adventure Life Update

My Encounter With A Black Bear and Cougar

This was the first weekend without rain in Seattle in about a month so naturally I wanted to take advantage of the warm weather and head outdoors. I decided to go for a hike, so I began researching the numerous parks nearby and I ended up choosing a place called Cougar Mountain. I won’t admit to choosing this park solely based on the possibility of encountering a cougar, but I will say that there are hundreds of parks near by, yet I chose Cougar Mountain. I fortunately did not run into a cougar but spent a good portion of my hike visualizing what would happen if I did and this is how that went…

I arrived at Cougar Mountain after driving along a windy road that seemed to be occupied with all of my House Hunters dream homes. Although it is considered part of the Issaquah Alps, Cougar Mountain was really just a glorified city park on the Eastside outside of Seattle. The great thing about the suburban parks outside of the city is that you feel completely removed from urban life and in the middle of “Jurassic Park,” as my friends called it after sending them a selfie of me hiking.

After situating my car between two hybrid vehicles, I walked up to the small pavilion to grab a trail map since the Yelp reviews cautioned the confusing trails. I grabbed a map and couldn’t help but notice the wildlife warning pictured below. I didn’t think much of it and quickly mapped out my route.

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There were a few main hiking loops that were almost entirely covered in gravel and numerous trails scattered in between that could be pieced together to create a unique loop. I decided to ditch my fellow yuppies, decked out in the newest Columbia and North Face gear, and create my own hike.

I walked about 2 miles before realizing that I haven’t seen any humans since I deviated from the gravel trail at the beginning. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them anyway since I was distracted by the existential debate going on in my head. Alas, I heard sticks and leaves rustling ahead and decided I would acknowledge the people heading my way.

I turned the corner and stopped dead in my tracks. A black bear was grazing nearly twenty yards ahead. I thought back to the sign posted in the pavilion and realized I was neither in a group or calm which seemed to be the most important guidelines at this moment. I immediately thought back to my Boy Scout days and the numerous documentaries I had watched about bears, since up until this moment they were my favorite animal.

In Boy Scouts we would hang our food so that bears couldn’t reach it. I scanned the area for the nearest tree to climb, but then thought maybe bears realize by now that humans hide food in trees and it would assume I was food. I then recalled a documentary titled “Grizzly Man,” which was about a man who lived in the Alaskan bear country and immersed himself into their lives, giving each bear and cub a name and learning about their personalities. The film ended with him being mauled to death by a dominant female bear, so I climbed the tree.

My less than graceful attempt to ascend the moss covered tree caught the bear’s attention and sure enough it was glaring at me from the distance. At that very second I had a vague flashback to a time when I learned that bears actually could climb trees. I heard leaves rustling yet again from my the distance to my left as the bear stood on my right. I wanted to warn the hikers not to come any further but I was afraid raising my voice would startle the black bear. I wanted the hikers to report to all local media that I died heroically alone in that tree in an attempt to save their lives.

The noise from the sticks and leaves crunching moved closer and just as I expected a group of hikers to round the corner, a cougar appeared instead. The bear’s eyes instantly shifted to the majestic cat who was slowly prowling in our direction and it was as if neither of the wild animals noticed I existed just fifteen feet above. Although the bear nearly doubled the size of the cougar, it moved one paw backwards and then the other paw followed, showing its submissiveness to the cat. The cat lunged forward slashing one paw across the bear’s face triggering the bear to release a whimpering growl and forced it to continue to move in the opposite direction. The two animals made a few more aggressive moves towards each other as I scaled down the backside of the tree and slowly backed away until I was a safe enough distance to run.

I made it back to the parking lot where I explained the story to one group of hikers, and then another. Soon enough a crowd formed around me picking at the details of the story. It wasn’t until my drive home that I realized the mountain was named after the cougar in admiration rather than to signal fear of the animal.