The Bailey Range Traverse

The Bailey Range Traverse

High along the spine of the Quinault and Queets River watersheds in the middle of Olympic National Park lies Skyline Ridge, a little-used trail that is as spectacular as it is challenging. “Not for the careful or timid,” said a 1928 U. S. Forest Service trail inspection report.......
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Building the Hayes River Rescue Patrol Cabin

Building the Hayes River Rescue Patrol Cabin

In July 1969, while the first man was walking on the moon, I was driving my ’64 El Camino from southern California to Port Angeles, Washington to participate as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association. I was right out of High School, seventeen and just months away from registering with the draft board for the Vietnam War.......
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Skyline Ridge Trail Backpacking Adventure

Skyline Ridge Trail Backpacking Adventure

High along the spine of the Quinault and Queets River watersheds in the middle of Olympic National Park lies Skyline Ridge, a little-used trail that is as spectacular as it is challenging. “Not for the careful or timid,” said a 1928 U. S. Forest Service trail inspection report.......
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Coming of Age on the Elwha

Coming of Age on the Elwha

It is required of all fathers to indoctrinate their innocent children into the wonderful world of wilderness packing, fishing and camping. This rite of passage for emerging generations results in ill advised, poorly planned and outrageously idealistic excursions by the male parent.......
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Exploring the Crescent Mine 2013

Exploring the Crescent Mine 2013

I have a confession: I’m lured by stories of vanished gold, hidden gems, old maps, and especially all manner of lost mines – so I was very excited when my friend Lynn Johnson asked me to take a walk along the Olympic Discovery Trail and visit the abandoned Crescent Mine. Andy Stevenson joined us......
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Cameron Creek and Grand Valley Backpacking Adventure

Cameron Creek and Grand Valley Backpacking Adventure

It’s not easy getting three college kids with busy summers together for a three-day wilderness outing, but after much planning, convincing, cajoling, rescheduling and compromising, the morning of our annual family outdoor adventure arrived. We drove to the Slab Camp Trailhead and at 8am slid on our backpacks. My wife Trisha lifted her pack gingerly; she had managed to remain active even with a decade-old back injury.......
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Grand Ridge with the Klahhane Club 2013

Grand Ridge with the
Klahhane Club 2013

I enjoyed the day hike along Grand Ridge because much of it was above tree-line. The National Park Service lists this trail as the highest in the Olympic National Park. The trailhead starts at Deer Park Campground at 5,200 feet and climbs to over 6,500 feet. It is a remarkable trail......
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Historic Canoe trip on Lake Mills

Historic Canoe trip on Lake Mills

Andy Sallee sent in this wonderful story about his canoe trip from years ago. Andy says, "I'll miss Lake Mills when it’s gone and look forward to sharing stories about it with my grandchildren." Thanks for preserving a slice of history, Andy. - The Incidental Explorer......
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FISHING FOR THE BEARDSLEE TROUT

FISHING FOR THE BEARDSLEE TROUT

It was opening day of trout season on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. I dressed quietly in the grayness of the early morning, slipped on my fishing vest and crept down the creaky stairs and through the dark lobby in my stocking feet. I laced up my boots on the front porch of Lake Crescent Lodge. I was hoping I’d catch a rare Beardslee Trout, I just didn’t want to catch the very last one......
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Anderson Pass 2013

Anderson Pass 2013

I loved hiking over Anderson Pass in Olympic National Park. This three day journey has it all; lush lowland forests, subalpine terrain and a snow choked pass if you are crazy enough to hike it early in the spring. I appreciated the wilderness and the solitude, more so since early park planners had wanted to build a highway over Anderson Pass......
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Storm King Trail

Storm King Trail

For those wanting to summit a mountain in the Olympics without having to commit too much time to any one hike, Storm King Trail near Lake Crescent is a great option; short enough to complete in a morning or an afternoon, and physically demanding enough to make you feel like you really earned it once you’ve reached the incredible views of the lake and valley below.....
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The Enchanted Valley

The Enchanted Valley

My friend Donovan had been touting the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park to me for a couple of years. Donovan is a former park ranger and we serve together on the board of the Washington’s National Parks Fund. Finally we agreed on a date, which luckily, was during an unusually warm and sunny spell of early spring weather. I found the Enchanted Valley a combination of improbable beauty and interesting history. My favorite type of adventure!....
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Ski and Snowshoe on Hurricane Ridge

Ski and Snowshoe on Hurricane Ridge

The morning was sunny in Sequim so Trish and I set off for a day of outdoor adventure with our good friends, Joel and Lynn. We carefully drove the winding road up Mt. Angeles and parked at The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area. The ticket seller told us the Poma Lift wasn’t running because it needed a new cable.
Without the Poma Lift the diamond and double diamond trails were closed too. People were skiing at the rope tow, so Joel bought us four tickets and we carried our skis to the base of the slope.....
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Cabins of the Elwha River Valley 2013

Cabins of the Elwha River Valley 2013

We parked at the Whiskey Bend Trailhead at eight in the morning. It was 35 degrees, overcast, but blessedly there was no rain or snow falling. We were headed up the Elwha River Valley on a five-day, winter backpacking adventure.....
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Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

The trail to Cape Flattery is a short walk, but it may take you a while to get back to your car depending on how much time you spend staring at the sea.
My brother Mark traveled from New Hampshire to visit last autumn. Of course it rained the entire week – hard....
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Heather Park Trail

Heather Park Trail

Heather Park is a trail that gains almost 4,000 feet in elevation while giving you magnificent views of mountains, forest and sea for its entire length. Those benefits usually mean a difficult climb; unless you can drive up to top and hike the trail in reverse!...
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Anderson Glacier Bike and Hike

Anderson Glacier Bike and Hike

Anderson Glacier is a magnificent but isolated area of Olympic National Park. I've always wanted to backpack to Anderson Glacier, but the 34 mile round-trip translated to an extra two overnights on the trail for me, so for the sake of time I always chose a different backpacking adventure. That all changed when a park ranger told me that you can get to Anderson glacier in one day by bicycling along the washed-out Dosewallips River road ....
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A Novice Climbs Mt. Olympus

A Novice Climbs Mt. Olympus

Though I’ve backpacked on many wonderful trails and scrambled up my share of mountain peaks, until now I’ve never made a technical climb. A technical climb is a steep ascent on a carefully planned route using ropes, climbing boots with spikes, and other specialized gear. I’ve always felt a bit jealous of climbers I met on the trail, with their rakish attitude and dangerous looking equipment dangling from their backpacks. ......
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Dodger Point Legacy

Dodger Point Legacy

Mount Olympus and the Bailey Range loomed through the fog to the west and Hurricane Ridge appeared to the north across the Elwha Valley. Everywhere I looked mountains appeared through the clouds. It was obvious that I was not in New Jersey any more......
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>Constance Pass Backpacking Adventure

Constance Pass Backpacking Adventure

Constance Pass is a magnificent place deep in the Olympics, a perfect family backpacking adventure. My wife Trisha, college-aged children, Becca and Garrett and I planned a three-day journey.......
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>Marmot Pass Hike

Marmot Pass Hike

“Why did you choose this trail?” I asked a hiker who was lacing up his boot on the bumper of a car with California license plates. He said, “I read a guidebook. It said if for some terrible reason you’re allowed one hike in the Olympics in your lifetime, this one should be it.”......
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>Marmot Pass

Marmot Pass

What’s the pace of a 2 year old hiking up to Marmot Pass? 56 butterflies, 149 decimated ants, 62 rocks, 114 flowers and 2 chipmunks per hour. Haha!......
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Sol Duc Falls Hike

Sol Duc Falls Loop Hike

Threatening clouds floated overhead as my boyfriend Patrick, my father Bret, and I embarked on our day hike in the Olympic National Park. We had chosen a manageable six mile loop starting and ending at the historic Sol Duc hot springs.....
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>Plenty of places to picnic

Madison Falls Path and Picnic

If you are looking for an outing that combines a wheelchair access path, picnic area and a beautiful waterfall then Madison Falls in Olympic National Park is hard to beat. My elderly Mom was visiting us and she doesn’t walk much so this path was perfect......
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All together now

WHALES FROM AFAR

The day started on the tail end of a brisk sunny morning. The timing was early for some, standard for others. It was 8:00 AM. Employees from different departments mingled for the first time, blinking at each other and sipping coffee....
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Olympic Light

Upper Royal Basin an Amphitheatre of Snow

I toted my tele-skis up the Dungie main fork than on up the Royal Creek valley about 5 more miles in late July. With the extra bulk of ski boots, poles, and skis on my shoulders I caught many attentive hikers with thoughtful and bemused comments – like “goin to ski the glacier?”....
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>Return of the River

Return of the River

Olympic Peninsula photographer John Gussman says "Dam removal began on the Elwha River in mid-September 2011. Originally anticipated to be a two to three year process, removal proceeded quickly and by late spring 2012, the Elwha Dam was completely gone.......
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>Reclamation and Renewal on the Dosewallips

Reclamation and Renewal on the Dosewallips

This entry was from the 2011 Celebrate Elwha! Writers Contest. I think it’s a wonderful narrative and it makes me want to head right up the Dosewallips! – The Incidental Explorer.
Story and photos by Mary Ann Kae
If you crave solitude on a day hike, it’s not difficult to find in the Olympics if you can work the geography, weather and calendar to your advantage. ......
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


>Whale Watching with Puget Sound Express

Whale Watching with Puget Sound Express

I arrived in Port Townsend for a day of whale watching with two friends and my friend’s dad. We had booked our trip with an experienced company, Puget Sound Express. After browsing through the whale-themed paraphernalia in their gift shop, .....
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>Protection Island Wildlife Cruise

Protection Island Wildlife Cruise

We awoke around nine in the morning, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then made the short drive down the road to the John Wayne Marina in Sequim. It was my pleasure to be a guest of the Wirtas.....
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>Goats Notes for Mt. Zion

Goats Notes for Mt. Zion

A large group gathered at the park and ride in Poulsbo. Some were headed to the Dungeness for a hike to Camp Handy or Boulder Shelter, but most were headed to Mt. Zion for an easy hike of about 5 miles round trip......
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


>Hiking to Lillian Camp

Hiking to Lillian Camp

Lillian Camp is a lush camping area along a tumbling river. It’s a perfect day-hike in the spring when the high mountain passes are still choked with snow.......
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>Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent Lodge

Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent Lodge

We drove to Lake Crescent and pulled up to the Marymere trail parking lot, slightly tired from rising early and ready for a leisurely hike and lunch at Lake Crescent Lodge..........
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>Goats’ Notes Deer Ridge

Goats’ Notes Deer Ridge

With an eye on the weather, Karen, in her wisdom, called an audible, opting for Deer Park which would hopefully be in the mountain rain shadow, rather than our first choice, Tunnel Creek, further east and likely in the rain path........
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>Backpacking the Dungeness

Backpacking the Dungeness

Brian and I used the Memorial Day weekend to take a wee little backpacking adventure. I know usually when we go on outings like this, I just post pictures, but I’m going to try an be better about documenting the fun.........
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>Goats' Notes - Lower Big Quilcene

Goats' Notes - Lower Big Quilcene

It was to be another great day on the trail. After some recent snowy and steeper hikes, a longer, flatter hike was planned. Because the trailhead was so close to the Quilcene Ranger Station, two of the three carpool cars decided to take a scenic in and out drive towards the Upper Big Quil prior to starting .........
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>Goats’ Notes Mt. Townsend

Goats’ Notes Mt. Townsend

It was to be a great day, almost mid-summer like temperatures in the 70’s. The trailhead, even though heralded by other hikers earlier as not approchable due to ice was free and clear...........
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>Sleepy Hollow - Poor little Cinderella of a trail

Sleepy Hollow - Poor little Cinderella of a trail

It was a solid 8AM downpour and my hooded and hard-hat-ed hiking companions with shadowy faces showed the look of a long winter but I wasn’t about to scuttle the planning behind this trip – after all we’re on a scouting mission!........
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>GOATS’ NOTES TUNNEL CREEK

GOATS’ NOTES TUNNEL CREEK

The weather forecast for the Tunnel Creek area was much better than last week (40% chance of showers vs 100% chance of a “soaking rain”) so it was a go. The drive to the trailhead was uneventful........
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>Goat Notes Tubal Cain Trail

Goat Notes Tubal Cain Trail

A herd of Goats with diverse ambitions met in Poulsbo for the drive to Tubal Cain trailhead. Once there, some elected to try for Buckhorn Pass, while others settled for Tull Canyon, the plane wreckage, and the mine.......
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>Goats Notes, Wolf Creek Trail

Goats Notes, Wolf Creek Trail

It was a busy time at the carpool area in Poulsbo, sorting out Hikers from Mountain Goats and greeting old and new friends in both groups. At 0800 hrs., two car loads of us took off for a workout on the Wolf Creek Trail.......
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>Hiking Gold Creek with the Klahhane Hiking Club

Hiking Gold Creek with
the Klahhane Hiking Club

Gold Creek isn’t a destination hike. Most of the beauty occurred during the first half hour of the hike along the Dungeness River and Gold Creek. But the trail provides some nice views of the ridges and mountain peaks as it leaves the valley floor......
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>Elwha Lakebeds with the Klahhane Hiking Club

Elwha Lakebeds with
the Klahhane Hiking Club

I hiked with the Klahhane Hiking Club again, but instead of climbing up to a mountain pass we hiked down to dry lakebeds on the Elwha River. The reason the lakebeds are dry is because, here, in Olympic National Park, the largest dam removal project in the country is almost complete.....
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Griff Creek with the Klahhane Hiking Club

Griff Creek with
the Klahhane Hiking Club

Griff Creek is a short trail but provides the hiker a wide variety of terrain and weather. It is a steep trail that gains around 3,000 feet of elevation in just three miles. The trailhead is located in back of the Elwha Ranger Station.....
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Hiking Deer Ridge with the Klahhane Club

Hiking Deer Ridge with
the Klahhane Club

The Klahhane Hiking Club is an Olympic Peninsula-based hiking club. The club hikes regularly all year long. I was invited to join the group for a hike, but I was a bit nervous as I don’t head into the forest much in the winter....
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Olympic Discovery Trail to the Sequim Bay Estuary

Olympic Discovery Trail
to the Sequim Bay Estuary

Walking along the Olympic Discovery Trail from the Holiday Inn Express, Sequim to the estuary at the head of Sequim Bay was a wonderful way to spend a sunny winter afternoon....
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Fort Flagler State Park

Fort Flagler State Park

Fort Flagler State Park is one of the most beautiful parks on the Olympic Peninsula. It would be a wonderful day trip if you are staying in Sequim...
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Elwha River and Goblins Gate

Elwha River and Goblins Gate

A good size group gathered in light rain for the trip to the Elwha. As the forecast had promised, the rain abated and patches of blue appeared as we drove west....
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Deer Ridge

Deer Ridge

With no sign of rain we headed for Deer Ridge on Monday. In fact, there was promise of a bright sunny day ahead.....
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Mt. Walker

Mt. Walker

Twas another one of those rare winter days after being house bound for a week, that a number of us were willing to take the risks associated with the outdoors......
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Hiking the Wildcat Trail

Hiking the Wildcat Trail

After being turned back on SR 16 because of road closure a small splinter group of the MG’s – 2 to be exact – decided to get out and shake off the accumulated cabin fever. ......
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Snowshoeing on Hurricane Ridge

Snowshoeing on Hurricane Ridge

“It’s not called Hurricane Ridge for nothing,” Olympic National Park Ranger and Naturalist Janice Burger said.
So I dressed appropriately and checked the road conditions, but there were no worries; the road was bare, the sun shining and the air brisk...
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New Dungeness Lighthouse

New Dungeness Lighthouse

I was disappointed that the day I chose to walk to the New Dungeness Lighthouse in Sequim was so gray, but in the end, that day ended up being a lucky choice. This was my second try at reaching the lighthouse
“This is your lucky day!” Marcia exclaimed. “You are about to see something that only happens once in a hundred and fifty years!”
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Late Autumn Walk on the Dungeness Spit

Late Autumn Walk on the Dungeness Spit

The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural spit in the United States. It’s a protected strip of sand, grass and driftwood that is part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. I was intent on visiting the New Dungeness Lighthouse on the tip of the Dungeness Spit, but last night a storm lashed the area and another was headed our way that afternoon.....
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Goats Notes, Marmot Pass

Goats Notes, Marmot Pass

After two successive weeks targeting Marmot Pass as the hike for the day and failing, we finally scored. Well, we almost scored. We had no trouble reaching the trailhead finding only short sections of well-tracked snow on the road. There were only a few inches of crusty old snow in the parking area and little or none as we started up the trail.....
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Goats Notes for Mt Zion

Goats Notes for Mt Zion

On this Monday Morning in late November, there were 12 goats gathering in the carpool parking area. It appeared to be the beginning of a wonderful day with the sun rising, few clouds, and a good forecast. However the cool weather of the prior week brought some concern regarding road conditions for Marmot pass trailhead.
Alternatives were discussed. Mt Zion was mentioned and soon quickly confirmed .....
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Little River Trail Valley

Hurricane Hill Hike

If you are looking for an easy hike into the high-country of the Olympics where you can impress friends or relatives with spectacular mountain scenery, this short and mostly paved trail to the summit of Hurricane Hill is a good choice;
especially since almost all your elevation gain is accomplished by your automobile engine driving you up the road to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center parking lot. Hurricane Hill trail is above tree line and sits directly above the Strait of Juan de Fuca....

Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Seven on the line, seven in the boat!

Salmon Fishing on the Hoh River

The Hoh River is a magical. Not because the river runs through one of the few temperate rain forests in the United States, but instead the river is magical because this time of year so many salmon appear.

I was lucky to be fishing on the Hoh with my friend Tom. Our families have enjoyed the outdoors together over the years, from canoeing on the Missouri River to camping in the North Cascades. Tom is a fly fisherman who, like most of us busy trying to earn a living, doesn’t fish as much as he should. Pat Neal was our guide. I went steelhead fishing on the Bogachiel River with Pat this summer. Pat is a Peninsula native who’s had many careers including logger, guide and now writer. Many have enjoyed Pat’s witty books about his outdoor exploits.

Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Celebrate Elwha Dam Removal Ceremony

Celebrate Elwha Dam Removal Ceremony

The warm weather held for the Elwha Dam removal ceremony here on the Olympic Peninsula. This was the culmination of a week of festivities that marked the beginning of the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, the largest dam removal and restoration project in our country.

Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Silver Lake

Silver Lake

Near the very end of FS Road 2870 at the crossing of Silver Creek is the way trail to Silver Lake. The trail is not an easy one, and has long been the shortcut route to Silver Lake for Sequim folk. The long drive up the Dungeness will eventually be shortened by 1.5 miles as the last part of the road is planned for decommission.

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The Brothers are Mothas’!

The Brothers are Mothas’!

‘Twas a beautiful full moon August 24th day, and so why not head off to the Olympics and climb “The Brothers” — didn’t Pop always point out to them across Puget Sound and wish us to do this? (to my brothers: didn’t Pop & Burry try climbing them once and one of them hurt his knee and had to walk backwards the whole way down? ooo, ominous premonitions!)

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Grand Pass Backpacking Adventure

Grand Pass Backpacking Adventure

Grand Pass in Olympic National Park is aptly named; the view of the headwall from the valley floor is a most grand and beautiful sight. Of course it helped that the weather was perfect, the wildflowers prolific and I was hiking with an old friend. We also enjoyed meeting a couple of unique Olympic National Park animals.
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Thirty-Hour Lake and Sea Mini-Vacation

Thirty-Hour Lake and Sea Mini-Vacation

We got lost in the fog. The path through the forest which began wide and straight, narrowed, branched into game trails and then just ended. We bushwhacked forward. Damp ferns soaked us and stinging nettles smarted on our exposed skin.
The fog was so thick that it condensed on the fir boughs and dripped down on us. We couldn’t see the beach below and so it wasn’t until we almost ran into an elderly couple strolling about that we found the gravel path back to our car.
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Mt. Townsend and Silver Lake Loop Backpacking Adventure

Mt. Townsend and Silver Lake Loop Backpacking Adventure

Sequim Washington receives lots of sunshine because the Olympic Mountains block moisture-laden clouds traveling inland off the Pacific Ocean, but it wasn’t until I hiked up and over the knife-edge summit of Mt. Townsend that I actually experienced a rain-shadow effect up-close and in action....
The 6,280 foot summit of Mt. Townsend was the high point along a ridge that ran north/south. On one side was sunshine and more mountains; on the other side, somewhere below us were the cool waters of Puget Sound, but that was only a guess because thick clouds and fog roiled right up to the edge of the ridge.
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What a wondeful day of steelhead fishing!

Summer Steelhead Fishing on the Bogachiel River

Steelhead fishing isn’t easy especially for those of us who don’t fish much. If you manage to entice a cunning steelhead to strike, they’ll fight hard, throwing the hook or break your line.
Steelhead are large rainbow trout that return to rivers to spawn after living in the sea for a few years. Unlike Pacific salmon that die after spawning, steelhead can make the journey back to the river several times. Result - a strong fish adept to the ways of the world.
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


not quite big enough

Poor Man's Crabbing on Dungeness Bay

I arrived at Dungeness Bay in the morning during an ultra-low tide. The clouds clung to the beach and the primeval smell of rotting and decaying sea life was strong. Sure enough, Dave handed me a pitchfork (with guards to blunt the tips) and we walked out a mile from shore.
Dave’s theory of crab psychology goes like this; after the crabs mate some of the males, too spent to move (or they are smoking a cigarette), are left behind hiding in the knee-deep water and eel grass of a low tide. Sure enough, after about half an hour of walking about, we spotted the brownish-purple shell of a large Dungeness crab moving slowly across the sandy bottom.
Read the FULL STORY HERE...


Select from latest Adventure videos!

Bailey Range Traverse

Bailey Range Traverse

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail 2013

Exploring the Crescent Mine

Exploring the Crescent Mine 2013

Cameron Creek

Cameron Creek and Grand Ridge 2013


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What is ExploreOlympics.com?

ExploreOlympics.com is a website of Olympic Peninsula adventure stories sprinkled with a dash of history and a bit of science. Let our stories, photos, maps and videos show you where to go and what to see. No expertise needed! The Olympic Peninsula is a magical mix of sea and mountains, farmland and forest, rivers and sky, so whether you’re planning a family backpacking trip or you’re an armchair traveler, our goal is to inform, inspire and entertain you.

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- Bret Wirta, The Incidental Explorer

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Holiday Inn Express and Conference Center, Sequim

Sequim Holiday Inn Express

Our Holiday Inn Express hotel is designed to give the guest more value than what they are expecting from the typical, limited-services hotel experience.

We are the gateway to the Olympic National Park, a World Heritage Site.

Sequim Quality Inn & Suites

Sequim Quality Inn & Suites

Located in the sun-belt of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, the Quality Inn & Suites® hotel is only a short drive from tranquil Lake Crescent and the inspiring views of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

The Black Bear Diner, Sequim

The Black Bear Diner, Sequim

We specialized in full-size portions of good home-cooking served with a big dose of fun.
When we serve your meal you’ll say ‘Wow!’

Next door to the Holiday Inn Express & Conference Center, Sequim

Birdfolio

Birdfolio

Birdfolio was born out of a simple need for list keeping. Birdwatchers with good memories may not require such a tool but obsessive twitcher types (like us) with less skill at managing life lists may find it useful.

Pat Neal's Wildlife

Salmon & Steelhead Fishing Trip Specials

Pat Neal's Wildlife.
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