Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Olympic Peninsula: Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent

We whipped around the Olympic Peninsula last weekend, leaving on a glorious blue-sky day, the snappingly cool breeze whipping across the deck of the ferry, everything sparkling in the clear, bright air. I will add, for those of you thinking: ah, perfection, just hop on a ferry, enjoy the mountain vistas, and sip a latte (which you can buy at the ferry dock but not on the ferry) as you think of what’s ahead… we left on a Thursday, a day not notorious for nightmarish ferry waits, as Fridays and Sundays can be. Whether a whistle-stop tour is the best way to see a place could be debated, but in our case last weekend, it was fantastic; we were able to sample and snack the highlights of the region and finish tired, but happy. Our first stop (well… second, because I’d neglected to fill the gas tank) was Hurricane Ridge. Neither the Incredible Eating Nephew nor my kids had ever been up there, and although it is a much-touristed location, well, it’s much-touristed for very good reason. If you avoid Hurricane Ridge because so many people go there, you’re missing out. The kids gasped and then cheered at the sight of the Olympic interior's snowy, craggy, opaquely sapphire immense mountains. The vistas into the interior of the Olympics are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The walking paths all lead to amazing scenes of rugged, tranquil, surpassing beauty. Wildflowers were blooming profusely; up at Hurricane Ridge, the meadows were thronged with lupine. In the snowier areas, avalanche lilies were strewn thickly across cooler spots (not the most reassuring name a flower ever had, and somewhat disappointingly, there was no avalanche danger sign as twistedly amusing as the tsunami danger zone signs). Being there made us all want to linger there, made me want to hike more. The thin, crisp air, the unbelievable physical beauty… it made Barney’s look rather dull, even at sale time. The kids were thrilled that we had a brief, zesty snowball fight in July. Staying longer would have been nice, but we’d left a bit late and there were children to be fed (and even the cafĂ© up there, with its somewhat meager offerings, had closed), so onwards we went, stopping in the very small town of Joyce (but not at the general store) for dinner, where my nephew and dad split a logger-burger, a 1 lb. burger with a home-made bun (has to be, given the size) to accommodate the gargantuan patty.

We arrived at the Log Cabin Resort, a relaxed, friendly, just-above-camping sort of place happily sprawled across a bit of the north shore of Lake Crescent. They don't pretend to anything but what they are, which is a relaxed and friendly place in a location hard to beat for its dream-like beauty. Curly and I shared a bed in the loft of an A-frame cabin/townhouse (and the walls were as thin as walls in national park concessions invariably seem to be). When she woke in the morning (after a night of trying to snuggle so close that it felt as if she were trying to drill into me with her head), she snuggled up, smiling, and then pulled at me to sit up. “Look at the view,” she whispered, so as to admire the view without waking the others in our cabin who were still sleeping. And it was everything that her thrilled smile said it would be.


cook eat FRET said...

really lovely
all around

Meg said...

Sometimes I forget how unbelievably physically beautiful the peninsula is (because sometimes, when you have a freeze-fest hike in July, you forget things like that), but it's incredible.

coinman said...

Beautiful photos. Olympic peninsula is my favorite destination.

Meg said...

coinman- thanks. Any spots there you particularly favor?