The Elwha is once again open to vehicle traffic, for the first time since late November 2015, when a series of severe storms brought heavy rain and flooding to the Elwha River. During that storm, approximately 90 feet of roadway washed out, with additional sections severely eroded and damaged by flood waters. While the road opening is great, keep in mind of a few things.
Unless you have been in the backcountry for a few months, or just actually live under a rock, you are aware that everywhere you go, there is talk about politics. In the grocery stores, in the papers, at work, at home and all over social media; it seems like political speech is around every corner. For many, the retreat into nature is to avoid this type of talk, letting yourself reconnect and be calm in the majesty of wilderness and the great outdoors. While I believe everyone should find a patch of wilderness to relax and meditate at, the time for naivety of politics not playing an important role in nature is over.
Get ready folks.
Mount Rainier National Park will begin accepting online reservation requests for wilderness camping and climbing permits, including overnight trips on the Wonderland Trail. If you were thinking of camping at Mount Rainier or taking on the Wonderland Trail, you better be ready and fast.
January 22nd, 2017 at 12:05 PM. A magnitude 3.6 earthquake hit in the southern stretches of Olympic National Park near the Quinault Rainforest. Originating near the headwaters of the Wynoochee River, the quake came from a depth of 40km. While a quick call to a friend told me that the shaking was felt in the Quinault region, the are no reports of damage to structures or really any issues at all. This quake follows another smaller quake, a magnitude 2.6, located near Humptulips two mornings earlier. Earthquakes are common in the PNW and this latest jolt shouldn’t cause panic. Last year, also in January, over 2,000 small quakes made their way down the Hood Canal. Nothing bad came from that.
I figured it would take a few days or week. I thought that the first hundred days would be focused on issues like healthcare, immigration and trade. I didn’t think for one minute that within twelve hours of our new President swearing in on a bible, that he would come after the National Park Service. Whether you supported Trump, Hillary, Bernie, Jill or anyone else, this is an important precedent that has just been set. Our new President is restricting speech.
I do not love being in the wilderness by myself. I really don’t. It’s not blind fear or a phobia. It’s being in my head; all by myself for hours, not being able to share the experience with anyone that sort of lacks any draw for me. I guess, I don’t like loneliness. Doesn’t make me a good Northwest outdoor person, I suppose. Most people go outdoors to get away from everything and anyone. Not me.
But, just before the weather turned this fall, I wanted to test myself, wanted to try out that solo experience and see what it was all about.
Out along the wilderness coast of the Olympic Peninsula, endless coastal wonders await those longing for a truly Pacific Northwest beach experience. Stretching for 73 miles, from Shi Shi to Kalaloch, the wilderness coast of Olympic has inspired countless generation and left millions of visitors awestruck with the sheer beauty of these jagged and remote stretches along the Pacific. Ranging in levels of accessibility, the Olympic coast offers something for everyone, letting each individual find their perfect slice of sandy, driftwood-filled beaches. For many, the highlight of the coast comes at Olympic National Park’s Second Beach near the town of LaPush.
2016 was an excellent year for Olympic National Park, seeing what is slated to be its 6th most-popular year on record. In 366 days of 2016, thanks to a leap day thrown in at the end of February, over 3.4 million people are estimated to have experienced the beauty and majesty of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite National Park. In fact, the year was so good that it nearly became a top five year for this incredible stretch of Pacific Northwest wilderness, missing out on passing 2001’s numbers by mere thousands. For 2016, Olympic was once again the seventh most-visited National Park in America, continuing a streak of top 10 listings since records were officially started in 1979.
As the snow falls on the mountains and hills around the Pacific Northwest, the hiking community struggles to find someplace new and remote, rewarding, accessible and beautiful. Franklin Falls, Lake Wenatchee, Hurricane Ridge, Artist Point, Paradise; the crowds gather at popular winter destinations around the region, bottlenecked by a lack of accessibility to other regions. Surrounded by a wealth of natural wonders, residents of Washington find ourselves repeating the same trips, or staying indoors until the weather gets better. Don’t fall into that trap. In the winter, while many will try to be awesome and climb high for epic, snowy, panoramic views, hundreds of miles of trails are sitting mostly empty along the wild and scenic rivers of Olympic National Park and Peninsula. One such river, the Dosewallips, is the ideal place to get away and experience the beauty of nature, just a short drive from the major cities of the Puget Sound.
As we near the end of the year, many will celebrate the end of a rough 2016. While it wasn’t an ideal year for many, it was a still a banner year for nature, The Outdoor Society and the hiking community. In a year that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Parks, witnessed an election that divided the country and experienced incredible weather events, we saw our greatest year yet. Receiving amazing traffic to the website, fantastic book sale numbers and dozens of stunning trips to the best scenic wonderlands in the West, 2016 was a good year for The Outdoor Society. We thank you all for your support and have even more amazing things planned in 2017.
As a brutal and difficult 2016 ends and the days of 2017 become a reality, we are taking one last look back at and celebrating an awesome year for America’s National Parks. In 2016, over 80 million people visited one of America’s 59 National Parks on the centennial of their creation. All across the country, millions of people explored America’s best idea, all looking to reconnect to someplace wild, beautiful and soul soothing. From the Smoky Mountains to the desserts of Joshua Tree and everywhere in between, the following areas encouraged and inspired future generations to connect and protect these beautiful destinations.
As a resident of the Puget Sound Region of the PNW, I never expect a White Christmas. If you are a resident of Western Washington, you shouldn’t either. Over the last century, the city of Seattle has only had four Christmas Days with snowfall. In outlying areas, the total is higher, but not much. In the Pacific Northwest, snowy holidays are what we see on Instagram or what we hear crooned on our holiday Pandora station. Around the Puget Sound, Salish Sea and wilderness coast, if we crave a snowy Christmas experience, we usually head to the mountains. This year, with an above average snowpack for the entire Pacific Northwest, you can have a white Christmas with ease. While my last two snowpack articles have been full of data and a bit long winded, this is going to be short and sweet so we can all enjoy the holidays.
Few places in the world produce pure joy and happiness with just one glance, but Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge does that with ease. A mile above the Strait of Juan de Fuca and just a short 17 mile drive from the fantastic outdoor recreation town of Port Angeles, Washington, Hurricane Ridge is one of America’s most-underrated nature destinations. Open year round in the summer, the area is only accessible during the snowy months on the weekends, making a trip to the region a limited edition experience. Plan ahead, grab your snow gear and camera and hit up The Ridge this winter. This is a family-friendly adventure you don’t want to miss.
Over the last 32 years, the forests of the Olympic Peninsula have slowly been returning. Recovering from the heyday of the logging industry, hillsides and valleys, ridge lines and fields have once again become filled with trees. Thanks to a series of satellite images, we can now see just how much of the Olympic Peninsula has been reclaimed by nature. In just over three decades, the region is starting to recover from the sixty years of mass deforestation and we think it looks awesome.
It should really come as no surprise.
Leading up to this nearly 8,000 foot mountain in the center of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, the Hoh River Valley is known for endless rain that creates the Hoh Rainforest. Receiving over 14 feet of rain a year, the Hoh region of Olympic is one of the wettest spots in the contiguous United States. While most who visit this popular wilderness National Park fall in love with the endless green the rain produces, the mountains above are filled with more glaciers than Glacier National Park and get slammed by endless, powerful moisture-filled storms rolling off the Pacific Ocean. For the past two weeks, Mount Olympus, the highest summit in the Olympic Mountains, has been getting the brunt of this incredible winter weather.
The last week of fall is here, meaning that true winter is just around the corner. For most of the Olympic Peninsula, winter has been in full force for the better part of December. After a wet and wild fall, cold air is sitting on our region, giving our mountains a well-deserved blanket of snow. While the past seven days have been snowy in places, the majority of the snowpack around the Olympic Mountains has seen small, incremental growth. No major storms rolled in, but the current snowpack is still a whopping 170% of normal for this time of year. This is awesome!
Life is hard and then, for most of us, it somehow gets harder. We keep fighting to keep our head above water, to stand tall in the face of adversity and to fight on. That is one of the reasons so many of us resonate with the Root Tree at Kalaloch Beach in Olympic National Park. Defying the odds, this tree is holding on by its roots, surviving against the power of erosion and the elements. Struggling and somehow living another day, we are inspired by its resilience, strength and beauty. As one of the unofficial representatives to the Washington Coast, the Kalaloch Root Tree is an introduction to the beaches of Olympic and a gateway to beautiful, rugged wilderness and the power of the Washington Coast.