Olympia doesn’t have a great reputation around the state. From Spokane to Bellingham, and Vancouver to Ocean Shores, the capitol of Washington State is known mostly for politics and a somewhat drab downtown scene. Outsiders might quickly stop by on trips to more exotic locations, but for most, Olympia is skipped over. Even some locals avoid downtown Olympia, but those who decide to pass over this small town at the southern end of the Puget Sound are missing a spectacular annual event. At the end of August and first few weeks of September, the waters around Olympia become full of salmon, migrating home to spawn and die. While this event happens in most cities around the state, Olympia is one of the few that offers a stunning viewing area where you can watch salmon, seals and the tides, all from an overlook above the water.
Over the warmer months this year, I completed some incredibly fun projects on trails in mountains I love dearly. I climbed Mt. St. Helens, ran up to Camp Muir, raced the Broken Arrow Skyrace at Lake Tahoe and completed a double peak project running up Mt. Rose and Mt. Ellinor in one run. I’m a mountain runner.
Running, especially on trails and up mountains, is what gives me life. This activity, this hobby, this passion, inspires me to be the best human I can be. In recent years, this life has given me a health body and a strong mind. Discovering running a few years ago has completely changed my life, all for the better.
I was stuck in a rut. Pun intended. I had been running on city streets for too long and my body was craving new terrain. The constant pounding of pavement had me longing for a long, singletrack trail which would allow me to bask in wilderness for miles at a time. I needed a trail on public lands, and Yellowstone National Park had just the trail for me. Little did I know that my eight mile run would turn into one of the most special moments of my life.
The word alone conjures up images and memories for those who enjoy America’s Public Lands. The park is world famous, a destination for roughly four million people a year, with the majority arriving over just a three month time period. Popular, scenic and enjoyable for all ages, Yellowstone is a destination for a myriad of reasons, but young and old all seem to fall in love with the two million acres wilderness wonderland.
On the night of July 20th, 2018, The Outdoor Society witnessed an extremely rare event above the Norris Geyser Basin. As the night sky expanded above us, we sat, watched and listened as the world’s tallest, currently active geyser, Steamboat Geyser, erupted just a short distance away. From our vantage point, we snapped pictures and watched in awe, realizing how lucky we were to see an eruption.
Once the final, heavy snows of spring fall on Yellowstone, the desolate, tundra-like terrain of America’s first National Park starts to transform into a visual wonderland of awesomeness. If you haven’t yet seen this majestic park during the spring months, you are missing out on one of the most unique experiences in America.
I usually write about Olympic National Park for my #NatureWritingChallenge, but sometimes I need to bring it all back to the wilderness around America’s first National Park and celebrate the public lands that help bring the conservation revolution to the forefront of America. Yellowstone has always had a special place in my heart, captivating my imagination since my first trip there as a seven year old. I have seen the park in every month of the year, one winter, I witnessed something I had never seen before.
It was probably the 1990s. I recall being full of teen angst at the world, my “pain” encapsulated by the melodic mumbles of fellow harborite Kurt Cobain. It was summer and I was visiting my grandparents yet again, exploring everything interesting that the lavender-filled fields of Sequim had to offer. I had visited them every weekend for months, exhausting the wonders that this small Olympic Peninsula town had to offer. We went to the game farm a few times. We went out to Dungeness Spit. We drove to Port Angeles. It was the 90s, the Peninsula was a much different place.
Good news for those going to Yellowstone between now and April 20th, 2018. Many of the park’s roads are open for foot traffic! That means you can explore some sections of the park on your bike or on foot without worrying about cars or traffic. Below is a press release from Yellowstone National Park, as well as a few pictures from my road adventure in the park on March 27th.
Great news for hikers looking to stand atop one of America’s most famous volcanoes! Starting on Thursday, February 1st 2018 at 9am PST, this year’s climbing permits will be available for purchase to summit the stunning peak of Mt. St. Helens. Permits are $22.00 and are limited to just 500 a day from April 1st to May 14th. From May 15th to October 31st, only 100 permits are issued a day.
Sometimes, when in a National Park, unexpected things happen that forever change our nature-loving souls. We wander and explore, unaware that in just a few moments time, we will forge a lifelong relationship with a region that wasn’t at all planned. I refer to them as soul-soothing moments, and in 2017, I had one in Joshua Tree National Park.
Sometimes a stormy day in a National Park isn’t a bad thing. As the bad weather approaches, you can sit back and watch as the strength and power of nature shows off in full force. I have had many days of inclement weather on our Public Lands, and while not all were incredible, many stand out as some of my favorite days. Here is one of them, as written for my weekly #NatureWritingChallenge.*
We all have a mountain or trail in our “backyard,” which is hiked often and still captivates your sense of adventure and wanderlust. For me, it is Mount Ellinor above Hood Canal in Washington State, just 90 minutes from my door. At 5,944 feet above sea level, which is found less than 20 miles away, Ellinor is one of the classic hikes in the Pacific Northwest. Year round, it can be summited, rewarding those with a love of breathtaking views with a world class panorama. I have climbed her rocky flanks dozens of times over the past few years, each time different than the last. She is my crush, the object of my desire and more often than not, I find myself daydreaming of trips up her beautiful summit. One such trip was a winter trek, one that I look back on years later with the fondest of memories.
Sunsets are some of the most awe-inspiring moments in our lives. Plunging down beneath the horizon, there is something un-mistakingly soul-nourishing about them. In the most depressed days of my life, I always found a sunset in nature to be one of the most rewarding parts of my day and I am sure I am not alone. While many sunsets blend together, we all have a handful of moments, before darkness takes over, that stay with us forever. For me, one of those sunsets was found along a remote canyon in Southeastern Montana. Before I saw this sunset, I had no idea the location existed, but now the sights are forever etched in my mind’s eye.
Few hikes perfectly encapsulate the spirit and feel of a region like Gladys Divide does for the Staircase region of Olympic National Park. Full of stunning views, breathtaking lakes, wilderness adventure and relative solitude in the midst of unrivaled natural beauty, the long trek to Gladys Divide is one of those trails you’ll yearn to hike, year after year.
America’s most iconic National Park road is reopening, helping provide lifelong adventures into the heights of Glacier National Park. Soon, once the plows finish clearing snow, Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road will be open to vehicles, once again inspiring and possibly terrifying modern day adventurers with inspiring views. Any day now, the Going to the Sun Road will be open. Will you be driving it this year?
Few places in the world are as beautiful as Olympic National Park. Year round, the upper left corner of the contiguous United States inspires wanderlust and leaves visitors in awe with true wilderness beauty and the spring months are no exception. As the temperatures warm up and the delight hours grow longer, the snowpack in the rugged mountains begins to melt, helping transform the regions waterfalls, rivers and creeks into beautiful torrents of water. Roads reopen after months of being closed and the animals start to wander around with their new offspring. Whales migrate offshore, hikers return to once snow-covered trails and all seems right with the world. Spring in Olympic is an experience your soul deserves and a perfect way to kick start your year of adventures in the great outdoors.
Along the eastern slopes of Olympic National Park, high above the fjord-filled wonderland of Hood Canal, a shimmering and shining lake thaws underneath two majestic peaks. Like a miniature Glacier National Park, this remote, oft-overlooked wilderness playground needs to be your late-spring adventure destination. Once the snow starts to melt for good and the creeks become passable after the spring floods, head to Upper Lena Lake in the Hamma Hamma region for insanely gorgeous views, incredible camping and endless exploration.