Friday, October 16, 2009

Seasons Come and Seasons Go

I can hardly believe it is mid fall, and the leaves are falling and soon winter will be here again. I had a glorious summer working at Mt. Rainier, despite a few little pitfalls, all in all it was well worth it. Once I stepped outside and hiked up the mountain I was in my element. Work was only a part of it, and now having worked for several seasonal concessions, I pretty much know how it goes. Nothing in life is perfect, and you learn to go with the flow. In any case, our season ended last Monday, and our closing season party consisted of Pizza, Cookies and a screening of the Shining. How appropriate for working in an Historic National Park Lodge to show a spooky movie with Jack Nicholson about living in a haunted hotel. Anyway, it has passed and now it hardly even seems as though I was there.

I will briefly catch you up and try to keep this short. The last couple of weeks of work I took some of my best hikes. The first was to Comet Falls and Van Trump Park. Comet Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the park and one of the steepest hikes in a short distance. The waterfall is 200 feet of crashing white water, and you gain 1500 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles. Most of the way is climbing on rocks and the moisture from the waterfall can make the trail slippery. I reached the waterfall and found a huge rock to perch myself on for awhile. The view was amazing and easily I could of sat there all day. I decided last minute to continue past the falls to Van Trump Park. In the height of summer the Park is covered in wildflowers and you have a great view of the mountain. I found a cool spot as it was actually quite a warm day, and enjoyed conversation with a few woman from a hiking club in Seattle who were up for a few days. My decision to hike on a portion of the Wonderland Trail all the way back to Longmire made for a long yet enjoyable day. This made my hike close to 10 miles and I was ready to sit once I arrived in Longmire and waited for the employee shuttle back up to Paradise. The following week I took a hike one morning to Paradise Glacier, one of the hikes on the mountain I had not done yet. The weather was due to change rapidly and they were expected the snow level to be at 4800 by later that night. The day was gorgeous, yet crisp and windy. This turned out to be one of my favorite hikes of the summer. The scenery was raw and barren, and fall colors illuminated the mountainside. I felt very much at one with the wildness of the area and spent time sitting by a small Glacial Tarn. This was a good conclusion to my summer working at Mt. Rainier.

After closing on Monday, My friend and roommate from the season embarked on a road and camping trip to Olympic National Park. Olympic was amazing and I loved the diversity of the park. Olympic encompasses thousands of acres of coastline and mountains, and offers a wide variety of activities for visitors. One thing we noticed was that you drive in and out of the park. In between the coast and the mountain section there are acres and acres of clear cut. Washington is known as one of the logging states and it saddened me to see all this clear cut. Thankfully the coastal wilderness of the park was eventually saved from this, yet still it was a sad scene. Human consciousness needs to get away from using so much paper and products that trees give us and find more alternatives. I believe we are on our way, and recycling is happening, yet hot enough. Some of the forests with ancient groves of trees also have a conscious, and we do not need to take so much. Anyway, the park was great. The first night we camped on Lake Quinault. It was breathtaking and we enjoyed a late afternoon hike along the lake to the Quinault Rain forest. The sunset on the lake that night was breathtaking and I thoroughly enjoyed the little village of Lake Quinault.

The following day we headed towards the coast, and the village known as Kahaloch. There are several beaches in this area and we chose to visit Ruby Beach, with its Sea Stacks and dramatic scenery. Our goal was to make it to the Hoh Rainforest's by early afternoon for some nature hikes and then to our next night camping spot in Mora at Rialto Beach. The Olympic Coastline is so rugged and I loved the scenery there. The ride to the Hoh was long, yet well worth it. The Visitor Center was closed, yet there were many others taking advantage of the amazing weather we had. We took about a one mile nature hike through the rainforest's which was great, and at the end were greeted by some Bull Elk grazing in the meadow near the parking lot. I was thoroughly impressed by the racks on these guys, and made sure to pay attention to the signs that several visitors had been recently charged by the Elk from getting too close. All in all it was fabulous.

We arrived in the late afternoon at Mora. This was our camping spot for the next two nights, and I was grateful to honker down for more than one night. Despite a bit of a chill, we still had the weather on our side.

The next morning we took a hike along the road down to Rialto Beach. Rialto Beach is the site of the beginning of the 26 mile long Northern Coastal Wilderness trail to Ozette and Neah Bay. This trek is to be taken with caution and generally follows the low tide. Our morning 2 mile hike was when the high tide was starting to come back in, so great attention was needed to pay attention to that. I loved it here, and stopped many times to perch myself on driftwood and just stare out at the sea. Rialto is right next to the Guillleute Indian Village of La Push. Recently this area has become rather famous due to the popularity of the the Twilight Movie and the books. Forks is the small town where much of the movie took place. After our hike that day we went into the village and splurged on a dinner at the River's Edge Restaurant That was a treat and I enjoyed my fish and chips. Salmon has been the livelihood of many of the Northwest Tribes, so I felt good about eating here.

The next day we headed to our last night of camping in the Sol Duc Hot Springs area and found a nice camping spot near the river. That evening we treated ourselves to a soak in the Sol Duc Hot Springs pool at the lodge after a hike to Sol Duc Falls. What a treat soaking in the warm mineral waters. This was a wonderful closure to our road trip and soon we would be parting ways. The following morning we headed towards Lake Crescent to check out the lodge and the lake. We both concluded that Olympic was one of our favorite parks, and would love to come back next summer to work so we could explore the area more in depth.

The day of departure was somewhat bittersweet to a fun summer and the last road trip for the year. My friend KO dropped me off in Port Angeles where I would ferry back towards the San Juan Islands briefly the next day. We had a delicious lunch at an Asian Bistro and it was pretty yummy.

It never seizes to amaze me the way time just flies by and before you know it, a new season is upon us. This winter I will once again be doggie and house sitting on Orcas Island and hope to have plenty of opportunity to write and explore my creative pursuits. Look forward to more coming soon from the desk of Raven Sky.

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