Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Olympic National Park’ category

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Sunday, October 7, 2018

It was 48 degrees with a 12mph breeze, but we bundled up and went on the Pictured Rocks Cruise. It is usually a 2 1/2 hour cruise, but they said if it gets rough, they would turn around. I had been on this cruise maybe 10 years ago on an absolutely perfect fall day. This time it was cloudy, breezy and chilly sitting on the top, open deck so I could get pictures. I was surprised to see Martha come up top and more surprised that she stayed there the whole time. 

John, a retired National Parks ranger, who now works the cruise, sat down to look at my new Nikon 200-500 lens. He grew up in Wisconsin, but traveled all over with the parks, living in Harrisonburg while working for the Shenandoah National Park. He had visited Charlottesville many times. 

The captain come on the speakers suggesting if you get seasick, you might want to get off. I get seasick, but I was guessing it wouldn’t get too bad. He introduced Grand Island on our left that helped protect Munising from the weather. The small town is at the top of Munising Bay, named by the Indians meaning near the Island. Grand Island is 49 square miles, larger than Manhattan, population 47. 

As we cruised out with two Cummings diesel engines at 15mph, the captain told us about the park, which is 40 miles long. Water seeping through the rock cliffs makes different colors and designs on the cliffs. Iron, copper, manganese and limestone play their part. Water, ice and time carve cliffs to look like an Indian chief, a battleship or a castle. The fall colors were gorgeous, even though the sun wasn’t lighting them up. As we rounded a corner, the waves got bigger and the captain said we were heading back. We went along Grand Island on the way back. Some executives bought the island years ago and stocked it with game as their hunting preserve. There was just one problem. When winter came, the whole bay froze, and the deer, caribou and moose walked off the island. As we entered the harbor, the captain invited us to come to live in Munising. We should like snow sports as they get 272 inches of snow a year, and the bay freezes over. However there are hundreds of miles of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails. He said the bay is filled with ice fishing shacks in winter.

After warming up in the Airstream and some lunch, we went to see several of the 11 nearby waterfalls. We stopped in Open Wings Art and Fine Crafts for a look. It’s a very nice store featuring arts and crafts by local artisans. Wooden bowls and vases, knitted gloves, paintings of wildlife and Pictured Rocks, ceramics, photography and many other things were neatly arranged. We walked out with a bag full of things. Then back home for some split pea soup Martha made in the slow cooker – perfect for a chilly day. 

Hoh Rain Forest

October 25, 2017

We visited the Hoh Rain Forest on our way to Kalaloch Campground and walked the “Wall of Moss Trail”. It was spectacular. It had rained all morning, but we were very lucky to get a break for our walk. The Hoh River runs along the road leading to the Visitor’s Center. Despite chilly weather and a steady rain, we saw four drift boats fishing the river. As we stopped to watch, one guy raised a large, beautiful salmon.

We continued our drive to Kalaloch Campground that sits above a beautiful beach. We were lucky to get a campsite in this small campground. Those lucky enough to have a site next to the beach had great views and sunsets. We went down to Kalaloch Lodge and had dinner sitting beside a window as the sun set. A very nice couple sat beside us. I couldn’t help but overhear them talking about a trip to Alaska. They come here every year for a few days. It is no doubt a great spot with cabins sitting on the cliff’s edge.

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View from Kalaloch Lodge restaurant

Sol Duc Falls, Salmon, Move, Beach, Second Beach

October 24, 2017

At 8:30 in the morning it was too early for the sun to reach across Olympic Mountain and into these dense forests, but it was just peeking through the trees in those cool, smoky beams of light. It’s a short hike to Sol Duc Falls, but the rain forest is beautiful. My pictures are inadequate for this beautiful spot. It is small, but a long, cascading decent over lush, green logs and rocks, moss and fern. Silently we walked up along the side of the stream and every stop was beautiful. On the way back we passed a serious photographer with his backpack and tripod. Surely he would get the right light, and it would be even more spectacular.

Yesterday we saw two salmon come into the tiny, shallow pool beside our campsite. Driving back into camp Martha said to stop by a pool a couple of sites down from us. Two ladies were gazing over the edge of the creek as we walked down. They said, “Come look. salmon are swimming into the pool”. Sure enough a salmon splashed its way up a shallow riffle, around a log and into the shallow pool. We watched a few more come in. The ladies then told us we MUST go to The Cascades down the road where the salmon are jumping through them. One said, “It’s National Geographic moment. You are going to love it”. I couldn’t wait! I have been looking for this the entire trip. We thanked them for showing us the fish and directing us to the falls

We hooked up the trailer and headed just 5 miles down the road. Lots of cars were there, but we found a place to park the truck and trailer. Crossing the street with two cameras in hand, we could see the falls. Martha yelled, “Look at them! One, two three all at once”. I was looking at the stream near me and saw nothing. She was looking 150 yards ahead at the falls. We hurried along the wet, slippery trail to the falls finding a spot to see. Sure enough salmon continuously launched themselves into the falls, and then I think were washed back down. Big ones, small ones, all leapt into the rushing waters. Two little pools along the side held many fish in the only resting places. You couldn’t see any at the top of the falls, but we know some got up, because they were in our campground.

Two photographers were in a great spot shooting away. The woman was sitting and was really focused on the fish. I was looking at the man’s hat that said something about fly fishing when he pointed to my hat from Misty Mountain Fly Shop. We struck up a conversation about the salmon running, and that these were wild Coho salmon that start their run in July and August. They can make 20 or 30 miles a day. Fishing has been banned this year as there weren’t so many running because of warm El Nino waters. He talked about the hatcheries that clip the adipose fin to distinguish them from wild salmon. All of these had adipose fins, which is a rare thing today, but happens a lot on this river. His accent didn’t sound local, and I asked where he was from – New Hampshire. He loves to fish and he loves this area. He and his wife shoot pictures for the park, but they donate them. They had just returned from Alaska shooting polar bears. That too was something they do for free. Always looking for a way I might pick up a buck or two in my travels, I asked point blank, “How do you make a living”? They own a family golf course in New Hampshire, which his brothers manage.

 

Then he mentioned something about artwork. Their names are Ken and Mary Campbell, and they do wood carvings and nature photography. He has a wildlife degree, his first job being as a marine biologist. We were getting an education on summer-run salmon, winter-run salmon and steelhead. He said you have to be tough for the winter steelhead run in February, but it’s something. He likes to fish the ocean and lakes. The locals say it isn’t like it used to be, but what is? You can catch a lot of big fish in the lakes. “If you come back, call me. I’ll take you fishing”. Sheez, what a nice and knowledgeable guy. He said if you like spring and fall, you will like it here. They don’t get much snow. Yes, it’s gray and rainy for five months, but you adapt. He heard there was a bobcat at these falls last week, but it hasn’t been spotted this week. Surely it would like a nice salmon meal. Now that the fish are getting to the campground, the bobcat probably has easier fishing spots. I could talk with Ken all day, but we had to get down the road. We exchanged cards. It would be great to come back and go fishing with him.

We didn’t have far to go to Mora Campground on the coastal part of Olympic National Park. This is unusual for Martha, Usually a 4-night planner, we were now on the 1-night schedule, but it’s working great. There was no one in Mora, so we could pick our spot. Then we went to James Pond, which is a marsh caused by beavers. We couldn’t find the trailhead, but a gentleman getting out of his car pointed us in the right direction. It’s a pretty spot where a fallen tree provides a walkway into the marsh. Perfect mirror reflections showed trees in better color than when looking directly at them. The gentleman and his lady came out onto the log, and we chatted a few minutes. He has lived here for 40 years and gave us tips on where to go.

We walked back, then drove to Rialto Beach. This is an impressive, beautiful rock beach with powerful Pacific waves pounding the rocks. With such a beautiful beach on a perfect, sunny day, lots of people were enjoying it. A couple brought chairs and sat reading their books. As we looked around, we saw our new friends and went up to say Hi. We talked for a bit, admiring the scenery, and we exchanged taking pictures of each other. As we left, I saw them sitting on a fallen tree, talking and relaxing in a gorgeous spot. He grew up in Falls Church, Virginia. Rialto Beach was Martha’s favorite beach of the trip.

The next stop was a hike to Second Beach. As we gazed from an overlook on the road, a man stopped on his bike. He is a surfer, but these waves were too big at about 12 feet, and one after another. He would wait for a better day. We walked down the trail to a beautiful, black sand beach with “sea stacks” in the cove. Fortunately Martha checked the tides, a very important thing when walking beaches. We have heard a harrowing tale of a couple getting caught on a beach when the pounding Pacific tide came in. They were lucky to be able to climb up a rocky cliff far enough to safety, but then had to wait for the tide to go out again. You could walk on this beach a long way. We walked a bit, then sat on a log and enjoyed the scenery. A hiker came by asking about a campsite on the beach. We hadn’t seen one, but the only likely place was around the corner in a deep cove. There was still no one in the campground when we returned. Sometimes that’s a little spooky, but we didn’t have any trouble sleeping.

Move to Olympic National Park

October 22, 2017

With a 7:30 start we got to the ferry terminal before 9:00. Fortunately we had a reservation, because it was full. We parked in the designated lane and waited till 10:00 when they came around to check passports and a few questions. It’s an hour and a half beautiful ferry ride across Juan de Fuca Straight to Port Angeles. A bit cold and windy on deck, I got used to it after a while. It’s fun to wander around checking the views and the people, but I had to go in a few times to warm up. We had a nice conversation with a gentleman from California who went to Victoria to look after the grandchildren while his daughter was in a conference. He had some good suggestions about the ways to travel south.

As we approached Port Angeles, Olympic loomed large, covered in clouds with sun trying to peek through. Snow covered many of the mountaintops. Several whales were spotted in the distance, Arriving at port, customs pulled all the campers over to search them. We were the last ones, but the guy was very nice. We found County Aire Natural Foods that had high ratings and ordered some a Hunter sandwich with turkey, pesto, pepperoni, onions and something else and some chili, Both were very good. One should not grocery shop while hungry.

Then up to the Visitor’s Center for some suggestions and information, and on to Heart of the Hills Campground. It was a beautiful day while we were in town, but by the time we settled in camp, the rains returned. We were happy to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. I was happy to have time to sit and read my book, “The River of Doubt”.