Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Olympic Hike

A little over an hour away from me lies a playground. There are thick forests, snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers, the sparkling Hood Canal. I've lived on Bainbridge Island over a year now, and I've hardly explored the Olympic Peninsula. Well, now I've bought my $30 annual pass to National Forests in both Oregon and Washington, which means I'm going to spend many a weekend hiking this spring and summer. Many trails aren't accessible until June or July, so today we drove down toward Quilcene, until we stumbled upon the Mount Walker viewpoint. It was only supposed to be a "stretch our legs" walk, but it turned into a heart-pounding climb. My first clue was a 2,000 foot elevation gain in 2 miles. That's STEEP. We didn't even make it halfway, but it was worth the effort, and the glimpses of the Olympic Mountains through the trees.

I love being in the forest; it's like walking inside a living, breathing organism. The pungent smell of moss and decaying dirt mixes with fresh sap and ferns. I love the way the trail is soft beneath my feet, and that I see bursts of white and purple flowers along the way. I love that I can hear my breath and heartbeat, and am far away from the lure of computers and Star Trek and Nintendo Wii.

After this hour or so walk in the woods, we got back in the car and headed south on 101. We ate lunch near a sparkling river, then found a spot along the Hood Canal to set up our chairs and listen to some music, and soak up the sun.

David and I both returned from this afternoon outing feeling incredibly relaxed. He even fell asleep in the car on the way home. It's so rejuvenating being out with nature. It is my goal to explore all over the Olympic Peninsula this summer, and to post pictures a thousand times grander than these. There is one trail where you can see mines, and a downed B-17. Another heads up in the mountains, where there are stunning views of the Hood Canal, and even Seattle. I can't wait. An entire summer awaits!


Paula said...

That's a wonderful goal, Kristin! There is such beautiful hiking there, and here. No better way to check out of the hustle and bustle than to commune with nature. I don't do it nearly enough, but reminders like this are good. I still think you have Native American roots somewhere!

Lisa said...

I want to live your life today!

Colleen said...

Thanks so much for taking us along! I meant to go camping in the Olympic Mountains before I left the great pacific northwest... but alas. I'll settle for your adventures though! The sound so fabulous!

Abby said...