Monday, August 11, 2014

A Month in Sequim, WA; It's Been Three Weeks Already?

When planning our summer in Western Washington we anticipated temperatures in the 60's and 70's, good temps for our favorite activity: hiking. We've actually had a bit of a heat wave (desert lovers will roll their eyes over this) with temps in the 80's. Fortunately there are plenty of forested trails within an hours drive of Sequim.

One of those forested trails is the Humes Ranch Loop along the Elwha River. The Elwha River had been dammed for 100 years and efforts have been underway to remove the two dams since 2011, with complete removal anticipated in September 2014. This is the largest dam removal project in recorded history and a goal of the project is to enable all five species of Pacific salmon and four species of trout to return in the numbers seen before damming (400,000 salmon per year as opposed to 4,000).

About 95% of the trail is in the forest with a short section along the river and also passes by a couple of historic cabins dating to the late 1800's. It's best to hike the loop counter clockwise so you take the steepest part downhill.

The Elwha River is a lovely shade of blue and has a wide floodplain.

At Goblin's Gate the river makes an abrupt turn...

...and the water is funneled into a narrow rocky channel.

Further upriver we could see how incredibly clear the water is.
The river is at least 10 feet deep in this pocket.

Historic Humes Ranch.

Historic Michael's Cabin.

One morning we headed into the mountains anticipating a 6 mile hike in the forest when our way was blocked by this downed tree.

Closer inspection revealed it had been cut halfway through allowing it to fall across the road. We learned later that local logging supporters use vandalism such as this to protest attempts to expand the Olympic wilderness area.

We attempted to move the tree but too many other trees were in the way.

We ended up doing a short local hike at Robin Hill Farm where we suprised this cutie in the forest:

During one of our Sequim countryside drives we discovered a place to access the coast at Marlyn Nelson County Park. This park sits at the convergence of Sequim Bay and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One morning with a very low tide we took a walk on the beach, heading South towards the spit that encloses Sequim Bay. It's about 1.5 miles to the spit and starts out with a bluff on the land side that gives way to an open wetlands and then a lagoon so you get to experience a variety of habitats.

At low tide there is plenty of rocky beach to walk on but very little of it was hard packed,
so even three miles RT is a workout.

Here the bluff side becomes wetlands.
Lots of driftwood along the beach.

The Olympic Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to this driftwood tipi.

This week has also included some social time. We finally got to meet Jim and Gayle of Life's Little Advenutres! They are avid hikers and bikers too so we've long wanted to meet up with them but our paths have always been just a little off. And while we did not have an opportunity this time to hit the trail together, we did have a great dinner with lots of spirited conversation and I am sure our paths will cross again somewhere, sometime.

We also met up with Jim and Gayle and the crew they camp with as well as former San Diegans Angela and Debbie at a Farm Store Stomp at Nash's Organic Farm in Sequim. Fun, casual, homey atmosphere at the barn!

Barn Dance at Nash's Organic Farm.

As mentioned above, long ago San Diego friend Angela and her cousin Debbie joined us at our campsite for a few nights. They pitched a tent on our site and we shared dinners and a hike on the Dungeness Spit. We had an excellent sunny, minus tide day on the Spit and chose to hike about half of the 5.5 mile spit. Here, the sand was firm and easier to walk on than the beach we'd hiked earlier in the week. Though it's a relatively flat beach walk, there is plenty to see along the way.

Colorful container ship.
Tons of driftwood to capture your imagination.

Hermann's gulls with their bright red beaks.

Hans, Angela and Debbie enjoying the sun and sweet breeze as the Spit stretches out in front of us.

Shimmering in the distance across the tidal flats lies the New Dungeness Lighthouse.
It would be an 11 mile round trip hike, had we chosen to go all the way out there.

Mt Baker is a specter across the Strait.

A truly fabulous dinner of fresh ravioli and grilled veggies with good friends!

Super moon rise over Sequim Bay.

A larger view of this lovely Bay.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Month in Sequim, WA, Week Two

We're about halfway through our month in Sequim, WA and enjoying ourselves immensely. We've done and seen a lot of things but also had time to relax at home too...that's the beauty of a month in one place.

We rode a portion of the (ultimately) 130 mile long Olympic Discovery Trail. This paved, multi-use trail, when completed, will run from Port Townsend to La Push, WA, but currently has over 50 miles of completed segments. We chose to ride from Sequim's Railroad Bridge Park (home of the Dungeness River Audubon Center) to the convergence of Old Olympic Hwy and Hwy 101, about 7.5 miles, before we turned around. This was a lovely segment that took us through a mixture of pretty rural properties and forest.

Former railroad trestle bridge, now part of the Olympic Discovery Trail.

You can see fog lingering over the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the distance.

Happy cows get to look at the Olympic Mountains all day!

We'd seen these unique bird house creations at the Saturday market, then rode by the home of the artist.

From Sequim it's 15 miles to Port Angeles, then about another 20 up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The visitor center sits on the edge of a hillside facing the heart of the Olympic Mountain range with a view to take your breath away.

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center has an impressive view,
and this photo shows only a small part of the mountain range.

We chose to hike the Sunrise Ridge Trail, mostly because it boasts big views and smaller crowds than the Hurricane Hill trail. The views along the trail were wonderful and it probably did have fewer people on the trail but we felt we could have knocked off the last mile of trail (from where it drops down a steep canyon before heading up to the base of Mt Angeles) and been just as happy with this hike. The "Y" trail junction mentioned in the trail link is not a worthy destination in itself, it has no view.

Sunrise Ridge also has an impressive view and steep drops too!

Taking a siesta under the trees.

We saw a family of Blue Grouse and I managed to catch a shot of this youngster,

Another day we did some exploring on Miller Peninsula, the Peninsula enclosing the East side of Sequim Bay (we are staying on the West side of Sequim Bay). First we drove past a local oddity: Troll Haven. I learned about this place from Roadside America, and though we could not enter the property it was fun to see some of the funky details as we drove by.

Guarding the gap in the fence.

Dozens of uniquely carved fence posts surrounded the property.

A unique venue you can rent for your own event!

A little further onto Miller Peninsula we came to the hike of the day, our trail to Thompson Spit. The State has owned a chunk of land on the Peninsula for about 10 years and is still trying to fund the development of a new state park. Fortunately the State has not banned access to this land and we took a lovely 4.5 mile RT hike here.

The first mile of trail is nice, but the last mile is extremely pretty.

Good camouflage!

We popped out of the forest here...

And came out on to the Strait, face to face with this wonderful view of Protection Island with Mt Baker just beyond it.
We had this lovely beach all to ourselves!

If you like farm-to-table restaurants, Nourish is a lovely place for a tasty meal. There is seating in the garden or the greenhouse and the food is thoughtfully prepared with the highest quality ingredients. We found it to be a little expensive, but worth it for a splurge lunch.

Lavender and herbs scent the air in the garden.

Seating in the greenhouse. The tables are made from pallets.

We've also discovered our new favorite grocery store in this area: Sunny Farms Country Store. Located on the West edge of Sequim, right on highway 101, this store has bountiful produce and all the usual items you'd find at a health food store. This is an especially good find since the Sequim farmers market is decidedly lacking in produce.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Settled for a Month in Sequim, WA, Week One

We love settling for a month in one place and our first week in Sequim has flown by. Though not as vibrant as our last stop, Port Townsend, Sequim is a peaceful little town perfectly located for our explorations of the NE portion of the Olympic Peninsula.

We chose to spend the month at John Wayne's Waterfront Resort, just outside of town and situated on Sequim Bay. Right across the street is Sequim Bay and a pretty marina park, right behind our RV is a small meadow and a short forested trail through the RV park grounds, perfect for walking Rosie and short strolls in the evening.

View of Sequim Bay at low tide, right across the street from the RV park.

Our explorations in the past week have taken us deep into the forest, on pretty coastal walks, and on top of a peak with views to blow your mind. Looks like this is going to be a fabulous month!

First stop, into the forest! We hiked the Lower Gray Wolf River Trail in the Olympic National Forest. This lovely trail took us through a moss covered fairyland to the Gray Wolf River, one of the prettiest rivers I've ever seen.

The river was a pretty blue in the deep spots.

The salmonberries were ripe! Yum!

In Sequim we enjoyed a morning of raspberry picking at Graysmarsh Farm, where various berries were only $2/pound and blueberries were $2.50/pound. We ended up with 6.5 pounds (not counting what we ate straight from the vine!) and I made several tasty treats from the bounty and froze quite a lot for future use.

 Another day we drove 15 miles West to Port Angeles, the largest town along the North coast of Washington and a major gateway to Olympic National Park. It has a deep water harbor formed by Ediz Hook and ferries take off from here to Victoria, British Columbia. This town has a lovely waterfront trail, views into the Olympic Mountains, views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to British Columbia, and several wonderful murals scattered through downtown. We enjoyed a tasty lunch at Next Door Gastropub.

View from the waterfront trail looking towards the City Pier and ferry landing.
You can climb the tower on the pier for excellent views into the mountains,
across the Strait and down into the clear water.

During low tide raccoon's come out to forage along the shoreline.

This odd looking vessel is named Kalakala, and once ran as a ferry in the area. It is currently being restored.

Yesterday we went on a fabulous hike with Bill and Christine, friends we met in Tucson this past winter who live up in this neck of the woods. The hike they chose, Mount Townsend, was exploding off the hillsides and views for miles and miles. There is some serious elevation gain on this trail, but it was worth it for the views of Mt Rainier, Mt Baker, the Northern Cascades, Hood Canal, Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the jagged spires of the Olympic Mountains...the list goes on and on.

You can see various waterways in front of ghostly Mt Rainier, the WA fires are probably the cause of the haze.

Group shot at the false summit.

And on to the summit...

It was easy to see how the mountains were lifting over time, reminded me of a mini San Rafael Swell.

This ridge is basically the top of Mt Townsend...the views are spectacular!

The little speck at top left is Christine! 

So ends week one in Sequim. The weather is perfect and we're enjoying some down time too, one of the best parts about spending a month in one place.