Ten years ago was our last visit to Olympic National Park, yet it was a different experience as we huddled baby Braden under mosquito net protection after finding out he had a rare skin disorder called mastocytosis. Every mosquito bite he had from birth two months prior had turned into a harsh lesion on his newborn skin. These lesions would not disappear, at least anytime soon. We raced through the Olympic Peninsula, hoping to avoid more bug bites, and saddened by the amount of clear cutting in the national forests. While our boy still has these lesions and mast cell disorder, he is thriving. This was destined to be a different trip than our last. As we said our goodbyes to Kimmy at the Olympia train station, we continued on from Mt Rainier to Olympic (travel dates 7/12-7/17/17).
As we made our first stop in the remote Quinalt Rainforest, Braden informed us that he had his annual case of poison ivy once again. Thankfully, his pediatric dermatologist had sent us prepared this year with mometasone, an ointment that thankfully did the trick, along with hand washing much of this boy’s wardrobe as we pulled into yet another area with no laundromats.
While the kids were hoping for monkeys and colorful exotic birds, they were pleasantly surprised by the majestic North American rain forest as we power hiked a quick 4 mile loop in the Quinalt.
The younger three enjoyed driving with Jill to our first campsite in Olympic at Kalaloch, a coveted campground stay on the cliffs of the Pacific. We were so grateful for the opportunity to stay here, and immediately wish we had reserved more than two nights upon our arrival. Thankfully, we had 3 sites for Jill, the Hamiltons, and us because it was the first of two occasions that we had to do some site swapping to accommodate the Hamilton camper (which ironically was better accommodated in Jill’s tent site two times in a row)!
But wow, was this place magical or what?! Jill’s iPhone 7 plus captured some pretty amazing pictures on this stretch of the trip.
After dinner our first night here, we quickly raced off to the beach below to catch the sunset. Lucky for us, we were even able to find some whales!
Laney was crushed when Ellie received the first full sand dollar, but more were to follow.
This famous tree amazed us with its “un-rooted” roots.
The next morning, we drove up through the Twilight based town of Forks to explore Rialto Beach at low tide, the only time you can walk out to the amazing Hole-in-the-Wall.
The kids raced down the beach to explore.
Gavin was thrilled when he realized we were back in tide pool territory once again!
Hole-in-the-Wall was an amazing experience for all of us!
This is where Gav thrives… he loves being able to explore, especially near water.
All the kids loved finding critters in the water and out. Different than many other beaches, we were able to find so many baby starfish here!
Best of all, we were able to do it together, with family and friends!
On the way out, we found a huge downed tree that we had to take a “family tree” pic on of course.
We had a busy day ahead of us, and our next stop was one of our favorites, the Hoh Rainforest.
The Hall of Mosses hike is one that we will never get used to, and never forget. It’s amazing that so many things can grow in this amazing corner of the country.
The Hamilton girls are such good friends to our boys, and so sweet with our girls. Laney had gotten something in her eye, and Katelin was the first to care for her.
As we walked through the Hoh, the kids had fun searching for banana slugs, mushrooms, and more. Of course, the dads once again turned it into a game, along with a point system for rare finds.
After the Hoh, we headed off to check out popular Ruby Beach. We could have spent all day in any of these spots.
The kids enjoyed climbing on the above rock while the adults made up a fun little rock toss game. We love that nature brings out this kind of creativity in us.
Laney found a great rock to use as a photo op, something I can see these girls doing more of as their love for getting their pictures taken rises.
On the hike back down Ruby Beach, this driftwood house was a great stop.
It was here that we found our third rainbow glass piece. Even after stopping to ask the locals what they are, nobody seemed to know. Please tell us if you have any ideas! Strangely, they look like beach glass, but all have a flat bottom with a beautiful rainbow design inside.
The kids had been begging for a fire on the beach, and Kalaloch was the perfect spot for this. While we were concerned about making dinner with all the sand, we do love indulging these sweet ideas whenever we can! We headed down to the beach with our pie irons and pizza supplies. It felt as is we were the only ones on this beautiful beach all night. While the kids built forts and sand castles, the adults enjoyed a spectacular sunset alongside visiting whales. All of us agreed that it was a night we will never forget.
This couple has become such a treasure to Chuck and I, and we finally captured a moment with them. While we don’t live nearby, and often times, we don’t see them on a regular basis, we are intentional about finding times to make it happen, and couldn’t be happier with the directions we have gone together, or the things we have to look forward to with them. Thank you Hamiltons for your amazing friendship!
We were sad to leave Kalaloch after our special fire on the beach, but Sol Duc was calling. As we passed through Forks again, we made a stop to eat lunch and take care of any business before heading out of service once again. That business tends to build up… for example, my mom had gone through our mail, only to discover some semi-urgent matters, our mailbox had been knocked down, etc. I had to snap a pic of our ladies here, at the grocery store, totally absorbed with their phones, not ready to leave civilization just yet. It’s amazing how disconnected we get on the road, and feels so odd yet necessary when we have the ability to connect in these fleeting moments.
Our next group of 3 sites at the national park Sol Duc Hot Springs Campground was even stranger than our last three. Our campsite ended up being the bathroom parking lot, and the Hamiltons were supposed to park in the next few spots of the lot. Thankfully, the tent side of those sites were very nice, so Jill made a switch, and the Hamiltons parked their camper in her site instead.
These sites were in the heart of the rainforest, and even though we had driven a couple hours from Kalaloch and the Hoh Rainforest, we were actually only 15 “walking” miles or so from the Hoh. All the roads in Olympic go around the heart of the park. This site was heaven on earth for us. Since we would be here for three nights, the full setup went up, including all the hammocks and slackline. I think the kids would have been happy to sit in this campsite the whole time, which is one of the reasons we revamped our plans a bit. We had intended to shuttle up to Vancouver Island for a day, but like always on summer trips, flexibility is key. All of us decided to tone it down a notch, avoid the rush, and enjoy life in the rainforest. All of us were convinced we had the best site in the campground, a rainforest playground for kids and adults.
With Kelsey going into high school, and as the other kids are getting older, we were able to put her in charge and take nightly “adult” walks around the campground. Believe it or not, there was truly only tea in those cups, despite the wildly happy looks on our faces.
We ran into this character on the walk one night when he needed to borrow Ethan’s swiss army knife for a corkscrew, so he could open his wine for his “woooman.” It seemed that we ran into him wherever we went, maybe because it appeared his camp was set up along the road in the dump station. Brian appeased us by sporting our favorite vest during a night of games… so many good laughs here!
The Sol Duc Hot Spring was not our favorite, but it was nice to get a couple soaks and showers in since none of the national parks had showers in the bathrooms. We were able to get a 10 pack of tickets for a discount, and buy the rest of the kids tickets at the “child rate” thankfully.
In the middle of hot spring visits, we took a nice walk out to Sol Duc Falls, and back along a different route to the hot springs.
There were definitely lots of characters back in Sol Duc. We had to snap a pic of this funny bus in the parking lot.
I think Braden would have liked to spend the whole day in the primitive springs.
On our last day together, we headed into Port Angeles for fish and chips/pizza in a parking lot,
and a trip up to Hurricane Ridge, another popular area in Olympic National Park.
The kids received their junior ranger badges
and we headed off for a high altitude hike. We ran into lots of deer on the way up, and a mountain goat on top.
The views were very clouded over, which makes the breaks in the clouds that much sweeter.
Our last night as the h-pack was spent making Jiffy pop,
squeezing all the kids on the slackline,
and taking some silly pix in our playground.
Olympic National Park was so good to us. Whether we walked on the beach, sat in the rainforest, or climbed one of the highest mountains, there was always something new to see and do. Until next time, h-pack. Coddiwomple. Travel in a purposeful manner toward our vague destination. (travel dates 7/12-7/17/17)