VACATION DAY #5: Olympic Peninsula Hike Lower Big Quilcene River Trail #833

Hike Distance: 6.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 464.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 955 feet       Yearly Elevation Gain: 51612 feet

Our last day of vacation, and we were going to hike somewhere on the northern Olympic Peninsula.  However, the storm that was expected all week had finally rolled in, and had high winds.  We opted to find a hike along the way home, and were hoping the winds would be more tame further south.  As my wife drove home, along hwy 101, I looked up the possible hikes along the way.  Looking at the hiking map, I found the Lower Big Quicene River Trail and thought this was a possible option?

So, we drove south, and the winds seemed to be much lower.  We committed to hiking this trail and turned off and drove along the many forest roads toward the TH.  As we ascended the rain intensified and it was blustery.  Several times I wanted to bail out because of fear of falling and blowing debris, but we didn’t.  Surprisingly, the roads were in fairly good shape and our sedan had not problems.  We were getting close and I told my wife to turn on the final road, and it turned out to be incorrect.  Ugh, the pain of turning around on a single lane forest road.

We turned back and found the road to the trailhead, but opted not to drive down this marginal road.  Instead, we parked on the main forest road that was 1/2 mile from the trailhead.  So we put on our rain gear and headed down the marginal road and final reached the parking area at the TH.  There was actually a nice composting bathroom there!

The trees were swinging wildly but we stared down the trail anyway.  I was looking and listening for flying debris and the sound of a tree limb cracking.  At first we decided to walk a half mile down the trail and assess the safety.  We heard a tree falling but we weren’t in imminent danger and continued.  Then at one mile out the wind was diminishing significantly as we descended down the trail and into the canyon.  We met a couple, and their dogs, along the way.  They had the only car in the parking lot.

Continuing down the trail we noticed that this was in amazing condition.  There was obviously some group of people taking care of it.  I speculate that some biking club is volunteering to clean this trail up, and they’ve done an impressive job.  We came upon a brand new bridge, over a very small stream, at about two miles out.  We continued and there was a large wooden bridge over the Big Quilcene River.  I love this river, and the view from the bridge was great, and it reminded me of Herman Creek in the Columbia River Gorge!

I forgot to mention that after about one mile out I felt a cool, wet feeling getting through my rain jacket.  Yes, my Arcteryx Beta SL rain jacket failed miserably today. 😦  When I mean fail, I’m talking about feeling my upper torso slowly getting drenched.  Then I felt the water go past my waist and into my underwear.  I then felt the water dripping between my legs and starting down my leg.  When we got back my whole front torso was drenched, and cold.  Ugh!  Thankfully, I still have a 20% off coupon for the REI sale that is going on.

We turned around just past the bridge over the Big Quilcene River.  We had a snack just before turning around.  Little did we know that there was a trail intersection just 150 feet past where we stopped!  After our hike I noticed that this area has a large trail system with plenty of future hiking opportunities. 🙂

So, as we returned I was hoping the winds had subsided somewhat, and they did. Yea!!!  We got to our car and got as comfortable as possible, for the three hour drive home.  We opted not to stop for food since we could make it home for dinner time.  We have vowed to come back and hike this area, and possibly make it a regular visit when we go to the Olympic Peninsula?

Again, my back did great today!  I’m much more optimistic about the leg lifts, now.  The only thing I’m noticing is that I can feel my entire hip and back changing due to the leg lifts, and this could take a long time to iron itself out?  That said, I now have more hope than I’ve had in a long time. 🙂

VACATION DAY #4: Olympic National Park Elwha River Hike from Madison Falls TH to Glines Canyon Overlook

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 458.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1402 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 50657 feet

This was a gorgeous day but was supposed to be rainy.  It was cooler than expected, with wind, but we were prepared.  We were originally going to visit another section of the Olympic Discovery Trail, but at the last minute I had a yearning to visit the Elwha River area.  There were about 10 vehicles at the parking lot when we arrived, so we decided to head out toward the Gline Canyon Overlook!  The Gline Canyon Overlook is located on the dam that previously flooded the Elwha Valley.  Removing the dam has enabled the native salmon to once again spawn in a pristine wilderness! 🙂

There is a locked gate, just past the Madison Creek Falls TH parking lot, on the road leading toward the Gline Canyon Overlook. This is because the Elwha River had again washed out the road and was not passable.  Since this seems to happen often, the forest service has created a bypass trail around elwha river washout. The washout was extensive and river had breached the road and campground! There was a nice little drop-off area on trail but not too bad, but be careful with your children and dogs.

We traversed the washout bypass trail (about one mile long) and came out on road and continued south on it. We reached the National Park Ranger Station, which was empty, since vehicles can’t make it past the washout. However, there were about a dozen deer on a field outside the National Park ranger quarters.  Not surprisingly, the Deer were cautious but not afraid of us.

We took Whiskey Bend Road to the left just after ranger station. The Hurricane Hill trail was just off this road, close to the intersection.  The Hurricane Hill trail is Incredibly steep and we didn’t attempt it, since this wasn’t our objective today.  We continued up the road for a while and finally reached Gline Canyon Spillway overlook. The Overlook is well marked and there is parking available.  You’ll then walk out on a remaining section of the dam and receive a fantastic view of the Elwha valley, with snow-capped peaks in background!   Truly a breathtaking view that is etched in my brain forever!  There were very gusty winds out on viewpoint.  Please note that the viewing area is fenced in and is safe as long as you don’t climb over.  That said, the drop-off could give you vertigo when you look down, and I can’t lean over the fence for this reason. 😦

We headed back to the trailhead and the sky was completely clear. No people were seen on road for most of day!   The majority of this hike was a road walk but the views of the Elwha River and valley were well worth walking on the gravel.  When we got back to the TH we visited Madison Falls, which is just off parking area.   This trail is short, paved and has access for wheelchairs, which we think is great. 🙂   Madison Creek Falls is quite beautiful and we had it to ourselves, for a few minutes. Best day of our vacation and great last full day of hiking. My back felt very good, even after hiking over eight miles!   I hope this is a pattern. 🙂

Great memories made today.

VACATION DAY #3: Old Fort Townsend State Park Trails Hike

Hike Distance: 7.3 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 450.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1011 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 49255 feet


It was a last minute decision but great choice to visit Old Fort Townsend State Park.  I didn’t know this park existed until last night. The park isn’t open for the season yet and very few people were on the trails! This state park has a vast trail system that is mostly in the forest.  However, there is a single trail that goes down to the Port Townsend Bay, and the view is very impressive!

We parked close to the entrance and were only the 4th vehicle in here.  We started out on an interpretive trail, for old fort area, but not much remaining since it was only in operation from 1856-1895!  We got off the interpretive trail early, to take a trail down to the water.  As mentioned, the views of the Port Townsend Bay were spectacular and we could see Port Townsend from her.  There were also some nice cloud formations over the bay, and I took the opportunity to take many photos.

I won’t try to describe the path we took around the park but I can say that we hiked over 70% of all the trails, in a very convoluted way.  The trails are marked very well but you could easily get disoriented. Haha.   We did initially hike on the Bluff Trail and then around the periphery. The interior trails were walked in a haphazard way, just to make sure we covered most of them. The tallest Trillium I’ve ever seen were on the Trillium Trail!  We also passed by an old cemetery, which was quite spooky.  The bodies had been moved from this site, though. Note that I did include one of the signs that contained a map of the trail system, for your enjoyment.

We met some nice people, with their dogs, accessing the trail from the south side of the park, from a very upscale neighborhood (and are very expensive per Zillow). Evidently, the locals indicated that retired folks from California are inundating this area since it’s in the rain shadow of the Olympics and has a mild climate and plenty of sunny days.  You can definitely see the impact of the higher population that is moving here. 😦

My back felt much better on this third day of our vacation.  It was a pleasant surprise given the first two days had some issues.  Such a fantastic day with mostly nice weather.  A few sprinkles fell, later in the hike, but didn’t require rain wear.

VACATION DAY #2: Dungeness Recreation Area & Spit Trails Hike

Hike Distance: 7.8 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 442.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 471 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 48244 feet

The second day of our vacation and the forecast is for nice weather, with some wind expected along the Dungeness Spit.  We decided to hike around the Dungeness Recreation area and also some distance along the Dungeness Spit.

The Dungeness Recreation Area has some great views of Olympic National Park but there are plenty of upscale homes around the periphery.  There are some nice views along the cliffs and plenty of opportunities for photos.  I really wasn’t too fond of the homes around the recreation area but the inland areas of this region are very nice.  The crowds were very sparse considering Washington State schools are on Spring Break!  We had no objection. 🙂

Dungeness Spit is just amazing with all the views! We could see Victoria, British Columbia.  We could also see Mt. Baker and Mt Rainier was in the distance!  The spit is also a photographers delight with endless views of the snow capped Olympic National Park.  I have to say my favorite view for this trip was that of the Dungeness Lighthouse with Mt. Baker in the background.  It just felt like a timeless view.

On our way out to the spit we took the Primitive Trail, which was devoid of people.  We were fortunate to see a family of deer along this trail, and we watched them forage for food.  I also took plenty of pictures!

We were out at high tide and there were many rocks to walk over on the spit.  We wore our hiking boots so that wasn’t much of a problem.  It must have been painful, though, for all the barefoot walkers?

My back was doing fine for most of the hike, except on the way back along the spit.  My right SI joint started having sharp spasms, and it concerned me greatly.  This was a much longer hike then I’ve been doing, so perhaps I’m pushing it too much?  The spasms tapered off on the remainder of the hike, and I took an Aleve to help relieve any swelling.

It was a spectacular day and the weather held out nicely, until it cooled down at the end of the day.  We met a nice guy named Rod (and his son), during the spit walk, and had a long talk!  It was nice to converse with someone our own age and discuss so many topics.  Perhaps we’ll meet again?

We had a fantastic day, but perhaps pushed the distance too far.  Unfortunately, this is vacation, and I refuse to hold back too much on the experiences because of my back.  I plan to continue my stretching and might take it a bit slower, but won’t let the pain slow us down.  I’m just hoping the pain I’m feeling is my body’s way of adjusting to the leg lifts?

Vacation Day #1: Olympic Discovery Trail & Robin Hill Demonstration Farm Hike

Hike Distance: 6.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 435.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 555 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 47773 feet

This is the first day of our five day vacation on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State!  We stayed in the town of Sequim, and really like the Quality Inn for its very reasonable prices and included breakfast.  Sequim is also located close to plenty of hiking.  The forecast said rain for most of the week but we’ll see (spoiler – nice everyday but last!).  We cancelled our last three vacations so it’s nice to finally get out and enjoy some time away from home. 🙂

There’s plenty of snow in Olympic National Park so it looks like hiking there will be difficult, if impossible.  In addition, there is extensive road work going on near Lake Crescent, so this area looks to be  a less than desirable option, since we hate waiting for pilot cars to get us beyond the construction.  Oh, always issues where ever you go.

We hiked on the ODT (Olympic Discovery Trail) and Robin Hill Demonstration Farm after driving here. Robin Hill Farm is a gem. Huge trail system and nobody there. Beautiful forest and large meadow. Plenty of rolling hills was good on the back. Connected to previous hike on the ODT.  We didn’t hike very much on ODT due to finding Robin Hill Farm just off the ODT.    Went west just past Mcdonald Creek while on the ODT.   Homes everywhere on this section of ODT.   Not many views where we were on this hike, but plenty of flowers.   Only farms, and forested Robin Hill, were seen but only saw two people the entire hike!  The weather was awesome and it was a great first day on vacation.