I must admit, lately I’ve been feeling a bit restless and anxious. Seattle is great, but living in the city has made me feel a bit disconnected from the mountains, despite their relative proximity. This feeling of mine was probably compounded by the fact that I’d suffered a hernia and gone through the surgery rendering me physically compromised for a period of time, unable to hike, climb, bike, etc. I mean, one of the main reasons I moved to Seattle was to experience the surrounding mountains. While I’ve only been here a short while, I still feel I haven’t experienced enough.
Thankfully, this past weekend, I was able to get out to the mountains, despite my ongoing, although waning, physical limitations. For my very first time, I got a taste of Olympic National Park. My friend Emily and I decided to go car camping at Sol Duc Campground.
On Saturday, we rode the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to the Olympic Peninsula, headed for Sol Duc Campground. Feeling physically okay, I was up for short walks to see a few sights. As we passed Lake Crescent, we stopped out to soak in the light reflecting off the lake. We then stopped at the Storm King Ranger Station, and took the short, but very pretty walk up to Marymere Falls. While a quiet day in the park it seemed, this trail still had a fair number of people on it. Not unlike myself, there seemed to be a lot of people out with their DSLR camera, searching for the perfect picture. I tried my hand.
Upon reaching Sol Duc Campground, we chose a beautiful site. It was the sunniest spot in the entire campground, and featured a beautiful view upstream of the Sol Duc River. It was amazing to simply hang out, relaxing in the sun, finding absolute pleasure while seemingly engaging in a staring contest with the river. Passively allowing my senses to fall into focus on the sights and sounds of the rapids allowed the rest of the world to escape me for a while. I forgot about work pressures, my occasionally invasive thoughts of self doubt, or my physical inabilities. Happiness ensued. The only thing breaking my gaze was the need to make dinner. This day ended with an extraordinarily early bedtime, just after 6 pm. Surprisingly, we fell right asleep, and didn’t wake up until 8:30 the next morning.
It would have been beautiful to lounge around the next morning, but unsure of the
returning ferry schedule, we got up and out to catch a few more sights before heading home. We packed up and hit the Sol Duc Falls trailhead, and made the 1.6 mile round trip hike to check out the falls. The morning sun was beautiful as it wrapped around and passed through the canopy of Douglas Fir, illuminating the moss covered ground and tree trunks. The trail unfortunately had multiple blow downs, definitely a worry for me as I climbed over them, given my physical state. However, it was good to feel the sensation of bark on my palms, and good to try to move my body around in the way I’m used to. Just after passing the shelter, we made it to Sol Duc Falls. As moisture floated upwards, we were treated to beams of light passing through the mist. The bridge before the falls was slightly iced over as well. Emily and I enjoyed the spectacle of light, as well as the beautiful cascades for quite some time. It was good to soak it all in before heading back to the car. Upon driving back, we took one last chance to enjoy the view across Lake Crescent, even more spectacular when driving east. After a quick stop in Port Angeles and a ferry ride, it seemed we were home all too quickly.
The beauty of Olympic National Park is quite obvious. The mountains are big, the water is clear, and the forest is healthy. I’m curious as to what summer visitation is like. While I doubt a February visit is an accurate representation, but it seems like a quiet park, a place where one can always find the solitude they are seeking. For me, this was an extremely therapeutic trip. I just needed to spend some time away from the city, away from my anxieties. Just a simple camping trip was the medicine that I needed. It’s amazing what a little sun and fresh air can do for someone. I just wish I could make that feeling last all the time, but you have to work with what you have. While I didn’t get to go on any big hike, I am grateful for the time I got to spend there. I can’t wait to return.