A Walk in the Woods at Flaming Geyser State Park

Another summer day and another walk in the woods, my first at Flaming Geyser State Park.  Now before you get too excited, I must disavow you of the notion that there’s an actual flaming geyser in the park.  No.  Sorry.  It petered out many years ago;  see empty depression in the ground below for confirmation.

But I am promised by the brochure that it did in fact exist once in this very spot. Yes, in 1911 some miners tapped into methane gas and saltwater 1,000 feet underground, and fire and water shot up 25 feet in the air!  I wish I could have seen that!   They also say that the fire continued for many years until the methane gas finally ran out, so all that’s left is the name, Flaming Geyser. But no matter what they call it, the park is still quite wonderful.  First of all the Green River flows through it with good accessible shoreline for swimming, fishing, boating and inner tubing.  It has a designated area for remote control model planes (and drones these days), as well as horse trails and large grassy picnic areas.

And there are wooded trails with river access!  What more do you want?

And so we walked the easy path through the woods, alongside of giant ferns and berries and shrubs and trees of all sizes and shapes, most of them dripping with moss.

Along the path I saw this tiny orchid like flower which added a nice splash of color to the mostly green landscape.  It’s called impatiens capensis, or more commonly, orange jewelweed or orange balsam.  Pretty isn’t it?

After a mile or so the trail connected to the river and we stopped to rest and watched the happy drifters go by.

We also watched a flock of ducks swim furiously up river in the opposite direction.  They seemed to take turns being the leader, running to get to the front of the pack while the others hung back.  They bobbed underwater when the mood struck them (for food I assume) and stopped by the pools to hang out. They seemed to be having as much fun as the human drifters in their inner tubes.

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The 65 mile long Green River flows from the west side of the Cascades, passes through the Green River Gorge, then through Auburn and the Kent Valley, and finally becomes the Duwamish River which flows into Elliott Bay in Seattle.  Last week I walked an urban trail next to it in Tukwila.  I seem to keep bumping into this river and it’s all good.

~ Susanne

Sol Duc, Rialto Beach and Sequim

I promised to finish the story and so here we are, at Sol Duc Hot Springs, deep in the heart of Olympic National Park.

It rained overnight and we wake up to gray skies and drizzle.  It seems a good bet that more rain is on the way, so we decide to take a chance elsewhere and head for the rugged Washington coast.

We stop by Forks and it’s decision time as there really is a fork in the road:  head west or south?  South would take us to Hwy 101 and Kalaloch, the more traveled route and most popular beach in the Park.  Beautiful yes, but we’ve done it many times before.  West will take us on 110 and the promise of new, unexplored beaches. We opt to take the road less traveled and head west to Rialto Beach. We’re glad we did!

Rialto Beach!

How did we miss it all these years?  Where coastal forest spills onto the beach and ghost trees stand next to giant drift logs, making you feel you have entered someplace prehistoric.

Yes, it’s off the beaten path; in fact the road ends here; further travel north on the coast will be on foot only.  Equipped backpackers make that trek carefully, monitoring the weather and tides.

We walk the beach a mile or so under sunshine and clear skies, ever closer to the giant sea stacks off shore.

Afterwards we drive south to La Push and First Beach on the Quileute Indian Reservation for more rugged beauty.

In the end, we’re glad the dismal weather inspired us to seek out new places.  That’s what travel should be; a change from the familiar, a bending with the wind (or the rain in this case.) After our fill of the ocean it’s back to Sol Duc where we will make the short hike to the falls before dark, rain or shine.

Sol Duc Falls

Less than 2 miles round trip, it must be the easiest hike in the Park for the most payoff; a trail through old growth forest to one of the most beautiful and accessible falls in the State.  A very light rain accompanies us but only makes everything fresher.

Content with the day’s adventures, we head back to our cabin for a light dinner before turning in for the night.

And then there’s Sequim!

Our third day and it’s time to leave Olympic National Park and head home.  But we’re not done yet.  We have to pass through sunny Sequim and timed our trip to coincide with the Lavender Festival.  Sequim is a lovely community in the rain shadow of the Olympics, receiving an average of 16 inches of rain per year.  In the last twenty years dairy farms have been given over to lavender farms, making the area a top grower and home to the largest lavender festival in North America. Did I mention that I love lavender?  We take in the street fair and stop by several farms to enjoy the festivities there, but especially the lavender.

This may be too much lavender for some but I can’t seem to get enough of the wonderful herb’s fragrance and gorgeous color. To me, lavender makes everything better, even a trip to the Olympics.

Thanks for following along.

~  Susanne

A Journey to Olympic National Park

It’s one of my favorite national parks and why not? It has everything:  glacier capped mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, wild remote beaches, and the largest track of preserved old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. Time it right and you can also take in the largest annual lavender festival in North America, in nearby sunny Sequim. 

And getting there is half the fun;  a drive between 3 and 4 hours from Seattle depending on the route you take. We opt to go north which includes the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston and shortens the driving a bit. No harm in that.

Clear skies and all the mountains visible as we leave the Cascades behind and head toward the Olympics.

We continue west through two Port towns, historic Port Townsend (for lunch)

and Port Angeles, gateway to Oympic National Park.  Next up is one of my favorite places in the Park and one of my favorite lakes anywhere: Lake Crescent, a beautiful deepwater lake with its own historic lodge. And that’s where we stop for dinner.  

By now you may have noticed the clouds setting in. Still, that didn’t stop these youngsters from jumping into the lake.  (I admit I’m a bit envious; but not enough to join them. Ah, to be young again!)

Later on in our trip I capture the peaceful lake from another angle under morning skies.

After Lake Crescent, it’s on to Sol Duc where we’ll stay the next 2 nights.  Much more to come, including a hike to Sol Duc Falls and a trek to Rialto Beach. But I’ll save those adventures for the next post, ok?   See you soon!


A Northwest Hike to Twin Falls

I follow the trail to Twin Falls along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River, leaving Bob behind to fish. There are enough hikers on the trail for me to feel safe hiking alone and few enough to provide me with the solitude I need. I revel in having time in the woods, enjoying the nuanced shades of green, the ferns, the Doug-firs, and moss covered maples.

The river flows nearby the trailhead and I find hidden pools where some are brave enough to swim (not me.)

Half way to the falls I stop to rest and take in the view,

then continue on, following the switchbacks upward.

Up, up, up I go and as I near the falls, I’m greeted by a group of happy campers, who assure me I’m almost there and high five my efforts.  I’m cheered by the friendly youngsters.

Around the corner I arrive at the bridge and have it all to myself.  It’s high above the falls and makes me woozy looking down so I don’t linger long.  It’s the journey anyway, not the destination.

Going down is easier and I encourage the tired ones coming up.  Yes, it’s worth it, I say.  You are almost there.

At the bottom again I find out Bob has caught two trout.

We both leave content.

~ Susanne

Green over Blue in the Pacific Northwest

A Saturday and I woke up feeling kind of blue.  Needed some green for the cure and so we hit the road heading east looking for it.  After thirty minutes or so, traffic slowed and cars lined the road on the approach to Rattlesnake Lake.  Oh!  It’s a Saturday in summer and everyone is out.  Further up the road we find the Cedar River Watershed Education Center nestled on the shores of the lake.  No crowds here and we enjoy great views of Rattlesnake Ledge above, in relative quiet and safely on the ground,

rather than with the hoards of brave hikers perched precariously at the top.

A nice stop but on we go to the nearby and lesser traveled Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie where Bob knows the best places to hike and cast his fly rod into the river.

We arrive at our destination and enjoy a short walk through the woods to the footbridge.

On the other side, Bob finds a perfect spot to cast his line and has the river all to himself.

I walk the trail nearby, enjoying the beauty of the river and mountains and every green thing. Happy.

The great thing about carrying a camera is you look more closely at the world around you and see things you never noticed before; like this tiny starry plant (or is it lichen or moss?) growing everywhere on the side of the trail, so delicate yet hardy at the same time, and in various shades of green.

I must have passed it by many times over the years, but today I saw it. Touched it. Marveled at it.  A good day.

~  Susanne