Words and photographs provided by Michael Casatico
After checking out Seattle for a few days it was time to load up the Chevy Malibu and drive across the peninsula to Olympic National Park. Olympic was the 21st National Park and was established in 1938. Home to a plethora of trees that have grown to be over 500 years old, the park is known for its majestic landscapes and overgrown plant life. The trees and shrubbery run all the way to the coast where the Pacific Ocean meets forest. Our first stop once we arrived in Port Angeles was at the visitor center. There we found out that we were awful brave and just a tad bit crazy for trying to take on the park in the middle of winter. Despite the warnings and advice, we made an even bolder move to take the little Chevy Malibu 20 miles up hill to the all mighty, Hurricane Ridge. The road was iced over, snow was falling, and we couldn't see 20 feet in front of the car at times, but we did it. I wish I could say the view at the top was as gorgeous and breathtaking as everyone described but we were greeted by a thick cloud of fog that blocked the view of just about everything. At that moment I kind of just laughed because we went through 20 miles of treacherous terrain just to arrive in a fog cloud, however; the journey in itself was worth every second, even though the destination came with subpar weather conditions.
The next day we were determined to see as much as we could because this was going to be our only full day of exploration. Olympic National Park is one of the largest national parks and spans over 1,400 miles on the western peninsula of Washington state. In order to cover as much ground as possible we got up before sunrise and headed west to check out the rugged coastline and the magnificent Hoh Rain Forrest. On our way there we pulled over on the side of the road to check out Crescent Lake. This stop wasn't apart of the original plan but I'm sure glad we made time to check it out; it was a great start to what would end up being an amazing day. Shortly after the lake we were back on the road to the coastal area of La Push. I'm from California and would like to say I am pretty familiar with the beach but these beaches we traveled to were nothing like I'd ever seen. The sand was black and the coastline was littered with washed up trees. It was absolutely crazy and the best part about it was there wasn’t one person, umbrella, or volleyball net set up. That in itself would be impossible to find in San Diego or California at all.
I can officially say I've traveled within five miles of the furthest western point on the continental United States. I guess the only thing left to do is go back one day and travel those last five miles and plant a Tribe flag in the sand. After the beach it was time to get over to the Hoh Rain Forrest. Granted it rains the majority of the time and the trees and ferns drink just over 200 inches of water a year, it was a beautiful sunny day in the Hoh and once again we were the only people on the trail. A few miles later we ended up cutting off the trail to the riverbank to drink a couple ice-cold beers before we headed back to the car. Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better we ran into my good friend, Troy Alexander, on our way out. How crazy is that? We both had no phone service all day and the only thing we both knew was that we were within a few hundred miles of each other and that we might be in the same place at the same time but we had no way of coordinating it.
In 48 hours we had traveled to the top of Hurricane Ridge, stopped by Crescent Lake, journeyed as far west as the land allowed us and hiked alongside the Hoh river in the middle of the rain forest. Amazing.. TO BE CONTINUED.