Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Return to Lake Quinault, Olympic National Park, Washington (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

On the way back from Graves Camp to the Lake Quinault Ranger station, we stopped by a few sights. The rain had also started to fall, heavily. Our decision to cut our hike short was beginning to look more and more justified.

The first stop that we made was a waterfall. I don't believe the falls was anything unique, it was just a waterfall on the side of the road that was amplified by the rain.

The second stop we made, was the largest Sitka Tree, or Sitka Spruce.

Was the trip to the Sitka worth it?

Only if you don't have anything better to do at the park. Under a mile of walking, it's easy to access and easy to disappoint compared to what we've seen by this point. If you're short on time, I would file this attraction away as a low priority destination.

Here's a map of some hikes in the Lake Quinault vicinity:

At the ranger station, we checked in, and took a bit of a breather. We ran across this hiker that we had met on the way into the valley. When we parted ways the day before, he mentioned that he had hiked all the way from the other side of the valley and had no ride home. His intention was to find someone to hitchhike with. There was no room in the car and I didn't want to enter in a situation where he would squeeze himself in any way possible, so I said my hello and goodbyes very quickly.

At the car, neither of us had signal to plan our day, so we did the next best thing, we logged on to the free wifi from the shop right across the road. After checking up on what we needed to do respectively, we headed out of the park and back on the 101 north.

Enchanted Valley Hike, Olympic National Park, Washington Part 5 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The following morning at O'Neil Creek Campsite, the weather was great. The sky was still gloomy, but no rain or sprinkles. We met our neighbors and had breakfast together. Like it was with the trail, the Quinault River runs conveniently next to the site, making getting water not an issue at all.


Enchanted Valley Hike, Olympic National Park, Washington Part 4 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

By the time we reached Fire Creek bridge, it was nearing 9:00pm. Luckily for us though, the sun during July sets late and the path was still well illuminated.

We ran into some elk having their dinner.

The elk didn't run away immediately which suggested to me that they were used to seeing humans. At the same time, never once did they let us escape their gaze, constantly moving their head and eyes as we walked past.

Soon, natural day light did eventually leave us, but by then, we were already near the O'Neil Creek campsite. At 6.5 miles away from the Graves Trailhead, I felt this was the perfect place to stop if we weren't intent on finishing the Enchanted Valley hike that day.

At the O'Neil Creek campsite, space is limited. Only two sites actually have protected pits for fires, while the remaining two sites don't. Surprisingly, the sites were completely filled when we arrived, 10pm at night. I would have guessed that on a weekday, not a lot of people would be hiking the trail.

Worst case scenario, we could have set up camp anywhere along the path further down the road or a little bit before. There is no "designated" camp site per-se where you have you set up tent. You can set it up anywhere as long as there aren't any vegetation on the ground.

With the rain beating heavily on us now, and tired from the hike, we found space far enough from the other tents to set up on. As quietly as we could, we set up under a tree. Soon, we were making our simple dinner and then just as quickly, we were asleep. But not before securing everything in our bear canister first of course!


Enchanted Valley Hike, Olympic National Park, Washington Part 3 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

As we moved on beyond the Pony Bridge, the path went up and down until finally bringing us alongside the river. At times, you can clearly see the effect the recent storm had on the trail.


Enchanted Valley Hike, Olympic National Park, Washington Part 2 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

When we started the hike, the clouds above were lightly sprinkling, but it wasn't anything we couldn't handle. Furthermore, the trees overhead kept us mostly dry.


Enchanted Valley Hike, Olympic National Park, Washington Part 1 (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Trail Description

Length:  30 miles round trip
Trailhead Elevation:  -- ft.
End Elevation: -- ft.
Elevation Change:2100 ft.
Difficulty Assessment: Difficult
Trail Type: Out and Back

**Washed out Graves trail adds 2 miles to the hike.

The Hike

Some gear that I recommend for this hike:

1. Water filter. Pump or gravity filter, your choice. I personally prefer gravity filter.
2. Maps.me offline maps app. This app has saved me countless times when I unexpectedly didn't have data or knew I wouldn't have data. This app not only had all the main streets of the park, it also had the trails and campsites! Such a great app.
3. Bear canister. You can rent one from the Ranger station or bring your own. There are bears. I saw two of them. So be serious about your food.

I only listed three, because I assume anyone who attempts this hike, at least all the way to the Enchanted Valley, is familiar with backpacking and is packing accordingly. That is, lightweight gear and rain resistant packs.

The trail-head to Graves camp from the temporary parking lot is completely flat. No elevation surprises. Alongside you runs the Quinault River.


Lake Quinault, Olympic National Park, Washington (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Lake Quinault is located in the south west quadrant of Olympic National Park. If you're coming from the south on the 101, look for S. Shore Rd.

Ranger Site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/olympic/recreation/recarea/?recid=47695
Park Site: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-quinault.htm
Address: Olympic National Park, 353 S Shore Rd, Quinault, WA 98575

There are many things you can do on the lake in addition to enjoying the view, like renting a boat. There are also many trails to hike within the vicinity as well.


The Tap Room, Aberdeen, Washington (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

We made a lunch stop in Aberdeen, WA. The town did not look too exciting. The town seems down-right tiny. However, fate had us stumble across this amazing little restaurant called The Tap Room.

Yelp page: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-tap-room-aberdeen
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Tap-Room-1477030029210658/
Address: West, 103 E Wishkah St, Aberdeen, WA 98520

Simply put, amazing beer, satisfying meals, and superb service. Check it out!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rodeway Inn and The Cottage Bakery in Long Beach, WA (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

The Rodeway Inn was a last minute find, something Ben found for us while I drove north. Initially, I had a place I wanted to end the day at, but we were moving up the coast so rapidly that everything was shifted off. Places that I had marked as places to end the night were now too close to where we currently were and it was still too early, or the town was a lot more desolate that I imagined. Thus, Rodeway Inn in in Long Beach, Washington.

Address: 115 3rd St SW, Long Beach, WA 98631
Site: https://www.choicehotels.com/washington/long-beach/rodeway-inn-hotels/wa192
Trip Advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g58566-d601275-Reviews-Rodeway_Inn_Suites-Long_Beach_Washington.html

Front desk was friendly and the quality of the room was good enough. Like a 3/6 rating. Like a B on a A-F scale. The motel was perfect for budget travelers and is located in what seems to be a nice, quiet town.

Before leaving Long Beach, we stopped by the bakery around the corner. The name of the bakery was Cottage Bakery.

Address: 118 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, WA 98631
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cottage-Bakery/137001103024311
Yelp page: https://www.yelp.com/biz/cottage-bakery-and-delicatessen-long-beach

I highly suggest you visit this bakery, the bread tastes amazing.

Willy's Beer Ranking System (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

For later reference, on a scale of 1-6:

1: Absolute garbage
2: Bad, no selection.
3: Not great, not bad, meh it's beer
4: Good beer, will drink again, sometime...
5: Great beer, will drink again, will tell other people about it
6: Nectar of the Gods

Typically, nothing will be ranked 1 or 6, they simply provide perspective for the other ratings.

Additionally, when I rank beer, I am merely ranking the quality of the beer and variety available. So a top restaurant can still have a low beer ranking.

Seaside Brewery and Long Beach in Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

After Oswald West State Park, we made another pub stop in Seaside, Oregon. The name of the pub was Seaside Brewery.

Address: 851 Broadway St, Seaside, OR 97138
Website: http://seasidebrewery.com/
Yelp Reviews: https://www.yelp.com/biz/seaside-brewing-company-seaside

The food was alright and the beer quality was wonderful. I'd rate the place 4 out of 6. Not a huge amount of beer, but fair selection nonetheless. At this point, I feel as though my beer rating is all over the place. See: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/willys-beer-ranking-system.html

That evening, we spent the night in Long Beach at Rodeway Inn and Suites. Rodeway is a good place for budget travelers and seems safe enough. Front desk hospitality is on par as well.

Before the end of the night, we checked out Morgan's Long Beach Tavern next to the inn and played a few games of pool.

Hiking Oswald West State Park, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

Despite the rain, I still made the call to hike Oswald West State Park following our hike at Cascade Head National Park in Otis. The trailhead is right across from the Short Sands Trail North Trailhead parking lot and actually has a parking lot of its own, so either google that or the trailhead directly. The Short Sands parking lot is huge, you shouldn't miss it.

Site: http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=139

The hike that we ultimately decided on to do was the Cape Falcon hike.

It's a fair hike that affords you views of the beach and ocean through the trees, just don't do it when it's raining. You'll still get soaked!

The trees overhead did a decent job taking the brunt of the rain, however wet plants along the side of the path soaked our clothes as the trail narrowed.

At some point, the Cape Falcon trail merges or becomes the Oregon Coast Trail. Be mindful of where you want to stop, otherwise you may hike longer than you want without knowing it. For us, we decided to stop at a cliff overlook. The decision was motivated by two reasons: one, we were soaked at that point, and two, we had a feeling that we missed wherever Cape Falcon was and was now on a different trail.

Cold and beaten by the wind, we headed back to the car. I quickly changed into dry clothes and we continued north.

Pelican Brew and Pub, Pacific City, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

After the Cascade Head Experimental Forest , we stopped by Pelican Pub and Brewery, located in Pacific City.

Address: 33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr., Pacific City, OR 97135

Hands down, this was one of the best breweries that we stumbled upon in our trip. At the time, we held our experience there in a positive light, but it was only in retrospect did we learn to appreciate the brewery more.

The beer selection is on point and offers a range of flavors. Food and service is good too. Location is nice, the restaurant is on a beach.

Definitely check Pelican Brew and Pub out. 5/6 stars. See: http://hikerrific.blogspot.com/2016/07/willys-beer-ranking-system.html

Hiking Cascade Head Experimental Forest, Otis, Oregon (Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip)

On Wednesday, we started the day off with a hike in the Cascade Head Experimental Forest.

Site: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/exforests/cascade-head/
Trail site: http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Cascade_Head_Hike
Address: Cascade Head Trail - South Trailhead., Otis, OR 97368

In particular, I chose to hike the Nature Conservancy Trail. In total, the hike is a mild 6.8 mile round-trip hike that takes you through forests, plains, and provides beautiful views of the ocean if weather permits. There is 1310 feet of elevation gain but nothing challenging if you're in shape.

The trailhead begins in the Knights Park parking lot, tops out with an overview of the Three Rocks coastline, and ends a mile down later. The trail is superbly maintained and meticulously marked.

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