I learned that three of the campers next to us worked for the park; they were there to do dirt analysis.
After breakfast, me and Ben discussed the plan for the morning. He wasn't sure if he could finish the hike. Taking into account fatigue level, what laid ahead of us in terms of scrambling over fallen trees, and the possibility of more rain, I decided to turn back. It was kind of unfortunate that we were so close and had to turn back, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that the rain had kind of ruined my hiking ambitions. Although there was no rain in the morning, it was clear that there would be later.
So. We turned back.
We left O'Neil Creek Camp around 9am.
Half an hour into our hike back, we ran into a black bear.
The bear was tiny. So much so, that I thought it was a child. Instantly, I became aware of my surroundings and took a few steps back from the bear. My thought process was: if this is a young bear, where is the mother.
Only later did I discover that black bears in Olympic National Park are tiny, and that the bear I saw, could have very been an adult. If so, I felt bad about emasculating it with baby names when I saw it.
The hike back to the car was a lot easier, as it is with all hikes one you familiarize yourself with the trail.
When we reached Pony Bridge, we ran into another black bear. This time, the bear was on the side of the bridge, looking for food. Once it saw us, the bear instantly ran away, and we cautiously continued on our way.
Once at the car, we changed our clothes and made a return towards the ranger station to let them know we were safe.