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  • Writer's pictureJyothi Vummiti

Frosty Weekend at Olympic National Park, WA

It was November when we visited this jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Knowing well some of the roads and sites were closed, and thanksgiving weekend is not enough time to explore the entire Olympic Peninsula, we still made our travel arrangements for a 3day/3night trip. We packed layers, rain outfits, camera gear and were all set to go. On thanksgiving day evening we arrived at Sea-Tac airport and immediately started a 2hr drive to Sequim in our rental car. As it was a holiday and all restaurants were closed, we had to manage with frozen packaged food and a microwave in our room at Holiday Inn Express.

Frosted Leaf at Lake Crescent

Day 1: We were greeted by piercing cold air as we stepped out of our hotel, we wanted to turn around and snuggle in our room. We noticed that everything outside was covered in frost. We first clicked some pictures of frosted plants, flowers and mushrooms, and then we headed into the park. Our first stop was the Olympic National Park visitor center. We collected a map and enquired about Hurricane Ridge, which was closed that day due to un-drivable conditions. So we decided to head to Hoh Rainforest first and make stops on our way back, a 95 mile drive approximately.

For many miles, trees, grass and the road were painted in white frost. We knew this scenery won't last till our return because the sun was already out. So contrary to our plan, we stopped and got lots of photos. We had an early lunch at Pacific Pizza in Forks before heading into the rainforest.

Frosted wild berries outside our hotel

Frosted leaves / Painted in white with frost

As we turned on Upper Hoh rd., we could tell we were entering the iconic temperate rainforest. It was a windy road between tall mossy trees and deep green vegetation. Tiny ferns and mushrooms grew on nurse logs and on tree trunks, it was a great photo opportunity. It took us a good 3 hrs to finally arrive at the visitor center. We hiked a short 0.8 mile trail to the Hall of Mosses.

We could smell the damp forest. The trail was frozen, ferns and fallen leaves were frosted white. Moss draped the ghostly trees and hung from the branches looking spooky. It felt otherworldly.

Upper Hoh road

Entering the rainforest / Hoh rainforest

On our way back, we stopped by the flowing Hoh River edged by Sitka Spruce on the other side, to photograph the beautiful scenery. Quinault Rainforest and Sol Duc were not accessible due to rain damage. It was already dusk, so we figured we do not have enough time to explore the beaches along the pacific coast. So we drove back to Sequim and arrived just in time for dinner. ​

A tiny mushroom in mossy surroundings / Hoh river

Day 2: We made our first stop at the visitor centre again and luckily the road to Hurricane Ridge was open. Just off the parking lot, there was a trail deep into the woods but not sure where it lead to. We did not go all the way in but just enough to spot a few mushrooms.

We drove our way up to Hurricane Ridge on a zig zag icy road. It was bright and quite warm at the peak, where we were welcomed by incredible panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains. All the hiking trails up there were blocked by deep snow, so there wasn't much to do. On our way back downhill, we almost had an accident when a car coming in the opposite direction skid and lost control. Thankfully, nothing happened to both the cars.

Landscape in Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge / A snowman

​We had our lunch at Fanaticus Sports Grill in Port Angeles and headed to Lake Crescent. The scenery cannot be described in words. It was jaw dropping beautiful but bitterly cold as well.

The lake was so serene and surrounded by beautiful mountains. The whole setting was painted in white frost. Frosted fallen leaves crunched under our shoes as we walked.

Lake Crescent

A picnic bench / Marymere Falls trail

Frost in different shapes and sizes clung to the vegetation but so weak they crumbled to our touch.

It was our first time witnessing frost of that magnitude. We spent a long time there getting as many photos as possible. It felt like a 100 degrees below zero. Our toes and fingers felt numb. It was funny how we kept running back to our car every 10 mins to warm ourselves in the heat from AC.

We hiked a short distance on the Marymere Falls trails but could not go all the way as it was too cold for to bear. The day was almost gone at the lake, so we returned to our hotel.

Frosted leaves / Petal like frost

Dancing frosted berries

Day 3: We debated between waking up early and going to the beaches or spending the day in Seattle. We ended up going to Seattle as we felt it would be too much of a drive and afraid we may not be able to make it back in time for our evening flight. After a 2 hr foggy drive, we arrived at Space Needle in Seattle. We had a delicious lunch at the quirky Collections Cafe. The collections and displays inside were very interesting, every table had a display of its own.

Foggy day

Collections Cafe / Display of radios

We visited Chihuly Gardens first. Indoor glass installations and glass gardens were absolutely amazing. The glass making process was very interesting as well. When our time came, we took the elevator up to the top of Space Needle. The sky was almost clear, we were able to see the downtown and amazing 360 degree views of the city.

Space Needle

Glass displays inside Chihuly Garden

The scene quickly changed. We drove to the airport in frighteningly invisible fog conditions. But we made it safely and boarded our plane back home. The fog was so thick we couldn't see a thing around even when the flight took off. ​There was so much amazingness that cannot be put in words and pictures don’t do true justice. We missed out on a lot of places because it was winter, which means another trip during spring/summer is on the cards.

Seattle downtown

​Gear Used: We used Olympus OMD EM-5 II with 12-40mm lens.

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