Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Hiking the Olympic Peninsula

83 Comments

lake-angelesThis fall we’ve been “stuck” on the Olympic Peninsula while repairing Celeste, but it’s been a great place to be stuck. Not only have we made some wonderful friends, but we’ve gotten to explore the peninsula quite a bit. It’s the northwesternmost part of the contiguous United States and the mountains that form its spine are the second largest range in Washington State. The highest peak is the glaciated Mt Olympus, at nearly 8,000 feet. Rainforests and lakes surround it, draining to the dramatic Pacific coastline of beaches, breakers, and rock formations. Much of it is national park land, so is beautifully wild and undeveloped and full of animals. It’s been a wonderful area to hike and explore on our days off from boat projects and work. Here are a few photos:

mt-olympus-wa

This is Mt Olympus seen on our 18-mile, 4,000ft day hike (phew!) back in August.

We’ve tried to keep fit and get up  into the mountains this fall with more big hikes. Here are some from a different loop (~14 miles, ~2500ft) which we did twice in October. Click on any image to start a slideshow.

Our biggest hike since August has been a loop which took us above treeline, among the mountain goats and patches of snow. We did it just in time before some big snowfalls that have now made it hard to find parts of the trail and buried much of it several feet deep. This hike was 13 miles and we gained (and, lost of course) 5,700 feet.

lake-angeles-in-fall

above-treeline-olympics

mountain-goat-olympics

atop-the-ridge

Our most recent hike (on Friday after Thanksgiving) was back up to the lake we’d passed on the mountain goat hike, and it was a real treat –  fresh snow about 2.5 feet deep! It did mean we had to stop at the lake, but it was so beautiful! We just wished we had our skis with us!

bridge-in-snow

Near the start of the hike

lake-angeles

Winter wonderland!

A little earlier this fall, we made a trip to the western shore of the peninsula, to the Pacific coast – Port Angeles is on  Juan de Fuca Strait on the peninsula’s northern coast. We hugged some big trees and wandered the beaches with their dramatic sea stacks. Now just to get out there by boat!

sun-and-rain

big-cedar

sea-stacks-olympic-coast

Author: Ellen

Circumnavigator, Arctic voyager, writer/photographer

83 thoughts on “Hiking the Olympic Peninsula

  1. Awesome post with great photography! I have never hiked or camped through a snowy moutain, do you have any tips or recommendation on what to bring on a hiking or camping trip in the snow?

    • Hi Zach,
      So glad you liked the post and photography!

      To answer your question, it depends on what sort of hiking trip you have in mind – how far you plan to go, and for how long (day hike or overnight or multiple days), and what the snow and terrain are like. The most basic thing, even for a day hike, is waterproof, sturdy footwear (with grippy soles!). Wet, cold feet are no fun! (And neither is falling on ice.) I always wear wool socks and carry an extra pair in case my feet do get wet. I’m also partial to gaiters, like people sometimes wear cross-country skiing, to keep snow from getting inside my boots from the top. For the rest of my clothes, I like to wear layers so I can remove or add clothing depending on how warm or cold I am. I like wool base and mid-layers and then a lightweight down jacket and a waterproof shell and hat and mittens or gloves. I also almost always hike with adjustable-height trekking poles – great for a bit of extra stability – and they’re really great for hiking in slippery, snowy conditions. If the snow is deep, you’ll need snowshoes. (Unless you’re a skier and then it’ll be more fun to turn the whole thing into a ski-tour.) Otherwise, you’ll probably be bringing about the same sort of stuff you’d bring on a summer hike – basically, water (and a filter) and food – I tend to get hungrier in cold weather.

      I always take a paper topographical map because it won’t ever run out of battery 🙂 (which happens faster when it’s cold out). I know this isn’t your question, but when I’m hiking in winter, I tend to pick routes that aren’t exposed to avalanche risk – I was caught in avalanche while skiing once and I don’t want to repeat that experience.

      For overnights and multi-day hikes, of course you’ll have all the equipment for camping – camp stove and fuel, sleeping bag (rated for cold temps!!), sleeping mat, enough food, tent (or you could build a snow cave!). I found that it took a bit of practice, but eventually you get your pack down to what you really need without it weighing too much! It helps if you hike with a friend and you can share the weight of the cooking stuff and the tent (one person gets the poles and the other gets the tent itself, etc). If your hike takes you past water that won’t freeze (fast rivers, etc.) that will help keep the weight down – you can bring a filter instead of either carrying a ton of water or carrying a ton of fuel to melt snow.

      Hope this is helpful and you enjoy hiking in the cold months!
      Cheers,
      Ellen

  2. Pingback: Article in Cruising World: How to Install a Watermaker | Gone Floatabout

  3. Great posts. Out of curiosity (I’m trying to grow my blog too), how did you get your post featured on the wordpress discover page?

    • Thanks so much – I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts! I honestly have no idea why my post got featured – I think the people at WordPress probably just look through stuff and pick what strikes them. I didn’t do anything – it just happened 🙂

      I hope things are going well with your blog and that you’re having fun with it! I love your photos and the posts I’ve just looked at – we hope to sail to Hawaii at some point so I’ll be sure to read more!
      Cheers,
      Ellen

  4. Pingback: Hiking the Olympic Peninsula – Gone Floatabout – Nomad Advocate

  5. These photos are incredible. Which camera do you bring?

  6. Beautiful pictures! We really loved Olympic too! Great place to be stuck 🙂

  7. Your photos are absolutely stunning !

  8. The place looks amazing… 😳

  9. Amazing sights to behold. Nature is beautiful.

  10. I loved everything about this post. The writing and photographs were fantastic. I’m not knocking Instagram (I use it), but this was such a nice departure from what you too often see on IG – “look at my amazing life and the amazing things I’m doing”. I felt much more along for the adventure with this, I felt included, not talked at.

    • Thank you for your great comment! I’m so glad you felt included and along for the adventure – that’s really what I’m trying for when I write my blog, so it’s wonderful to know you felt that way! I agree with you that social media (Insta, etc.) can too often be more competitive than sharing, which is really a shame!

  11. Such a beautiful place! Especially in the winter!

  12. Hi! I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award – you can find more info about the award here: https://handstandsaroundtheworld.wordpress.com/

    Happy New Year!

    -Diana

    • Thanks so much, Diana! I’ll have to give your questions some thought, but I’ll let you know when I’ve posted my answers and my own nominees!
      Happy new year! Hope New England is treating you well despite the cold!

  13. These photos look incredible! I’m definitely adding this place to my Bucketlist 🙂

  14. This is fabulous… Makes me wana hike it right away😍

  15. Just stunning !!! Beautiful thanks for sharing..

  16. Amazing pictures!!!

  17. The views are so breathtaking

  18. Wow amazing place. Would like to be here some day.

  19. Beautiful photos.😊

  20. These photos are stunning!! ✨

  21. Breathtaking pictures. I would love to visit this place.

  22. Beautiful views! Have you hiked in the glaciated area? It must be extremely tiring.

  23. Absolutely breathtaking photos!

  24. Absolutely gorgeous pictures! I hope to hike that area someday!

  25. Beautiful imagery and what an adventure!!!

  26. Amazing! Gorgeous photographs! ❤

  27. Awesome! Loved the way you see through your camera and capture the mystic of the place!!!

  28. Very beautiful…..How I wish I got lost here……

  29. Wow! The hike sounds gruesome and tiring, but your pictures I think make the hike so worth it! Thanks for sharing these great shots!
    xo,
    Stephanie

  30. Amazing… Wish I could visit…👌👌👌👌

  31. Super photos! Love the mushrooms and the goat in particular. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  32. wonderfull 🙂 it is really amazing

  33. This is beautiful!! I just realized I should do this on my trails as well!

  34. Absolutely beautiful! Makes me miss family back west.

  35. That’s pretty! Cool photos. I’m from the Olympic Peninsula. I live in Sequim , Washington and it is truly beautiful here. I love seeing the Eagles fly over

  36. Beautiful! So glad you are enjoying the wonderful beauty of our state. The Olympics are a favorite place of mine too. I never tire of them even after a lifetime of visiting!

  37. What a great place to be working, a wonderful variety of scenery. Must be hard to know which to tackle every day, have fun while the weather holds, cheers Terry

  38. Another great read! thank you. Referring to an earlier post, where (exactly) did you see a Kermode bear?

    • Glad you enjoyed it! We saw the Kermode bear (a cub with his coal-black mother and sibling!) on Princess Royal Island in the northern stretch of the Inside Passage. Very special moment – they’re quite rare!

  39. Stunning photos, you two! The mountain goat and the view from above the lake were my favorites. And what brand is your raspberry puffy coat, Ellen? ~Jessie

  40. Beautiful photos and scenery. Thanks!! I’d love to visit there some day. How’s your boat coming along?

    • Thank you, Rob! It’s a gorgeous area! The boat projects are coming along pretty well, actually, though of course we won’t know their success for certain until we launch… coming up pretty soon though!!

  41. Stunning! Reminds me of NZ scenery.

  42. Dang! We should have tagged along!!

  43. Beautiful photos! 18 miles ad 4000 ft in one day! That made me tired just reading that.

  44. Amazing! I love this area, and frequent it on my days off. You’ve got some great shots here.

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