Many hours of researching, doodle polls, meal planning and cajoling later, we decided to go to the Peninsula. The tricky part is that you can't book the campsites in advance, it's first-come, first-serve. We worried about not getting a spot on a Saturday, so mid-week was a safer choice. It just so happened that it overlapped with a trip my boss was taking to Nepal....so no one minded leaving on a Wednesday.
If you don't know what the Olympic Peninsula is, it's basically a huge chunk of wilderness in Washington jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. From Seattle, your choices are taking a ferry, then driving for 4 hours or so, or driving down though Olympia, then up over into the Peninsula. We decided on the latter, thankfully avoiding the ferry fee and queues.
We stayed at Lake Quinault, at a "walk-in" campsite just by the lake. It's part of an Indian Reservation, which meant that we didn't need to worry about all of the pesky wilderness permits, but it also meant that we weren't allowed to fish in the lake. Win some, lose some, I guess.
|Lots of stuff for 10 people for four days.|
|It was pouring when we first arrived. Luckily we had someone with rope skills to make an overhang.|
|Our shelter from the rain.|
|We were visited by this wonderful banana slug. Only in Washington...|
|Look at the clouds above those mountains.|
|When the sun came out (and we had coffee) we were very happy.|
In the water we found clay of some kind. It was dark grey and when dried out a bit, was amenable to some shaping into various creatures. I made a turtle, a duck, and a shark. Clay-shape-making kept us entertained for more time than I care to admit.
The next day we still had clouds, but it was much warmer and had thankfully stopped pouring. We decided to drive to the coast, and chose "Ruby Beach". So called because of the ruby-like crystals and rocks that wash up on shore, as well as the beautiful sea stacks that jut out from the ocean.
|So many anemones!|
|See the sea stars?|
|Our motley crew. (The following pictures were taken by Elizabeth Mader in my group).|
|We may have had an impromptu javelin (stick) throwing contest.|
|Mike and I cartwheeled along the shore.|
Our next day adventure involved a hike nearby.
|So many different kinds of mushrooms in this rainforest (temperature rainforest, cooler than the tropics but with a high water content).|
|We hiked down to the base of a river, and was pleasantly surprised by these rock stacks and trickling waterfall.|
|THIMBLEBERRY! Delicious with a more complex flavor than a raspberry, but each bush doesn't produce as many berries per plant as other, domesticated berries.|