We finally achieved a sufficient level of comfort in being "settled in" to invite friends over for a barbecue a week ago Sunday. Having reached that milestone, we finally took Saturday to head for the hills.
During my first visit to Olympic National Park (ONP) back in June, I picked up the Falcon Guide to Best Easy Day Hikes Olympic National Park. The first hike listed in the guide is Staircase Rapids. It's listed as a 2 mile hike with only 200 feet of elevation gain, so I figured it would be a good hike to do with the boys. Plus, it's only open in the summertime, so I wanted to give it a try.
Now, in most national parks, the NPS website is pretty detailed and informative. I've been a little disappointed with the ONP website. ONP, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. There are half a dozen or more different places in the park you can visit with different climates, ecosystems, trails, and things to do. Each one of those places deserves a unique page and pamphlet, but they just have one web page, one map, one pamphlet for the whole park. To wit, when we drove up to the Staircase Ranger Station, the Park Ranger handed us the exact same ONP pamphlet that I got up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in June. While it's nice to have a map of the ENTIRE park for general reference in choosing which part of the park to go visit, it would be useful to have more detailed information at each of the ranger stations or visitor centers. There are certainly dozens of others of websites with photos and guides for visiting different spots in ONP, but with so many to choose from, it takes time to sort through and figure out which ones are worth a darn.
Hoodsport, WA, and there will be the standard brown roadsigns telling you where to turn to head up to Lake Cushman and the Staircase Ranger Station. I was rather surprised that there were a few miles of dusty, bumpy dirt road along the way.
Time stamp - departing the Ranger Station.
While there isn't a visitor's center per se, but the Ranger Station does have the standard National Park stamp and some books and small souvenirs for sale. (Note: They only take cash.)
Another thing that surprised me was to see people walking back toward the Ranger Station in wet bathing suits and wrapped in towels like they had just gotten out of the water. Sure enough, we got upstream aways and saw a spot where people were jumping off a large rock into a swirling pool of colgate-blue water. I didn't go down to feel how cold it was, but I figure that water's gotta be frigid snow-runoff.
The old-growth forest that the river cuts through is beautiful.
7-year old YB on top of the roots of the tree.
Overall, it was a very nice family hike. I'm not sure it was quite good enough to justify the long drive out there, but I was very glad to get out of the house with my family and enjoy the beauty of ONP again before summer sneaks away.
Date: 30 July 2011
Start Time: 2:59 p.m.
Moving Time Elapsed: 49 min
Stopped Time Elapsed: 23 min
Finish Time: 4:11 p.m.
Miles: 2.8 miles
Elevation gain: 98 feet
Temp: Forgot to write it down. It was low-70's, and we were all in shorts and t-shirts.