Tues, Sept 11 – Seattle to Beach at La Push. Great to see all the crew in the ferry line-up and Flo’s fab embroidered name badges were very handy as we got to know each other on the crossing to Kingston. Such a gorgeous day, so we stopped to wander around Port Gamble and took a minute when we realized the flags were at half mast to remember the tragedies of 9/11. After lunch at Lake Crescent some hiked to Marymere Falls and others to the Lodge to check out the Roosevelt Lounge, complete with an elk head mounted over the fireplace. Before long we were on vampire alert, but had little to fear on such a bright, sunny day. Outside Forks we noticed a sign “NO Vampires beyond this point – Treaty Line” so knew that we were in Quileute territory. The deep, dark forests are perfect for the werewolves. We oohed and aahed at the amazing coastal rock formations and enjoyed Bev’s fabulous sunset dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean – this is rare for Aussies, who normally enjoy a Pacific sunrise. (By Maria Bowdler)
Story 2: Today, we are going to walk in the Hoh Rain Forest and I am very excited about it because Elks live in that area. As we drove along, I looked very hard into the forest through the car window for Elks. I saw 2 whitetail deer but no Elks. When we arrived at the ranger station, to my surprise an Elk's hoof suddenly appeared in front of my eyes. My eyes followed the hoof moving upwards. I then found myself looking at a person. It was Ranger Jon holding an Elk's hoof to welcome us to the special rain forest tour and talk. What a special moment! I quickly shook the hand (hoof) of our guide and had a photo taken with the 'Elk' by our crew. You can get copies of this photo from a couple of Australian participants.
Story 3: Some interesting stories from Ranger Jon of Hoh River Station:
Twilight Saga at Hoh River Valley. Jon's daughter was recovering from her appendicitis operation. As a teenager, she was bored from not being able to go out and have fun, so wanted an iPod. To raise funds, Jon suggested she run a lemonade stand in front of their house. So she did. In one day, four Twilight bus tours stopped at the stall and made her quite a substantial profit. Three days later, she had enough funds to get herself a very wanted IPOD. (By Jiaorong Li)
Fri, Sept 14 - Hurricane Ridge. Our last day at La Push started earlier and colder than the previous couple of days with news that the temperature at 6.30am was 37 degrees F- a bit nippy for the Australian visitors from the sub-tropics of Brisbane! We had quick visits to the Olympic Visitor Centre
Wed, Sept 19 – Grove of Patriarchs, Lake Tipsoo, Sunrise & Burroughs. We headed to the Grove of the Patriarchs and saw 1000 year old trees such as Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Alder along the banks of the Ohanapecosh River (try saying this after a few beers). Walked across the first suspension bridge of the trip. Departed Grove of the Patriarchs and drove to Tipsoo Lake. Hiked around the lake looking for the perfect reflections of Mt Rainier. From Tipsoo Lake we drove to the Sunrise Visitor Centre for lunch. The day had really heated up so we all scattered to find picnic tables
After lunch we set off on a hike to Frozen Lake and the first and second Burroughs near Mt Rainier. In my opinion this was the most spectacularly beautiful hike of the entire trip so far (including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming). Mt Rainier appeared so close, I felt I could just reach out and touch it. The weather was simply perfect and the views incredible. Many thanks to Steve for leading this hike. A fantastic three days in the Mt Rainier National Park. (By Paul Cridland)