There is nothing quite like having your own personal tour guide when you arrive at a National Park, but we had just that as we pulled into the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center in Port Angeles and met up with Will’s uncle. Jack knows these mountains like the back of his hand from years of guiding, skiing, hiking, climbing, and overall exploring, so it was a treat to hear his history with the area as we wound our way up to Hurricane Ridge.
We got a fairly early start (by our standards) and reached the Visitor’s Center at Hurricane Ridge around 10 AM. While Will and I would have floundered a bit on which trails to take, Jack ushered us along, past the few gaggles of visitors, and onto a ridgeline trail.
At first, I was wary. I am not a huge fan of heights, and we were treading on a narrow trail with hills sloping down on either side. But once we got going, I felt a little more comfortable and was very grateful I had brought a hiking pole along.
As we made our way along the ridge, we watched the fog roll in below us and soon found ourselves walking through it. It was so much fun to spend time above the clouds and then have the experience of being among them. The rolling fog made for changing views throughout our hike as it cleared from far mountains or covered near ones. In just minutes, we could experience entirely different scenery by simply waiting for the fog to move.
While this hike was not overly strenuous, there were certainly quite a few changed in elevation, both up and down, making it one of the more challenging hikes we have done recently. However, Will and I both felt strong throughout the hike and were pleased with how our bodies felt at the end (even if I did take a nap that afternoon). I was mostly pleased that we were able to keep up with Jack.
We made it back to the truck as the fog engulfed the entire parking lot. As I made my way into the Visitor’s Center, I heard so many people complaining about driving all that way to not have a view. I chuckled to myself knowing that if they waited a few minutes, the fog would clear out and their view would be restored. But mostly, I marveled at how incredibly self-absorbed people can be. We are not entitled to any view or any experience. We are in nature. We have the incredible experience of seeing how nature does nature. We are not guaranteed a view of a mountain or a glimpse of wildlife. That is what makes it incredible.
We never did see Mount Olympus during our visit, and part of me was glad of that. Not only did we experience a thousand different views of the park as the fog shifted and changed during our 4.5-mile hike, but now I also have an even bigger desire to return. Because who knows what we might see next time.
I am so glad we had our very own guide for this incredible hike, as Will and I probably would not have ventured on the trails we experienced. We got off the beaten path, learned about Jack’s history on the mountains, and now have our very own stories to add. I truly cannot wait to go back and see what views and experiences the park wants to share next time.