Olympic Peninsula

Sometimes you just need a holiday.

We’ve been away for the last ten days or so, touring around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state*. The main goal of the holiday was to get away, but reducing screen usage and getting some hiking in were important components too.

It’s a lovely place. We don’t often visit somewhere and feel like we could actually live there (much as we adored Italy…), but we were inspired by the liveability of the communities all along the eastern and northern edges of the peninsula. Even Victoria, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in BC, felt comfortable, like a home we hadn’t before visited.

The thing which cast a shadow on the glory was smoke: forest fires surrounded us and the smoke was thick. Port Townsend was hazy, and Port Angeles was smoggy. Crossing on the ferry to Victoria, we could see basically nothing out of the windows until land finally became visible in the murk. Fortunately the air quality wasn’t unbearable, but that catch at the back of the throat was our constant companion for a good chunk of the trip.

Particular scenic highlights:

  • the lakes. We spent time by Lakes Cushman, Crescent and Quinault and they were all gorgeous. Cushman and Crescent especially had beautifully clear blue waters, with temperatures very conducive to bobbing around. I am sure that the vistas would have been stunning in clearer-aired times.
  • Port Townsend. It reminded me of St Ives with its luminousness, another artistically focussed seashore community in Cornwall.
  • Victoria. Not on the peninsula, but Canada is very close. Lovely people, fascinating history. We barely scratched the surface.
  • hiking through the forest. We did a hike most days we were there**, and the intense mossiness of the temperate rainforests is refreshing. I thought Portland was mossy…
  • Hurricane Ridge. We picked one of the clearer days to visit so we could at least see south into the smoke-wreathed mountains, but this is another spot I would want to hike more seriously when the air is clearer. Also, I now know what a marmot is.
  • Cape Flattery. The most northwesterly point of the contiguous states, Cape Flattery has spectacular views reached by a well-maintained trail. We also had the best tamales at the trailhead — they cheered us up enormously, and we talked about them most of the way along the hike.

Will we move to the peninsula? Doubtful. But will we go back?

Definitely.

[*] a qualification that always seems to be necessary.

[**] the one day we didn’t hike was when we did some kayaking.

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