A Morning Hike at Olympic National Park
Plan can never catch up with change. I had wanted to see the “Balloon Glow” at the seaside town Sequim, WA, but ended up hiking a trail at an elevation of 1900 meters at Olympic National Park.
The balloon festival event was cancelled due to strong wind, I was told when I reached the town by 6pm, September 1. Now where would I go? The beaches of La Push, the next destinations on my plan, were over two hours’ drive and hike away. There was no way I could catch the sunset on the beach. So instead I chose to drive up the mountains and picked a dirt road I never traveled which leads to a point at 6200 feet high, called Obstruction Point. That elevation would make it a good observation point too. And, yes, for night sky photography. I arrived at the place about 8:30pm. Sun was down, moon was up, and I was the only living soul around. Let me leave the rest of the night’s story to another blog article.
When I took the above photo, I was no long alone. A man had arrived at the parking lot also carrying a tripod and a camera. His name is Gary, as I knew later, who works at a sawmill at Forks, WA. After shooting the sunrise, Gary recommended the Elk Mountain trail to me. I had not come to hike, but as it was still early, I decided to take the trail.
The warm morning sunlight was awesome as it shone on the almost naked high ridges around and the remaining snow packs.
The trail begins by narrowly skirting the Obstruction Peak. Some wild flowers were in the last stage of bloom. Very soon, I found Gary was also on this trail. He soon caught up and passed me.
When he was passing me, he pointed to a few small purple flowers and said they were rare. I didn’t remember the name he said of the flower.
Gary is about my age but moves faster. I slowed down deliberately anyway, seeing it was nice to have him on the trail ahead to give some scale to the grand landscape that I photographed.
At probably the high point of the trail, about 6900 feet, Gary stopped to enjoy the panorama and I caught up to ask him for a head shot and permission to mention his name and use the head shot in my travel blog (“that will be fine,” he said).
I also got a reflection of myself in his sunglasses.
Looking behind at the trail I took, it felt like I was almost at level with the high peaks afar, and summer had already given way to fall.
I turned back at the junction of the trail to Deer Park, and Gary moved on. Just as I thought I was hiking alone again, a marmot came in sight on a rock and stared at me.
A large section of the trail I hiked could be seen clearly in the above panorama. It may look barren, but at closer look, some flowers were still hanging on.
But, summer is almost gone. Large patches of wild flowers were no where to find. And it was only on my drive down to Hurricane Ridge that I saw this one: