Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Best of the Rockies Trek: Olympic National Park

OK, this is it! After hours being cooped up in a plane. I am finally in the hotel in Seattle. I arrived at 14.00 Seattle time, that would make it 23.00 German time. The journey was pretty good considering how long I was "underway". On the long flight the seat next to me was free, so I didn't feel so cramped. I had a window seat, but stupid me left my camera in my rucksack, which was up top. So I didn't get any pictures of Greenland and that looked beautiful, all ice and mountains and not a single town or village to be seen.

The weather here in Seattle is the total opposite of what I expected. There is blue sky and it's pretty warm. But I still think those jumpers were the right thing.

Once here I hid in my room, well, I showered then I decided that maybe a couple of hours sleep would do me good! And actually I do feel slightly refreshed. I've just come back from dinner (I went to Pizza Hut) and bed looks very inviting again. But I have decided not before 21.00 if possible.

My room-mate hasn't appeared yet, but I expect she will soon. And hopefully she'll be on my tour. We'll see.

Well, Janny arrived at about 21.30 last night. And yes, she is on the same trek. She seems friendly. We went together for breakfast (to Denny's) and had a good chat. I then went for a little walk, I was actually looking for somewhere with Internet, nothing to be seen anywhere. But I had a very nice walk. The area is surprisingly residential, even though it is right next to the airport.

After my walk Janny was asleep, so I went off shopping. I caught the bus from the airport to a mall. But apart from a Hamburger, I didn't buy anything. At 19.30 it was time for the Howdy Party. It seemed like a good crowd. We were all there except for two of the guys, Oh there are 5 guys and 8 girls.

Janny from Holland, Audrey and Gillian from Ireland, Linda and Sally from England, Patricia from Switzerland, Mike (f) from Israel, Hayato from Japan, Patrick and Frank from Holland, Geert from Belgium and Christian from S├╝dtirol (Italy). Jennifer is our tour guide. We are all between 24 and 38 so the group is older than last time.

Well, my 29th Birthday, oh dear, thirty is looming! It didn't really seem like my Birthday until the evening, when everyone sung for me. And then they all started singing again, and Jennifer came with cake and a candles. That was so cute. Anyway back to the rest of the day.

Our first day on the road. We set off at 7.30 drove to Seattle and caught the ferry to the Olympic peninsula. First stop there was a store in Port Angeles, as Frank needed a sleeping bag. From there we headed for lunch and our first hike. We had lunch in a beautiful spot, right by a lake with a snow-capped mountain in the background. We were at Lake Mills.

Our hike took us up hill to some hot water springs (smelly), I didn't go in as earlier I couldn't be bothered to unpack my rucksack to find my swimming costume. Quite a few of the others did. What did we do after that...erm...oh, I remember, we went for another short hike, just off of Lake Crescent to Marymere Falls. Then it was on to our campsite, which is right on the beach (Pacific Ocean). Jennifer cooked dinner for us tonight (Spaghetti with Tomato sauce and salad). In the evening we had a talk about the ins and outs of trekking and then everyone introduced themselves.

I am sharing a tent with Janny and she was really good to me this morning. I have a very sore blister on the back of my ankle. And Janny has this wonderful plaster (Compeed) that makes walking easy again. Which was good as we had a lot of hiking planned again. First the shopping this time I was really brave and I am on a cooking team, and so my team was in charge of shopping today. We cooked Ratatouille and rice. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Our first hike today was in Hoh Rain Forest. And we were so lucky!, as we had beautiful sunshine. This hike was really interesting, all the trees were full of moss (covered). And it was quite eerie in places, but at the same time beautiful. We walked in quite a large crowd so we were too loud to see any wild-life. We did both trails there and had a little sit down in the shade before lunch.

After lunch we drove to the coast for a beach hike. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as sunny on the coast, but that didn't bother us too much. We saw a bit more wild-life there. Sea gulls (not too exciting) then loads of star fish in the rock pools. On our walk back Frank, Geert, Mike and I saw a sea-lion (that was exciting), but it was too quick for a picture. We also saw a cormorant and an eagle (flying over, so it was some kind of big bird). The most exciting thing happened after tea, back at the campsite. We saw two whales! A bit better than on my last trek, where I only ever saw a spout of water.

We had another campfire. We all sat around it, talking and telling jokes, one of which I must write down:

What do American beer and making love in a canoe have in common?
Both are fucking close to water!

I had a couple of beers and was feeling very happy. Frank, Geert and I were the last up. We tried to ignore the Indian guy, who wanted to join in with our conversation. He just wouldn't be gone, so when he went to spend a penny, we did a disappearing act to bed!

Not such a good nights sleep today and it had nothing to do with the beer I drank. At threeish I woke up and thought the others were doing their planned Yoga on the beach. When I looked at my watch it said 3.15am, I thought it had stopped and rolled over, hoping someone would get me up. The next thing I know is that Jennifer was shouting to us, that someone had stolen our beer and not to go to the bathroom alone. Well, when I got up this morning, I wasn't sure if it wasn't all part of some weird dream, but Janny had heard the same.

What had happened, was that some Indian teenagers, had been around the campsite, broke into one car and pinched our beer and drinks cool box. Luckily though they didn't break into the van. A smashed window and lock would have been worse than losing some drinks.

Today was basically a travel day, but we did go back to Olympic National Park again, to Hurricane Ridge. Where we had a beautiful view of the Olympic Mountain Range. We were about 6.000ft up, so we even saw some snow. Not that I got excited! From there we are now on our way to Mount Rainier National Park.

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