Wildlife Wednesday 11/26/2014

Popeye

San Juan Island harbor seal

While visiting the San Juan Islands with my family during the summer of 2012 we met Popeye.  Popeye is a resident harbor seal living in the waters near Friday Harbor close to the docks by the ferry landing.  If you visit the seafood market at the Port of Friday Harbor you can buy Popeye a treat, and she will even wave hello!  The harbor seal seems to have had an accident resulting in cloudiness in her left eye; presumably giving her the name “Popeye.”

 

Dosewallips River Valley Camping, Hiking, and Mountain Biking

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Dosewallips State Park platform tent

As the fall weather was rapidly changing into more winter like conditions, I was anxious to squeeze one last camping trip in this season.  With a forecast of cold rain for the Halloween weekend my husband and I decided to spend the weekend in a platform tent at Dosewallips State Park.  As we loaded our car in the chilly Pacific Northwest drizzle, we were thankful to be avoiding all of the frustrations that come with the combination of tent camping and continuous rain.  As we arrived at Dosewallips State Park we learned that we shared the park with only one RV camper and one brave tent camper.  The accommodations in the platform tent were perfect including the luxuries heat and electricity!  Furnishings included a futon, a large bunk bed, and a small table with a pair of matching small chairs.  We were lulled to sleep by the constant tapping of the rain on the canvas of our tent walls.

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Dosewallips River Road, Olympic National Park

Dosewallips River Road Mountain Biking – Hiking

11 miles round-trip / 1600′ elevation gain

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Dosewallips River Road, Olympic National Park

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Dosewallips River, Olympic National Park

On the last day of October we awoke to light rain and foggy skies.  After breakfast in the comfort of our cozy platform tent, we began to prepare for a cold and wet day of adventure.  We stuffed our day packs with all the essential items including the necessary gear to keep us warm and dry.  As we made our way towards the trailhead parking at the washout along the Dosewallips River Road, the drizzle started to slowly disappear.  Small patches of blue skies and sunshine were trying to break apart the lingering grey clouds.

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A resting spot along Dosewallips River Road

After unloading our bikes and gearing up, we hit the trail that detoured around the washout from years ago.  At this point, I mostly pushed my bike up and around the washout trying to avoid slipping in the evidence of the very recent rainfall.  We were on our way to the Olympic National Park Dosewallips Ranger Station and campground 5.5 miles down an abandoned forest road. The “road” is now a mostly paved pathway that at times becomes as narrow as two feet climbing over small waterfalls and rock slides.

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My husband biking along Dosewallips River Road, Olympic National Park

At first the trail slowly climbs up following the Dosewallips River along the way.  After the first two miles, the road breaks aways from the river, and we slowly crawled our way up the path.  At times I had to walk alongside my bike as the trail grade became too steep for me to climb even in my lowest gear.  The trail reconnects with the Dosewallips River once more as you near the abandoned ranger station.  The many days of constant rain prior to our hike allowed us to hear the roaring Dosewallips River long before it came into view.  The river forces its way into a canyon cascading just beside the trail.

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Dosewallips Ranger Station, Olympic National Park

We arrived at the once thriving National Park campground, only to now find boarded up buildings and overgrown car camping sites. We only interacted with two hikers and one mountain biker the entire day along the Dosewallips River Road.  It was a peaceful picnic spot surrounded by the solitude of nature with only the constant sound of the Dosewallips River.  Once refueled we were ready for the fun part – downhill!

What took nearly a two hours trek on the way up only took us less than one hour on the way down.  I was happy to have the small breaks at times stopping along the way to cross fallen trees and other obstacles.  I’m sure my bikes’ brakes were happy for the temporary relief as much as I was.  We arrived at the washout just as the sun was dipping behind the Dosewallips Valley mountains.  As we loaded our bikes and gear into the car we noticed how unnecessary all the wet weather gear turned out to be.  As we made our way back down Dosewallips River Road it began to slightly drizzle.

Dosewallips State Park Hiking

<5 miles / <500′ elevation gain

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Dosewallips State Park

The day of our departure we arose to sunshine and blue skies but with a frigid chill in the air.  Once the car was loaded for our trip home we relocated it to the park entrance near the Maple Valley trailhead.  As the morning sun warmed us, we made our way along the Dosewallips River once again heading into the valley.  After a while the trail cuts away from the river and starts to climb its way westward.  The trail was surrounded by warm colored maple leaves on the tree branches and surrounding old growth forest floor.  Having waterproof hiking shoes were welcomed in this environment.  The sounds of running water are constant while you often find yourself hiking right through one of the many bulging creeks.  We slowly made along the state park trail trying to linger in the wilderness just as long as we could.  It was the perfect morning for the perfect hike before we headed home on the first day of November.

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Dosewallips State Park