<6 miles / 800’+ elevation gain
In my latest blog about hiking in the Hoh Rainforest I mentioned my friends and I had overslept causing us to miss an opportunity to go snowshoeing. After a day of visiting the western side of Olympic National Park, we decided to go to sleep extra early and not miss the same opportunity twice. On Sunday morning we woke up around 6:00 am anticipating a day of fun in the snow starting with watching the sunrise from Hurricane Ridge. After loading the car and a quick breakfast we were on our way up the dark and winding Hurricane Ridge Road. As we gained elevation, the height of the snow became increasingly higher and the temperatures began to drop. By the time we reached the parking lot the temperatures were in the high teens. The sun was just beginning to peek behind the ridgeline of the Olympic Mountains. As we had nearly missed it slipping into the Pacific Ocean the previous day, we had almost missed it rising into the clear, blue sky. This was the perfect setting for a day of snowshoeing!
After putting on what seemed like a million layers, and still feeling freezing cold, we strapped on our snowshoes and headed down Hurricane Ridge Road. As we made our way down towards Hurricane Hill, we decided to take a detour and explore the Wolf Creek Trail. As the trail got closer to the ridgeline, the tree line opened to a view of the Olympic Mountains. At one point we crossed a wide open field of snow along the side of the mountain. There were several tracks going in many directions making it fun trying to choose the path of least resistance. We took the trail until it seemed to disappear into the trees. We turned around and started our slow trek upwards back towards the main trail. With this being only my second time snowshoeing, I was surprised by the extra amount of effort it took to climb in elevation. Once we back at the trail intersection, we decided to continue along towards Hurricane Hill.
Once we arrived at Hurricane Hill there were several other hikers around. Unfortunately, some of them were feeding the birds in the area and encouraging others to join in including my friend who is new to hiking. I always practice the Leave No Trace guidelines when I am in the wilderness and it’s disappointing to see others disturbing the natural environment. Once we continued on our journey, I educated my friend about the negatives of feeding the wildlife. I hope that someone educates the others, but I did not feel it was my place to do so. I did enjoy photographing the camp robbers as they dove into the area trying to nab up whatever was being offered.
Being new to snowshoeing, I was still pretty nervous to trek through the snow near steep ridgelines. I had decided ahead of time that I would push forward towards hurricane Hill as long as I felt comfortable, but would stop any time I started to feel scared. It wasn’t long before I stepped aside and let the others continue along the trail without me. I stayed behind taking in my surroundings and capturing images my husband and friends’ final ascent up Hurricane Hill.
The three of us met up back at the base of the hill and started our long trek upwards toward the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center. What seemed like such a short trip in was taking much longer on our way out. Snowshoeing is fun going downhill, but going up is simply hard work! As we made our final push into the parking lot we welcomed the much needed rest. Our car was the second one to pull into the parking lot that morning just as the sun was rising. Our early morning awakening was well worth it as we left the crowded parking lot and headed out of Olympic National Park.