These last several months have come with life changes, like moving, choosing a graduate program, turning 30, preparing to get a dog. Every weekend seemed to be filled with grown-up responsibilities and long, epic trips together were falling back for sensible routes with minimal drive time. Last Saturday, we decided sensibility be damned and drove to the peninsula to hike Hurricane Hill. It is an 8 hour drive for a 6 mile hike, the effort to reward ratio completely skewed–at least on paper. In real life, the views surrounding just the parking lot immediately made the effort worth it.
I think we knew on Saturday that our lives were about to change, when we found out we would have the chance to meet the dog we were interested in adopting on Sunday. Epic ridge walks in national parks could soon be limited as we contemplated bringing a new member into our family. But there are hundreds of amazing national park hikes that we would be seeing less of, many of which did not include a long trip to the peninsula. So why the push to make it to Hurricane Hill?
We needed a spot above the clouds, with a view that covered the heart of the Olympics, to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A place that reminded us who we are together, what we consider important in this life and how to hold onto those things when life begins to shift. Perspective, as I write this post with a pup at my feet, twitching his paws as he dreams, is a very good thing.
Arriving & the Road Walk
Hurricane Ridge has been on our to-do list for three years, but it is hard to find a time where a 8 hours drive for a 6 mile hike makes sense. But weather was perfect, we didn’t have plans the following day until the afternoon, avalanche conditions were stable and we were hoping to get a dog, putting the pressure to finish national park trips as soon as possible. So we woke at 4:30, made our way to the ferry terminal for the first ferry leaving the mainland. We blinked the sleep from our eyes and failed to watch the city fade away, as it was still cloaked in darkness. We followed the road to Port Angeles, shouting our favorite peninsula attractions as we passed.
The road to hurricane ridge opens at 9:00pm in the winter and we arrived about an hour early. So we did the logical thing and stopped for donuts before getting in line. The road to the trailhead was filled with incredible views and a few lovely deer. When we arrived at I was blown away at the panoramic views, it was hard to believe it would get prettier.
After checking in at the ranger station we set out on the road walk. The road descended from the trailhead, ensuring that I would not be happy when it came time to return. The views ranged from a lovely forest to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding ranges. As we ambled our way down the road, the fog pushed in from the sea and fell back again in what looked like a time-lapse video, but live.
Hurricane Hill Trail
We reached the summer trailhead for Hurricane Hill and saw where the route began to climb. The road walk was an easy jaunt in the forest, but we were promised increased difficulty once we made it to the trail. Sure enough, once we pushed off the climb began in earnest. Much like Hex Mountain from a earlier this year, the route ran along a ridge before ending on a broad summit.
It immediately became clear why the route was called Hurricane Hill, as the trees bowed to submission to the winds. We continued up and over small hills on the ridge before it opened up to a steep but broad hill. With incredible views of the mountain ranges in every direction, we enjoyed the climb.
Finally, we could see the bent trees that marked the summit.
It was cooler when we reached the summit and the winds started picking up. We watched more fog roll in from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and marveled at the resplendent views.
With the light wind at the top, it was fairly chilly and difficult to hold up the kerchief for the 52 Hike Challenge photo. Before too long, we started heading back to the trailhead, trying to make sure we left enough time for a trip to Dungeness Spit before making it back to Seattle.
We made our way quickly down the steep hill before reaching the ridge again. While we climbed, most of the mountain range was behind us, so it was lovely to see it all laid out before us.
The full sea of fog came rolling through, filling up the valley. We reached the road again and began the tedious, mild climb back to the parking lot. When we arrived, the area was full of joyful sledders, skiers and snowboarders, enjoying the last day of winter at Hurricane Ridge.