I recently spent a few days to explore the Olympics. It’s sort of become a bi-yearly trip. I don’t go too often as I enjoy the other national parks in Washington a bit more, but ONP is beautiful in it’s own right and I would still like to spend some time each year there. I was last there in January (it was rainy). Prior to that, my last time there was May of last year. For some reason I keep going there when it’s bound to rain. Nonetheless, each trip is always enjoyable.
My first stop is always up onto Hurricane Ridge. Last year, the ridge still had plenty of snow, with 10′ of snow lining the parking lot on either side. This year there was a bit less snow. The road to obstruction point was already open as well.
Given the weather, there was barely anyone to be found at the ridge. Visibility was poor that day and there just periodic glances of the surrounding Olympic range as they peeked out through the thick clouds.
The weather fore-casted a “partly cloudy” sunset, which usually meant good news. But with all the cloud watch showing thick cloud coverage moving inland throughout the day and into the next day, I wasn’t sure I wanted to gamble my time at the ridge. I was planning to wait it out and relax on the ridge but changed my mind. We high tailed it off the ridge and down back towards Port Angeles. After a quick stop for some dinner, we headed towards the straight to try and catch an ocean sunset.
I still haven’t seen a breath taking sunset on the Olympic coast so I’m always a bit reserved when it comes to them. I seem to have better luck even when I’m among snow capped mountains. However, the weather looked good when I started looking for a spot to shoot. There were a few clouds in the sky, not enough to light up in flames but enough to get some color and intrigue.
After a long day of fog, cloud, and rain, the warm sunset proved to be quite rewarding. A little tip for shooting on sand or soft ground: cut a hole in tennis ball and stick the leg of your tripod in there! It really helps with stability and stop the legs from sinking in and eating up the sand. If you don’t have a tennis ball handy, then a good ol’ paper plate under the leg works too.
There’s a webcam of Hurricane Ridge that I pulled up to check on – boy was I glad I decided to not wait there. The sun sets quite late on the coast (9:03PM). After sunset, we headed back to Port Angeles and called it a day. There was still a few days ahead and a good nights rest is always welcome.
Overall, it was a great first day. Rain or not, mountains are always great fun. And to top it off, a beautiful sunset on the coast. Most of my days in the Olympics are in a rain jacket but there’s still always a chance of sunshine!
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