A 4-Day Trek Through the Northwest Peninsula

Written by Panorama resident, Sandra Bush | September 2017. 
Photos taken by Bill Leppard and Tim and Tam Alden.

Panorama supports and engages our active population in many ways. The outings programs of strolls, walks, and hikes have been augmented by some experimental four-day outings for active residents. This longer type of outings allow more leisurely hiking time instead of hurrying to get back to the bus before awful traffic begins. Steve Pogge and his guide assistant, Wren offered a trip to hike the Northwest Peninsula, and I thought I might share some of what this outing provided. Eight of us came prepared for rain for all four days. We stowed our hiking poles and belongings on the bus and we headed to our destination. We were pleasantly surprised by the weather.

Big Quilcene River

We took a lovely two-hour walk along the Big Quilcene River before lunch. These lunches are usually healthy and prepared by us or Steve out of the back of the bus and on picnic tables in the deep forest or along the Puget Sound or a water source.

This was followed by a visit to Bandy Farms on the way to Sequim. Such a fun surprise! This acreage has been described as unique or unusual. A carver turned his fence posts into works of fun art as well as building a pink castle when neighbors took exception to his various creations. There were so many, I’ve just included a single photo. It surely makes one want to go back to see them all.

Bandy Farms

Before getting to our rooms in Port Angeles, we had stretched our legs by walking down to and along the Dungeness Spit, the largest natural spit found on the West Coast. We dined at a restaurant named “The Cedars” before checking in to The Red Lion with marvelous views of the water.

The Alden’s captured this special sunrise from our hotel the next morning

There is a lovely paved waterfront one-mile trail in front of the hotel that many hikers take advantage of in the early morning.

An amazing ocean figure in mosaic sits by the interpretive center along a walk to a tower overlooking the waterway.

As rain was forecast for the afternoon, Steve decided we’d hike Hurricane Ridge in the morning to avoid a cold, wet and windy afternoon hike. Three hearty souls hiked up a 4-mile steep trail while the rest of us opted for the bus, allowing us to hike to the over-look of the amazing Olympic Mountain range from the Interpretive Center atop Hurricane Ridge. It was hard enough for the rest of us. It was too late in the season to view Olympic marmots as they were getting snuggled for winter. Wren had given us a quick overview of marmots and we learned that they are a distinct group, different from Cascade Range or Vancouver Island populations. But hikers always need to watch for mountain goats as they can get very aggressive and aren’t native to this range.

Our Assistant Guide, Wren, hiking Hurricane Ridge

Panorama Residents hiking Hurricane Ridge

While no goats or marmots were present, the views were just awesome and what did we find at the end of the puff? Steve had prepared hot soup for our lunch along with the usual sandwich making fare. What a guy! This was accompanied by a slight flurry of snow! We were so glad that Steve rearranged our itinerary; it may have gotten more than interesting up there if we’d been there in the afternoon, as planned!

The morning activity was to go on an Underground and History tour of Port Angeles, but we were rescheduled for the afternoon, and we enjoyed some amazing history of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including the elevation of the early outpost city that became Port Angeles. It was built on the mudflats; further up the hill, the British and military owned the higher ground. Town engineers elevated the downtown to avoid tidal flooding of buildings on the mudflats! With no heavy equipment, the entire downtown was elevated one-story. We went under some buildings that then used the second floor for their first floor. The engineering alone was incredible. Red Cedar posts dating from the original construction were in amazing shape. Their oil content has preserved them for over a century.

The usual “happy hour” in the guide’s room was cancelled as we prepared (after a long day) for a wonderful “family style” dinner at a renowned restaurant. Sabai Thai Restaurant, which had rave reviews from best places in the Northwest by Frommer’s Travel Guidebook, served wonderful food. The 10 of us shared nine different dinners suggested by the staff and it was so delicious and special. We had the option of ordering a dish that we wanted specifically, but we all decided to share to taste various dishes. Happy but tired hikers retired back to their rooms and opted not to visit a modern outdoor sculpture park as the night sky was imminent.

After the second night, it was time to bring our bags back to the bus in the morning for our exploration of Marymere Falls and to the Moments-in-Time hike which lead us to Crescent Lake. Delightfully, we got to experience the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center after breakfast. It would have been hard to see the outdoor installations by artists had we gone after the Thai dinner. It was entertaining to wander around that acreage and see things mounted in the trees, under leaves on the ground, and to experience artists’ way of using the out-of-doors for art installations.
(More pictures can be enjoyed on their website: http://www.pafac.org/)

Photograph by Bill Leppard

We headed to the Storm King Ranger Station to hike up to Marymere Falls. We meandered on a wonderful blanket of fir needles with no roots or rocks to trip over. Then we found the way up to the waterfall overlook. Gads, the usual roots and rocks and steps to negotiate brought us to wonderful views of the two-tiered waterfall.

Steve explained a magical exercise in fooling the eye/brain connection. He explained that if you looked at the same segment of falling water for 15-30 seconds and then shifted your eyes to the right, the granite rock actually seemed to move up in the segment as wide as your view was of the falling water. Many of us were able to experience it, but it left you off center for a bit while your brain reorganized its visual input. What was wonderful was that by mid-week, we had so much of the trails to ourselves.

Branching off from the Marymere Falls trail was a lovely, quiet walk amid Moments-in-Time’s large trees. Steve suggested that the walk to lunch be carried out in silence to appreciate what the forest has to offer in serenity. We often do silent walks with no talking and it is a wonderful rest for the mind and body as we walk among the big trees. This trail led us to Crescent Lake Lodge where those interested could rent a kayak or canoe. The views from the picnic table where lunch were arrayed were just amazing. The lunch arrayed by the edge of the lake was lovely and we were visited by a family of cute and persistent ducks that popped out of the water to try and cadge some food, but it is never appropriate to feed wildlife animals.

Then we headed to our final night in Forks. Along the way, we got to hike down to Mora Beach, all 120 steps down and back up. Tidal issues made very little sand available, with many large logs/trees that had been washed up for a long period of time, but many individuals scrambled over these obstacles to get some beach time. Two of us elected to sit in the cool shade of a large log and skipped the scramble. Such a lovely day we had. Sunny, and most of all: NO RAIN!!!

This final evening, we enjoyed happy hour in the guide’s rooms. While Steve’s trips do not promote alcoholic drinking, there were a couple of jugs of “Mississippi Mud” dark ale, various wine and sparkling water while participants discussed the pros and cons of activities for future trip-planning. The Native-owned restaurant he had planned for dinner was closed Tuesday nights, so the pizza parlor on Main Street Forks provided a venue to further the fellowship. A poster on the wall of Ruth Orkin (a photographer) depicts a performance, engendered Wren’s further research which found a woman bucking early stereotypes and working in a men’s world back in the 1950s, traveling alone in Europe!   We always manage to learn a lot from Steve’s outings, even when they are unplanned!

An earlier trip also visited a record-breaking Cedar Tree that had recently fallen not far off the road. It had to give up its status as the world’s biggest Cedar, but to view and walk around it was meaningful and powerful.

On the way to Aberdeen and back home, we also experienced what could only be called a Dr. Seuss forest. This was a segment of coastal trees above Beach #1, (yes that is its name) with amazing burl structures on them. Based on Wren’s research, the burl structures don’t kill the tree and many things cause the tree to burl. This happens along coastal waterways and not far inland. But this was a literal forest of them in a small area. An example of this is below, along with Steve and his wonderful Indian flute, making the experience somewhat other-worldly.

Traveling with Steve is always an adventure!

Steve’s trips are always so well-planned and scouted. A highlight is usually a stop at an ice cream purveyor on the way home. This time, we stopped at Scoops in Aberdeen with way too many selections of ice cream flavors. Learning about the history and enjoying out-of-door places that our wonderful Northwest Peninsula provides is always rewarding.

Treat yourself to one of these wonderful Panorama outings if you can!

One thought on “A 4-Day Trek Through the Northwest Peninsula

  1. I really appreciated this blog. Since I can no longer partake of these outings I had a bit of feeling of being there thanks to your jornaling and the photos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *