Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Olympic Hot Springs Weekend Getaway

I get cabin fever very easily (and often) living in a city.  Luckily, the NW has tons of great places to explore well outside of city limits.

This past weekend, a friend and I drove to the Olympic National Forest to hike out and soak in some hot springs.  We didn't go to the Sol Duc hot springs, but instead went to the ones near Hurricane Ridge.

The drive was beautiful.  Leaving around 6am on Saturday, we decided to drive down and around the water on the way there.  I loved the cute farm towns we passed through, commenting on cool looking trees and plants, and giggling at oddly named roads and signs.  The weather was pleasant, even some sun breaks peaked through which instilled hope for the hike as the weather report for the weekend was dismal.  Reaching the Olympic National Forest, the rain started coming down as we drove in.  And by rain, I mean pouring rain.  We were prepared to hike in the rain, but this was crazy rain.  Expecting it to let up soon, we stayed encouraged by the gorgeous drive and views along the way.

Lake Mills on the drive to the trailhead (picture doesn't do it justice, the water was sea-green and gorgeous)

Arriving at the trailhead, we quickly layered with nearly every piece of clothing we had brought.  Gloves and beanies were discovered; wine, sandwiches and snacks were packed into my hydropack. 

The hike itself was pretty easy, about 2.5 miles of mostly mud and snow.  It was intense to see the washouts above and below us, knowing how much effort was put in to restore the trails to usability.  Commentary on neat trees, plants and types of predators in the forest continued.

One of many gorgeous waterfalls we passed.

The rain continued to come down and didn't let up at all.  Despite soaking wet and starting to get chilly, our spirits were high as we crossed a raging river on a hand-made log (the only way across) and other, more sturdy bridges.

Snow covered bridge

We arrived at the hot springs and decided to check them all out before deciding which one to soak in.  We were told there was a total of 7, some smaller, some larger and some hidden off the trail.

At this point, the rain increased heavily, we were hungry and a bit cold.  Despite these factors, we stripped down and jumped into one of the more hidden hot springs.  Due to the cold pelting rain and the hot springs not being very deep (and kinda mushy on the bottom) we didn't last long.  We quickly dressed again and headed back out along the trail to hurry back to the car for some dry clothes.

At this point, the trail was flooded and we gave up on trying to avoid the pools of water, mud and snow.  Once back at the car, it was a ridiculous race to try to avoid the van of hikers club and keep somewhat dry while changing into sweats.  Dry clothes finally on, heat blasting and seat warmers toasting our buns, we were on our way to stay the night in Port Townsend.

the aftermath

Making our way out of the forest, the rain eased up but the sulfuric acid of the hot springs set in.  Poor Y had a bad allergic reaction and we stopped at the nearest gas station to grab some Benadryl. 

We arrived at the super cute Tides Inn and quickly jumped into bed to get under the warmth of the covers.  Showers, nap and dinner followed in this adorable water-front town.

well deserved drinks

On Sunday we decided to drive to Kingston and take the ferry back, arriving in Edmonds.  The sun came out and highlighted the small and absolutely cute port towns along the way.  My favorite was the white picket fence town of Port Gamble.  There was very little ferry traffic and we were able to drive straight onto the ferry.

I had a lot of fun and it definitely helped cure my cabin fever, for now at least.

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