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Four Epic Sites at Olympic National Park Worth Visiting

Four Epic Sites at Olympic National Park Worth Visiting

So many adventures, so little time to write.  This summer has been full of sites and bucketlist items, it’s hard to blog about everything, but I do photojournal and put it on social media.  But I did want to tell of my adventures at Olympic National Park in Washington.  Here’s also a video set to the music of Within Temptation, a band from Holland.

First I had to drive for hours, camping on the outskirts on the way in redneck country with many “Ill Eagle” fireworks stands near the Fourth of July.  The drive itself was nice and had views of Hood Canal.  Much of the area is private, but there are a few places to beach explore by the highway if you look enough.  But the main attractions are in the park itself.  Up US-101 to Port Angeles, and then on into the park!

Hikers on Hurricane RidgeHurricane Ridge

Usually you hear about the forest you hear about Olympic National Park, but I will definitely say this was the highlight of the trip and worth a trip in itself to see this view.

This is one of the most accessible alpine sites around, and you get a lot of bang for your buck.

If hiking uphill is difficult, you can drive to the visitor center for epic mountain views.  Just about anyone can be a photographer here.  Just point your phone and click and get beautiful mountain photos.

Hurricane Ridge view

But I will say the hike is fairly moderate for a mountain hike and is worth it for the alpine views.  The summer weather was so hospitable that day I could more accurately call this place “Nice Breeze Ridge.”  I even got to see deer, which seem used to people by now and willingly posed for my photos.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-hurricane-ridge.htm

sol-duc-falls2Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls has been on my bucketlist for years after seeing it in a nature photography book.  It didn’t disappoint.  The evening lighting was just right and you could walk around all over catching the falls from different angles.  Go check it out and snap a few photos.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-sol-duc-valley.htm

Rialto Beach in the morningRialto Beach

Unfortunately being Fourth of July weekend, the camps and hotels were booked solid. So after driving all over the place around looking for somewhere to crash for the night, I ended up having a cop help me find a small park near the beach to sleep in my car.

To stretch my legs I hung out at Rialto, ate breakfast and snapped a few sunrise photos.  The place reminds me a lot of Cannon Beach near Portland back home.  I’d seen this before when backpacking the coast a few years ago, and it’s still beautiful to visit.

You can access this beach by driving up 101 on the West side by the coast or from the North over the park from the East side.  Don’t forget to grab a vampire burger or coffee at Sully’s, a Twilight themed cafe near Forks, Washington where the films took place.  After all this wilderness, some dive-food and wi-fi can really hit the spot.  Cool people there too.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/rialto-beach.htm

Hoh Rainforest

Here you’ll see the weirdest trees covered in moss, or “old man’s beard” as I’ve heard it called.  It’s beautiful and I’d definitely recommend the Hall of Mosses trail to see the moss in all its splendor.

Hoh Rainforest

Mick Dodge and Josh Taylor

This is also where Mick Dodge, the National Geographic reality show celebrity, hangs out.  When I met him and asked for a photo with him, he said the rules were you had to take off your shoes like him.

He was easier to find than the show makes him to be.  He helps attract tourists like me, as his show helped to familiarize myself with the Hohs.

https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

Also don’t forget the Ancient Groves trail on the North Side, which is where normal forest and rainforest meet, giving some interesting trees and scenery.

To visit all these places be prepared to spend quite a few hours of driving.  Well worth the time and gas though.  I’d also recommend going on weekdays and not-so-crowded days.

So if you’re in the Northwest and looking for something to do, go check out the Olympics sometime.  What kind of adventures have you been having lately?  Let share adventures photos on Instagram and Twitter.  Happy adventuring.

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Tales from the Columbia Gorge Video

Tales from the Columbia Gorge Video

After spending so much time Gorge hiking over the winter and last year, I decided to make a video about it to the tune of Frozen Pines by the indie-folk band Lord Huron.

I also collected a list of links to the sites shown in the video, so if you see something you like, you can go check it out for yourself.  There’s also more in depth adventure tales of winter hikes in the Gorge
here.  Enjoy the video.

Links:

Steep Trails by John Muir-This book tells some history behind some of the scenic areas we’re
familiar with nowadays. It’s interesting to see what John Muir thought
back then of Oregon and places we’ve seen nowadays.

http://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/steep_trails/

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Bonneville Dam-There’s a visitors center with some history and science displays, which is fun if you want something laidback to do after a hike.
http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Locations/ColumbiaRiver/Bonneville.aspx

Stonehenge Replica-An interesting site to check out.  Closeby is the Maryhill Museum.
http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/visit/stonehenge-memorial

Bridal Veil Fall-A very easy scenic hike on the Historic Highway near Angels Rest.

http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Bridal_Veil_Falls_Hike

Shepperd’s Dell-If you’re on your way to Crown Point from the East side, this is a great little scenic nook to stop at.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Shepperd’s_Dell_Trailhead

Crown Point-Check out this lookout site if you’re coming to Oregon.  Heck I’ve been there many times and still enjoy it.
http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=108

Cape Horn-Great hike close to the city in Washington.

http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Cape_Horn_Loop_Hike

 

Wind Mountain-This place has some interesting native American history.  It’s a great hike and is off the beaten path, as hardly anyone comes here.  It’s a bit different kind of Gorge hike.  For some epic tales, check out my
Wind Mountain blogpost.

http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Wind_mountain_hike

 

Dog Mountain-Very steep, the workout about killed my thighs, but hurt so good for a few days.  In the spring there are supposed to be some great wildflowers here.  There were hardly any videos or photos taken on my hike here, because it was mostly rain and wind.  The summit was so windy I was hanging on for dear life and didn’t want to deal with video right then.  The cloudy viewpoint footage is from the trail further down.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Dog_Mountain_Hike

Bridge of the gods-A scenic Oregon/Washington Gorge crossing.  This is also where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the stateline, and is where Cheryl Strayed ended her thru-hike in the epic final scene of the movie Wild.

http://portofcascadelocks.org/bridge-of-the-gods/

Pacific Crest Trail near Cascade Locks/Bridge of the gods-If you want to experience the PCT close to town, here’s where to go.  Check out Dry Creek Falls while you’re there.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=30058&actid=50

Angel’s Rest-This trail was icy on New Years Eve.  Beautiful if a bit dangerous.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Angel’s_Rest_Hike

Beacon Rock-Very easy and scenic.  Unfortunately it’s currently closed for a while due to a storm.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Table_Mountain_from_Aldrich_Butte_Trailhead_Hike

Hamilton Mountain-Easily one of the most scenic hikes in the Gorge.  That windy waterfall is called the Pool of the Winds.  It’s like a constant storm within a few feet of rock, and is definitely one of nature’s wonders.  Go check it out about a mile or two up the trail, even if you don’t want to to do the entire mountain hike.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Hamilton_Mountain_Loop_Hike

Multnomah Falls-As many times as I’ve seen it, it’s still epic as I can see it driving by on the freeway.  If you’re touring Oregon, this is one of the main sites to see.  If you live in Portland already, you’d probably best leave sunny Saturdays for tourists and find something less crowded.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=30026

Larch Mountain-You can hike or drive to the summit (road closed for driving from November to May).  From Sherrard Point you can see five major mountains including the colossal Mount Rainier 100 miles away!  The mountains shown here are Mount Hood as well as Saint Helens, Rainier and Adams, the three Washington Mountains to the North.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/crgnsa/recarea/?recid=30070

Wahclella Falls-Like many places in the Gorge, this is easy, scenic and close to the city.  Good for family hikes or hanging out for photography.  Best go on a weekday or early morning Saturday, because of the crowds.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Wahclella_Falls_Hike

Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls-One of the most popular Gorge hikes.  The bridge to go further on the trail unfortunately is down.  Because of the bridge, USFS has deemed the rest of the trail unsafe.
http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide/Eagle_Creek_to_Punchbowl_Falls_Hike

Winter Dayhikes – Five Easy Places to Hike in Oregon and Washington

Winter Dayhikes – Five Easy Places to Hike in Oregon and Washington

bridgeeagle-creek-resizedWinter is here. As we still lag from the holiday cheer, and get back into our new year goals, diets, workouts, etc, it’s still hard to be as active in the winter. After all, “It’s cold”, “It’s wet!” Hey, I get it. I don’t like going out in the cold and wet either!

Someone asked me are you gonna keep hiking in the wintertime when it’s cold?  I said, I don’t see why not.  Just bring a coat.

Who made this rule that you hike in summer and sit on the couch in winter, because it’s “off-season”?  Personally I enjoy cooler air when going uphill.

You might not backpack or camp overnight, but there are plenty of opportunities for dayhiking, which is a blast.

The cool thing about hiking is it’s not just being active, it’s an experience. It’s fun. Young and old, athletic and non-athletic alike can participate. The difference between hiking and going to the gymn is it’s not as hard to motivate yourself when you really enjoy it.

Mountain roads can be treacherous so be careful.  Carry chains, shovel, etc. But if you don’t want to drive in snow or slip in icy trails, there are still great places you can visit which are close to the city.

As for the rain? Who cares? Rainy, foggy days are great for photos.  All the photos in this post were taken in “off-season” fall and winter.

Around here usually it rains, then it lightens up later. You don’t have to wait to get “special gear” to walk in rain. (Though you eventually might want to get some merino wool clothing, because it’s just awesome.)  A basic poncho in your pack works great though.

I do suggest protecting your phone and electronics deep inside your backpack wrapped in plastic.  I once almost ruined my phone on a rainy hike by having it in a side pocket of my pack.  Don’t learn the hard way!  You can keep your camera under your coat or poncho or get one of those handy waterproof cameras.

So now that we’re ready for hiking let’s check out some great dayhiking sites!multomahfalls-resized

Multnomah Falls

People come from all over to appreciate the beauty of these falls. Word of advice, don’t come on a sunny Saturday. You’ll have trouble finding parking and crowds are everywhere. I’d suggest some of the other falls around the area, though they will often be crowded as well. Elowah Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Bridal Veil are all great short hikes and fun trips for the family, even for beginners.

Waterfalls are all over the Columbia Gorge, so just take I-84 East, follow the signs and pick a waterfall adventure.

cape-horn-sign-viewpointCape Horn

Cape Horn is another great Gorge hike just outside Vancouver/Camas on the Washington side. The entire loop is seven miles, and it gets difficult when you come to the rocks and bridge. However two or three miles and back is a good hike and you’ll get a great workout going uphill. Check out some of the amazing colors on this trail on my Cape Horn Adventure last fall.

Note: The lower part of the loop is closed February 1 to July 15 to protect
nesting peregrine falcon. The upper part of the loop, down to the Gorge
viewpoint is open all year.

Cape Horn Loop

Just take Highway 14 East and it will take you right there!

Silver FallsSilver Falls

With ten beautiful waterfalls, this is one of the gems of Oregon.  This can be as long or short as you want. The entire loop hike is 8 miles with smooth trails most of the way, steady uphills and downhills. But it’s great for short hikes as well. Pick a waterfall and drive there. This makes it fun for everyone if you’re not ready for longer hikes.

North Falls, South Falls, and Winter Falls are the main sites with parking lots you can drive to. South Falls is the main center with a lodge, nature store, etc. There’s also camping, cabins, and bike trails.

Enjoy a hot cup of coffee by the fire at the lodge after your hike.

There’s sometimes a bit of snow, so check the weather first. You can call the ranger’s office and ask about it, if you’re concerned. The workers there love their job and are glad to help however they can.

Directions: Take 205 to Mt. Angel and Silverton, then take OR-214 S to Silver Falls.  Silverton is sometimes tricky, keep following the signs.  More detailed directions on
Google Maps.

Silver Falls State Park

 

Flowers at Smith RockSmith Rock

This is right near Redmond, a small town near Bend, Or. I like to say this is like a tiny Utah canyon. This is one of the top rock-climbing destinations in the US. You’ll see often them climbing on your hike. I personally find it inspiring. But you don’t have to rockclimb to enjoy this place. It’s wonderful rock and desert, especially if you’re used to green near the city. Take a photo anywhere.

You can even camp out in the bivouac area, though I warn you there’s not much seclusion. But rockclimbers are great people to hang with. They do like to party, but they’re not too bad.

Directions: Just take Highway 97 North from Redmond to the town of Terrebone and follow signs to Smith Rock.  The road is called Smith Rock Way.

Smithrock.combeachhouse-sapia

Seattle

If you’re around the Seattle area, there’s some great places to hike around the city, which is surrounded by nature and phenomenal views of the Puget Sounds, Olympic mountains, and Mount Rainier. Further away from the city is Snoqualmie Falls, Little Si, and Twin Falls (trail is closed close to a mile in so you can only see the falls from far away).

Within the city Discovery Park is great for hiking or jogging. Also Golden Gardens park is a great beach. Catch it at sunset sometime. Yes, expect cold and wind near the Sound.

Special thanks to my Facebook group
Hiking in the Pacific Northwest for lots of great information about these sites and winter conditions.

Know some other great adventure hikes?  Whether in the Northwest, across the country or across the world, please share! Let’s exchange adventure stories on
Twitter and Instagram.  Just follow me @OutbackTales.

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Central Oregon-Part two: Three Sisters Wilderness

Central Oregon-Part two: Three Sisters Wilderness

crooked-river-highway-27After my Crater Lake adventure, I took the Crooked River Highway and camped out by the river.  Then I found a much needed Starbucks in Prineville, a small ranch town in the Oregon desert area.  A hikers’ group on Facebook gave me great information, since I wasn’t as familiar with the Bend area.

They raved about Green Lake Trail in Three Sisters Wilderness. And it didn’t disappoint. Just a half-hour west of Bend just past the Mt. Bachelor ski area was the wilderness parking lot.

 

As outback as it seemed, it was easy to drive to.  There’s even phone service in the parking lot and parts of the wilderness. Problem was I got there late and had to book it to get to the camp by dark.

Hiking by moonlight is an experience you don’t forget, but I wouldn’t recommend it, unless it’s early morning and light is coming sooner or later. But I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? If it gets too dark, I can just pitch my tent by the trail. Not that I should, but it’s in the off-season, just so long as you have a permit and are being
safe and following Leave No Trace.

Three-sisters wilderness signHowever remember I had backpacking gear, a tent, sleeping bag, etc. Dayhiking is a different story. So unless you want to get lost or stuck in the wood on a cold night with no shelter, don’t go unprepared and racing darkness. And remember, mountains often have cold nights even in summer.

So I eventually camped and pitched my tent in the dark. It sucks, but sometimes it happens. Easy backpacking tip: bring a headlamp!  You might not think it important when packing, but it makes things easier in the dark when your hands are free.

Of course later in the night after the clouds left, I peeked out my tent and saw a glorious clear sky. Had to force myself out of the tent to get the shot. It was COLD, but I’m glad I did.

south-sister-milky-way

In the morning I completed the trip to Green Lake, and took my time on the way back to get photos.

Green Lake Brokentop Mountain

Green lakes trail waterfall

 

Here’s something I love about vacations like this. All I needed was my car and a bit of gear. I also work a job where I took just three days off plus the weekend for a roadtrip through Oregon.  Backpacking, hiking and camping are great ways to get your wanderlust fix on a budget. Just because you might not go overseas, doesn’t mean you can’t adventure yourself. So don’t let lack of money or time stopped you from pursuing the story that awaits you.

The cool thing about social media is we get to experience our stories as well as share them and inspire each other. I’d love to hear your story. Let’s connect on Instagram and Twitter.

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Central Oregon-Part One-Crater Lake

Central Oregon-Part One-Crater Lake

crater-lake-foggy

So here I am sitting in my tent by Crooked River, eating my attempt at Pasta-Roni over an open fire. I’m writing on my laptop as my old Paperwhite Kindle lights up the tent.  How’s it taste? Well, like Pasta-roni over an open fire. There’s bits of sausage in there too, which makes it well…edible camp food. It’s warm, perhaps a bit of comfort food after a day of rain. At least it’s not another Cliff bar, right?

Fumbling around trying to eat and cook in the dark is a pain. Word of advice. Whether carcamping, or backpacking it, always bring a headlamp.

josh-taylor-in-tent-with-computerThis trip is full of twists and turns, but everything seems to go well. Cancelled my trip to Arizona as the Grand Canyon, Sedona and the other cool places were having thunderstorms. So hey, I thought I might as well see a natural wonder right here in Oregon-Crater Lake. The site was pretty much how I’d expected it, but like a lot of epic sites, the photographs don’t do it justice. You just have to be there.

You have to experience it, driving by the cliffs focusing on the turns for dear life. To get out of the car, feel the wind on your face.  Then wondering what it looks like up by the rail, then once walking up, seeing it in awe for the first time.  Yes, Wizard Island, just like the photos, but the crater is huge.

To get to Crater Lake, you take Highway 97 and then Route 62 to Crater Lake.  I took I-5 from the North, then took Or-58 near Eugene, which goes to 97.  There are no campgrounds open in the fall, but you can camp by Diamond Lake nearby. If you want to backpack, you’ll need a permit.

wizard-island-trees-sapia

Start Hanging with Inspiring People

On the way to camp I picked up a couple through-hikers. Two girls in late 20s or 30s had to get back to the trail from the ranger station and hitched a ride with me. They hiked the Pacific Crest Trail all the way from Stevenson, Washington. They’d just about hiked all the way through the Oregon PCT to the California border, and then they were going back home to the Midwest.  After they thanked me profusely, I thanked them in turn for inspiring me. Because it’s true, they did far more for me than I ever did by helping them a bit.

pacific-crest-crater-lake - Copy

What was it about these girls that changed me? Walk in the Woods and Wild are great stories. But meeting those who actually did it inspired me with reality. There was LIFE to them, and the fact that I got to be a small part of that story by giving them a ride made it even better.

To think, the whole world is at your fingertips. Creating your own story is what inspired the brand name of Outback Tales.

It’s not about how grand it is compared to others. You don’t have to climb Everest. Your story could be just going somewhere you haven’t gone or taking a step in your career you’re afraid of taking.

What stories can you share?  What new stories lay ahead?  Follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I’d love to hear yours!

Next stop: Central Oregon Desert and Three Sisters Wilderness.

 

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