Luke jf Schlather home

This past week we went to the Olympic Peninsula. We took the Dungeness Line from Seattle to Port Angeles, and then took a local bus to Lake Crescent. We originally had intended to bike to Lake Crescent, but there really isn’t a good path to get there from Port Angeles. The Olympic Discovery Trail is still something of a work in progress. The link from Port Angeles to Forks via Lake Crescent is mostly highways, with a bit of horse trails that aren’t terrible to bike on. We saw a few bikers taking the south shore of Lake Crescent, which with about 10 miles of two-lane highway with no shoulder seems pretty insane. Especially with the way the traffic is this time of year. On the other hand, I probably do things in Seattle every day that are, strictly speaking, more dangerous.

When we got to Lake Crescent, we ran into a bit of a stumbling block. There was no water, and the ranger was ready to kick us out since Lake Crescent doesn’t have any functioning latrine. We prevailed on him to let us stay, and borrowed a bucket from our neighbors. For dinner we had lentils with boxed macaroni and cheese supplemented with a bit of mozzarella. Margaret wasn’t too happy that I added the lentils to it.

The next day we got up, and after some deliberation decided to bike to Sol Duc Hot Springs instead of sticking around at Lake Crescent as we had planned. We were told that the water was likely to be restored that afternoon (and it was) but I was ready to move on and get a little deeper into the woods anyway. So, we packed up our tent, loaded everything on our bikes, and went down to the lake for a quick swim. It was a little cloudy, but Lake Crescent was fairly warm and the water in the national forests around here is always wonderful. At lower elevations I’m pretty much always pleasantly surprised how warm the water is.

The 14 miles up to Sol Duc were a nice ride. The hill up 101 to the turn off for the hot springs was really the worst part of it. Sol Duc Hot Springs road is two lanes, but the traffic light enough that it doesn’t feel too bad. What was somewhat disconcerting was passing the gate and not knowing how many cars were going to pass by us on the way to the hot springs. The campsites are first-come first-serve, and the lodges are by reservation, pretty much always booked solid in the high summer months. It’s a little perverse that a person in a gas-guzzling pollution machine can show up to the park hours after a bicyclist or hiker and get first dibs on a campsite. When we got there at about 5pm, we had a bit of a scare thinking that the campsites were full, but it turned out that we were only looking at the board for loop A, and loop B still had space. After that we made some more macaroni and cheese, and then spent some time soaking in the hot pools. After 14 miles with loaded bikes, it was a pleasant break. We’ve done 50 miles in one day similarly a few times before, and this was a lot less stressful.

Sol Duc Hot Springs

The next day we hiked to Mink Lake, a short 3 mile hike from the campsite. We took it very slow on the way up, and had a great time. There were fields of huckleberries under the old trees all the way up. The huckleberries seem to have a way of clearing out the underbrush and making it easy to move around. Of course we stayed on the trails. Mostly. For dinner we ate at the Aramark-run cafe at Sol Duc, which was okay. Hearing Aramark we were expecting prison food, and given that expectation it was quite good. There were only a few vegetarian options, but the black bean burger was good, and the hummus seemed pretty fresh. I’m always pretty happy when they have a black bean burger instead of some prepackaged TVP abomination.

Trailhead at Sol Duc to Mink Lake Huckleberries Margaret at Mink Lake Sol Duc Falls

The next day, I took a quick hike/bike up to Sol Duc falls, which was nice, and then we packed up and biked back to Lake Crescent. The Sol Duc road is really nice to bike. The way up is definitely strenuous, but for about 600 feet of elevation gain it’s a really pleasant grade with minimal up and down. The way back down is virtually all downhill. We didn’t put air in our tires before hading down, so the fastest we went was about 30mph. We again caught the local bus back to Port Angeles, where we stayed the night in a motel and unwound, enjoying clean and dry sheets after a damp but very enjoyable day on the peninsula. Now we’re almost back to Seattle and crowded city life.

Bus Stop by Highway 101 at Lake Crescent Seagull at Port Angeles

Photos mostly by Margaret Olsen