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Posts Tagged ‘La Poel’

Rain has returned to the Olympic Peninsula, marking the end of camping season for this camper.  I don’t mind a little rain while I’m camping, but an entire weekend of the stuff just leads to an unhappy state of continuous dampness.

I had planned on visiting Kalaloch last weekend, but when the weather forecast anticipated rain and high temperatures in the low 60s, I decided maybe it wasn’t the ideal time for visiting the beach.  It turned out to be a good decision; when I looked at the weather radar during the weekend I saw heavy rain stretching down the coast.

The weekend was not a loss, however, because we went on a day trip instead: to Lake Crescent to hike on the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore to a deep alcove of the lake scooped out of a cliff known as the Devil’s Punchbowl.  When the weather is warm, people like to climb up the cliff and jump into the punchbowl, but it was too cold for such activities this day.  When the hike was over, we went to La Poel, a day use area on the south side of the lake, to cook dinner over a camp fire.  It was just like camping, just without to sleeping.

Now, camping season may be over for me, but don’t expect my blog to go silent.  There are many, many things I have to write about.  I still have to finish my map of Mora campground for one thing.  Expect to see more drawings and write-ups on the plants and animals of the peninsula, and I will be highlighting some of the trails and day-use areas of the park as well.  Let’s start with the Lake Crescent area while we’re here.  Here are some pictures from my day trip:

There are a couple of landslide areas on the Spruce Railroad Trail, but they have all been compacted into an acceptable trail

Leaves of three, let them be. Watch out for poison oak (or is this ivy?) along the trail! It's the only place I've seen it in the park.

The trail runs along a never-complete railroad bed.

Two abandoned tunnels can be found along the way. Park rules prohibit going inside, but you can walk up and take a look.

I don't approve of graffiti in national parks, but this guy stole my heart with his cuteness anyway.

Devil's Punchbowl

Dinner at La Poel (pronounced "La Pwell")

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Friday morning saw camping-buddy Lavon and myself heading out to the Olympic peninsula for a weekend of camping.  The plan was to spend two nights at the Hoh rainforest, with a roughly six mile hike up the river as our Saturday activity.  First things first, though; Friday was also an eventful day for our little town: the grand opening of our very own Trader Joe’s.  We stopped in on our way out of town and experienced live music, hula dancers, and something I’d never seen in a grocery store before: lines 15 people deep in which every person was cheerful and smiling.  We picked up some of Joe’s Spicy Chai Latte just-add-water mix, which turned out to be quite tasty and an excellent thing to take camping because it meany we could have chai without bringing along milk.

It’s 160 miles from my house to the Hoh, so we made a couple of stops along the way.  The first, at Hurricane Coffee in Sequim, is a stop we make nearly every time we pass by.  The place has a really nice atmosphere and some pretty delicious coffee and bagels.  Later, we had a picnic lunch (falafel with olives, capers, tsaziki, and tomatoes in pita) at La Poel, a small peninsula that sticks out into Lake Crescent, which, I learned on this trip, used to contain a truck stop with cabins and a tavern, but now just has picnic tables and fire pits.  No overnight camping is allowed at La Poel, but it makes a tranquil mid-day retreat.

As we passed through Forks, Lavon and I started planning an imaginary Twilight themed ice cream shop.  We had fun thinking up flavors to go with books we’d never read until we came to the turn off to get to the Hoh…  where we were stopped by a ranger.  He informed us that there was a mother elk that had just given birth and was charging at people, so they had to close the area.  There went that plan.  We turned around, made our way back through the Twilight Zone–I mean, Forks–and headed to the coast to camp at Mora, right across the Quillayute River from La Push.

There appears to be some force in the universe that is constantly driving me towards Mora.  I have camped there four or five times, yet only one of those times was intentional.  When other campgrounds are full or close, Mora is where I end up.  And I don’t mind, because Mora is actually my favorite campground of any that I’ve been to.

So we snagged site 31 at Mora, a cozy little site with a tent pad set back in what Lavon called a grotto made of vine maple and elderberry bushes.  Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent mapping out the campground, which took quite a while as there are nearly 100 sites between five irregularly shaped loops.  Loops C and D were closed because the campground wasn’t very busy, and A hardly had anyone in it, so we got to walk into a whole bunch of the sites to really get a feel for them.  #18, in loop A, had this really cool stump in it:

For dinner we had sausages with sauted onions and mushrooms and polenta (perfect camp fare: hearty and delicious), after which we went a mile further down the road to its end at Rialto Beach, where we watched the waves under a darkening grey sky.  Back at camp, my home-made fire starters worked reasonably well.  I wish I had taken the time to fill them up further with wax so they would burn longer, but they got the job done.

Sleep that night should have been easy.  There was a lovely chorus of frogs, and while our neighbor did snore, he was far enough away not to be a nuisance.  The rain that started around 11:30, on the other hand, was a problem.  Our lovely little tent grotto sent large drips hammering down on the tent’s rain fly, making a terrible racket.  The noise, along with my constant worry that all our stuff would become soaked as it touched the edge of the tent, kept me awake, though I know I did get some sleep, and probably more than I thought.

The rain was still going come morning, though by that time it was more of a heavy mist.  After breakfast, when we had saturated a towel mopping up small puddles in the tent, we decided to cut our losses and pack up.  When I lifted my sleeping pad off the tent floor, I discovered a small lake waiting underneath.  By some miracle I had remained dry for the night, but I doubt I would have remained so for a second one.

We made our way home, tired and damp, but still glad we had gone.

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