Grand Valley Adventure

Trip Start Aug 04, 2012
Trip End Mar 06, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Early this morning, my parents and I headed out to Olympic National Park, in pursuit of the Grand Valley hike (which is indeed the hike we attempted to do last weekend). Once again we drove two hours Northwest to the Olympic Peninsula. This time, we were able to make it to the destination without a hitch! We only took a quick stop at the Visitor's Center near the park's entrance and then continued on toward Hurricane Ridge, which is a very popular lookout that gives visitors an awe-inspiring view into the heart of the mountains, and although we would love to have stopped and gawked at the spires of the iced over peaks, everyone in our party was keen on getting to the trailhead as early as possible. From Hurricane Ridge, we took a 7.5 mile winding dirt road to Obstruction Point, where, in my opinion, the view was even better than that at Hurricane Ridge, and although the drive was sluggish, we had a wildlife encounter that made my morning. My mother had spotted a creature scurrying across the road in front of us. Once we got closer, we had an amazingly close look at the endemic Olympic Marmot! An animal that looks like a hybrid of a beaver and a guinea pig. It was incredibly brave and seemed almost undisturbed by our car's close proximity to its burrow. However, our great luck had to come to an end because before maybe 20 seconds of observing the marmot, another car pulled up behind us and pushed us forward toward the trailhead. 
Once we arrived, we wasted little time getting our shoes tied for the hike. At first sight, I knew this was going to be a winner. We hadn't even started and I was already taking in some of the finest scenery Washington State has to offer. Once we began, we headed up to the top of a (somewhat) short mountain, where, to no one's surprise, the view was even better. For the next mile, we trekked across a high alpine wilderness above the tree line where wildflowers flourish and the isolated clump of ice are not a rarity. It was an absolutely magical area, and I had to stop multiple times to take in the beauty. After some time we reached a high, barren ridge where we had an almost fictionally gorgeous view down into the Grand Valley.

From this point, the hike quickly evolved into a downward drop, which was beautiful, but quite sobering, knowing we would have to take the same route out of the valley. Before long, we had left the high alpine meadows and were cloaked by spruce trees as we continued our descent. The wildflowers still brought a spritz of color to the steep mountainside, and I still occasionally had to stop and take in the majesty of the Olympics fairly often, and we even caught glimpses of Grand Lake (our destination) nestled deep in the valley! And after only two hours of hiking, we arrived a the lake shore of Grand Lake, where we rested for lunch. The lake itself was several shades of green and clearly home for some trout, as we did see many jump. However, the shore was slightly marshy and didn't provide the best access to the water, but eventually we found a patch of pebbles which was our picnic location. We all were happy to relax because everyone knew what was ahead of us. The long and grueling trek back to Obstruction Point.

Once the ascent began, it was definitely a moderate workout, but nothing too excruciating, but that quickly changed! So we were taking breaks every five minutes, which soon turned into every three minute, and then every patch of shade we came across. I did take point and was able to traverse the mountain slightly faster then my parents, but I really had to hand it to them, they both were absolute troopers and made it to top quicker than I had anticipated. One thing though, that we had under estimated, was the amount of water we all needed for the hike out of the valley. In total, I believe we had six bottles, which turned into seven, due to the fact that we found a sealed water bottle on the trail that some other hiker must have dropped before getting the chance to open, and seven bottles for three people was not nearly enough, especially once we emerged from the tree line and were on a dusty cliff leading us up to the alpine meadows. 

The ascent was killer, but once we made it back to the flower fields, we were rewarded with the stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, and a much flatter trail. After a little more hiking, we arrived at our car back at Obstruction Point, where we were all tired, thirsty, and ready for a break. 

On our way out of the park, we stopped at Hurricane Ridge, for one last view of the mountains. Before we got to the lookout area we passed a group of people feeding some of the Black-tailed deer who live in the area, and even though the deer are adorable (especially the fawns), it does sadden me to see them so domesticated by tourists, and although I rarely see deer this up close I still wish they were not so reliant on people. As I looked out over the pinnacles, I thought to myself, how I have truly become one with these peaks after our full immersion into the isolation of their grandeur, which makes me want to do more hikes such as the one we had completed today. It was unanimous, that this hike was the most scenic and beautiful we had been on all year. 

The drive home was rather uneventful. We stopped for BBQ in Port Angeles and got caught in traffic which greatly delayed our home arrival time. The entire ride home I just kept thinking about how I hope to have wonderful and exciting outdoor adventures, such as this one, this Fall in Chile! And, although, I cannot guarantee anything about the Chilean hikes I may get to do, I am 100% positive that my Mom, Dad and I all slept incredibly well that evening!


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