Visit Olympica National Park
No visit to Olympic National Park would be complete without checking out all the different ecosystems: visit the temperate rainforest to see HUMONGEOUS trees in the mist, look for starfish in the amazing tidal pools along the 70+ mile rugged coastline, or climb the mountains to the sub-alpine forests and meadows to see an incredible panoramic view (and then perhaps slide back down via the snow to save a few steps:)
Our guest today is Lorna, who has visited over 30 National Parks and countless state parks, national forests and national monuments in her year (plus!) long mega road trip across the US. Lorna ranks Olympic National Park as her #3 favorite (after Teton and Glacier National Parks), so THAT's saying something, isn't it?!
All photos are courtesy of Lorna.
Lorna said that counterintuitively, the mountains are dryer than the misty and cool coast, so she moved up the mountains so she could dry out her camping gear. She also talks about the extraordinary view she had on her favorite hike up Mount Eleanor, where she was blessed with perfect clear weather. Lorna also got a chance to slid down the glacier! Hurricane Ridge is especially popular (and busy) and offers incredible views of the Olympic mountains. Note that this park is also great as a winter cold weather playground as well!
Be sure to download your FREE Olympic National Park Travel Planner!
Click the box to the left (Or above if you're on your phone)
It's full of helpful tips and links to make it super easy for you to have an epic trip.
PLUS! You'll automatically get future travel planners at the beginning of each month without any effort on your part- all for FREE! Easy peasey!
Besides the mountains, with their beautiful forest and wildflower-covered meadows, you can also explore the Hoh River Valley in the temperate rainforest with multiple gorgeous waterfalls and Jurrasic Park-looking massive trees. This stunning area receives over 150″ of rain each year (second only to Kauai in Hawaii!), so bring your rain gear regardless of your starting weather.
There are short and long trails throughout the park, so you can tailor your adventure to your fitness level. Be sure to stop by the helpful Visitor's Center to get advice on trails, plus any safety considerations. Black bears are in the park (but not very prevalent). On our Glacier National Park page, I've got some helpful Bear Safety Tips.
You can easily do a self-planned trip of Olympic National Park, but if you prefer that someone else handle all the arrangements and guide you, I recommend Wildland Trekking.
With lots of rivers and the coastline, there are LOTS of boating/rafting opportunities, too! Plus, all varieties of salmon are found here for those who like to fish.
As one of the most diverse national parks in the US, Olympic National Park offers not only spectacular mountains and glaciers, and the jungleland temperate rain forests, but also over 70 miles of rugged coastline.
Take your photo next to the massive seastacks, especiall at Rialto Beach. The towering rock formations jutt out from the sea! Just north of Rialto Beach is the Hole in the Wall, where the sea carved out a beautiful arch! Most popular is the Ozette Loop (9 mile (14 km)). Be sure to register and make a reservation!
When walking along the coast, be sure to plan well. There are areas where the water will come up to the break walls, and it may get too deep to walk in front of safely. Pick up a tide chart at the Visitor's Center and ask them to show you how to use it, plus make note of break walls that are impassable at higer tides, then plan your walk accordingly so you don't get stranded until the tide changes back to low tide!
This short video from National Geographic will give you a quick overview of this magnificent park and its wildlife!
When to go? Depends on what you want to see:
Wildlife April, May, Sept, Oct
Elk Early spring, breed Sept, year 'round
Bears Late April and May, berries late summer
Migration late April/early May
Eating berries Late summer
Over Wintering Winter
Waterfalls Spring and fall
Hiking Hurricane Ridge:
Regular hiking around April or May (you can snowshoe in winter) Road open? 360-565-3131
High country hiking: wildlife and wildflowersJune/July/August
High country wildlife: marmots, deer. Chipmunk, hare, bear, goatsJune/July/August
Salmon Migration mid August into Sept
Rainforest Critters most active beginning October through spring (Banana slugs, mushrooms, etc)
Cool looking foliage Combo of fall brilliance with a backdrop of snow caps in fall
You can get a FREE Olympic National Park Travel Planner (and future travel planners absolutely FREE) by clicking the Hole-in-the-Wall box to your right!
Olympica National Park is a camper's paradise with so many options! Backpackers can also camp along the coast, which is often difficult to find in most places. There are also several lodges for those who prefer more creature comforts. Here's a link to the National Park website for more information. It's always good to bookmark their website to get updated information about closings, etc.
Who is Lorna?
I met Lorna while camping in Glacier National Park in the summer of 2017. We hit it off and kept in touch.
Lorna has spent the bulk of the last year (and more!) visiting over 30 national parks plus countless state parks, national forests and national monuments – lucky Lorna!
Time Stamped Show Notes:
Full transcript down below (also time stamped). Use Google Translate button below for your preferred language.
01:04 Why Olympic National Park
02:31 Lorna intro
03:00 How Lorna travels
03:53 Why Lorna paused traveling
06:14 What makes olympic special?
07:34 Tidal pools
09:30 When did Lorna go? Late July into mid-August
09:39 How high are the mountains?
11:48 Any bear issues?
12:41 How did Lorna get into solo travel?
15:18 Advice on Olympic National Park
18:57 Degree of difficulty of the various hikes
19:50 Drinking water along the trails
21:35 Meeting other folks at the park and campgrounds
25:31 Lorna's favorite memories
26:50 Tidal pools
30:04 Meeting locals
31:38 Lorna's advice on Olympic National Park
31:57 Park ecosystems
33:07 Lorna's favorite national parks
33:33 What's next for Lorna
35:07 Final thoughts
35:43 Olympic National Park general info section
38:49 Where is it?
40:25 Important reminders
41:55 Kit announces she is writing a book
Time Stamped Full Transcript
Lorna: 00:00 I didn't think I was going to spend very long there and I ended up spending 12 days in the area and it was not long enough.
Kit: 00:14 Welcome to the Active Travel Adventures podcast. I'm your host Kit Parks, where every other Thursday on the Active Travel Adventures podcast, I bring you an exciting new adventure. I believe that if you want a kick ass life adding adventure travel to your life is a must. You not only see some of the world's most remarkable landscapes, and meet some of the coolest people, adventure travel makes you feel empowered and helps you to tackle some of the biggest challenges in your everyday life. So come along for another great adventure on today's active travel adventure podcast. Today I'm going to be interviewing a hiking buddy that I met last summer at Glacier National Park. Lorna has been to over 30 national parks in the last year and countless other state parks, national forests and national monuments, and she puts our adventure today to Olympic National Park in her top three of all those amazing places.
Kit: 01:04 So today we're going to find out what makes Olympic National Park so special. Plus, we're going to learn about Lorna's unusual travel style. Lorna is taking road tripping to a whole new level, basically camping her way across the country and seeing this remarkable United States of America. This makes for an affordable way to see our national treasures. Lauren is one of those lucky ones that's able to work virtually. So as long as she's got Wifi, she's in business and is able to support her travels both from savings and from working part time virtually. As I said we met last summer and have kept up on facebook and and I actually did this interview with her last spring and this past week she's been visiting me here in North Carolina, getting a chance to regroup, get some hardcore work in while she's got decent Wifi, which as you know in the national parks, may not be the best and get a fresh change of clothes and just have a nice dry roof over our head for a week.
Kit: 01:55 So it's been great catching up with her and I think you're gonna really love this interview. After my interview with Lorna, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about the nitty gritty details about Olympic National Park, the wildlife, and some of the other things that you need to know and then I've got a special surprise I want to announce when I was up in Philadelphia for a conference two people asked me to do something. At first I was like, “I don't think so”, and then the more I thought about it, I was like, “Why not?” So I'll be announcing that at the end of the program. So stay tuned. Can you please introduce yourself and explain how we met and what on earth you were doing when we did meet.
Lorna: 02:31 Hello. My name is Lorna and I was out traveling and seeing the world and I ran across some wonderful ladies to help me out in Glacier National Park and one day together turned into two days, turned into three days, turned into four and here we are.
Kit: 02:52 And at the time you were not just at Glacier National Park, you were doing something extraordinary. What were you up to?
Lorna: 03:00 So at that point in time I had decided to quit my job and spend the summer or a year. I had enough money saved up that I could. I knew I could travel for a year if I was careful with my money and camped a lot and so I had left at the beginning of May and started picking national parks and I ended up seeing 25 national parks, 13 national monuments, 11 nature and recreation, preserves… nationally owned areas. I drove through 34 national forests and I also visited 13 state parks in that five months. So I just went out and kind of did a nice big loop starting in the Midwest and then down to the south, up to the north when the summer got warmer and then out to the west coast and down the west coast and then back home.
Kit: 03:53 Wow. So you started in May and then when did you finally decided, in fact tell also, I remember what you said when you decided it was time to come home. Can you say how long you were out and then what made you say, “Okay, I'm done? “
Lorna: 04:05 So I was out for about five months and I was coming down through California and I got down to Joshua Tree (national park) and I kind of stopped one day and said, “Oh, I should probably take a picture of this.” And I went to another place and I was like, “Oh, I should probably take a picture of that too.” And I realized that I really wasn't enjoying the park experience anymore because I was so saturated… because I'd been to so many different places in such a short amount of time. And it was that point in time. I'm like, if I'm not wowed when I walk into a beautiful place, I'm just saturated and I need to go home and rest my brain, recover a little bit. And that's why I decided, “Okay, it's time to go home and just recoup a little bit and see how things go and maybe go out again later.” Which I did.
Kit: 04:58 Right. So are you back out again or tell me once you got back home and then you took a break and then you went back on the road again. Are you still on the road now or are you back home again?
Lorna: 05:11 I came home, spent the holidays with my family, working and helping out with my parents and then in February I went on the road again. I went down south and I went through New Mexico, spent a bunch of time in Texas, I visited some friends there in Texas. Went over to Louisiana up through Arkansas to Kentucky. I went to another four national parks and a couple other state parks and then I went overseas with one of my friends. We went to Ireland and into London for for half a weekend. That kind of culminated the big part of my being back out on the road trip and hopefully I'm hoping to get some breaks this summer and do some smaller loops in the midwest and see some more of the nationals in the Midwest. So I'm hoping to knock off another three or four national parks this summer
Kit: 06:02 And hopefully you'll someday come to the southeast so I can share my neck of the woods.
Lorna: 06:07 Hopefully. Hopefully I've got a long list of people who were like, “When are you coming to visit me?”
Kit: 06:14 So I'd love to have you. So you've seen probably more national parks than most people I've ever met outside of my good friend Mickey who's about seen them all anyway. So you have quite a broad exposure of what's available out there. And the one we're talking about today is Olympic National Park. How does that rate compared to the other parks that you saw?
Lorna: 06:34 I really enjoyed Olympic National Park a lot because there was so much variety. It is a big, big area, but there's so much variety. I came in on the South East corner of the park and stayed in the Staircase area and I climbed Mount Eleanor and I had a beautiful day and I went up and you could look out over all the mountain ranges and it was beautiful. There are some really spectacular state parks out there by the beaches. I stayed at Port Angeles at Salt Creek County Park and then I also stayed at Dungeness recreation area. And I did, it was like an 11 mile hike on out onto the spit and you'd walk out to this lighthouse at low tide and then you come back and that was a really neat experience, but there's just so much around. If you want mountains, you go into the mountains. If you want to go do tide pooling and see the ocean, all of that stuff is right there and it's just. I didn't think I was going to spend very long there and I ended up spending 12 days in the area and it was not long enough.
Kit: 07:37 How do you know when the tides are? Because you had the tidal pools and so you need to know that right? To go out to certain places.
Lorna: 07:44 Yeah, so if you go to anywhere in the national park, you can ask for a tide chart and I said, I don't know how to read the tide chart. You know, I'm from the Midwest and they sat down with me and they taught me how to read a tide chart and then the state parks, they all had pamphlets that you could pick up that would show that month's worth of tide charts and you know, I figured out, I was like, okay, if I want to hike out to this lighthouse, I need to get up at 5:00 in the morning and start hiking by 5:30 so I can get out there and then before the tide starts coming back in, I can be on my way back, but they teach you that stuff. I use the visitor centers a lot and they were really helpful. If you get a good person and a visitor center and your patient and ask questions, you can really find out a lot of information
Kit: 08:31 and so you had the tidal areas, you have the alpine areas and they also have a temperate rain forest too. Did you go in there at all?
Lorna: 08:38 Yes, I did. And the rain forest area was very nice. It's got a lot of really nice displays. It's all very short hikes and more of the, I don't want to necessarily call it touristy, but it was more of the if you can't walk very far and needed short hike, that was a really great place to go. There was a nice center there and then from there, the only other trails, we're back country, so if you're looking for a four mile hike or a three mile hike, you're gonna have to walk into the back country on that one trail and then come back out. There wasn't any loops to do like there was in an area called Sol Duc and if you're a local and I'm pronouncing the names of these places wrong, I'm sorry, but they had some really nice loop trails where you could go out and do a six mile loop and it was fairly flat and there's a nice waterfall out there. So. But yeah, they see some really nice big trees.
Kit: 09:30 And when did you go? What month were you there?
Lorna: 09:32 I went out right at the end of the July and that first like week and a half of August.
Kit: 09:39 Okay. So then if in the mountainous areas, I guess you would want to do that in spring through fall I would assume because… how high up does it get?
Lorna: 09:49 I went up to Mount Eleanor, which is probably between 6,000-6,500 feet. And I had a good day that day and then if there's plenty of hikes out to do out on Hurricane Ridge two. And when I, when I was there at the beginning of August, it was just at the end of the peak flower season. So there was still some flowers blooming but not a ton. So if I think I would have been there in mid July, I think I would've seen a lot more of the flowers.
Kit: 10:21 Like what we saw in Glacier?
Lorna: 10:23 Yeah. Well we saw in Glacier was incredible. Yeah. So I think I was on the late side of the flower blooms up in the mountains, but it was still very pretty.
Kit: 10:32 And then was it at that time of year, was it overly hot in the rain forest or what did the trees keep it cool. So it was still comfortable?
Lorna: 10:40 No, it was still very comfortable, the temperature is once you got up in the Alpine areas was really, really very, very comfortable and I was kind of surprised that I'd never camped along the ocean or long beaches before and I was surprised that, you know, I would be in town for dinner and then I would drive out to the camp site that would be out along the water and between in a six mile drive the temperature would drop 10 to 15 degrees and the beaches were actually colder to hike at. They were cold and wet because it's the northwest and after a couple of days of having your equipment being all wet, you're kind of like, “Okay, let me go up to the mountains to dry out,” which kind of seems like the opposite. So that was a new thing and some new lessons for me there that it was like, okay, I'm tired of being cold, let me go up into the mountains. So I. That was pretty funny. Yeah, that's funny. Yeah. That is counterintuitive cold and misty and rainy along the beaches out there, but it's beautiful
Kit: 11:40 Now my beach areas in the summertime, we get a lot of mosquitoes at night. Was that an issue at all?
Lorna: 11:45 No, no, I didn't have any.
Kit: 11:48 Okay. So that coolness is keeping the mosquitoes down, too. And that's nice. Up in the mountain areas, do you have any bear issues and do you have any bear stories to tell?
Lorna: 11:57 I did not see any bears. I know that there was some there, but whenever I talked to a park ranger and I said, “H”ow careful do I need to be? Have you had any sightings this year? Every park range that I talked to said, “No, we haven't had any sightings.” Okay.
Kit: 12:10 Okay. Is that for the black bear, the grizzly bear or both?
Lorna: 12:13 I'm pretty sure those were black bears. I think they were the smaller black bears, if I remember correctly, but I might be wrong on that. But no, no bear issues. And I talked to a couple different people and, I took in a group of six people who were doing back country one night. They couldn't find a camp spot, so I let them camp in with me and I don't think they even had bear spray with them, I don't think. Bears just aren't a problem at Olympic. Like they are in places like Glacier and the Tetons.
Kit: 12:41 Well that's good to know. And I do have for those listening, I do have some “How to deal with bear safety” on the Glacier National Park episode, which I believe that was episode two. I'll put that in the show notes. Well, how did you get into all this adventure travel? I mean it's, it's unusual for a single woman just to go out and just go camping and hiking all over by herself. What gave you the courage to start doing that?
Lorna: 13:02 So growing up, I had an aunt that worked out in Grand Teton national park every summer and so growing up a lot of our vacations were going out and seeing her out in the Tetons and venturing out into those mountains. And to me, my home away from home is the Grand Teton national park. And I had asked and planned and wanted to go do some of these big national parks and I just couldn't find anybody to travel with and I couldn't find people who had the time and I went up to Boundary Waters on a canoe trip and the people I was traveling with, we had planned that nine day trip and they wanted to pull out after six days and I was like, “I'm not ready to go home.” And that was kinda my first clue of how long could I stay out camping and doing this stuff before I got homesick. And it turns out it's five months.
Kit: 14:03 I'm curious to know myself on that, what my outside boundary is on that. The furthest, longest I've gone is six and a half weeks and I could have still stayed out more for sure.
Lorna: 14:13 So yeah. And you know, it, you know, when you're traveling, when you hit. Like I said, when I got to Joshua tree and I was like, I knew it was beautiful, but I wasn't overwhelmed with its beauty anymore. I was like, okay, I've seen so much and I've done so much, my brain is just saturated that I need to take the break so that I can actually appreciate these parks for what they truly are. Each individual portion of the park that makes it beautiful and unique.
Kit: 14:38 Yeah, I've seen pictures of Joshua Tree – spectacular! So if you start getting jaded, that is a good time to go home.
Lorna: 14:46 Yeah, and that's what I was like, if I'm not wowed from every moment, I just need to take a step back, take a break and and that's what I did. So I came home, spent time with my family, had some good time with my family over the holidays and then I went back out again and it gave me a better appreciation then for that southern loop that I did here this spring to see some different national parks and then I was like, “Wow, this is amazing! Wow, this is beautiful!” And I was like, okay, I'm glad I took the break and it kind of cleared my head and like started started from square one again and see to see everything with a new perspectives.
Kit: 15:18 Let's go back to Olympic. What. Is there anything that you wish you'd known outside of positioning of where to put your tent mountains versus to see what kind of advice would you give people that are considered going there?
Lorna: 15:30 The popular places like Hurricane Ridge, I wish I would have been on the ball a little bit more because those big places that everybody visits, I couldn't find a camping spot. So when you're traveling and going to these national parks during their peak seasons, if you're not in there looking for a campsite by 10:00 in the morning in the more popular areas, you're not going to find a camp site. And that was a pretty harsh thing that. You know, I had pulled out of a county park. I'd kind of been sitting in for a couple of days and I was like, “Oh, I'll just go up there and I'll get a campsite tonight.” And I got up there and I was like, “Oh, it's noon and there's no campsites left. And then it's like, well where am I going to stay tonight?” And that can be kind of a tough thing to deal with is figuring out when you're doing your. I did everything on the fly. I didn't pre make any reservations for any campsites. I literally just drove someplace and hope to find someplace and I just, you learned that lesson of like, if I don't go early I'm not going to get a campsite.
Kit: 16:38 Are you able to book in advance?
Lorna: 16:41 You can, yeah. There's many of these campsites that you can book in advance. But I chose to do my trip very fly by the seat of my pants. Like if I get to someplace and I really like it and I want to spend an extra day. I don't want to feel forced to move onto a different area because I've got a reservation somewhere.
Kit: 16:58 Yeah, I agree with you there. And now when I'm not doing a group trip. I'll book my first three nights so I can get my bearings and after that then I'll do whatever I want.
Lorna: 17:07 Yeah, and I'm the opposite. I'm like, I'm just going to show up and see what I find and if that campsite is full. I'm going to look for another campsite. There was a couple of times that I ended up driving a little more than I wanted to in a day, but because Olympic National Park is up on this peninsula and there's the mountain areas and there's the beach areas and then there's some really beautiful also state and county parks you can find camping. It might not be in the park. It'll be adjacent to the park, but it'll work out.
Kit: 17:39 Is there advantages to actually staying in the park or versus staying outside of the park like we did at Glacier? Would you have preferred being in the park?
Lorna: 17:50 You know, I did both and because it was all still kind of the same area to me, it didn't matter that I was in the park or out of the park,
Lorna: 17:59 I mean I might've driven an extra eight to 10 miles to get back up to Hurricane Ridge from, you know, the local camp grounds. But to me it was not a big deal because I was out driving for the whole summer anyway. So to me to drive an extra 10 miles for a campsite was not a big deal.
Kit: 18:17 What kind of wildlife did you see in Olympic?
Lorna: 18:20 I didn't see too much. It's not a real large mammal heavy kind of park, like the Tetons Grand Tetons and like what Glacier is, you know, I didn't see moose or bison or bear. It's mostly just smaller wilderness. I saw a lot of birds and lot of smaller mammals, but nothing real big. It's not like the epic, like, “Oh, there's a whole herd of Bison,” you know, it's nothing like that. So it's more the vegetation and just the, the landscape itself. And it was beautiful. It was really beautiful.
Kit: 18:57 The hiking, you said it varied from people that are either handicapped or hikers all the way up to they had some rugged hikes as well.
Lorna: 19:05 Yeah. Yeah, so I did a blend of some of these areas, so it seemed like almost every area that I went to there was small nice hikes that were very short and then bigger longer hikes where you could go up into the mountain range and see some of that stuff. Hurricane Ridge was set up really nice and there was another… there was a little area over there called Hurricane Hill that it was steep ascent, but it was short, so yeah, there's everywhere you went and it was plenty of waterfalls. “Oh, there's a waterfall a half a mile off the trail,” and there is another one where it was like, “Oh, here's another waterfall that's only two miles from the campsite.” So it was a nice blend of hikes.
Kit: 19:50 That's nice. That's nice. So it's accessible. You don't have to carry a lot if you can treat your water.
Lorna: 20:05 Yes, definitely. That's nice. There was a lot of water. Did they have any lodges at the park or is it basic camping? I think up at Soda you could stay at the resort. There was a hot spring up there and they had a resort in the hot springs up there. That was the only place I really picked up on there being like a resort type area. Everything else seemed to be mostly camping.
Kit: 20:23 And you were there in the heat of the summer vacation time. Was it like Glacier was? It was pretty crowded when we met. I guess we met you at the end of the month. Once you get away from like the like the Hurricane Ridge crowd where you pretty much on your own out there. Was it still crowd on some of those trails.
Lorna: 20:40 Once you got away from Hurricane Ridge, it was really… There was not a ton of people. It was actually very nice. But it was enough people to be friendly with and of course, like the shorter hikes like to the waterfalls and stuff, you know there was plenty of people around but it wasn't overly crowded. And then when you went on your longer hikes then as soon as you got two miles away from your car, everybody got really friendly because we are all out there in the back country doing the same thing. So like I hiked up to the summit of Mount Eleanor and it was a very small group that we all kind of hopscotched, you know, back and forth, and we all became friends by the time we were on top of the mountain, took pictures for each other and we kind of all watched out for each other. But yeah, not overly crowded, I didn't feel like. Except for Hurricane Ridge. There was a lot of people up at Hurricane Ridge.
Kit: 21:35 And I think that's true too. I think it's interesting what you're saying when, when there's less of you, it makes it easier to first of all to communicate and actually get to know the people and also you bond really quickly for, for whatever reason. And do you keep up with any of those people? Like we keep up?
Lorna: 21:50 No, I didn't do that and I kind of wish I would have been a little… That was one of the things like once I got back here and started settling in, I'm like, “Oh, why didn't I stop and say, you know” — that there was an older couple that hiked up to Mount Eleanor with me and we spent a lot of time together talking and I was like, “Why didn't I take a picture with those two and get their information?” And I should have stayed in contact more with the people that I met along the way. And I, I just chalked it up to “this is this moment, this is this experience and this is this person and this experience with me.” And, and I was like, I just let that moment be that moment and I didn't carry it over to my reality of coming back and being in the real world of not traveling every day.
Kit: 22:35 There's one woman that I met at Glacier that we spent probably three hours together, had lunch together. She was with her grandson. And I regret that too. We should have because we really hit it off and I regret that because I would like to have kept up with her and like I said, you don't think about it sometimes, but I have a handful for sure of people that I've met just for a hike, just walking on a day that I still keep up with you being one of them. Although we'd hung out for a couple days.
Lorna: 23:00 Yeah, yeah. There was a gal that I met down in Oregon and we were in some way back little camping spot and I was paying my money at the front and she pulled in and she was by herself and after spending so much time with you and Venti, she pulled in and I said, “Are you, are you camping by yourself?” And she said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, come back over and camp by me and let's hang out.” And she was doing about the same thing I was doing where it was like, I'm just going to go out. And I, she was traveling in a larger vehicle and she was sleeping inside of it. I think it was a Suburban. But then we compared notes and I was going south and she was going north. So then I gave her all of my information of like, well, here's all the parks and campgrounds that are north of you that you're going to be driving through. That's one person I wish I would have kept in contact with because I would have liked to see where her adventure took her and how long she was out.
Kit: 23:53 Did you meet many people doing what you were doing?
Lorna: 23:56 You know, I didn't meet a lot of people at first I was. One of the really good things that's got me over was I'm kind of an introvert with people I don't know. And I really, it forced me to learn, like if you don't talk to a stranger, you're not going to know what are the best hikes, what's the best place to go. And I eventually got comfortable enough that it was like, “Hey, where are you hiking today? And what other hikes have you done?” And I got a lot better at being able to speak to strangers and it was something I've never had that skillset of. So that helped me grow personally because it was like, if I don't talk to somebody, I'm going to miss the best stuff that's here.
Kit: 24:36 Right. And in all those encounters, was anybody ever mean to you?
Lorna: 24:40 Um, no I don't. I don't think I ever had a bad experience with anybody. No. No. I'm like, I'm trying to think back through my whole summer and I don't know.
Kit: 24:57 I know we all have these fears and I can't think of one time when I put myself out there that anybody was anything but gracious.
Lorna: 25:04 Yeah. Well it's when you get into the crowded areas and you get to the people when you're in the crowded areas, people do get short, get frustrated because there's so many people. And I probably was not the nicest person a few times because I was annoyed with the people around me doing things. But like I said, as soon as you got into the back country, you got two miles away from wherever the trail had was. It's a totally different attitude of people.
Kit: 25:31 Tell us some of your favorite memories and stories.
Lorna: 25:34 Oh, my favorite memory. Probably the best memory I have is summiting Mount Eleanor and glacied for the first time, which I slid down the snow.
Kit: 25:47 What does that mean?
Lorna: 26:12 It's the new word I learned, so there was still snow up on the mountain and there was an area where the snow was still covering the trail, but it was kind of a steep area so when you hike up there you can actually go out onto the snowfield and slide down the snow as part of the trail and it's called “glacie” and I did that coming down off of Mount Eleanor and that was a lot of fun. And knowing that I had people that were keeping an eye on me and making sure I didn't fall off the mountain when I got down to the bottom and the snow. That was a highlight was being able to slide down the little snow glacier area.
Lorna: 26:34 I really enjoyed going out to the beaches and doing the tide pooling out in the block area, out on the beaches. It, it just, it was beautiful and the tide pooling, I've never done tide pooling before and the tide pooling was really, really cool.
Kit: 26:50 Describe tide pooling.
Lorna: 26:52 So when the tide goes out, all those little creatures get stranded above where the water line was and so you can go out there and you find starfish and you find anemones and you find all kinds of little creatures and you know, pick up some shells. “Wnd it's just, it's a whole, you know, being from the Midwest, it's a whole different ecosystem. So it's neat to go out there and be like, what is that thing?” And doing the research and learning the different names of all the little sea creatures that you see out there. It was, it was neat.
Kit: 27:31 So they're the ones that got stranded by the tides basically?
Lorna: 27:31 Yes.
Kit: 27:31 And what would happen if you didn't time your your hike out there properly? Do you have to just stay there to the next low tide?
Lorna: 27:39 So yeah, there's areas that are called headwalls and you need to learn like if you start hiking along the beach and you walk past a head wall, where the topography comes out into the ocean and you can get around that head wall at low tide, you need to remember if the tide comes in, you might not be able to walk in front of that area again. So it was, it was interesting to talk to two different people. I talked to a guy who was training to do a 24 mile beach hike and he was like, “Well, you know, you've got to watch headwalls.” And I said, “Okay, teach me about that stuff.” And so he taught me how you've got to pay attention to your tide charts and know like, which head walls you can get past at high tide and which ones you can't because you strand yourself.
Lorna: 28:26 And there were people getting rescued out there because they had stranded themselves from a headwall that they would walk down the beach and then the tide would come in and they couldn't get back. So I know there was at least one rescue out there while I was out there. So you learn, you learn all kinds of new wonderful things and like I'd never heard of the rain shadow of a mountain. I had somebody teach me about, “Oh well this area's in the rain shadow.” and I'm like, “I don't know what rain shadow means. I have never heard of that either. Please explain.” So the rain shadow is, there's a little town that has a lot of lavender growers' in it and it's in the rain shadow of the mountains, so they get very little rain and apparently that's what it's in the shadow of where the rain comes through. I didn't totally understand everything. I'm probably butchering that.
Kit: 29:24 Oh, probably because the mountain, sometimes mountains can create their own weather. So like down in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Dominican Republic gets the rain and Haiti doesn't get so much rain. So I think that it can block it somehow.
Lorna: 29:36 Yeah. So it blocks it a little bit. Yeah. So there beautiful lavender up there.
Kit: 29:42 Interesting. Lavender doesn't like a lot of water, so they would like it on the dry side.
Lorna: 29:48 Yeah. So, so you learned about that. I learned a lot of different terminology and things to watch out for. I learned about the tides. I learned about headwalls. I learned about rain shadow. It was neat, it was neat and you don't find out that information unless you're talking to locals.
Kit: 30:04 And did you get to meet a lot of the locals and your travels or other travelers?
Lorna: 30:09 Mainly, I met a lot of locals and that's really kind of where I started coming out of my shell because I stayed up at one of the county parks up there and I pulled in and I have Iowa plates on my car and I'll bet you on the first day I had four different people walk up to me and say, “Oh, are you from Iowa?” I said, “Yeah”. And so many people had a connection with family back in Iowa. And I ended up spending a lot of time with a couple that the husband had grown up in Iowa and then. So it was kind of the joke was like, “Oh, this is like little Iowa because half the people I'm talking to have Iowa ties,” So everybody was so nice and very accepting. They're like, “Well, just come over and have a beer with me or come over and have dinner with me. You're alright, you're camping by yourself? Come eat with us.” And they were just really, really friendly.
Kit: 31:05 Very nice. Were you ever lonely?
Lorna: 31:07 Um, no. I, I like being alone so I never really got to any point where I was lonely. Once I got down into southern California and I realized that I wasn't being wowed anymore, then I was like, “Yeah, I think I'm ready to see my family.” But I wasn't lonely. You know what I mean? So I never, I never really had problems with loneliness. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself.
Kit: 31:38 Any other advice you'd give people about Olympic?
Lorna: 31:41 Give yourself probably… If you really want to see a nice portion and not be rushed through Olympic, give yourself 10 days to two weeks and try and see as much as you can. Don't skip the beaches,
Kit [31:57] If you could rank rank the four ecosystems there: You've got the tidal pools and the beach area, the rain forest, the Alpine and the subalpine. If you had to rank them, if people don't have two weeks, how would you rank those yourself as: Do this first, for sure?
Lorna: 32:13 So for me, Hurricane Ridge and seeing all the peaks was number one. Number two was the beaches and that stuff because the beaches are all part of the national park too. And then I would say seeing the rainforest stuff, it was great to see the really big trees, but then by the time I got down to Sequoia and those other areas, I was like, “Well these are big trees.” So if you've never seen big trees when you go see them at Olympic, it's like, “Wow, these are huge!” But then because I ended up seeing larger ones later down the trip, I look back at these and I'm like, well they were big, but they weren't like sequoia big. So those are probably my top three. Make sure you go to Hurricane Ridge, go see the beaches and if you've never seen big trees before, definitely go out to the rain forest area.
Kit: 33:07 Alright, interesting. And if you had to narrow down to your top three favorite national parks or state parks or places that you've been on your journey, pick the top three.
Lorna: 33:18 That's very easy. The Grand Tetons are always going to be my number one. I never get tired of them. The Grand Tetons are always be number one for me. I really liked Glacier a lot. That would be my number two and then Olympic would be my number three.
Kit: 33:33 Wow. Very nice. So we're going to have to get you back on to tell us about the Grand Tetons and I've already covered Glacier in a previous episode and like I said, I'll make reference to that in the show notes and yeah, definitely would love to have you back on the Grand Tetons. So what's next?
Lorna: 33:47 Right now I'm hoping to put together some shorter trips to go grab some more national parks the summer hopefully, you know, just like longer weekend trips. Just go up, spend two or three days in the midwest national parks and then come back home, make some money and then go out again.
Kit: 34:05 And Are you still able to do some work on this just on your computer as you're traveling?
Lorna: 34:10 Yup. Yup. So I'm still working remotely part time so I still have money coming in and yeah. So I have the freedom to be able to travel again and that's what I keep telling myself is don't get stuck in the mud. Just do this while I can because some day I'm going to have to get back into a nine to five job and restock the coffers.
Kit: 34:32 Right. I understand that well. And you're also quite a good photographer. If people would like to follow you and your adventures, are you on Instagram or any place that they could find you?
Lorna: 34:41 You know, I didn't start on Instagram until after this trip. So yeah, the only places that I have pictures are… I put a bunch I and I put a bunch out on facebook but then like this last trip I didn't put as many out on Facebook so I actually haven't been putting pictures anywhere but on my hard drive lately because I take so many. I took over 10,000 pictures last summer.
Kit: 35:07 Hey, you got some good ones. I remember seeing that. So is there anything else that you'd like to tell the audience for wrap this up?
Lorna: 35:12 My best advice is go out there and see this stuff because the longer you wait, the less chance that these parks are going to be as big as, as beautiful as they were. Go out there and do it.
Kit: 35:29 Oh, good advice. And we sure appreciate you coming on and telling us about your overall adventures as well as Olympic National Park. I appreciate it, Lorna.
Lorna: 35:39 Yup. Thank you.
Kit: 35:43 Thanks for a fascinating interview and I told you she gave us the feel for the park itself, but I want to give you some of the details about the park, about some of the things that you'll see that we didn't quite get into in the interview. For example, we talked about wildlife. She didn't see a whole lot herself, but you're likely to. If you're there long enough to see black bears sometimes in the lower valleys in the rainforest you'll see elk. Off the coast in the spring and the fall, during the migration season, you might see gray whales. During the summertime, you'll see some marmots. And their salmon: they have all five species in the rivers . And if you get up high, you might see some mountain goats.
Kit: 36:24 It's a good idea to check with the Visitor's Center to see what things you should be on the lookout for and also just to stop in any way just to find… get the whole scoop on a place. They are not only just a great resource for getting ideas of what to do once you get to the park, but they can also give you some cautionary things about if there's any bear activity and what you should do if you should come across a bear. I also encourage you in regards to bear safety, to go to the website activetraveladventures.com on the Glacier National Park episode, the activetraveladventures.com/Glacier, and look for the bear safety. A link that I put in there that'll tell you what to do should you encounter a bear that acts a little funky or aggressively on the trail.
Kit: 37:05 In addition to that kind of wildlife, we're also going to see a bunch of birds. You'll see bald eagles, northern pygmy owls, black oyster catchers, and some grouse. There's about 300 species in the park itself, and the park is enormous… ginormous. It's almost a million acres of incredibly diverse ecosystems. You've got lots of precipitation and also lots of elevation change, so you actually go through three ecosystems. You have the coastal region, then you had the temperate rain forest and then as you get up higher in the sub Alpine region, and I thought it was interesting how Lorna said it was actually dryer if you get up in the mountains away from the lower coastal regions where you get all that precipitation, so that's something interesting and not something I would have thought of. I thought was also cool too, every time I've thought about Olympic until I talked to Lorna, I always saw the photos of the massive trees and the dark mossy green and that was what always appealed to me about this park and yet that was number three on her list of what to see in that order.
Kit: 38:03 So I'm really excited to go out there and see it myself and get my own take on what order would I put those three in. I did a little bit of research and there are several lodges that you can stay in if you choose not to camp and don't forget. If you either click on the link on the website for today's episode, which is /Olympic or /26 for episode 26 for activetraveladventures.com/Olympic or /26. I'll also have a free travel planner that you can download that gives you active links that you can use to help plan your own trip and that also, if you've already subscribed to the monthly newsletter, that'll come automatically without any further effort on your part. That'll tell you that Ruby beach is the best place to go tide pooling or to make sure you check out the tree of life.
Kit: 38:49 And as far as getting into Olympic National Park, it's tucked away in the far northwest corner of Washington state. It's a ferry ride from Victoria, British Columbia to Port Angeles, so it's kind of near Vancouver. The area has an interesting history as well. In the mid 18 hundreds free land was given to the homesteaders, but the land was too rugged for them to develop, so a lot of them just took off. In 1897, president Grover Cleveland designated the land as a forest reserve, which protected the trees, but it took President Roosevelt to make it a national monument, which protected the elk: do you remember? He was a big hunter and they were being hunted to extinction . And 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt made it into a national park. It took all the way until 1982 for UNESCO to make it a world heritage site.
Kit: 39:40 But the homesteaders and the native communities weren't the first ones there. They still find remnants of mastodon. And the weather because of the different changes in the altitude and the coast, you've got to expect it to change throughout the day, so this is something that you want to bring all your clothes and be prepared for change throughout the day. And in the summer. It's going to be generally in the sixties, foggy and dry, and that's Fahrenheit and the fall will be windy and rainy nights dropped down to the thirties in the winter. That's when the winter storms come in. At the lower elevations, you're going to have the wet season and in the high, that's the time for the winter sports. Great time to go skiing up there in the spring. It gets wet, especially at the high elevations, but that's great for the rainforest and generally speaking, because you're on the coast, you're always going to get a steady breeze and remember a kinda gets stormy.
Kit: 40:25 Always remember, if you do go to the beaches to take your tide charts because that's super important. You don't want to get stuck behind one of those bulkheads that happened to me on a big rock thing once when I was in southern Cal and that's a little bit scary because you want to make sure you can still pass along the beach. So that's an important thing. Check with the rangers and get the local tide chart. People who don't live near the ocean don't necessarily respect the differences that the tide changes can make. Where I live on the coast of North Carolina, if I'm taking a walk along the beach, and the tides coming in. I am constantly pulling up beach chairs and towels and toys and all that where the people that rent the house for the week went up for lunch and, when they come back down, they think somebody stole another stuff.
Kit: 41:03 Yes, the ocean stole it because the tide came in and pulled it out to sea. So, pay attention to those tide charts as it's super important. Olympic National Park has always been really high up on my national park wishlist. It's just almost as far away as you can possibly get in the continental US for me to get there, but I will get there within the next 10 years and particularly after talking to Lorna and hearing how this was in her top three out of all the amazing places that she's been to. I'm definitely going to get my butt up there
Kit: 41:34 Now for the surprise I promised you. I went to Philadelphia for the Podcast Movement. This is a conference to help podcasters and hopefully help me to do a better job at producing and putting on this podcast for you. And a couple of people said, “Kit, you ought to write a book about adventure travel. You know, you're, you're doing all this research on all these cool places…you're talking to all these cool people.
Kit: 41:55 And at first, I thought, “Nah!” And then I was like, “Why not? Why can't I write a book?” I know how to research, I know how to write and I AM meeting people like you folks. So I'm going to do it. I would like to put together a book that tells people how to plan a trip, what to prepare, how to train for trip, and also cover lots of amazing places on this planet that you can go and, and the kinds of experiences that you can have. But I don't think the book would be great if it's just me. What I would like to ask you to do is if you would please email or voice mail me your stories of your favorite adventures and your favorite memories of your favorite stories, about some trips that you've taken, the ones that make you laugh and the ones that make you cry. And the ones that make you smile every time you look back on your trip.
Kit: 42:39 Please send me your stories. If you want to send it via email, it's kit at active travel adventures dot com is my email that's kit[at)activetraveladventures.com. Or just go to the website and hit the “Contact us” button. Or leave me a voice mail at two, five, two, five, one five, zero, one six, six. I'd love to hear your stories and let me know also if I'm allowed to share those on the podcast as well. So please share your stories and your tips. I really look forward to hearing them. Thanks!
Kit: 43:09 I am very excited about this project and don't know how long it's gonna take me to do it, but I promise everybody that contributes something, whether it makes it to the book or not, I will send you a free ebook copy of it just for helping and participating. So I thank you very much and I'm excited about the project. I'm excited about Olympic National Park and I'm excited to be back in two weeks with another great adventure. And until next time, this is Kit Parks and Adventure On!
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