Port Angeles is a small town on the north tip of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s the closest town to the main entrance of Olympic National Park, Heart of the Hills. It also happens to be featured a few times in the Twilight books as the place that the Forks kids go when they want real civilization. (It doesn’t make sense, btw. There are other towns and cities that would be an easier trip.) The town (along with Forks) is at least in favor of taking Twihards’ tourist dollars, including but not limited to the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their first date.
When I arrived in Port Angeles, I checked into my hotel and walked a block up to go to a restaurant for dinner. As it was *not* the first date restaurant, I wasn’t expecting any Twilightery, but I ended up sitting at the bar with a group of three women (all older than me) who were in town as part of a Twi-tour. So, I guess it’s unavoidable. I could see cruise ships headed for Alaska in the straight north of Port Angeles while I was eating, though, so that was cool.
But, my main reason for Port Angeles as the home base was going to Hurricane Ridge/Hill. After 17 miles of driving up and around the mountains, including two tunnels, I arrived at Hurricane Ridge, mainly notable for being the highest point in ONP that you can reach by car. It’s frequented by tourists for the spectacular views…
…but when I was there, not so much. 🙂 The fog actually made the drive up a bit scary, as visibility was often reduced to a few carlengths, and the road is very curvy with drop-offs on one side. I did get to see a little trickling waterfall (really, it’s a drainage gully) near a crazy-ass steep trailhead on my way up. There was snow on the ground that I and the other tourists were playing in. I did not quite realize that more snow was to come.
The scale is hard to imagine in this picture, but this is actually quite tall.
Snow! And hiking boots!
Steep and narrow trail going up, up, up (again, it’s hard to tell from the picture, but the top of that is well over my head, and I’m standing at the start):
Then, at the visitors’ center I shopped the gift shop and enjoyed the foggy views. Moreso, I enjoyed the 7-8 foot snowbanks around the area. The visitors’ center is at 5242 feet. For comparison, the top of the lift at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe is around 9900ft-ish. So, it’s high, but it’s not the highest I’ve been or anything. (Mt. Olympus, the highest peak in ONP, is 7980ft. DH pointed out that Lake Tahoe starts at 5000 feet though, whereas Port Angeles is just 32 feet above sea level. So, this is a greater ascent but not a greater height.) At the sensor that day, the snow was at 67 inches, which means that the banks were often higher (due to plowing). Lots of folks were making makeshift art on the snowbanks.
I decided to walk down the road to the Hurricane Hill trail and decide from there if I wanted to continue on the trail or head back up. This afforded me some pretty alpine scenery, and I even saw a black-tailed deer. (Black-tailed deer are unique to this region. White-tailed deer are far more common.)
This tree is flipping you off. 🙂
What a deer!
I ended up turning back once I got to the trail, as the trail was snowcovered and I wasn’t really dressed or prepared for that. Going back up the road was not fun, as the road had been downhill the whole way down and thus was uphill the whole way back. Fortunately, between the deer and scenery, I had plenty of excuses to take breaks. 🙂