Our trip began Sunday morning when eight students from across the country met at the SeaTac airport to begin their three week Puget Sound adventure. We spent the first afternoon going through gear and learning how to set up tents, after which everyone in the group helped prepare a delicious spaghetti dinner. After a long day of traveling everyone was tired so we went to bed early, but not before enjoying oreos for desert and getting to know each other a bit.
On Monday we drove west through Olympic National Park toward where our backpacking trip would begin. Along the way we stopped at the National Park visitor center and museum and learned about the diverse ecosystems that we would be exploring. We also stopped and ate lunch on a beach on the shores of Crescent Lake. After sharing our personal and group goals for the trip we lunched surrounded by mountains. Before getting back on the road we played a couple of team and trust building games that everyone seemed to enjoy. Grace started a big game of contact in the van which made the drive go by a lot faster. We arrived at the campsite in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day preparing for backpacking.
For the next four days we backpacked north along the Olympic Coast, from Rialto Beach to Ozette Lake. Our route totaled twenty miles and followed the ocean, alternating between sandy shores and sections of rocks. As our first leader of the day, Maeve encouraged everyone in our group with her bubbly personality, especially during the challenging sections of trail. Peter was usually seen toward the front of the group. He was particularly skilled at finding the easiest route through the sections of rocks. One of the coolest parts of trail, “hole in the wall”, allowed us to hike through a large natural arch. In the sheltered tide pools at the base of the rock Fred found several large starfish and sea urchins.
On day two Bryce was our leader of the day. He set a great pace for the group and consistently made sure that no one was falling behind. After a hard day of hiking we were rewarded with a great beach campsite. After a tasty dinner or pita pizzas we made a driftwood fire and played the M&M game. Grant entertained the group by sharing a lot of funny stories. From our campfire we all watched the sun set over the ocean before heading to bed. Day three was our longest day, 7.2 miles! Much of this was over rocks but by staying positive the group persevered and made it to camp in time for a quick dip in the ocean. Once at camp Lindsey took charge of hiking an extra half mile to a larger stream to get clean drinking water. The short 3 mile hike out of the backcountry on day four enabled us ample time to take showers, do laundry and go grocery shopping in Port Angeles.
Today (Saturday) we just finished a rafting trip on the Hoh River. After four days of backpacking it was great to relax on the raft and just let the water transport us downstream. Jack braved the cold (39F) water and jumped in the river twice to swim next to the raft. The rafting trip marks the transition from land to water based activities, which will make up the rest of our trip. Tomorrow we head to the San Juan Islands to prepare for our sea kayaking trip!