Exploring the Olympic Peninsula
Day 1: Arrival day! Mike and I (Phoebe) arrived at the Sea-Tac Airport two hours before our first student was to arrive. We were so exited to finally meet our students, and ready to get this awesome trip started. Thankfully there were no delays and all our students arrived safe and sound. After eating a lunch of PB&J sandwiches, nectarines, and pretzels, we moved to a secluded area of the airport to do our gear check. Everyone emptied their packs and we went through the checklist item by item. We packed up, left the airport, and then headed to a nearby REI to pick up some small ties still needed by a few students. Then we were ready to drive to our first campsite, Sequim Bay. Part of the journey included a ferry ride, and while on the ferry we all got out of the van and marveled at the awesome view of Seattle from the passenger deck. Nathan enthusiastically took many pictures, both on the drive and on the ferry. After an hour of driving we arrived at our campsite where Mike did a tent demo and Phoebe set up a no-cook dinner of subs and andwiches. After dinner circle and a quote, we sat down for our first family dinner. At dinner we learned that Brad can speak Russian and Celia can speak sign language; we have a very multi-lingual and talented group! After dinner we cleaned dishes with water that Philip very kindly volunteered to get for the group. Then we all relaxed with some hot cocoa and Oreos while we had our first evening circle of the trip. We played a name game and then each of us went around and shares our personal goals for the trip. We were so impressed with our groups overall positive attitude and willingness to try new things. Brad courageously volunteered to be our first leader of the day. Although it was raining and there was a rogue slug in Philip’s and Nathan’s tent, spirits were high as we settled into our warm tents for a good night’s sleep.
Day 2: Today we awoke to a beautiful misty Washington morning. Brad, our first leader of the day, woke up before everyone else and got hot water ready for breakfast. He woke up his fellow students and we all enjoyed tarts and relaxed meal of bagels, cocoa, and cereal. We then broke down camp and drove a short distance to the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. Mike took the kids around the museum there and then to a short informational video about Olympic National Park. Nathan chatted wih a ranger about the behavior of raccoons and bears in the park, while Phoebe and a few volunteers carried our newly-acquired bear cans to the van. Then we were off to Marymere falls for a day hike. First we ate lunch on a dock by Crescent Lake. Hannah facilitated some great group pictures while on the dock. Then we hiked to the falls and sat on a near by beach to review and sign the student contract. Mike and I were both appreciative of and impressed by the group’s attention and obvious dedication to the guidelines in the contract. We took some more pictures and then heeded back to the van for a short drive to our campsite for the night. Once there, each pair of tent partners raced to see who could set up their tent the fastest. Lucia and Hannah win the race, although it was quite close! Then it was time to prep for our first backpacking trip! First it was food-Danielle really took charge of dividing up group food items for our backcountry dinners and we were impressed with her organizational skills. Then we went through a checklist of group gear and clothing. Everyone in the group did a great job of staying focused and organized. The cook crew of the night, Phil, Danielle, and Peter cooked a tasty meal of spaghetti, salad, and bread & butter. Then we sat down and enjoyed dinner. During evening circle we drank some cocoa, shared our high points/low points of the day and then did a “trust circle” in which we stood in a circle, held onto para-cord and leaned back to signify how important the group as a whole is. Peter volunteered to be leader of the day even though it meant he had to wake up early. Then it was time to brush and wash and head to bed!
Day 3: Today out leader of the day, Peter, awoke bright and early to boil water for breakfast and then woke everyone up. Even though we had to wake up pretty early, everyone was efficient and focused and we got out of camp ahead of schedule. We drove to our trail head at Rialto Beach and were amazed by the awesome view of the ocean. At the trailhead, we learned how to pack out backpacks and double checked to make sure we had everything we needed for the backcountry. While Phoebe shuttled the van to our ending trailhead, Mike and the rest of the group started hiking along the coast, with the ocean to their left and the rainforest to their right. A few hours later Phoebe caught up to the group and we all continued on! Everyone helped each other out on the slippery rocky sections and it was great to see everyone work together. We set up camp on the beach and cook crew made a tasty jambalaya. We were all pretty tired from our first day so evening circle was short and sweet. After brushing our teeth and putting away our bear canisters, we crawled into our warm tents.
Day 4: Today we woke to a damp and misty morning on the beach. The pouring rain slowed us down a bit, but everyone stayed positive and we got out of camp at a reasonable time. Lucia was a big help in the morning as our leader of the day, boiling water and motivating her fellow students. Thanks to the low tide, we were able to get around a rocky point when we arrived and continue to hike up the rocky coast. When we stopped for lunch, we realized the high tide was quickly approaching so we waited it out on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Once the tide had receded, we resumed hiking, made much easier by the lower tide. We hiked along the sandy beach and Celia shared her entire life story to entertain us. We got into camp, tired but happy, and enjoyed the incredible sunset. We feasted on Mac & Cheese and had some cocoa during evening circle. Everyone was tired from the long day and our sleeping bags were calling our names!
Day 5: Today we woke up bright and early in preparation for our longest backpacking day yet-a whopping 6.5 miles over many rocky stretches but also some easier sections of sandy beach. All of us were focused and determined as we hiked, and it paid off! While hiking, several students told their life stories- we learned that Celia is quite the activist, Peter has ice-climbed, Danielle has played soccer since she was 8, and Brad holds a ski-race record for 12 year olds on a mountain on the east coast. Towards the later half of the day, we got to explore some awesome rock formations and scramble through some tunnels, which was very neat. We saw many crabs, starfish, and sea anemones in the tide pools as we hiked through the rocks. We had to contend with a high tide again and sought the cover of the trees from a light rain that started to fall as we waited for the tide to recede. While we waited, Celia entertained us with her incredible voice and amazing memory of many show tunes. After the tide receded enough, we continued to our campsite, Sand Point. We set up camp and then ate a tasty meal of tomato basil cous-cous with pesto and chicken. Full and tired, we headed to bed!
Day 6: We awoke for the first time in 4 days to a dry morning (no rain!) and we were all thrilled about this. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up, and then hiked 3 miles to the Ozette trailhead. It was a nice, easy hike along boardwalks through a lush forest- different from the rocky beaches we were used to! Once back at the van, we exploded our packs and organized all if our group gear, and got ready for showers and laundry. Then we were off to town! We played our theme song, “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root several times in celebration. We ate lunch while driving and many students took some much-needed naps. Once in the great town of Port Angeles, our first stop was at the YMCA, where we showered. Everyone was thrilled to wash the sand and mud off. We then did laundry, planned our next 5 days of meals, grocery shopped, returned our bear canisters, and ended our busy day by eating delicious pizza from a place in Sequim. We ate pizza along with salad back at our campsite and then went to bed, clean and happy.
Day 7: We are all excited to white water raft on the Hoh River today! Cook crew has planned a dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup, which will be great after a day of rafting. Tomorrow we will be preparing for our next backcountry section, sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands. Stay posted for our next update in a few days!