Now, the boys are all grown, and none of them what to go on trips with boring Mom and Dad. However, this summer, Ed and I went on some camping trips together. It started in June, with a quick weekend trip to Olympic National Park. Still one of my favorite parks as it consists of four separate ecosystems, something for everyone, and affords us the chance to do what we want on any given visit. This time, we camped at Lake Crescent. Love this campground. We had hoped because it was a weekday, we could arrive early enough to get a site closest to the water, but was not the case. However, we did have a nice view of the lake. Fairholme Campground, is still in my top ten favorite campgrounds in Washington state; however, bring lots and lots of mosquito repellent. They were relentless all night long.
It was our anniversary weekend, so we spurged and had dinner at the Lake Crescent Lodge Restaurant. The lavender lemonade was amazing, but dinner itself was unmemorable.and really on the pricey-side. But the views from the dining room were spectacular as we watched evening turn to twilight. The following morning, we rented a two-person kayak to explore the lake from the water for a couple of hours. Even though, we spent the first hour just going around in circles as we did not seem to find our rhythm until the second hour, we had fun laughing and basking in the warm sunshine. Boats and paddleboards are available for rental just outside the Fairholme campground and at the Lake Crescent Lodge. We also spent two days hiking; we hiked a small portion of the Spruce Railroad trail and then hiked to Marymere Falls (1.8 roundtrip). Later on, we took a couple of short hikes around Hurricane Ridge. I don't care what season it is; Hurricane Ridge is worth visiting in the fall, winter, spring, and summer.
In July, we camped just for the evening in another part of the Olympic National Forest; Staircase. We live only an hour from the Staircase entrance, but this was only the second time we had seen this less popular part of the park; however, it was busy the Saturday we visited. Staircase campground is small with only 49 sites and is first come-first serve; however, outside the park is a second campground, Big Creek Campground, operated by the U.S. Forest Service. We hiked the Staircase Rapids Loop hike, a 2.5-mile round trip along the North Fork of the Skokomish River. My favorite parts about this easy hike was crossing the cable suspension bridge and being dwarfed by towering cedar trees. Maybe, I can convince Ed to bring me back in the fall when we would see fall foliage and the river flowing much faster and fuller.
In August, we make the trek to Crater Lake. I'm a little disappointed in myself for never taking the boys here. Well, actually, Michael we took camping to Crater Lake when he was three, but the other boys have never been. The lake itself was amazing beautiful. Pictures never do it justice on how truly blue the lake is. We took some amazing hikes and drove all the way around the rim. My biggest frustration was I had checked the National Park website before we had left, mostly to keep an eye on a forest fire that was burning in the area, because I wanted to see if smoke was hampering the views of the lake. The website stated that Mazama Campground was 75% reservable with 25% being first come-first serve. We left the day before and "camped" in a rest stop a few miles from the turn-off of the road leading to the park entrance. And the following morning, after breakfast, we left early for the park. After we paid the park entrance fee, we drove to Mazama Campground. One the brochure at the entrance regarding campsites, it too, stated 25% of the campsites were first come-first serve. However, when we arrived at the campground kiosk, we were told that was not the case, and after the first of July all campsites were 100% reservable. One of the pitfalls about camping, I totally dislike making reservations four or six months in advance. I'm more of a whim kind of person, the weather is beautiful, Ed has the weekend off. . . let's go. Luckily, after driving through the campground, we found a site, not marked reserved, and the attendant, let us have the site for the evening. We were hoping to stay two nights, but we decided to stay outside the park the second evening as we were not guaranteed another night, and road construction was awful, especially when we had to wait 30-45 minutes for a pilot car. Nonetheless, we had a fantastic time visiting Crater Lake and took advantage of a couple of short hikes the first day, including a ranger-lead twilight hike up to the Watchman Forest Fire Lookout. A 1.8 in and back hike with a climb of 400 feet. Totally worth the hike, and the views of the lake and the sunset were amazing. Of course, we love forest fire lookouts. The following day, we drove to Cleetwood Cove and took the hike down to the water for a two-hour boat guided tour on the lake. The tour is totally worth the money and the long strenuous and steep hike back up the 1.1 mile (700 feet climb), starting at an elevation of 6850. Took me about two hours to hike back up the trail, took my time and was in no rush, but I did it! Now, I'm really wanting to climb Mt. Elinor (Olympic National Park), although I know it will take months before I am physically fit to hike the 3-mile round trip, 1300 elevation trail, but it's most definitely on my bucket list.