Walking Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Snow in June. The possibility hasn’t crossed my mind. At my comfortable Central California home, snow never falls, even in January. As we drive from Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge in Washington State’s Olympic National Park, there it appears atop the higher mountains that begin to come into view. Then, as the car climbs, more snow appears in patches near the road. And finally, snow makes changes to my plans, as I compare my mesh-topped tennies to a foot-high mound of glistening cold white along a marked trail.

We park at the Visitor’s Center, and wonder at the snow abundance. It stands in three-foot high arches over the trail we want to walk, sits on the meadow in large football-field-sized spreads, and has not yet dropped off some branches of the tallest lodgepole pines. Snow does not fall during our walk – but the white coating is all around, because it had obviously fallen all winter long, then stayed.

Mine may be a small walk, but the views are large. Snaggle-toothed mountains rim the horizon to the south and east. North and west celebrate the vista toward the Pacific Ocean and the expanse of water between Port Angeles and Victoria, BC. What a treat it all is, and I am once again amazed at the sights we can see if we just get up and go.

I cross over one of the snow spills that covers the trail. Close up, the icy mound is crystaled and gives way easily. It’s not yet warm enough to coax the snow into melting just because it’s June, but even though it holds together in a cold hillock, and even though it covers the trail, there are signs it won’t last forever. For one hint of warmth, the sun bounces off the clouds and the surroundings, a promise of warmer weather. At least I hope it to be.

But not yet will anyone see that change, and certainly not me today. The sun is muted by a cloud as I reach the next snow-covered portion of the trail. It is too deep and too wide to cross. My walk reaches the turn-around point. Going back, I take time to watch creatures on the ground, in the trees and overhead.

I especially like the Olympic Marmot. At first sight, from very far away, I think the creatures are foxes because of the red flash of their tail as they run. I pull out my binoculars and compare them to the diagrams at the visitors’ center. Definitely marmots. Deer are everywhere, and I have to remember that I should not approach them. They, of course, have not read that park regulation, and approach me regardless. Along a paved road heading back to the visitors’ center, I have to race-walk away to keep the deer from getting closer than the Park Service thinks is safe.


Wiser people than I would have studied-up ahead of time, been more travel-savvy or known to pack snow shoes. But somewhere along the way from wanting to control everything in life and now – older and more understanding of life’s serendipity – I have tamed my need to know everything. Plan better? Why? When even the mule deer cheer my arrival, unannounced, unstudied, willing to take whatever comes. My mesh-covered tennies will survive.


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29 Replies to “Walking Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park”

    1. Janis – Armed with more information now that we are home, I noticed that the Olympic Peninsula just had another ‘winter storm’ at the high elevations. It was thrilling to walk through the snow, then 20 minutes later to descend into a rain forest. Wild! Did you take any of the ferries?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, we left every fairy we saw just where we found them πŸ™‚

        Actually, no ferries for us this trip. We did a whole lot of driving, cruise to Alaska, and visiting friends and family, though. I heard that the ferries were impossible in the summer… huge lines.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh I do love your writing. I was right there with you. What’s unsafe about mule deers? There is perhaps nothing that pleases me more than seeing wildlife in the wild. I’m always moved by it. What a sweet walk you had, snow and all.


    1. Alison – thank you so much for your kind remarks πŸ™‚ The feeling is quite mutual!
      Fun story about those mule deers – I was walking with my large dog quite awhile ago when I heard the most terrorizing animal scream. Out from the trees lurched a mama mule deer, screaming and wallooping her paws (hooves?) at my doggie. We all escaped without a mark, but now I don’t have to read the forest service’s warnings about mule deers – I stay a good distance, even when they are young and sweet-looking!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for letting me walk with you. Lovely! We see snow on a regular basis in the Winter, of course, but I never tire of the beauty. I cannot understand why so many retirees go South and miss it all! But there is something special about finding it as you climb higher in the mountains in the Summer. We have had that experience in the Canadian Rockies. Great post!


    1. Hugh – Lovely to have you along. I am so glad you enjoy your snow. You must have heard of the absolute incapacity of Californians to understand anything about snow unless it is in pictures. We think of it as fantasy πŸ™‚ Of course, Californians do exist in their own fantasy world as a normal course of the day, so it’s no wonder that extends to winter weather as well! -Susan


    1. Anabel – with my point-and-click camera, we can only get the basic idea of the beauty. So, for this parched Californian, I can understand there is a glorious pay-back for all that rain, something you know a thing about πŸ˜‰


    1. Peta – Thank you for the kind words. I think the snow I experienced was the usual for the area, but I read about a more recent ‘winter’ storm and had the same thought as you. As for the deers – I won’t forget that mama’s scream for a long, long time πŸ˜‰ – Susan


  3. Loved walking along with you, Susan and reading your lyrical descriptions of the views. Having lived in Montana for many years and remembering the June snows that used to make our backpacking trips more complicated, I was (very) surprised to feel some nostalgia for those pristine mounds of white and the sun bouncing off the surface. I’d vowed to stay away from the snow and cold but your post reminded me of the beauty too! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anita – So glad you stopped by! I, too, have vowed to stay away from snow and ice, but this was a lovely day trip, especially so because just down the road, there was sun and lavender farms. Lavender Farms: really, truly, wonderfully at my fingertips on the same day as all that wonter wonderland. Cheers to you both, basking in the land of sun πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Susan, you aren’t the first person to get a high-altitude surprise. I don’t live in the mountains, but have spent a good deal of time there, and when you’re down below in the hot, sunny weather, it just doesn’t seem possible. But, to your credit, you just soldiered on and had a good walk. ~James

    Liked by 1 person

    1. James – You are so kind to think that my lack of planning has anything to be admired πŸ˜‰ It certainly helped that just 20 minutes down the road was a lovely fern-infested rain forest and 5 minutes beyond that was a lavender farm. Amazing territory the PNW! Thanks for stopping by – Susan


  5. Glorious views, Susan! And so much wildlife you spotted! Loved your pictures and the narrative. Who cares about tennies, they always survive. I had a very similar experience late this week when I was suddenly invited on a turtle patrol (5 mile walk in the sand) and only heels for my son’s graduation party and moccasins…they carried the sand nicely…and survived too πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And as a footnote, I love that the walk is short but the views large. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ As someone whose footwear regularly gives cause for concern I can find no criticism of your tennies, Susan (I recently had to limp one-sandaled to the nearest shoe shop in Tavira πŸ™‚ ) Many thanks for linking to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As soon as we started reading, we had to wonder: what DID she do about shoes? Glad the tennies worked! We find the entire West Coast problematic for knowing what to wear. We’ve purchased heavy sweatshirts in southern California due to cool ocean winds and been surprised with the ups and downs of the thermometer as we traveled and camped through Washington state. As for the snow we encountered? We had our hiking boots which worked pretty well in the snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You probably know that we Californians can complain about any weather changes that make us plan ahead for anything. Umbrellas? Why bother? So the Washington State snow and sun just truly made my head spin πŸ˜‰ … in appreciation!


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