By Damian Humphreys
June 21th 2011.
A daytrip to Hurricane Ridge and Dungeness Spit in one day takes in the top two tourist attractions for the area. When you add in a catered lunch and a knowledgeable tour guide from Evergreen Escapes, that will explain the science behind the wonderful scenery I am viewing, then it makes for a day that is well worth the cost. I could do it myself, but I would miss out on learning about the unique beauty of the area.
Leaving the Holiday Inn Express in Sequim at 9.30, the bus carried me to the summit of Hurricane Ridge at 5200 feet. Snow covered much of the ground. The peaks of the Olympic National Park greeted my arrival at the summit. The visitor center has a lot of information regarding the ecology and topography of the area. I had ample time to wander by myself as and took the opportunity to join a guided hike where I learned about the local wildlife and vegetation that is synonymous with the region.
A shorter hike to the opposite side of the Ridge provided a clear view of Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands. On a clear day you can see for many more miles.
After enjoying a brief glimpse of the delights of the Olympic National Park, we were transported to the continents longest land spit. On the way down the mountain, we stopped briefly at a lookout area and were shown where the glacier moved through the valley. There was a clear distinction of the change in vegetation above and below the glacier line, with the rocks clearly defined, scratched into the mountainside.
I expected a boxed lunch at the picnic site close to the Spit. What I got was a catered meal served on actual plates and silverware. As a picky eater, I was impressed with the quality of the meal, served by Dan, our guide. A local pilot serenaded the group with an aerial display above our small group, quite independent of the tour, but apparently it is not uncommon to be surprised on the Olympic Peninsula.
I was not aware that so many plants and animals were unique to the Olympic Peninsula. In addition I was made aware of the natural facts as to why trees often have only high branches or the distinctive features of the cedar tree. The walk to the Dungeness Spit afforded Dan the opportunity to impart these ecological facts as well as point out the myriad of smaller plant life.
Before long, the long spit came into view. A lookout area with a telescope showed the view of the lighthouse, standing over five miles along the narrow strip of land. I walked along this narrow piece of land for about a mile. A young eagle flew overhead and a harbor seal watched as I trudged through the shingle and sand. A wide variety of sea birds could be seen as I walked along the strip before resting on one of the many logs that had drifted ashore.
This was a fascinating day trip that began and ended at a new hotel, the Holiday Inn Express in Sequim. I should have taken advantage of a second day trip to the Hoh Rain Forest which was also on offer, but an evening of relaxing on the roof garden patio seems more relaxing. Thanks Dan and Evergreen Escapes for a wonderful day.
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