Waterfall Detours – Olympic National Park

Life on the road usually allows me some down time to keep posting about the sights, smells and personal encounters of my travels while still fresh in my mind. However, throw family and more family in the mix and suddenly that time for quiet and contemplation evaporates as I feel guilty for pulling myself away from long distance cousins and aunts and parents to update the ol’ travel blog.

So I apologize for my absence.

It has been two weeks since my husband and I lazily explored the rainforests, seas, and mountains of a little-known natural wonder in the American national parks system – Olympic National Park. Tucked into an abnormally rainy corner of the Pacific Northwest (that’s really saying something for this region of the world!), a thumb sticking out from the fist of Washington State, the Olympic Peninsula is a region of misty moss-laden temperate rainforests that lick the boots of alpine meadows, snow-capped mountain ridges plied by mountain goats and elk, and a rugged stretch of driftwood-tumbled beaches hidden by the fickle fog.

There is so much moss covering the trees, I fall into traps of hyperbole and adjective superlatives. I could easily write a year’s worth of travel porn about the feathery sweaters of ferns and moss that tuck in these forests of coastal cedar and Douglas fir.

I’ll try to restrain myself and share little snippets of our adventure a taste at a time.

We drove up the fast-food/big-box corridor of I-5 in the midst of a gray drizzle, my husband playing a cat-and-mouse game with the rain as he attempted to match the windshield wiper speed to the downfall. I should have told him the attempt was futile as Northwest rain comes in varieties of frustrating – mist, spit, drizzle, and truck splash whiteout. The liquid sunshine made me content instead; I must be Oregon to the core.

There’s no better time to hike the trails of the Olympic Peninsula than during a soft rain. On our way up to Sequim, as we sighed at the water views of Hood Canal and hunkered fishing towns, we pulled off at oft-overlooked waterfalls just off Highway 101. Murhut Falls required a sudden dive into deep foreboding forest silence, our little car bouncing across a gravel forest service road and winding deep into the bowels of ancient mosses. Only a pair of cars and an easily missed sign marked the trailhead for the falls. A sheen of wet glistened everything along the trail, from huckleberry bushes to ferns, as we breathed in the ultimate clean smell of Mother Earth’s laundry detergent – rain on pine needles and rich loamy forest floor.

Murhat Falls is a stunner – well worth the 3 mile detour. In the chill of mist, as we swapped clichés like “wow” and “awesome” with a couple of local hikers, we contemplated the powerful gusher twisting down the hill deep into a rocky gully over a velvet bed of moss.

Back into the car, a short drive past street names that evoked my growing sense of languid ease – “Linger Longer Road” is a favorite – and back out at another unmarked, off-the-beaten waterfall, this time marked by a humble service building signed “Do Not Enter”. If it wasn’t for the local woman taking her daughter for a chilling dip in the waterfall’s pool, we might have zipped right past.

Rocky Brook Falls turned out to be my favorite falls of the entire week, a whispering cascade of tendrils splayed across a face of rock, surrounded by a little pool dammed up by fallen trees. I stood gratefully on the rocks as the soft spray cooled my face.

The detours always seem to lead to the best moments in life.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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