OK. I admit it. I am not the camper that Lewis and Clark were. After 7 days camping in Olympic National Park, I needed a shower. Even my feet were not talking to each other.
So I left Fairholme on Sunday with Fort Townsend State Park as the final destination. But there were four campgrounds to visit along the way.
Elwha and Altair are just a few miles apart in Oly NP in the Elwha Valley, which is a right turn off the 101 between Crescent Lake and Port Angeles.
These are both nice small campgrounds, but I favor Altair as it has some sites right on the Elwha River.
The Elwha River from Altair Campground:
About a mile before Elwha Campground is Madison Falls. There is a day use area and a short hike on a easy trail to a beautiful waterfall. Do not miss this.
The sounds and smells were off the charts.
Next up was Heart O' the Hills Campground.
This larger campground with 103 sites is about 5 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road. I really wanted to go all the way to the ridge as their was said to be a magnificent view of Mount Olympus, glaciers, even Canada, but it was socked in. The Olympic Peninsula experienced a major storm in 1979 with wind up to 98 mph. Trees fell like toothpicks and 92 were knocked down in this campground alone. You can still the damage.
Next stop was Sequim Bay State Park.
Sequim (pronounced skwim) Bay is very popular for clamming. They were having big tides when I was there and some folks were out on the beach.
They also have a semi-confusing sign. Are they referring to kids or lifejackets?
So I arrived at Fort Townsend State Park and set up camp. They have big campsites here in the tent area and 10 or so pull throughs in the RV area.
And they have SHOWERS! But they can't just leave well enough alone. They have to try to spook you as well. They pipe a classical music station into the bathrooms, which is all well and good, but it does have a few commercials. I walked into it to brush my teeth before hitting the sack and could hear people talking in a low voice. Looked around and didn't see anybody. Almost scared the you-know-what out of me but at least I was in a good place for that.
After showering the next morning I decided to make a quick visit to Fort Worden State Park. The shower followed me outside and it was so cold and wet that I did not even get out of my car.
This is supposedly one of the most popular State Parks in Washington, mainly because all the sites have full hookups. Below is the only picture I took of it because it really doesn't need any more than that.
Yep. Basically a big grass parking lot.
I had two other stops to make before pitching my tent.
Falls View is a Forest Service campground just off the 101 heading south from Port Townsend.
Nice forested campsites and a scary waterfall.
By scary I mean that the viewing area for the falls is right on the edge of a cliff, which drops down a couple of hundred feet to the valley below. I could not get closer than a few feet to the edge. Just couldn't do it. Still makes me shiver thinking about it.
Next stop was Seal Rock, another Forest Service site along the 101.
This campground gets heavy use in the summer and has around 80 campsites and a good clamming beach. People are really into clams in this part of the country.
I spent the next two nights at Staircase campground in Oly NP.
This is a wonderful campground on the North Fork of the Skookumchuk River. I know I spelled that wrong. Tuesday night was still slightly rainy, but hey, check out my campsite.
Wednesday morning had the sun finally peeking out.
I stayed at campsite 6 which even had it's very own beach.
This spot ranks right near the top of cool campsites. There are also lots of hiking trails and there is a supermarket about 15 miles away in Hoodsport.
I had a little bird buddy I called Chick the Chickadee. He could not stop singing. Took me a while but I managed to snag a few photos.
He's getting ready:
There he goes, trilling like a madman, er, madbird:
By noon Wednesday I was packed up and had all my stuff charging in the car. Who needs campgrounds with hookups?
One last photo from my campsite as I was leaving.
Stopped at Big Creek campground 5 miles away.
A small campground with 23 sites, but they are enormous ones. It's a good place to stay if Staircase is full.
I was running a few days ahead of schedule because all the rain curtailed my length of stays at the Oly NP campgrounds. But I have an option.
I am doing this trip a little differently than all the other ones. Instead of staying a night or two at each campground, constantly setting up and taking down my tent, I now use a base camp system. I stay 4 nights at one campground and visit other campgrounds in the area to take pictures.
Thousand Trails now offers a Zone Camping Pass in both tent and RV flavors. So instead of buying access to all of their preserves spread across the country, you can chose a zone that suits your needs. They offer NW, SW, NE, and SE zones. I have a NW and SW Zone Tent Camping Pass. This gives me access to over 40 camping preserves for an annual cost of around $400. The first 30 nights are included, and additional nights are only $3 a pop. I will be staying over 100 nights at their preserves on this trip, so my cost will be less than $8 per night. This includes showers, Wi-Fi access, and many other little luxuries.
Since it was raining and I needed to shower and post my blog and upload campground photos, I headed to their preserve in Chehalis.
I arrived on Wednesday and left Sunday morning. Now, here are options you get at their campgrounds that you don't get at most other campgrounds.
I watched the L.A. Kings lose game 5 in the lodge.
Played a little foosball.
Shot some pool.
Went in the heated pool and spa.
And finished up with a sauna.
That sure beats being bundled up in my down coat while the rain pours down on my screen house.
Friday happened to be my 50th birthday, so I celebrated in style.
I could eat another one right now. Big thanks to everyone who made that meal happen (and my future new hiking sandals). Especially the Golden Boy, Danny. And my Dad, Brother, Eric E. and Melanie. You guys rock!
I will be spending Sunday and Monday at another one of Thousand Trails places, this one is aptly called Paradise. As I type this I am sitting outside in their BBQ area looking at a lake stocked with fish...but those pictures will be in the next post.
Regards, Park Ranger