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Olympic Peninsula Noobies, Part 4

Post by News Tribune Staff on Sep. 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm with No Comments »
September 16, 2008 11:00 pm

Tuesday shaped up pretty well.

On our way through Port Angeles, we caught several of Bob Stokes‘ “Avenue of the People” steel statues. Head over to the GO Arts blog to read a bit more about this fascinating guy, described by his PR person as “a Northern California artist who has put down roots on the Olympic Peninsula and is shaking up the former logging town of Port Angeles with his artistic vision.”

We were toying with the idea of taking Highway 112, the northern route out of Port Angeles, because we had developed a hankerin’ for the amazing Straight of Juan de Fuca views offered up by Dungeoness Spit. But we opted to stay on 101 because Jeff, Craig and my boss Craig Sailor all told me that Lake Crescent is – and this is a direct quote – “cool.”

They were right.

Highway 101 hugs the southern edge of the lake. Our first stop was Barnes Point, where we found the Marymere Falls trail. It starts out as an easy, flat hike on a wide trail through gorgeous forest. After you cross a pair of log bridges, though, the path becomes a steep winding staircase up to two falls overlooks, but it’s well worth the exertion. It’s about an hour or so round trip if you take your time.

Note the dude in the photo doing his best to give the image some scale. Thanks, dude!

Next we just picked one of the dozen or so view turnouts along 101 for a quick break. I almost drove the car into the lake on several occasions, so I finally listened to the kid and just stopped to take some pictures. You can’t see it well in this shot (proof of my lousy photography skills), but the water is amazingly clear with a turquoise tint. We stopped just before Fairholm, a way point at the west end of the lake.

If you’re headed to the lake, you might as well visit Sol Duc Hot Springs. Sol Duc Hot Springs Road is just a mile or two from the west end of the lake, off of 101. Nathan, a world-wise traveler who has dipped his tush in natural hot springs outside of Nagano, Japan, offered up a question that, up to that point, hadn’t been of immediate concern to me:

“Is it a naked one?”

No, it’s not. But, sorry, no pics anyway. That would have been rude to the other bathers. The hot springs are piped into two large, manmade circular pools and a wading pool. There’s also a chlorinated swimming pool for cooling off. Day-use admission is $11 per adult, and the front office rents towels, lockers and swim wear for $3 each. The only drawback is the sulfur smell.

I don’t remember where I read it, but there’s a Native American legend about how two dragons met in the Sol Duc Valley and fought for years. They were so saddened by their eventual stalemate that they retreated to their caves and cried. The hot springs are their tears.

After we checked into our hotel in Forks, we headed out to the beach at La Push to watch the sunset. That smaller notched rock in the picture below is named “Gunsight Rock,” a moniker that met with the approval of my teenage Halo fan.

We ate at a place called River’s Edge Restaurant, a decent steak and seafood house near the mouth of the Quillayute River.

Forks, by the way, is the setting for Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, young-adult novels about vampires. There’s a “Twilight” movie destined for theaters this winter, and there are signs of vampires all around Forks. I’ll try to post some pics Wednesday, after we get back from Neah Bay and the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States.

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