Day 15 of Lupe’s 2012 Dingo Vacation to the West Coast.
After breaking camp at the Klahowya campground on the Olympic Peninsula; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed SW on Hwy 101 to the town of Forks. There was a U.S. National Park Service Recreation Information Center in Forks, and SPHP wanted to stop in briefly to see if there was ANY place in Olympic National Park where Lupe could go on a trail.
As expected, the news wasn’t good. Dogs are not allowed on any trails in Olympic National Park. However, there was one place dogs could go, provided they were on a leash. Dogs were allowed on Rialto Beach, from the parking lot N about a mile to Ellen Creek. That sounded great! Since Rialto Beach wasn’t too far away; Lupe, Lanis and SPHP were on their way.
The Olympic Peninsula was turning out to be a far more dangerous place than SPHP had ever imagined. On the way to Rialto Beach, there were signs warning about vampires! Just yesterday, Lupe had battled Big Paw, and now vampires?!
If Lanis and SPHP were concerned, Lupe wasn’t. It was a bright and beautiful morning. Sundown wouldn’t be for many hours. Lanis and SPHP could just chill for the time being. Vampires never saunter around in broad daylight – everyone knows that!
Rialto Beach was wonderful! Lupe, Lanis and SPHP headed N along the shore. It was great to see the Pacific Ocean, see and hear the crashing waves, and smell the salty air. The white bleached trunks of huge dead trees were scattered along the high tide line, looking like the bones of dinosaurs. Lupe didn’t quite know what to make of it all. She had seen the ocean at Puget Sound just a couple of days ago, but this was the first time she had ever been right on the beach and seen the endless expanse of the open ocean.
Lupe stayed up on the beach. She was a little afraid of the waves. Even though the waves were quite small for the ocean, they were bigger than any waves she had ever seen before. Lupe got close to the ocean, but she didn’t go in it at all. She retreated ahead of each incoming wave. She enjoyed trotting along the wet sand, and sniffing all the very strange scents. To Lupe, Rialto Beach was a very beautiful, but also a very strange and exotic place.
Lanis became engrossed with shells, rocks and creatures he was finding on the beach, or in tidal pools. Lupe and SPHP continued N alone, thoroughly enjoying the stroll next to the Pacific Ocean. Rialto Beach was the farthest W that Lupe had ever been. She had reached the North American continent’s edge. She could go no further W.
Lupe couldn’t go any farther N, either. As Lupe and SPHP approached a towering upright rock near the shore, suddenly a park ranger came running up. Lupe couldn’t be here. Lupe and SPHP had transgressed by crossing Ellen Creek. Lupe was almost all the way to Split Rock, which just wasn’t allowed.
As it turned out, Ellen Creek was just a little trickle of water coming out of the sand 10 feet from the ocean. Upstream, it had disappeared underground long before reaching the beach. The ranger wasn’t upset; she said Ellen Creek is 20 feet wide in the spring, but there was a drought going on. Now that it was late August, Ellen Creek had almost completely dried up. The ranger wasn’t surprised SPHP had missed it, but Lupe still had to go back.
Reluctantly, Lupe and SPHP returned S looking for Lanis. Lanis was still busy looking at rocks and crab shells, but he was ready to go when Lupe found him. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP left Rialto Beach, and headed back to Forks for Subway sandwiches and ice cream bars. Lupe liked both, but clearly favored the ice cream.
SPHP thought it would be fun to take Lupe to the Hoh Rain Forest. SE of Forks, off Hwy 101, is a turn to the E on Upper Hoh Road. Upper Hoh Road enters Olympic National Park, and ends at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.
It made no sense, though, to pay the park entrance fee, just so Lupe could sit in the Element. SPHP came up with the bright idea of taking a different road to South Fork campground, instead. South Fork campground isn’t in Olympic National Park, but is pretty close to it. In fact, it’s not even very far from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. Lupe could probably experience the Hoh Rain Forest just as easily at South Fork, and avoid the dog restrictions.
The turn to South Fork campground was a little farther S on Hwy 101, past the turn for Upper Hoh Road. The South Fork road wasn’t bad, although it was narrow and winding. After a while, Lupe, Lanis and SPHP found themselves high up on a mountainside. The little road went on and on. This couldn’t be right! South Fork campground was supposed to be down on the South Fork of the Hoh River, not up on a mountain.
Some miles back, the road had divided. SPHP must have told Lanis to take the wrong fork. There was nothing to do, but turn around. It wasn’t going to be easy up here. Lanis slowly, and very carefully, turned the Element around on the narrow road. Success! Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went back down the mountain the way they had come up.
This time, Lanis took the other fork in the road. Sure enough, it eventually led to South Fork campground, but the road went on even farther from there. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP went all the way to the end of the road. At the end was a place that looked like some kind of small defunct rock quarry.
Lanis, Lupe and SPHP got out of the Element. Hmm. No one else was around. Was this a trailhead? There didn’t seem to be any trail. The rock quarry, if that was what it ever was, didn’t look too promising. It was surrounded by forest, but the forest didn’t look like anything special. The forest back at Klahowya campground, where Lupe had spent the previous evening, looked much more like a rain forest than this did.
SPHP didn’t give up. Looking around, SPHP spied what looked like an old abandoned road or trail heading into the forest. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP set off to explore it. They didn’t get far. A stream coming down the mountain had washed out, and completely exposed, a giant culvert. A 50-100 foot wide section of the mountainside had collapsed, too, taking the trail with it. The trail did continue beyond the huge gap, but there was no reasonable way forward to get to it.
So, that was it. The whole Hoh Rain Forest episode was just another of SPHP’s adventure fiascoes. A lot of time had been lost winding around on little roads to get nowhere. Even SPHP was ready to give up. Lupe came all this way to see the ocean, not a bunch of trees! There were trees back home, different types, but they were still trees. It was time to return to the Pacific Ocean!
Back at Hwy 101 again, Lanis turned S. Hwy 101 curved SW, and followed the Hoh River. At the coast, Hwy 101 curved S again. The highway was now at some height above the ocean, but not far from it. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP stopped at a parking lot for Beach 4. A trail led down a steep little hillside to the ocean.
This was what Lupe had come all the way to the West Coast for! Beach 4 was marvelous. Lanis, SPHP, and even Lupe went wading in the Pacific Ocean. For a few minutes, the cold water felt good. Then it was time to warm paws and feet up again on the dry sand. Back and forth, in and out of the sea, again and again. Lupe, Lanis and SPHP wandered N along the beach. Waves crashed against rocks sending spray from the collisions skyward. The sea, the sea, the beautiful sea!
The Oregon coast has a reputation for the most beautiful scenery along the Pacific Ocean in the lower 48 states, but Washington state’s Beach 4, where she waded in the sea for the first time, was a place of wonder for Lupe. Lupe, Lanis, and SPHP lingered at Beach 4 enjoying the beauty of the ocean, as the sun began slipping from the sky.