I started the ONP on the wrong foot... Two busses to Port Angeles and 1.5 miles of road walking to pick up my bear can and permits only to find that I lost my drivers license and was left with an empty bank account. The ranger had no sympathy. I was a dirty backpacker wasting his time. I left in tears for the public library to sort out my woes. OK, you got this... No problem... Stay positive. Getting worked up won't get you back on trail, Bloody Mary. It's just a little bump.
Thank you wifi... One account empty, plenty in the other. A quick online transfer, and we're all good. Oh, what's that? A shower token laying on the floor for Neah Bay? Score! I'll put that to good use and extend my hike a bit further. I reached in my pack for my water and found the missing license in the side pouch. Must have slipped out when I was planning my route. I returned to the ranger with a childlike grin. Here's your money, here's my ID, and I'll even give you a double donation for your troubles! Ba-bam, I'm back!
The only place I could find to charge my iPad and get some food on my bus route was a new sports bar called Fanaticus. What luck, just in time for happy hour! This day is turning around. I met the sweetest bartender and a local musician who just lost his wife. Our time together was short but deep. He slipped me a $100 bill with a tear in his eye, and said that his wife would want me to have it as he exited onward. We all have a story to tell and sometimes it helps to share them with a stranger. I'll never forget you and will always hold you close to my heart. Your generosity is overwhelming. Thank you.
Onward to the trail head... Oh, that was a long walk. One driver tossed me an ice cold beer for my walk and another hitched me half way up. I made it to my ridge top camp right at sunset. This is the life. I young buck decided to sleep two feet from my head and he nibbled on my camera strap all night long. Are you kidding? Who, in this crazy little world, gets to sleep with a deer? I do! I hate how habituated the "wild" animals have become in the national parks from tourists feeding them, but that night was epic.
I made it to the Hurricane Ridge visitor center for an all you can drink soda the next day. Five Mountain Dews later and I run into people I know! I asked this family to take my photo at Deception Pass a hundred miles back and here we both meet again, me on foot, them in car!
Hike hike hike, and I ended up at a car camp spot at the base of the mountain. They charged me $10 to sleep in front of the men's bathroom... Even with the bright bathroom light, campers still stumbled over my tarp all night long. My worst nightmare came true, too... A fat six inch mouse (I can live with a huge mouse, not a rat), woke me up as it skipped across my face and over my arm. This is the life, eh?
The next morning, I met a kindred spirit, an older female solo hiker out for some day trips. I was heading to the hot springs trail and was delighted that she decided to join. These hot springs were world class. Not another soul to be seen. Beautiful and pristine. We soaked for hours, I stayed hours more. This is why I do what I do.
My next campsite was some five steep miles away. An easy day. I reached Appleton Pass well before sunset only to find a friend I met several days back, napping by Oyster Lake. What? Jason, Brandon and Bloody Mary... All from the Bay Area camping together in the ONP! The meteor shower was in full swing so I laid out my tarp in the mountain top grass and we watched the show of my life. Stars streaked the sky. Ooooos and awwwwws all night long. It was like the Fourth of July!
Another day of ridge walks and views. I was happy to sleep in my first three walled shelter to protect myself from the rain. Rain rain rain... It was perfect... Who wants sunshine in a rainforest? By 8:00 a.m., I hit a high point in my trail life. A majestic million pound elk stood a few feet in front of me. He was so big and so beautiful you won't believe a word I write. His antlers were larger than my arm span. My head didn't even reach the top of his big boastful butt. This animal made my year, my life. His son was still larger than any buck I've seen. Life is good.
Inland Olympics... I struggled with your tourist toilet paper (bury it or pack it out guys, that's gross), and grumpy hikers, but you still gave me some amazing memories and lifelong friends. I'm taking it with a smile. I'm so happy to have walked across you. Thank you for setting me out straight. Onward to your beaches!