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Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

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PA
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Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

I’ve been given so much great information on this forum – both by generous folks answering my questions and just by searching and reading previous posts. I’m so grateful for all this information, but I still find myself with a ton of questions I’m hoping you all can help me with!

Below is our tentative itinerary for next week along with my numerous questions:

Tuesday, August 13

We fly into Seattle today and are planning on seeing a few sights in the city.

Wednesday, August 14

I have to work in the morning, so the rest of the family will keep themselves busy in Seattle. We’re hoping to leave for PA around noon and plan to take the Bainbridge Island Ferry. I see a ferry leaves at 12:20 and 1:10, so I’m really hoping to be on one of those – preferably the 12:20.

**Any idea how early we need to get there to be assured a ticket? We’ll have our rental car, of course, and 4 passengers.

Thursday, August 15

Head to Hoh Rainforest bright and early. I’m figuring we’ll still be on eastern standard time, so we should be able to get an early start. I believe Hoh is about 2 hours from our rental home in PA.

**Can someone give me an estimate of how long it would take to hike to 5 Mile Island? We’re all healthy and capable hikers.

After Hoh, head to Second Beach. I see low tide is at 1:31 PM, so the plan will be to arrive by 12:45.

***How far is the drive to get to Second Beach?

I believe I read the drive back to PA from Second Beach is about an hour and 20 minutes . . . is this correct?

**Are there any picnic facilities at or near Second Beach? Possibly with grills?

Friday, August 16 or Saturday, August 17

Still deciding between Whale Watching cruise @ Victoria with Eagle Wings or Hurricane Ridge & Lake Crescent for these days – depends on weather and how tired the kids are 

**It looks like we’ll have to plan on spending ALL day in Victoria when we do the whale watching cruise based on the ferry schedule. We will not be taking our car along, so any suggestions on getting around? Is it a pretty walkable city?

**Is it generally necessary to make reservations ahead of time for the ferry? We are staying “near the entrance to ONP” in PA. Thoughts on how far the ferry dock is from us?

**When we do Lake Crescent, what is swimming like (other than cold!)? We’re used to the cold, so I don’t think the temps will bother us too much. I checked and saw the water temp is about 67 right now.

Sunday, August 17

Sol Duc Falls

**Anything else we should consider adding in this day?

Monday, August 19

Head back towards Seattle to stay near the airport for early flight Tuesday AM

We plan to take our time driving back and will probably stop at Dungeness Spit.

**How long would you estimate the hike to take to get to the lighthouse? Are seal sightings a fairly sure thing? Low tide is at 8:29 AM. Will we have trouble walking to the lighthouse later in the morning? How long does it take to drive to Dungeness Spit from PA?

Last question for now – I mentioned previously that my son would love to see elk. If we’re not lucky enough to find them in the wild, are there any other options?

Thanks again so much for everyone’s help!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

A couple of suggestions

Trip to Victoria -- the ferry will take you to the inner harbour so yes, it's very walkable. No need to deal with public transit. Looks like about a 15 minute walk to Eagle Wing Tours from the Ferry Terminal. Public transit (bus) is good but you'll need exact change (in Canadian dollars).

Sunday

Sol Duc Falls hike is short. Maybe 30 minutes one way. There are the Hot Springs near-by. You have to pay to get in and they're not the nicest but kids might like it as there is also a regular swimming pool. You could also extend the hike past the falls. There are a couple of longer hikes that continue on from there.

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

If you want your son to see elk unless you are lucky you need to change your plans a bit. There is a heard that live around Sequim. Some are collared so when they are near the hwy., signs flash on the road. Again you would have to be lucky. As a last resort you can go to the Olympic Game Park also in Sequim, where elk will come right to your car. Of course nothing like seeing them in a rainforest. Your very best bet is very early in the morning and at dusk. When again are you visiting? If you can be in the Hoh Valley at those times I can give you some pointers. Even better chance at Quinault where I almost always see them at those times.

Consider low tide at Rialto instead of Second. There are grills right by the beach and you will get there quicker having more time for the Hoh. The tide pools are just as good North by the sea stacks. I always figure about 20 minutes per mile for hiking, but at the Hoh I would really take it slow. Great place to just take it all in! Personally I think putting a time limit on the Hoh to catch low tide is a mistake, since you have more time. Some people really get what makes the Hoh special and many do not. Kaleberg can give you info on PA, but the walk from the Park's entrance and the ferry terminal is a ways. No need for a walk on reservation. Bainbridge ferry in Summer is always a guess, but that time of day during the week you can probably drive right on. If you can adjust one visit to the Hoh or Quinault for earl or late in the day, drop me a note and I can give you more help on seeing elk.

PA
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3. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

Thanks glaciermeadows and foodie!

How early would we have to get to the Hoh to have a great chance of seeing elk? Last time we traveled to the west coast we were all up at 3 AM because of the time difference, so I'm thinking we shouldn't have any problems getting their super early.

I was actually planning to arrive around 6 AM and spend several hours before going to the beach. Interesting that you suggest Rialto instead of Second. That's one of the decisions I was struggling with, but I kept reading that Second Beach would have much more for the kids to see and explore in the tidal pools.

We could always move the Hoh/Beach day to Friday when low tide is 2:32. This would give us an extra hour at Hoh. I'm just concerned that it will feel like dinnertime to my kids since I know we're not going to instantly adjust to PST. Like I said, the last time we traveled West we pretty much stayed on EST as far as waking and meals were concerned.

Port Angeles, WA
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4. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

Let me try to answer your questions in order.

In August, the Bainbridge Island Ferry is quite crowded. You will not have time to make the 12:20, but you can probably make the 1:10. Get the car in line about 30 - 45 minutes before departure. Fortunately, you are leaving on a weekday; if it were Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, you would need to get on line at least 1 hour in advance.

You cannot do the 5 Mile Island hike at the Hoh RF and make low tide at Second Beach. It takes 2 hours to get from PA to the Hoh trail head. The hike takes 4 hours, round trip, including a brief stop for lunch. It is about 1 hour from the Hoh RF to Second Beach. That's 7 hours. You can't do it unless you leave at 4:30 am. I don't recommend this. There are also no grills at Second Beach, which a wild beach. Follow Glaciermeadows' advice and go to Rialto Beach. Even at a higher tide, Rialto Beach is a joy.

You are unlikely to see elk, although it is possible. The best time to see them in the summer is around dusk, when they can often be glimpsed along the heavily forested road near the Hoh Visitor Center. It is much easier to spot them in the fall and winter, when they wander around near the trail and even in the parking lot. However, do keep an eye on the dark woods between the entry station and the visitor center. The might be there.

You really should see Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent. Whale watching is fun, but it shoots a whole day, and there is no guarantee of seeing whales. Try to do the Hurricane Hill on Hurricane Ridge, preferably in the morning as it gets crowded later. I may have described this trail before, but just in case, let me do so now. The trail takes 90 minutes and ascends 700 feet. There are three longish, steep stretches, but the trail is paved and easy to navigate. It is divinely beautiful, and the kids would love the Olympic Golden Marmots, which are all over the place ( I counted 10 on a recent hike up there), as well as the Olympic Blue Grouse, which may have their chicks out by now. These two species are unique to the park. On the way down from the summit, take the 10 minute side spur to your right marked with a little wooden sign labeled, "Elwha Ranger Station". This leads to a gorgeous overlook from one of the loveliest alpine meadows in the park. Although the wildflowers will be past their peak, you might see a mountain goat on a crag. I think I have a picture of one on www.kaleberg.com. If you see a goat, admire it from a distance. They are dangerous.

Lake Crescent is cold, but swimming there is practically a religious experience. There are two places you can swim: East Beach, a safe, roped off area, and the Devil's Punchbowl, a stunning little bay surrounded by cliffs and spanned by a pretty little bridge. To reach the Devil's Punchbowl, hike 25 minutes from the Spruce Railroad Trail trail head. Warning: the water is very cold there, much colder than it is at East Beach. Be careful. Many families swim there, and it is wonderful, but keep close to the edge until you are acclimated. Local kids jump off the cliffs into the water. Don't be tempted to do this. Families with younger kids often bring a rope, which they tie to a strong tree root near the edge of the water. I highly recommend this; I did it when I brought my young nieces.

It takes about 10 minutes to drive from where your rental house is to the ferry dock.

PA
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5. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

Thanks so much kaleberg! I appreciate all your help more than I can say.

I think I wasn't clear on the one day in our itinerary. We will be doing both the whale watching cruise and Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent . . . I'm just not sure which days will be wich activity - I have kept both Friday and Saturday open for these two.

I'm now wondering if we shouldn't spend an entire day at Hoh. How stressful/crazy would it be to do Sol Duc Falls in the AM and the beaches in the afternoon? Maybe I should rearrange the itinerary to spend more time at Hoh. I didn't realize it would be a 4-hr hike there, but I certainly don't want to shortchange ourselves and not truly get to see and enjoy it all.

Poulsbo, Washington
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6. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

I saw a heard of elk three weeks ago at dusk at Quinault at dusk. Dawn IS also a good time. Rialto is every bit as beautiful as Second. Both are great. Rialto will save you time if you need it and again unless there is a burn ban they have grates for cooking just off the beach and bathrooms and water. Your other option is if you want to visit both beaches you can catch lunch between the two at Three River's Resort. Good burgers and shakes. I have been eating there since the early 70's. Everyone has their favorite beach. Rialto has great tide pools up towards hole in the wall. As said earlier you can go beyond Sol Duc Falls for to a second waterfall. Pull over on the way when you see the sign for Salmon Cascades. Lovely spot with a viewing stand. Stay a little and look for salmon jumping the falls. It is possible. I watched Steelhead in the Spring. Stop at Granny's Cafe for some great ice cream at the East end of the Lake. Write me when you get here and I will give you some tips. I have friends who live along the Hoh. I often see elk in their fields. I also see elk early in the morning in the campground, in Summer though too much activity from full campsites. Again contact me when you get here and I will call my friends. There are several herds along the Hoh, and they are always around. Fall is better, as they are way to busy dealing with the rut to worry about gazers as long as you do not get to close! In the Spring I saw a huge bull in the Hall of Mosses.

By the way I am writing from the 12:20 ferry and it is only half full of cars on a perfect sunny day!

Edited: 3:53 pm, August 07, 2013
PA
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7. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

Thanks again glaciermeadows! You just answered a question I was coming to post - I was curious if Rialto would have great tide pools to explore like I've heard about at Second Beach. My kids will LOVE seeing starfish and it sounds like Rialto will work out great for them :) Thanks for the info about the ferry too . . . definitely good to know!

I so appreciate you offering to help me find elk by checking with your friends. I will try very hard to remember to send you a message next week when we arrive to PA. I tend to forget about everything when I'm on vacation, but I'm betting my son will keep asking to see elk which will remind me of your kind offer.

8. Re: Planning itinerary . . . lots of questions!

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