Last weekend on the Olympic Peninsula can be simply described as only a mere introduction to a region full of endless opportunities for exploration.
The goal for the weekend: fly fishing and max relaxation. Oh, and the views, those were everywhere. I certainly had a few moments where I was in awe at the incredible landscapes that Olympic has to offer.
I made it to the campsite just as the sun was setting on Friday evening to meet up with friends. They grabbed a spot at the Salt Creek Campground, just east of Port Crescent. The campground was really quiet for a weekend and it was right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, you could hear the waves crashing on the rocky shore from your tent as you fell asleep under the stars.
Sunrise, 05:57 am, August 1st, 2020
The sunrise would have been a good one regardless, but low tide made it even better. The first rays of sunlight burning through the PNW haze created vibrant colors in the sky and on the shore, which was littered with mussels and seaweed to contrast the pinks and oranges shining down.
I won't lie, I was mildly selfish and didn't wake anyone up to see...I only woke up 5 minutes before the sunrise and had to scramble to get myself to a good spot. Considering I had never been there before and hadn't even seen this part of the coast in the daytime, I think I did alright.
First light over a bed of mussels
These mussels get an incredible sunrise every day
Seaweed beds created by the low tide
Seriously, there were a lot of mussels
We ventured around the tide pools and discovered some neat critters in the tide pools left in the mix of basalt and sandstone.
Sea urchins were scattered in all the crevasses
Seaweed for breakfast? Count me in!
Exploring during low tide
Getting up close and personal with this sea urchin
Coastal morning fog off to the west
After touring through the tide pools, we moved inland toward the Sol Duc River for fishing. Our primary driving route was halted due to the Lake Crescent Wildfire that was burning - relatively under control but traffic was restricted and diverted away from any potential harm.
The Sol Duc is a great river for fly fishing with small dries and nymphs. The fish weren't huge, but they were all feisty and put up a great fight.
Catch and release #keepemwet
I only caught one fish on the day, a beautiful 10" rainbow. It was a great little fish, sitting in a hole just after a riffle at a confluence, that ate my yellow sally on the surface. Forgot how cool it was to see trout eat dries, definitely got me going a bit.
A quick stop at Lake Crescent, on the south side away from the wildfire, was in store for lunch. We threw some lines in the water, but not much was happening. The dogs were hyped on swimming, fetch, and biting the water.
Maisie doing lab things
Merlin was unamused with this photo...
Marlin really enjoys trying to catch tiny fish
We headed out to a beach to gather some driftwood for a fire back at camp and we got into a bit of a rock skipping competition. The dogs were an interesting obstacle for skipping across the waves, they really had fun chasing the rocks into the ocean.
The sunset was a good one. We couldn't make it down low due to high tide, so we gazed westward through the trees as the sun dipped and put on a show of pinks and purples high in the sky. After taking in the view, we settled into camp for the night. Huddled around the fire, we made s'mores and told stories while the temps dropped into the 50s - puffer was a big brain move for the weekend.
Sunset through the trees
In the morning, I peeked out of my tent to see if I was going to chase the sunrise, but opted not to. I looked at everyone else's tent and there was no movement. I knew I was definitely too tired and I figured everyone else was too, not sure if that was the s'mores or how many drinks we all had around the fire. Either way, we started our lazy morning at 0730 as opposed to 0530, still an early start to the day - no sense in sleeping in when you're in a place like the Olympic Peninsula.
Views from my tent at ~05:45 on day two
We didn't plan to fish on Sunday because we wanted to check out the Elwha River, which is closed to fishing right now to allow for the river ecosystem and fish population to recover after the dam was removed a couple years ago. I was quite glad we stopped by the Elwha because we saw some salmon feeding on the surface about 200 yards up river from the ocean. Coho, and big Coho. I was itching to throw a line in but didn't. We must wait a few more years to allow this fish population to grow and become healthy - it will be well worth the wait. I know I'll be back to catch a few of these salmon. Patience is a virtue.
The Elwha reminded me a lot of the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho. Wide, fast moving, rocky bottom, high banks, and plenty of downed trees and riffles for great fly fishing.
Met this duck hanging out in an eddy below a large rock
All in all, it was a great weekend exploring the Olympic Peninsula with some old friends and some new friends, and getting back into fly fishing was also quite fun for me. I couldn't help but tell myself "if you don't know the knot, tie a lot", which thankfully I didn't need to do because I remembered all my knots from five years ago. I'll need to plan out a few more trips into Olympic, hiking and potentially some biking, maybe even skiing, the opportunities are endless.