Just returned from the Olympic Pennisula with Jen. We headed over there for a paddle and soak (in hot springs) before she started her fall quarter of school.
We arrived at the trailhead to the hotsprings late Monday night, and thought there would be camping, but it turns out it hike in camping. The nearest campground was 10 miles back down a windy road so we figured it would be peaceful enough to camp at the trailhead in the truck...WRONG. We were quickly woken by a drunk speeding up to the hot springs, pulling in to park (too quickly) and running off the road. Off the road as in down the hill and into the forest. Luckily we didn't get too involved in his junk show because some soakers took him back to town to get a tow truck, which woke us up again about an hour and a half later. Jen just as we thought the chaos would end, a bunch of partying high schoolers came up to soak around 2:00 am.
The next morning, we decided to paddle the lower Elwha. This seemed to be a great run for Jen, especially since she hadn't kayaked in over a year. It was class II, starting in a deep forested canyon and ending in the ocean. The salmon were running and it was cool to see them heading upstream as we drifted downstream. In places it seemed like we would not be able to get through without hitting them, but the moved promptly out of our way. The run was going well, with Blue Herons leading us down the river, until Jen didn't make it around a log, flipped and swam. Luckily the log did not create anymore than a scare. A little farther down we had to portage the biggest log jam I have ever seen!! The floods really stacked them up here. A few bald eagles later and we were at the ocean.
That night we went for a nice soak, and seemed to have the pools to ourselves. Guess all the drunks were recovering. Nonetheless it really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere...always a good feeling.
Some rain moved in later that night and we woke to a chilly, foggy, drizzly, NW morning. This took some extra motivation and a bad cafe latte from Port Angeles to get Jen on the water. We paddled the Middle Elwha, and while the water was low, this was a nice stretch of river for Jen with a few Class II-III rapids, no wood, and easy logistics.
We had to return home after this, and with a missed turn we learned about some other parts of the Olympic Pennisula and were able to catch the Fauntleroy ferry home. For me, it was then off to BC for some more paddling and Jen had a three day yoga weekend with her favorite, Shiva Rea, before school on Monday.