We knew we wanted to explore the Olympic Mountains near Seattle after staring at them from afar for three days and wondering if they could be as beautiful close up. Turns out, they are!
The Olympics make up a national park filled with dense forests, alpine lakes and snow capped mountains just a couple of hours from Seattle.
We stayed on the edge of the range, with a laid back middle aged couple who’d built their own home 20 years ago and apologised for Donald Trump within a minute of meeting us.
They recommended various beautiful trails nearby, including what seemed like a decent but not impossible schlep to the top of Mount Ellinor.
As usual – we came woefully underprepared!
The drive up to the trailhead revealed some awesome scenery; the pine forests surrounding Lake Cushman looked like something from the Canadian Rockies.
Then, when snow blocked the steep mountain road half way up to Mount Ellinor’s northern trail, we realised the hike to the top might be more than a leisurely stroll.
It began at the lower trailhead with a simple wander through a beautiful pine forest reminiscent of the woods the Ewoks lived in.
At this point it was dry, but soon the unmelted snow started to appear and get deeper, and the steep hillside trail began to get a bit more treacherous.
We scrambled up through thick snow (James’s clumsiness meant a pretty wet bum!) until the forest opened out to absolutely breathtaking views of the peak above us, unspoilt fresh snow all around us and views for miles around.
Sadly, the near vertical two hour ascent to the top from there was beyond us but wow, isn’t this view a pretty respectable runner up?
After another tricky descent and with socks damp and legs tight we got back in the car and headed south, across the Washington border in to Oregon and Astoria, the grey little town with one big draw: The Goonies!