Seattle, Washington 2017 / by William Bryan

Olympic National Forest is only 26 miles from Seattle as the crow flies, but driving there involves navigating Puget Sound, a dozen other beautiful little bays, and more than 2 hours on the road. But I still had my parks pass and I’d be damned if I didn’t get my money’s worth so of course I insisted on dragging Sach and Kev to Olympic National Forest. We had no idea where to go once we got there but we thought we’d just ask some rangers at the visitor center for some hike recommendations.

The southern fork of the Skokomish River.

After an early wake-up and two-and-a-half hours on the road our phones told us we were in the national forest but there was no visitor center to be seen. We turned back to the nearest town and noticed a small community center that looked almost like a visitor center and hoped they might have some info for us. Inside we found an elderly volunteer that was short on hiking guidance but full of kindness. She had two hiking recommendations: a flat 4-mile river trail or a 2.5-mile, 3,000-foot climb to the summit of Mount Elinor. We wanted expansive view’s more than a meandering water-way so we decided to concede our distance goals and tackle the summit of Mount Elinor instead.

It turned out that 3,000 feet in only 2.5 miles isn’t much of a hike, it’s more like climbing a ladder—straight up. After a couple hours of huffing and puffing our way up the steep barren slopes of Mount Elinor we arrived at the top to expansive views of Olympic National Park and Oregon’s Mount Hood in the distance to the south. After scarfing down our lunches, we hung out with a mountain goat friend and took in the views before sliding our way back down the steep shale mountainside to the car.

After our hike, we drove north into Olympic National Park (just to say we'd been there) and spotted some teenagers enjoying an end-of-summer lake trip with plenty of beer and boulder jumping for those that had the courage.

Lake Cushman boulder-jumpers.

Lake Cushman boulder-jumpers.