Lake Quinault Lodge: A peaceful respite
September is one of my favorite months… the weather is still pleasant, but you can start to feel and see hints of fall.
Lake Quinault is the perfect early fall bus adventure!
Gail and I caught the 9:35 am (Grays Harbor Route 40) bus at the downtown Olympia Transit Center. The fare is $3.00; be sure to ask for a transfer, which you’ll use on the next leg of the journey. We arrived in Aberdeen at 11:05 am. As noted in previous postings, this route takes you on the back roads passing through the lovely towns of McCleary, Elma, and Montesano. The next bus (Grays Harbor Route 60) left Aberdeen at 11:30, arriving at the Quinault Mercantile at 12:35. We crossed the street to the Lake Quinault Lodge just after 12:30.
Witnessing the beautiful lobby in the Lodge is worth the trip. The massive stone fireplace welcomed us, as well as the many large leather club chairs and couches. Even if it was pouring rain outside (this IS the rainforest, after all!) the Lobby would be a cozy area to curl up to read a book, listen to music on your MP-3 player, and/or work Sudoku or crossword puzzles! Huge windows are on either side of the fireplace, with French doors leading to a large deck and expansive green lawn to the lake. What a peaceful setting!
The Lodge was built in 1926. In 1937, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Lodge. He was so impressed, that he encouraged Congress to preserve the area. The 898,000 acre Olympic National Park was created in 1938, by legislation signed by President Roosevelt. 95% of the Park’s land is congressionally designated as wilderness. (The Lodge, located on the South Shore of Lake Quinault, is actually NOT part of the National Park. It is, however, within the Olympic National Forest)
We ate lunch at the Lodge dining room, called the Roosevelt Room in honor of President Roosevelt’s historic 1937 visit. We were seated at a window-side table overlooking the grounds and Lake. The menu provided a good variety of choices. Our food and service was very good.
We decided to stretch our volume pills uk legs after lunch by hiking one of the many area trails. The weather cooperated; hints of blue sky and no drizzle! Directly across the road from the Lodge is the beginning of the Falls Creek Loop Trail. This 1.6 mile loop takes you through gauze-like moss draped trees, native ferns and oxalis, and huge fir and hemlock trees. The trail crosses over and by both Falls and Cascade Creeks. Lots of photo opportunities! One of the astounding features of this hike is evidence of 100’s of HUGE trees uprooted during the early December 2007 windstorm.
There are several pamphlets and maps available in the Lodge lobby which will give you many choices of hikes. One could easily spend a week in the area and not run out of trails to explore.
We returned to the Lodge grounds, enjoying the view of the Lake. When the drizzle started, we headed back to the Lodge to take in the ambiance. On the back deck, we noted the VERY tall rain gauge mounted on the Lodge. It showed that seven feet of rain has fallen so far in 2010 (that’s 84 inches by the first week of September). The annual average rainfall is 12 feet. The rainfall record occurred in 1999, when 182.48 inches (over 15 feet!) of rain fell in the Quinault Valley. The Quinault Rain Forest is one of only three temperate coniferous rain forests in the Northern Hemisphere. The Quinault area boosts the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world AND the world’s largest Western Red Cedar (on the opposite, or North Shore of the Lake).
The bus (Grays Harbor 60) back to Aberdeen arrived at the Quinault Mercantile just after the expected 4:15. We told the driver we were catching the bus to Olympia (Grays Harbor 40). As we were nearing Aberdeen, she called dispatch telling them she had two passengers for Route 40. The bus waited for us! (This is important, since this run is the last run to Olympia for the day). We arrived home to Olympia at 7:00 pm. Another fun filled day!
For more information, see:
Lake Quinault Lodge: www.olympicnationalparks.com
Quinault Area: www.QuinaultRainForest.com