Monday, July 27, 2015

Would It Kill Them to Put Up A Couple Signs?

We had an extra day in Hoodsport thanks to Plan C, so we decided to just "wing it" and follow signs when we saw them. Seemed like a good non-plan.

When Bill bought his Washington fishing license he picked up a book on all the lakes, rivers, streams, etc., including the fish populations and rules for each. With the help of Google Maps on his phone he navigates us to different locations for potential fishing.

Friday morning we headed for the Skokomish River. The first little road took us through more beautiful forest on a washboard road high above the northern banks. Unfortunately about the time the road gets down to the river it also becomes private property. Nope, not this spot. Still a very pretty drive on a cool July morning :-)

Instead we head for Skokomish State Park. Big brown sign on Hwy 101 says there's a campground and a trailhead up the road. Great! Neither show on Google, but it does note the state park.

And that's the last sign we see. When we come to a fork we take the one that doesn't have the Dead End sign on it. We come to another dirt road, still no signs, and turn around.

Still need to get groceries so we do that in Shelton, just 8 miles south. Good size town, and a very nice Safeway.

In the afternoon we decide to check out Lake Cushman and an RV park I had on my list. Skokomish Park does have signs, and we find it after some pretty steep grades and narrow turns. Here some of the confusion is resolved.

There is no longer a Skokomish State Park. The local tribe won back the land recently, and although the sign on the highway and Google have not updated yet, we are now where the state park "was".

This is a beautiful campground. The young woman who greets us at the gatehouse is friendly and gives us great information on this place. A place she is clearly very proud to have back under the protection of her people. With the logging wars still on my mind, this victory for the tribe is especially sweet.

The campground is about half full. Some sites are good size with w/e, others are just as large but dry camping only. Most sites in the back are for tents or small campers. The interior roads are pretty tight with trees. There is only one restroom/bathhouse in the campground and I wonder how that "works" when the sites are all full. There is no restroom at the Day Use area.

Nice w/e sites at Skokomish Park

Primitive North Loop of Skokomish Park
If we stayed for a week or more I'd definitely come here, but for one or two nights I probably wouldn't make the trek up that road and back to the highway.

On the way back from the northern loop (huge potholes, primitive group site) we stop at a turnout where I had seen some blue peaking out.

And found one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever seen.

Lake Cushman

The glacier water is the most amazing color
And so clear you can see the bottom near shore
Even the kids spoke quietly, enchanted by this peaceful place
Ferns soften even the most rugged stumps

Unfortunately for Bill pretty didn't mean there were fish to be caught :-( , but had a great time catching with my camera.

Stopped at the corner burger spot in Hoodsport for a surprisingly good fish sandwich and prawns, and the first fries we've had in months. I'd rather have a salad.

We had planned to see part of the national forest on Saturday and this plan we stuck with.

Armed with a little more information from the Visitors Center we took the unmarked road we took the morning before. Apparently the Olympic National Forest is on that dirt road. And there's a cool steel bridge to see. And that campground. And maybe fishing.

I was completely on board with retracing our "steps" because of the little valley on the way. Yes, I definitely have a "type", and it is beautiful valleys with yellow houses and red barns and lots of green - both trees and meadow/pasture. Like a miniature Tillamook Valley, I could wake up here and be very, very happy.

So peaceful

Smiling back at us

So many lovely barns

After the road becomes dirt and we drive through ugly, clear cut land, there is actually a sign for the bridge. 3 miles. More ugly. Then pretty forest and the bridge ahead. One lane, tall railing on one side, shorter one on the other. All good.

Then you get to the middle and look down. There should be a sign that says "Don't look down!"

I get us to the other side without peeing my pants and know that I really have to walk out there and take photos. I just have to.

Even walking down the middle of the road I can feel gravity playing with my insides. Heart racing and shoulders tight, I make my way to the shorter railing first because Bill says there's a small water fall on that side. He admits he's feeling the height as well and somehow that makes me feel better.

With one foot wedged against the side of the bridge I take a couple quick shots of the falls. The other side with the higher railing is no better.

It's a sign!
"No, really, let's just walk down the middle."

Click and run
About a mile higher than this looks

At the bottom of the steep ravine

is the Skokomish River
Another couple joins us on the bridge, he walking along the high rail with their dog, and she taking tentative steps down the middle. I feel the fear dripping off her as we both make jokes about the extreme height. A kindred spirit :-)

A warning sign
The well worn path proving it goes unheeded

We get back on the road toward the national forest campground. Which we don't ever see after two hours of driving dirt roads.

No signs. For the campground or to identify the multiple roads that cross and divide from the one we're on. Fortunately Google Maps is keeping up with us so Bill can see where there might be water, or which roads loop back. We left the flyer from the VC back at the rig, but since the directions were by road number and there are no signs to identify the numbers we aren't missing anything helpful.

The drive is still enjoyable, aspen groves interspersed among the pines are beautiful, as are the glimpses of rock canyons through the thick growth. I was hoping to find a place to break in our new shoes, but both sides of the road are shear ups or downs and no discernable trails or paths.

Miles and miles of road and forest
Beautiful aspens

Being Saturday the number of other cars starts to increase and we head out of the park. The river peaks at us through some trees and I turn around to check out the "spot". A lovely place with deep clear pools and trashy signs that many people come here. I don't get it. I also don't have a trash bag in the car to make a difference and make a note to correct that.

Deep pools along the river

also clear enough to see below the surface
Larger than in the ravine, but still half its normal size

We can see some fish in the pool but they aren't interested in what Bill is offering so we move on.

From there (I swear I'm almost done) we cross Hwy 101 toward Union. Soon we come to numerous fisherman along the river bank. This is where the fish are apparently! Unfortunately the trees attacked Bill's pole at the last place and he is unable to try his luck here.

We continue into Union, past where the river meets the salt water, past beautiful homes on both the water and forest sides. Some massive and opulent, others smaller cottages, all lovely places to enjoy the spectacular view of this finger of the Sound. The water is calmer here and many people are out swimming off the docks.

I'm sure lots of them are staying at Twanoh State Park because when we drive through every spot is full - very full - of families covering every inch of allotted ground under the trees. All tents and small campers and - I'm not kidding - a catering truck set up to serve other campers from their spot :-)

Back home I check the weather and see a large cell moving into the area about noon on Sunday and we make plans to head out early for our continued journey north.

Like every place else, we saw just a small piece of this beautiful area. Our site at Glen Ayr Resort was very nice, and we'd stay there again. But not in one of the sites along the back. The sewer is uphill from the rig, making dumping impossible without a small crane (something we decided not to bring along).

Glen Ayr Resort, Hoodsport

Tessa enjoying the dog-tv here

He and mom were regular visitors to the park
Crabby Rock, a local species

We are loving Washington and anxious to see even more.


  1. Poor signage makes me crazy, especially if we are out on the trail in the wilderness!

    Your bridge encounter is pretty's easy to laugh from afar! ;-) Can you imagine driving the rig on that bridge???!!!!

    1. Oh man don't even kid!! I drove it over the Astoria bridge and told Bill I wanted a medal :-))))

  2. And here I thought in that big rig you could bring along everything and you tell me you left the crane at home. I agree Lake Cushman is beautiful. I also agree that National Forests lack signs. I think most of the management are local and the idea is that it's their forest and they know where they are going. Or at least that's been my experience. You definitely got a look at the area. That's what full timing is all about. You've got the time to fiddle around.

    1. We almost packed it.......but the cast iron dutch oven made it instead! It sort of felt like we were trespassing some of the time - we'd go for miles and then there would be little groups of cars but no people. I'm sure they were all locals who knew the best spots to hike and fish. I'd probably feel the same if I lived there. Love never being in a rush!!

  3. Lake Cushman looks like a perfect spot to put the kayaks in, Jodee! We will have to check it out someday. Thanks for the post!


    1. I agree Jim, it has a nice launch, a separate roped off area for the kids to swim, and that clear water would be heaven to paddle on.

  4. You are definitely in a beautiful area, signs or no signs.

    1. Absolutely! When there was a sign, we'd comment on how important the place must be :-))))

  5. Too bad you aren't having a fun time exploring:) Thanks for sharing your "love" for that walk out on the bridge...too funny. Your photo sure did show us how high it was. I think most would be a little freaked out walking across there. I can't imagine "hiking" down there. But the world is full of crazy people. Aren't those glacial lakes just magnificent!! Great capture of the color:) I can feel your joy as you write. So glad you are as thrilled with your retirement decision as we are:) Life is so good, isn't it.

    1. Yes, so very good! Even the high bridge was worth the view and the adventure. Figuring it all out has been a different kind of adventure, but that's been fun too.

  6. Oh man I felt for you on the bridge. Lol I loved the photos and got a good laugh at the tree attacking Bill's fishing pole. With all the pictures and stories behind them, I'm ready to go see them myself. Thanks Jodee. 😊

    1. You'd love it here, so much to see, people are super friendly, the tribal art and culture are lovely and the spirit of the place makes you slow down and breathe.

  7. That bridge was terrifying!! Just looking at your photos made me dizzy. But I loved the glacial lake (the turquoise color is amazing!) and the Skokomish campground is beautiful. I'm making a note of that one. :-)

    1. That blue water doesn't look real, even when standing right next to it! The campground was a sweet surprise, with such nice size spaces in the trees it would be a great choice for seeing the area.

  8. You've found some excellent off the beaten path places. Makes me long to return to the PNW.

    1. I know for sure we'll be back - it's so fun to travel those back roads.