Being the national park fanatic I am, when I moved to Washington this year high on my list of things to do was backpacking in Olympic National Park. One of the things I loved about Wyoming was all the wilderness areas it had. Wilderness areas are formally-recognized areas of national forests or parks that are off-limits to any sort of motorized or mechanical transportation, industry, etc. Basically, they are for hiking and camping by foot or horseback only. It's as close to a true wilderness as you can get these days. So when my better half told me she was taking me to the Olympic Wilderness, I was stoked!
The Olympic Wilderness has two areas to it - one area in the main national park and the other is a narrow strip of land along the Pacific Coast of the Olympic Peninsula. We were heading to the wilderness along the coast for our adventure. It was actually a pretty easy hike in to where our reserved campsite was, and boy was it beautiful there. We hiked through your typical Pacific Northwest forest that slowly opened up as we went, until we reached the ocean. Our campsite was down the beach a little ways, so this was a new experience for me - backpacking on a beach! Seemed pretty strange at first, but hey, when you have the forest on your left and the ocean on your right, you really shouldn't complain. Our campsite was just inside the treeline, but still only about 50 yards from the tide.
Secluded. Surrounded by ferns, trees, and ocean. West-facing for watching sunsets. Ocean waves lulling you to sleep.
It was perfect.
This completely changed my view of what defines a wilderness area. I was used to your typical Wyoming scene - mountains, pine trees, pure subalpine lakes, bighorn sheep, and moose. But here, it was beaches, ferns and cedars, banana slugs, starfish, and crabs.
And you know what, I liked it. And I'll be back as soon as possible.