When Safety Trumps Desire

Remember how excited I was to go backpacking in Olympic National Park?

Yeah. It didn’t happen.

I’d been hiking and photographing all over the place, covering a lot of territory in Washington, and was all set with my gear and my permit, good for three specific days in September. I felt good physically, I had a kennel lined up for Sam in Port Townsend, and I was psyched to do my first solo backpack.

But as she did on much of this epic Scamp, Mother Nature had a different idea.

It started raining the day before I was set to hike in, which would have been less than ideal but doable. I rechecked my gear and tried to get excited about a soggy, but still beautiful, trek.

I stopped in a the ranger’s office to pick up my permit. The ranger looked at the dates, then looked at me and said, “So, you’ve got a four-season tent and sleeping bag, right?”

Me: “You mean 3-season? Enough for rain?”

Ranger: “It’s set to start snowing tonight, lasting through Friday. So you’ll need to be ready for hiking and sleeping in snow.”

Me: [Deep sigh.] “Nope, didn’t plan for that.”

Ranger: “We’re surprised too, but it happens. You can still go in, but you’ll want to pick up some different gear today.”

Believe me, Internet, I thought about it. And thought about it. I’d been waiting for this trip for months. But I was in a small town, and wasn’t even sure where I’d get this winter gear on a few hours notice. Even still, my inner kid said, backpacking in Olympic! Fun! Tough it out, little trooper!

Since I gave you the spoiler at the beginning of this post, you know that my inner adult won out. I called the kennel and canceled Sam’s reservation, put gas in the Pilot, and headed up to Hurricane Ridge for one last hit of Olympic goodness. I wasn’t disappointed.

First off, I’m always cheered to see our animal friends:

When Safety Trumps Desire

These two had clearly seen a lot of visitors and were totally unconcerned by how close I was. (Sam was in the car.)

When Safety Trumps Desire

The view from the top. The colors were incredible. (The bonus of all that cloudy sky.)

When Safety Trumps Desire

I mean, come on. Gorgeous.

So I didn’t get to go backpacking. This time. But overall, my time spent in Olympic was amazing and as I’ve already said – put it on your short list. You won’t be disappointed, even if you have to change your plans along the way.

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  1. Deborah Dash December 2, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    Always wiser to choose not to freeze to death. Unlike Chris McCandless.

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 8:27 am #

      Deborah – Indeed. (I think McCandless actually died of poisoning, but regardless – no one should be that reckless.)

  2. Susan Embry December 2, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    Good grown-up call for sure! And look at the stunning photos you got. The blue on the mountains makes me think how very, very cold they would be for you that night.

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      Susan – Yes! Thanks for the confirmation. It would have been dangerously cold, and the photos were a good trade-off. πŸ™‚

  3. Don Mitchell December 2, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    Deonne — You made the right choice (as well as beautiful images).

    When you come to visit me on the Big Island, I’ll show you where, 2007, a guy who was later said to have had ski patrol experience, thus not a novice outdoorsman, took off against advice, up a trail on Mauna Kea, wearing shorts and a t shirt. He was warned that a storm was blowing in, but took off anyway. He started hiking at about 9,000′ elevation. The storm did blow in, and it was a severe one.

    His body was finally found in 2013, at about 12,000′.

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Don – Thank you! That story is a sad reminder, that’s for sure. It’s especially interesting because people think of Hawaii as being this 80-degrees all the time paradise, but Mother Nature is extremely active there, as well. I’m a risk taker in many ways, but when it comes to physical safety, I lean toward caution.

  4. Sherry in MT December 2, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I had wondered but trust me there is nothing LESS fun than hiking unprepared BY YOURSELF into snowy weather! Make the best of a bad situation and you did!
    Sherry in MT recently posted…Frozen – not the MovieMy Profile

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 10:31 am #

      Sherry – Yes! It would have been not only dangerous but also extremely unpleasant, which I’m not a big fan of. πŸ™‚

  5. Emilie Vardaman December 2, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Sorry you didn’t get to go, but safety is pretty important! Amazing shot of those mountains!
    Emilie Vardaman recently posted…Yachats to Gold BeachMy Profile

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      Emilie – Thank you! I was a Girl Scout, you know, and those messages run deep. πŸ™‚

  6. Susi December 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Wise, wise wise, which means we get to see you again!

    • deonne December 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Susi – Yes, some day! Sigh. πŸ™‚

  7. Manisha December 2, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    We were when there was tons of snow. I regret not renting cross country skis to go around Hurricane Ridge. You’ve got me looking forward to hiking now, too!
    Manisha recently posted…Are you seeing this?My Profile

    • deonne December 3, 2015 at 7:41 am #

      Manisha – It’s such a beautiful spot amidst a ridiculously beautiful National Park. It was a highlight of my trip.

  8. ron hagg December 2, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    love your posts, Deonne.

    • deonne December 3, 2015 at 7:43 am #

      Thanks so much, Ron!

  9. Dann December 2, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    Gorgeous pics, dear. Wish I was right there with you. What a wonderful journey you’re on.

    • deonne December 3, 2015 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks so much, Dann. I’m very, very lucky to be able to travel around and see these beautiful places. (And share them with you all!)

  10. Martha December 2, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    I’m so glad you listened to your inner voice. You may have avoided a total disaster, and sharpened your intuition at the same time.

    • deonne December 3, 2015 at 7:46 am #

      Martha – You’re absolutely right, thanks for putting it that way.

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