Olympic Peninsula, WA – Part One

Washington State camping: Cascadia defined.

Camping Trip # 5 – 2016

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by discoverybird

We decided to take some time off work to go camping somewhere new. BC sure is beautiful, but the more we thought about it, the more we wanted to go to America to explore. I grew up camping at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island as a kid. Deception Pass is Cascadian glory; a beautiful Ocean-side state park with loads of hiking, beaching, birding, boating, you name it. I checked the reservation system for Deception Pass and it was booked pretty solid (and expensive to reserve), so we decided to discover other parts of the Washington Coast. After a few days of using Google maps to chalk out a route, we decided on this….

Twanoh State Park

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We filled growlers and got groceries in Gig Harbor, about 3 hours South of Vancouver, before we headed to Twanoh State Park. Twanoh is a smaller park on the Southern edge of the Hood Canal. The highway along the canal is lovely with twisting turns and rustic beach vibes. We landed at the park entrance around 4pm on Sunday and the kid at the ranger station showed us the campground map, we checked out all of the sites (as you do) before deciding on one. Number 21 is a walk-in site beside the creek, under old growth trees, at the back of the campground.

We felt like we lucked out. The campground was quiet after a busy weekend and we scored the best site (though the price seemed a little steep at $30/night for a walk-in). We were happy to have arrived for our first night of camping in Washington State. It rained a bit as we unpacked the car, set up the tent and cracked a beer. We had a canopy and a big tarp which made rain proofing relatively easy. After we had set up we went to explore the park.

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A family was wrapping up their day at the beach and a few duos walked the shoreline, but the park seemed empty for July. The clouds were breaking and the blue skies reflected off the Pacific waters. The beach was absolutely littered with oyster shells, white dishes of all shapes and sizes along the sand and into the water, many broken and piled in the grass too.

The day use area around the beach had lots of picnic tables and covered cooking areas, as well as a few large fire pits along the shore. I had visions of hauling wood and beer down to the ocean for an evening fire, something I wish we had done! A reason to visit again 🙂

We enjoyed a big fire back at site 21 and listened to the sounds of the babbling Twanoh Creek as we sautéed onions, mushrooms and garlic for our dinner. We drank hoppy beers and smoked legal recreational marijuana… and fell in love again, fireside.

The next morning we slept until after 9! The sounds of the creek and the shade of the big trees made it easy to lay in. We had a stellar camp breakfast and headed up the trail behind the campground. It was a lovely hike that climbed the hill away from the creek and into a green forest, sprinkled with Arbutus trees. The sun was out, sweat on our skin, and the red bark trees looked like giraffes hiding in the woods. We watched a giant slug slowly eat a leaf and we startled 3 redheaded woodpeckers as we rounded the peak of the hike to discover a backcountry group camp at the top of the trail.

On our last morning at Twanoh, we walked down to the beach and had a swim in the oyster ocean. The day use area has a water fountain with a stream that arcs into the air like a long-range shower when turned to full blast. On the grass, one at a time, we soaped our bodies and washed our hair after a salty swim in the ocean. It felt amazing.

We headed West on the 106 to hook around the Hood Canal and head North to our next campground.

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