16 June 2016

There and Back Again

The beautiful blue of the Quinault River.
Outdoor adventures can have unintended destinations, and going places can take us back.

For Father's Day 2015, my dad, my grandma, and I drove to Mount St. Helens. The trip went so well that we decided to replicate the experience with a new destination this year. We considered a drive to Mount Rainier, but my dad settled on Donkey Creek in the Olympic Peninsula. This wasn't a random decision. He'd spent time there with his parents on hunting trips when he was younger, and he wanted to see the area again. Going there would be a new experience for me, so his suggestion sounded good.

Instead of taking the trip on Father's Day, we made the drive on June 4, which allowed us to take advantage of the peninsula's cooler temperatures on a hot day; and rather than taking Highway 101 up the peninsula, we cut through the Wynoochee River Valley for a more leisurely and scenic route. Dad had plenty of time to observe and discuss how the area had changed over the years. The day was clear, and we caught glimpses of the Olympic Mountains.

Turning onto the Donkey Creek road brought together different points in time. I'd never seen the area, so it all should have been new. However, the time Dad and Grandma had spent there in the past came back as they talked about places they'd camped and hunted, so I felt a surprising familiarity with these fresh surroundings. While they noted the changes to the area, I began to think about how we were there both in the present and back in an earlier time simultaneously. The two periods meshed for a powerful experience.

Emerging at the Newberry Creek entrance, we realized how close we were to Lake Quinault and made the quick decision to take the loop around the lake. Coincidently, on June 4, 2015, my mom and I had hiked the Willaby Creek Trail on the lake's south side, so the return exactly one year later made for a nice bookend journey. On the drive around the lake, we found great views of the Olympics and the cool, blue Quinault River. We also saw a cow elk and her calf and stopped to take in the sight and sound of a waterfall.

It's great to know where you want to go, but leaving some room for the unexpected can take you just about anywhere in time and space.