My sisters and I spent more than a few of our childhood weekends hiking in the Olympics and Cascades, cajoled along the trails by my mother’s no-nonsense one-step-at-a-time advice and her chocolate chip-studded trail mix. Now it’s my turn to drag my own kids out of the house to explore these forests and mountains.
It’s easy when you live here to take all of the green and water for granted. It’s easy to lose sight of the beauty inherent in moss, clouds, and rain. My kids don’t always want to leave the house on a gloomy Sunday for a trek through the wilderness, but they’re always happy once we’re out there. And I mean literally jumping for joy happy. They have their father’s thirst for exploration and their mother’s nerdish eye for birds, plants, and slugs – All of these interests can be met for free if you can get yourself to the Dungeness Forks Campground. Well, almost free; a campsite will cost you $14 per night, but we picnicked there for free this past weekend.
Every time I visit the Olympic National Forest, I’m freshly amazed by all of it – The feisty rivers, the diversity of plants, the way the ravens’ “cronks” carry and vibrate in the forest-cooled air, the seemingly sentient presence of huge cedars and moss-fuzzy bigleaf maples, the way mist sneaks in and out, hiding and revealing the valleys and mountains.
In case you’re not close by, here is a minute of the Dungeness River for your viewing pleasure. You’ll have to imagine the refreshing river air and the feel of the rounded rocks under your feet. Dungeness Forks Campground earned my kids’ heartiest thumbs up, leaping in the air recommendation as a picnic and camping site.