We took another park ranger guided hike in Olympic National Park in Washington State, but this time we learned far more than just basic facts about the forest. After visiting the museum exhibits and watching the orientation movie at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center, we went outside to take the Hurricane Hill Trail. The 1.5 mile trail climbs up about 700 feet through woods and meadows to Hurricane Hill.
|Stunning Olympic National Park.
As usual, the ranger discussed environmental issues and facts about the area, and the crowd of followers listened intently. Of course my children poked and pushed each other. So what else is new?
But as we climbed toward Hurricane Hill, we took a rest under a tree. It was there that the ranger shared an encounter he had, an encounter with a mountain lion.
“Wait!” I started to tremble.
The twins climbed up a nearby boulder.
I scanned my surroundings.
In fact, everyone in the group began peering around.
“There aren’t any mountain lions around right now,” the ranger assured us.
A collective sigh came from his captive audience. Yet I still held my breath and the twins refused to come down from the boulder.
“But that particular day,” he began. “As I climbed the trail, I heard a low growl above me and looked up the mountain.”
All of us looked up the side of the hill truly expecting to see the lion. I couldn’t move.
The twins sprang from the boulder and huddled by me and my husband.
“What did you do,” our son asked, eyes shining with delight. I could see he wished this encounter happed to him.
“Whenever you see a wild animal, I don’t care if it’s a lion, bear, or elk.” He looked into everyone’s eyes to be sure they were paying attention.
We could hear the birds in the trees, we were so riveted!
He continued. “You spread your arms out, holding your jacket open; if you’re wearing one, otherwise hold out a pack or hat, something to make you look wider and bigger than you are. Then back away slowly—keeping your eyes on the animal.”
Still no one breathed.
“Why don’t you run away or climb a tree?” Leave it to our son to ask the question.
The ranger turned directly to face him. “You never run from a wild animal.”
The authority in the ranger’s voice hit home. Even our son took a step back.
“A wild animal might think you want to play if you run away from it. You must look as big as possible and back away slowly, keeping eye contact with the creature.”
I must admit, I can’t really remember anything after that on our guided hike. Even our children were quiet.
It took a few days for the twins to forget about the mountain lion story. This gave my husband and I time to discover where the “most northwestern point of the lower 48 states” was located. As “Easterners,” after travelling all the way across the United States, we wanted to be able to say we experienced that edge of the country.
The park ranger suggested we hike the Cape Flattery Trail on the Makah Nation Reservation. The trail is only .7 miles. And luckily, we didn’t have a park ranger with us this time. Nor did we have a whole group of other adventurers and families. Because our children wanted to be, um, children.
Cape Flattery Trail consists of mostly wooden planks and it overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The trail is both majestic and breath-taking. Numerous shades of blue and green fill the Pacific. Huge rock islands dot the ocean edge. Puffins, osprey, and sea lions rest peacefully along its shore.
|The glorious Pacific Coast at
Cape Flattery Trail.
But back to my kids acting like, well, kids. Our children—yes even the teenagers; in fact it was my older daughter who started this. The children decided to imitate King Arthur in the film MontyPython and the Holy Grail as he galloped through the forest and across the moor. Yes, my children “galloped,” a one-sided skip really, across the planks of the Cape Flattery Trail. With all five of them one-sided skipping, it did sound like the guy who followed King Arthur in the movie, clopping coconuts together to imitate the horses’ hooves on the ground.
My husband looked at me. “Don’t you dare.” He said.
“Who me?” A smile tugged at my lips. I guess I better not. At least we didn’t know anyone out here, I thought as we continued our hike back to the van, children clopping the whole way.
I think vacations are for letting loose and enjoying ourselves, even if we want to imitate riding a horse when we’re not. Have you ever done something silly while on vacation or away from home? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section. We truly appreciate your note.
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