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The eternal trail

The eternal trail
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My journey to the Olympic Peninsula in the North West Pacific in the US of A is a memorable one. On a family holiday in Seattle (Washington State),...

Hurricane Ridge is possibly one of the most popular trails in the Olympic National Park and hiking up this steep hill will give you sweeping views across the mountains

My journey to the Olympic Peninsula in the North West Pacific in the US of A is a memorable one. On a family holiday in Seattle (Washington State), our family made this wonderful trip along with our dog Pipou.

Part of it was on a ferry, most of it was by road. Olympic National Park is an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. It is located in North-western Washington, west of the Seattle area on the Olympic Peninsula.

The Olympic Peninsula was a paradise for its early inhabitants. Today, American Indians still have a strong presence on the Olympic Peninsula. In fact, Olympic National Park is adjacent to the reservations of several tribes. These tribes have traditional ties to this land of abundant natural resources, and from it, they built a rich culture.

In the 19th century, American Indian populations declined drastically, largely due to diseases introduced by Europeans. In 1788, an English sea captain, Joan Meares, was so impressed by Mount Olympus that he named it after the mythical home of the Greek gods. The name was made official four years later when captain George Vancouver entered the name on his maps and referred to the whole range as the Olympic Mountains.

The Olympics were set aside as a national monument in 1909 and further protected as Olympic National Park in 1938. Today the park is internationally recognised as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, testimony to its rich resources.

Spectacular views of the Olympic National Park can be seen from the Hurricane Ridge viewpoint. The road leading west from the Hurricane Ridge visitor centre is dotted with picnic areas and trail heads. A paved trail called the Hurricane hill trail is popular with visitors.

Hurricane Ridge is blanketed with over ten feet of snow for most of the winter, providing water for summer and protection for snow moles in winter. It is not uncommon to find snow on the trails even as late as July.

In 1993 a Florida family was hiking in Olympic National Park when they discovered a piece of woven material at the edge of a snowfield near Hurricane Ridge. The woven piece turned out to be from a 2,900-year-old basket, a tangible link confirming the stories of mountain travel that have been passed from one generation to the next for millennia.

The last 200 years have been dynamic ones for the Olympic Peninsula's original residents. At first contact with Euro-Americans, villages were spread throughout the area, their residents coexisting with the land and resources.

After the arrival of Europeans in the late 18th century, the lives of the area's indigenous people were forever changed. Exotic diseases wiped out entire villages. Long-standing social traditions were disrupted by new technologies and restrictions. Euro American settlers competed for the abundant resources of the Olympic Peninsula.

Salmon were fished from the streams, elk population decimated, huge swaths of trees harvested from the forests. The land and land ownership had changed to the homesteaders of the late 1800s.For the original residents of the Olympic Peninsula the majestic landscape and wealth of resources supplied both physical and spiritual sustenance.

Although the land and its ownership have changed, these essential connections have been maintained through generations. Today Olympic National Park protects the natural resources that engendered those connections as well as the cultural resources that reveal the rich history of the people who first called this rugged place home.

What's really special about being in Hurricane Ridge is that there's something timeless and almost eternal about it.

Fact file
Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of the Olympic is wilderness-a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.

Car: From Seattle (about 145 kms) and Tacoma (193 kms), access the Olympic Peninsula by highway and ferry service across Puget Sound. The major access to Olympic National Park is via U. S. 101, which runs parallel to three sides of the park.

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