Apr 13, 2016 468

Celebrating 100 years at very own backyard: Olympic National Park

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. What better way to celebrate 100 years than at our very own backyard: Olympic National Park.

To celebrate, Zach and I teamed up with cinematographers Max Lowe and Tyler Wilkinson-Ray to spend a week road tripping up and down the Pacific Northwest coastline in a few Chevy trucks to explore Columbia’s backyard: Olympic National Park.

It was an opportunity to see the rugged places that have inspired Columbia to make tough gear since their founding in 1938 and be inspired by them ourselves as adventurers and outdoors people. 

And we took full advantage of that inspiration: The week was jam-packed with sea kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, beach bonfires, river restoration, volunteer work, and more scenic vistas than I can describe. 

Luckily, Director of Toughness Zach Doleac captured it all on camera. Enjoy, and cheers to 100 more years of National Park adventures for all!

Pushing off into the surf. The key to beating the currents is to paddle strong and paddle hard.

Paddling into a cove near Bachelor Rock in Freshwater Bay.

It had been grey and hazy in the minutes leading up to sunset. We pulled onto Hobuck Beach with dampened hopes for a beautiful sunset. But right before the last light slipped away, the sun surprised us with the strength to burst with these show-stopping colors.

After a successful sunset shoot, we pulled our two Chevy pickups onto the edge of the beach for an evening bonfire complete with a few six packs and s’mores for dinner.

After a bit of play, it was time to work. We paired up with a group of dedicated volunteers at the Matt Albright Native Plant Center to prepare saplings for planting in the park.

Lending a hand in restoring the Elwha River Basin. The dam removal was completed in 2013 but it will be decades before the area is a flourishing ecosystem again. But sometimes it takes a hand (and a few Madera and pine trees) to aid in re-vegetating the banks that were washed out by reservoir water.

Olympic National Park is home to five microclimates that exist on the Olympic Peninsula. One of these is the Hoh Rain Forest, which receives an average of 140 to 170 inches in rain a year. That makes for some beautiful, vibrantly green old-growth flora.

The view of Crescent Lake from the top of the Storm King ridge line trail. The hike is strenuous, but the view of the Pacific, the mountains, and the 660-foot deep lake is definitely worth it.