Turns out the first day of DST is a perfect Sunday for adventuring. The Universe says it’s dawn—my preferred departure time—but the clock says it’s 7:00—the espresso kiosk is open! Weather wise, Monday looks like the better day on the Peninsula: full on sun as opposed to today’s partly to mostly cloudy. But since it’s been raining and raining, the presence of a partial sun on the weather icon, and the 0% chance of rain is good enough for me. Besides, I can’t wait until Monday. I have to get away from politics and pandemic news right this minute. It’s crushing me.
My favorite barista is on duty at the Avenue and asks if I want my usual and where I’m headed (she’s never been to Lake Quinault). Extra hot latte in the cup holder, I head out old hwy 99 toward the Peninsula. It’s foggy; I won’t be seeing much of the dawn.
It’s still vichyssoise in Aberdeen, but the sun wins as I pass under the “Welcome to Hoquiam” sign—all that separates the two cities, which are “the gateway to the Olympics.” I roll on toward the coast under blue skies.
A few miles before my turn off to the lake and the rain forest, I see a sign to Wynoochee Lake Rec. Area that I’ve never paid the slightest heed to in the many times I’ve traveled this road. I’m curious. I take the next right onto Donkey Creek Road, hoping it’s the one, though there isn’t another sign. It’s an adventure, right? And it’s beautiful.
Ten miles on I’ve seen no reason for the road to be here: no houses, no numbered logging road turnoffs. I begin to wonder if the lake road was a bit farther down 101. I keep going, passing an Olympic National Forest Boundary sign where the road narrows to one lane. I slow down, passing gated forest service roads now, and an occasional smattering of recent snow. I’m glad I don’t have to think about the possibility of my old Honda CuRVy breaking down; I’ve not seen another vehicle.
Three more miles and I decide it’s time to let it go. I’m eager for the fireplace in the lodge by the lake. At the next opportunity I’ll turn around. But I don’t. “One more curve,” I tell myself. I get to the next turn out and pull over. I check my smart Flutterbye’s map, zooming in on the blank wilderness on the screen until my location arrow sits on an identified road. Donkey Creek has become NPD 22. I slide the touch screen map along the route and see that some distance beyond me the road doubles back on itself and becomes Wynoochee Lake Road. Another day.
I retrace my route back toward Hwy 101, meeting two vehicles going in. The dashboard thermometer reads 32º and the sun-sparkling icy hardwoods are beginning to drip. At the NF boundary there’s an intersecting road and I see the back of what might be a mileage sign and turn in to check it out. Sure enough, an arrow points back the way I’ve come to Wynoochee Lake: 10 miles. I wonder where this road came from, and why there is no signage on Donkey Creek Road? Whatever. I can’t wait to return—maybe on a warmer day, with a map.
My plan for the day is mostly to sit in the lodge by the huge stone fireplace. I’ve brought a book, my notebook of WWII letters I’m reducing to manuscript length, and my laptop just in case I should want to work on editing my memoir. I brought two of the chocolate chip cookies I baked the day before and a bar of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate. I will treat myself to lunch in the restaurant and go for a short walk in the rain forest. You’d think I was staying for days, and now I’ve lost a good hour on my little side adventure. No matter.
There is WiFi at the lodge, but I don’t connect. AT&T has no service inside and barely does outside. Good. I don’t want to see Facebook or the news headlines. I eat one cookie and settle in with my notebook and pen.
Instead of eating the second cookie when I start craving it, I go to lunch early, thinking I’ll go for my walk and come back to the lodge for a bit. I sit by the window and read while eating a Sasquatch burger and fries, then walk down to the lake before I put on my boots and head for the forest trail.
It’s damp in the woods, as expected, and the trail is muddy in spots. It’s always interesting to see what havoc winter storms have played in this wild ancient place. A huge tree has snapped fallen this year, crossing the trail in two places. I can’t imagine the force of a wind that could fell such a giant.
I stay with her for a while, thanking her for her life and service.
I think of Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton and wonder why this country can’t elect a woman president. Those who have run remind me of the nurse logs. It is on the backs of those who dared to believe a woman had the right and the ability to lead the country— inching us too slowly forward—that someday it will happen. It shouldn’t be taking so damn long. I think the forest moves more quickly.
I return to the car and check my watch, which doesn’t agree with the dashboard clock. It’s only then I realize why I was so hungry at 11:00 and a bit sleepy now: I didn’t spring my watch forward. Sighing, I turn left out of the parking lot and head home instead of back to the lodge, passing the closed-for-the-season campground where I have a reservation in mid-June.
When I get home, I look up female candidates for president, thinking I will honor them by listing them here. There are more than I realized, counting those of minor parties going back as far as Victoria Woodhull in 1872, Equal Rights Party; and not to overlook Gracie Allen who, in 1940, was the Surprise Party candidate, receiving 42,000 votes. I settle on listing those who have sought the Democratic or Republican nomination in at least one primary or caucus and received over 5,000 votes (there are not nearly enough of those, beginning in 1964). In order of number of votes they received, they are: Hillary Clinton (twice), Elizabeth Warren, Shirley Chisholm, Amy Klobuchar, Margaret Chase Smith, Carol Moseley Braun, Tulsi Gabbard, Elvena Lloyd-Duffie, Michelle Bachmann, Carly Fiorina, Heather Anne Harder, Patsy Mink, and Fay Carpenter Swain. Thank you.
I also do an inconclusive Wynoochee Lake search online. There is another, perhaps preferred, route in from the other end; and the road I was on may or may not at some point be closed until the end of April. There’s a campground, though, and trails. I will definitely be back, one route or the other.
Also, please read this and call your senators to vote yes on this bill to protect our wild areas, the air we breathe, and the water we drink.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act. This package includes the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 1382 and H.R. 2642), a bill championed by Washington’s own Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer. In addition to protecting five other wilderness areas across the country, it will permanently protect more than 126,500 acres of Olympic National Forest as federally-designated wilderness and 464 miles of river as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Now it’s on to the Senate!