the ferry to storm king
On Saturday I hiked most of the way up Storm King Mountain (most historians insist on referring to it as Mt. Storm King, which to me sounds awkward and unnatural but worst of all takes a bit of the rawness out of the fierce-sounding name). Storm King’s name is derived from a Native legend, but it is also positioned above huge Lake Crescent in such a way that it collects bad weather. Arguably-speaking, Storm King was the setting for a day-of-infamy of sorts for Olympic National Park nearly a hundred years ago: Non-native mountain goats (from Canada) were released here. They’re fascinating, very photogenic creatures: But they’ve proved destructive to many areas of subalpine meadow in the Olympic range. And they’re a nuisance: They’re so voracious about salt, they have no compunction about walking up to you for a tasty treat while you’re still doing your business.
In order for the day to even start, I had to catch the 6:10 AM ferry to Bainbridge Island. My receipt from the ticket booth reads 6:08. I was the last car on! The white-and-red striped gate practically clipped my bumper. It was fun taking pictures on the mostly-empty boat. At 7:15 AM, I met my friends Kelsie and Ken in Poulsbo where we consolidated ourselves and gear into Kelsie’s station wagon for the rest of the trip.
It was an easygoing adventure. The trail on Storm King is very steep but easy. Toward the top of the maintained trail, the sunny-day views of Lake Crescent are sensational! Unfortunately, the official hiker trail ends just when the views start to grow in eye-popping earnestness. To reach the actual top of Storm King requires traveling over exposed, rough terrain which will cause many people of weaker constitution to poop their breeches. The psychological start of the scramble up Storm King starts at the first of three sets of anchored rope: It’s not horribly exposed on this first rope section, but what exposure exists is complicated by extremely loose gravel on the upper half. I went ahead by myself, out of curiosity, to see what all the hullabaloo was about these set ropes. Turns out, I could have willed myself safely upward. I stopped halfway to crouch down and take pictures of the lake below. The proper motivation to continue was not there, though, because I knew in the back of my mind it simply wasn’t a day for reaching the top. Ken and Kelsie were resting below and both had made it pretty clear the lower part of the mountain was plenty satisfying for them this day. And it was for me, too. I’m looking forward to returning someday to challenge myself with an ascent up Storm King: Whether or not I have the courage to reach the top is unknown!
This is a view looking northwest from Storm King. Pyramid Mountain is visible on the far right, I hiked up there last summer.
Lake Crescent is located entirely within Olympic National Park. It’s the second deepest lake in Washington state. Viewed from above, the blue waters of the lake remind me a lot of Crater Lake.