An Eden in Olympic National Park
“There exists, in all the wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest, a perfect slice of paradise,” said Jamie Hale in the Portland Oregonian. The Enchanted Valley, deep inside Olympic National Park, “might as well be Eden, for all the natural splendor it contains.” On a recent trek through the park, I spent two days backpacking into and out of the valley, hiking 13.5 miles each way. The pace was exhausting, but any doubts I had about making the trip evaporated as soon as I crossed the Quinault River. There, the valley opened wide, and the setting sun painted the peaks of surrounding snowcapped mountains a deep orange and dozens of towering waterfalls poured from the cliffs. When I reached my riverside campsite and saw a large black bear sniffing around, I was thankful I’d packed my food in a hard-shell “bear can.” That night, I lay in the cool grass listening to the waterfalls, and I woke to the deep, sonorous hoots of sooty grouse.