A doe, followed by her fawn, marched straight up a trail I recently was hiking and stopped so close to me, all I had to do was lean slightly and reach out to touch her. Which I didn’t, of course. The night before, I encountered a herd of Roosevelt Elk crossing a road on which I was driving in near pitch-darkness. When I stopped to watch them pass, I was treated for the first time in my life to a symphony of otherwordly bugling.
After a summer of reintroducing myself to Mount Rainier National Park, I returned to Olympic National Park for a couple fall days, and was reminded of how thoroughly different the vibe is out on the peninsula.
Rainier is grand and bold, almost hyper-realistic, and challenging. Olympic is muted and more secluded, a place of mossy, lichen-kissed rainforests, sheltered ocean beaches with their almost-surreal sea stacks, salmon-enriched rivers and eminently accessible waterfalls, plus species of animals that exist only there.