Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rainstorm at Rialto

Who's bright idea was it to camp in Olympic National Park - a place known for abundant rainfall?

My hubby and I had a great first day touring some of the local beaches (if you missed the recap, read about it here.)  That is, until dinnertime, when we headed back to Mora Campground to set up camp and have some grub.  As we were leaving our last destination, the rain began to fall in earnest, pelting our truck.

Where the Quillayute River meets the Pacific Ocean

Pulling into our campsite, Roger and I sat inside the cab, waiting for a break in the weather.  After several minutes with no change, we decided to bite the bullet and get our tent up as quickly as possible.  It was a challenge, but we managed to erect our shelter without getting it wet inside.

But now, what about dinner?  Should we try to cook something in the pouring rain?  Or snack inside the tent and hope it held us 'till morning?  I ended up preparing two backpacker meals over a soggy picnic table - trying to stay dry under a flimsy umbrella.  We gobbled our food down quickly, and then dived into the tent.

Nice big sign!

Our campground was full of fisherman, in pursuit of the salmon running in nearby Quillayute River.  All of them were sleeping inside some type of hard sided vehicle - we were the only fools using a tent.  Although I usually love tent camping, (I used to think sleeping in a trailer wasn't "real" camping) I found myself looking longingly at the dry, cozy little trailers in our loop. 

Rialto Beach was rain-free at first

After dinner, it was only 7 pm, but the sun had already gone down, and the torrential rain outside wasn't conducive to outdoor activities.  Since we'd had an early morning, and long day, Roger and I decided to call it a night and settled in our sleeping bags.

But sleep didn't come easy.  And when I did manage to drift off, the pounding rain and strong wind whipping our tent would rouse me from a sound slumber.  I've never camped in such a downpour.  I thought for sure for our tent would blow over or spring a leak, and kept expecting to wake up with water dripping in my face.  The deluge continued all night long.  Neither one of us slept much, worrying when (not if) we'd be flooded out.

Footprints in the rocks

But, after one of the longer nights of my life, the sky finally began to lighten.  Roused by a full bladder, I finally wriggled out of my cozy sleeping bag and steeled myself for the wet, cold walk to the potty.  And.....my sleeping bag was dry.  The tent floor was dry.  Our duffel bags we'd set on the floor were dry too.  Our tent had held up to the night's monsoon!  The only casualty was my shoes, left by the doorway, which were now sopping wet.

Colorful rounded beach rocks

Roger and I were amazed our little tent had withstood the night's storm.  It's an old, off-brand that we've had for many years.  Later, I chatted with a couple of young ladies taking refuge inside the restroom building after their Walmart tent sprung a leak.

Walking the beach at low tide

We were happy to find dry skies that morning.  Although Roger looked longingly at the fisherman heading out to the river (apparently after the rain, fishing was quite good), he suggested we take advantage of low tide to hike along Rialto Beach.  Yesterday, we'd tried to hike at high tide, but there wasn't much beach area for walking.  So I grabbed my camera, raincoat, and a garbage bag or two, and we headed over.

Seagulls bedded down

Roger and I started our hike to cloudy, but rain-free, skies.  Since my shoes were wet, I wore sandals.  They would've worked well for a sandy beach, but Rialto Beach is composed entirely of rounded rocks.  The smaller rocks kept getting in my sandals, digging into my feet.  Progress was slow, as I had to make many stops to shake rocks out.

Then....the rain came in!

Our goal was Hole-in-the-Wall, a natural tunnel carved in a rocky headland, 2.5 miles down the beach.  About  a mile into our walk, the clouds began to thicken, and I began to feel sprinkles on my jacket.  Not more rain!

Roger spied me through this driftwood hole

The sprinkles turned into a shower.  Not wanting to ruin my camera, it got hastily packed away to protect it from the dampness.  By the time we reached the halfway point at Ellen Creek, the rain was again coming down in buckets.

Dead trees near the parking lot

From the information I'd read, Ellen Creek was supposed to be an easy ford.  But the large amount of precipitation from the previous night's storm had swollen it's channel.  The once placid creek was now a fast-moving mass of brown water.  It didn't look safe to cross at all.  Assessing the situation, neither Roger or I wanted to risk walking through such a strong current.  We turned around and headed back.  Hole-in-the-Wall would have to wait for another time.

Looking across the Quillayute River to La Push

Our return was another slow trek across the rocky beach (picking rocks out of my sandals as I went).  Back at the truck, I noticed another trail leading to the banks of the Quillayute River.  Not done exploring yet, I followed this path to a nice view across the Quillayute's wide channel.  I could see the buildings of La Push on the far side.

Fall color spot on the opposite bank

Heading back the campground, we stopped at a pull out along the river, and I captured a few great pics of fall colors, just starting to turn.  There was also a nice (albeit foggy) view of the sea stacks at the Quillayute's mouth.

Foggy, soggy river

Back at camp, we pulled down our soggy tent, and threw it in the pickup's bed.  I crammed everything we didn't want to get totally wet into the cab.  With rain still pelting our windshield, Roger and I decided to take a break from the coast and head east.  We'd driven by Lake Crescent on our previous trip, but never stopped.  Today, it was decided we'd go check it out.  There had to be someplace drier than the Olympic Coast!

Or was there?  You'll find out in my next post....

Sharing with:  Our World Tuesday.


  1. Even in awful weather the coast is beautiful.. I love fog. But pouring down rain is another thing, and you looked so wet and cold.. I'm hoping you managed to warm up and dry out some. Maybe in your part 3.
    Great post!

  2. Wow, you are brave souls! It looks like such a beautiful area even in that weather. Glad your tent held up!

  3. rain rain go away. Murphy's law you know...anything that can go wrong will.

    that foggy seastack is cool.

  4. Oh - I've had that unfortunate experience with sandals. Your rainy day photos are wonderful, but I feel your pain. My new camera and lens are supposed to be waterproof. I'm reluctant to put them to the test.

  5. I'm amazed that only your shoes were wet after your long, long night. Too bad the weather spoiled your next day too but your photos are still quite interesting in spite of the dripping clouds!

  6. Your rainy day photos are gorgeous! The few times I have gone camping and not for many, many years now, I have enjoyed it. Trying to pitch a tent at the side of a very windy and rainy loch in Scotland was an adventure and a fun memory. I am sure all that rain in one night will be the same for you, and I agree, you are very brave.

  7. Awesome photos, Linda! I love rain art and pictures!

  8. Glad you got some close and personal experience with your weather!

  9. Well, glad you made the best of your rainy day and night. Fog makes the world and photos interesting. Looking for the next chapter. Take care.

  10. You described walking in sandals so well. As you say great in the sand but......... I quite like lying in a cosy sleeping bag and listening to the pitter patter of rain on the tent. However hours of torrential rain and wet shoes is just no fun at all!

  11. Rainy or not, it's still beautiful!

  12. Very nice set of pictures- the rainy weather gave you nice saturated colors

  13. You've just reminded me why my tent has remained in the cupboard beneath the stairs for several years! you are very brave and hardy.

  14. Hi! The drift wood photo andautumn leaf spot photos are very nice. I enjoyed your post very much. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wow Linda, what a night! Hubby and I are diehards and camp in a tent also. A while ago he went fly fishing in WY with a friend and had a night that sounded just like yours. Other than they woke up to snow on the ground. It is so hard to sleep when rain is pelting the tent. I'm sure you'll make the trek another time. Maybe it should be more in the summer. lol! Glad you made it out safe! And you still managed to get some awesome photos!

  16. Beautiful photos and I'm so sorry your weekend got ruined by the rain.

    I remember eating cold, uncooked pork and beans out of the can during a monsoon camping trip. :-)

  17. Oh! I've camped in the rain, long ago... Once we were camping and a hurricane hit! I was worried that a tree would fall on the tent. In the morning we threw everything in our vehicle and found a restaurant for breakfast. Drove all day until we left the storm and camped in a dry place.

  18. It looks so beautiful in the rain!

  19. Rain does tend to make things a bit bleak, but your photos are really great!

  20. You + that driftwood hole = great portrait!
    Way to tough out the wet weather!

  21. You certainly have my admiration. I would rather have slept in a vehicle than in the tent in those conditions. Rainy days have their drawbacks but they sure do make for wonderful photos.

  22. I love the waves and the rounded stones.

  23. Rialto Beach is one of my favorites on the Washington coast... the family camped nearby in July, and spent a happy day here, beachcombing and hunting for rocks. Your photographs are great examples of cloudy day photography... gorgeous!


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