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Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

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Washington DC...
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Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

We leave this week for an extended month-long trip to the Seattle area, and we will spend our first 4 days on the OP. This part of our itinerary takes us from Seattle to PA to the Ouillette Resort and return. We are great fans of beachcombing, tidepooling, etc., although we also want our son to see the Hoh, so we will also hike there. We will mostly just wander the coast in awe of the power that weather, climate, tides, etc. have on this majestic area. I've read all the great info on this forum, and greatly appreciate all the advice, which will guide most of our choices. We have read about your "heat wave" out there, and we've checked the forecast, so we know the temperature ranges to expect for July 10-13. We have our neoprene booties, backpacks, hiking gear, etc., but what clothing and other gear would you recommend for this OP trip? It's is now 95 on the East Coast, and we know we will leave most of that wardrobe behind when packing. What essentials would you recommend? Rain gear? And layers, sure, but are we talking shorts-to-pants for a day hike? Sleeveless to fleece and shells for our hike to Second Beach at low tide? Any advice for what our suitcase, gear bag and cooler should look like heading into PA?

Port Angeles, WA
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1. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

You are over thinking this. You don't need neoprene booties. I bring them with me when I am going to Hawaii or Australia in case I have to enter the ocean from rough ground, but you will not be snorkeling or swimming in the Pacific. You can wade just fine without neoprene as we don't have sharp coral beaches. You will not be walking in the tide pools, of course, and you will want shoes with decent soles to walk the rocks among the tide pools. Do not wear booties or flip flops. Wear running shoes or hiking shoes. Good wool socks are a must. They keep you comfortable and blister free even if they get wet.

I'll go out on a limb here and predict no rain for your stay. Our typical weather pattern is wet winters, wet springs, and damp Junes. At some point in early to mid July, the northern Olympic Peninsula enters a dry season, during which we may not see rain until November. We appear to have entered the dry season about 10 days early this year. The snow has melted very early. The trails are dry, and the skies are sunny. My advice is to bring hats, strong sunglasses and lots of sun screen. It will not be hot, but it will be bright. Among other things, the air is unusually clean here, and the UV is not blocked by pollution. I see many hatless visitors turning lobster pink up on Hurricane Hill.

If you absolutely must do so, bring a very light rain shell. Bring a light wool sweater or very light fleece wrap if you are going to do alpine hiking. You won't need either on Hurricane Hill or the Lake Angeles Trail, but if you go all the way up Klahane Ridge and hike along the ridge line, there is a remote chance you might want another layer. The main thing is the hat.

Pack lots of water. The cooler is a great idea. Finding food gets tougher as you head west of Port Angeles. Don't expect to find any nice little restaurants serving our incredible local produce, fish, and meat. They exist, but only in Sequim and PA, unfortunately.

Binoculars are a good idea. I spotted a mountain goat resting on a crag at Hurricane Hill two days ago.

Poulsbo, Washington
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2. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Kaleberg is right about not over thinking this. Our Summer is here! Compared to DC, you will be in heaven. I was at the Ocean yesterday and it was glorious! Three eagles calling to each other in a giant spruce tree above us. Do you have a kitchen at the resort I hope? If so you will love where you are. Buy your groceries at Sunny Farms on your way out of Sequim and Albertson's leaving Port Angeles. You will pass right by both. Forks has a grocery store if you forget something.

Forgot to mention that even in Summer clouds can settle right on the beach and then be sunny a mile inland.yesterday there was a huge cloud bank about a mile off the beach. For me a wind breaker would be enough. For you a sweater, pile, sweater or sweatshirt will be plenty. And yes a cap.

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Great advice on the rain gear, thanks. Binoculars are great advice too, we are big birders wherever we go, and even if there are no migratory species on the OP in July, a lot of the birds on that coast will be either new to us or just fun to watch. Sun protection is also big for us, we are all fair-skinned and spend a lot of time in the summer hedging our sun time, so your advice about being bright out there is a welcome reminder.

The booties were actually a Trip Advisor recommendation for the San Juan Islands, where we will be later on, we will have them with us anyway and we use them even on the east coast when kayaking, so they are a pretty standard item for us on any beach-related trip. In my experience, it's really pretty hard to "overthink" a trip to the OP when you're coming from a "big city" on the east coast and a summer beach season, where restaurants and convenience stores are so plentiful they can "dumb down" your planning instincts for any trip to a new environment. We know we can't just reach in our closet and pull out a warm pair of pants for 50-degree nights. We've only been to the OP once, but both the weather and the "way of life" are so dramatically different out your way, we just know how easy it is to be unprepared for what you offer out there.

So a cooler we can stock at the Safeway at PA is a good idea, we will do that. We will have ways to bring water everywhere we go. Sun protection, binocs, light hikers or running shoes, all clothes for temps 50-68 DRY degrees F. Guess we're all set! Can't wait to be in your neck of the woods for a while, thanks for the tips!

Poulsbo, Washington
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4. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Sorry I said Albertson's and meant Safeway.

Port Angeles, WA
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5. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Ah, the kayaking in the San Juans explains the booties. For a wilderness, Olympic National Park is an unusually benign environment. Temps are moderate. Thunderstorms are very rare. We don't have the sudden, extreme weather changes you get in places like the Rockies. There are no poisonous snakes, few nasty insects (some, but few) and, thank Goodness, no grizzlies. Most of the trails are very safe.The roads are good, if a little slow. I know of only one place with poison oak in the whole park. It's good that you have the proper respect for nature, but, really, about the worst you can expect is a lack of good dining choices.

One other bright spot. Good hiking gear is surprisingly easy to find. Both Port Angeles and Forks have stores selling gear, and even way out by the remote Hoh Rain Forest you can find Peak 6, which sells top of the line hiking clothing and equipment.

Gig Harbor...
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6. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Where's the poison oak, please? I am extremely allergic and thought there wasn't any in Washington. :(

Port Angeles, WA
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7. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

OK, Historyteacher_8: the poison oak, unfortunately, grows along a short stretch of the Spruce Railroad Trail from the area just beyond the Devil's Punchbowl Bridge to the place where the trail curves around and over a steep little eroded mound. If you have hiked the SRT, you will know the spot. There is poison oak on both sides of the trail, but most of it is on the rocky face, not on the watery side. There is no poison oak anywhere else on the trail, and I know of no other place in the park where it grows. If you just stay in the middle of the trail and avoid brushing up against the cliff, you should be perfectly safe.

Green Valley...
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8. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

http://www.olympicpeninsulaaudubon.org/

www.olympicpeninsulaaudubon.org/shell.php…

Edited: 07 July 2013, 03:00
Washington DC...
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9. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Thanks for the link to birding sites, very useful. I'm a bit dismayed with all the references that "most of these birds will look like specks from the shoreline," a common situation for oceanic birds, but is there a Top 3 or 5 for land-based July birding spots on the OP? Not exactly within the scope of the original post, but you could look at this as "pack binoculars for birds. . . or not. . . use them for mountain goats and other cool things instead" or more like "pack binocs to look for birds everywhere you go but don't take long detours for specific birding sites. . ." Any guess which one this is? Thanks again for picking birding out from my earlier post!

Washington DC...
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10. Re: Weather, Climate, and the Practicalities of Packing for OP

Interesting insights, thanks. Coming from your 4,706th post, I should be sending you flowers for all you do for people like me who travel so far to see your piece of the planet. Just to warn you, though, the "benign environment" characterization has created a bit of a stir among the "city boys" in our little group, and has even become a bit of of a dare. I will keep this thought with me as we travel and I will report back, either here or on specific TA posts, as I endure the "I thought you said BENIGN. . ." dialog, if any, to which I will reply, "No, I said 'uniquely benign', " for which I may take serious flack. Honestly, I am just kidding, I am so grateful for all your posts, the insight you offered in this particular 4700+ post/back-and-forth session has been incredibly helpful and friendly. Thanks again, I am so eager for our trip this week!