Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Olympus Island- WTF!! The Olympic Peninsula is an Island??

Signs Don't Lie: Olympus Island is real!!

After a long, hilly bike ride the other day, I decided to stop at Black Lake, take in the sights, and above all, rest my burning quads. I am not really a biker and the heat of the day was getting to me, so I took a break. Obviously I was exhausted, as my eyes tried to convince me I had just read a sign that claimed the Olympic Peninsula was really actually an Island called Olympus Island. I scoffed to myself, grabbed one of the 3 cameras I always carry and snapped a picture. I hoped this picture would appear empty as I loaded the SD card into my computer, a dehydrated hallucination about the Olympic Peninsula. Those don’t happen often, but I figured that anything was possible. Once my Mac digested the information on the SD card, I was baffled that the mirage of a sign I saw was real. The sign, simple enough, reads as follows “You are Now Entering Olympus Island (6,667 Sq. Mi) West via- Black Lake to Black River to Chehalis River to the Ocean. North via Capitol Lake to Puget Sound to Strait of Juan De Fuca to the Ocean.”

This is what Olympus Island looks like!
                Not going to lie, but this sh*t blew my mind. Had I been on an island the whole time, just thinking it was a peninsula? Had all the books, maps, signs, people and history been incorrect? Above all other questions, I was stumped with wondering “is the Olympic Peninsula really an island?” Not believing signs, I decided to jump on Google Maps and look at this for myself. At first, I saw no way that this could be true. Land was connecting at all the places that it should. However, looking even closer, I realized that from Black Lake, there is an accessible waterway all the way to Grays Harbor. Sure, the first mile out of Black Lake looks like marshland and a bog, but technically, still water. (Right?) From there it connects down near Littlerock and Rochester. From here, a straight shot down river until you hit Grays Harbor and on to the Ocean. I suppose if one felt so inclined, they could travel this whole stretch by boat! Now, while going west seemed to help the idea of an Island is a reality, the way North becomes a bit more imaginary. North of Black Lake in Olympia, it is a bit harder to stretch an irrigation ditch as a passable waterway, but it appears as if this was a natural waterway before the area was built up. In fact, if you follow the trees and look next to the railroad tracks that lead to Capitol Lake, a small creek is visible in breaks of the trees. Without much research, I was shocked to realize that the Peninsula is actually an Island!

Sunny Day at Black Lake
Where Olympus Island hits the Puget Sound
                Interestingly, if you search online for this, there are no articles, no links, no Wikipedia page and no twitter account for Olympus Island in Washington. Olympus Island was never a popular idea, never had any press and aside from a small sign overgrown with trees next to a bridge, the world would never know that the Peninsula we love so much is actually an island! Now, just for fun, when people talk about the Olympic Peninsula, you can be a smarty pants and tell that that technically, it is an island, named after the tallest peak on the Island, Mt. Olympus. The idea Olympus Island is probably going to eventually fade away from all memory, like the paint on the sign.  Like the island itself, we can keep it living with stories and education.

                For more information on Olympus Island, please call Exotic Hikes today @(360)350-8938, or drop us an email at exotichikes@gmail.com. Also, you can hit us up on twitter @ExoticHikes. (please hit us up on twitter...we like it...a lot!)

Until next time, spread this message to friends, family members and random dudes on the bus.

See you on the trail,
Douglas Scott
Exotic Hikes

Friday, May 25, 2012

Do you know what Mt. Olympus looks like?

What is this?? "It's a mystery!"
While I was in living as a volunteer in China, the United States Peace Corps took us on a trip to a place called “sanxingdui” which means “Three Stars Mound”. This trip was supposed to give us an insight to the 5,000 years of civilization in the Chengdu area of South Central China. While culturally impressive, we as a group became increasingly frustrated at the museum and it’s explanations of artifacts and their significance. Every time we asked a question that was a little deeper than common knowledge, our guides would smile, shrug and answer us by saying “It is a mystery!” While this may have appeased me when I was a kid, as a twenty something, I wanted more knowledge.
The earliest picture of Mt. Olympus, taken in 1913

I tell this story because recently I was in a conversation for a local podcast * and realized that the Olympic Mountains signature mountain is basically a mysterious entity, surrounded by peaks, rain forests, rivers and stream. Few people have seen and are not able to recognize the mountain when their eyes fall upon it.  Mt. Olympus is much like the artifacts at that Chinese museum. Mt. Olympus exists. People have climbed it and people have camped by it. Pictures exist of the mountain, but even pulling up a Google image search of the mountain leaves much to be desired. If Mt. Rainier can generate millions of images and many many dollars of sales for posters, why can't Mt. Olympus be the same? Mt. Olympus needs to not be a mystery, but the peak that attracts people worldwide to the Olympic Peninsula!

Is this the Face of The Olympic National Park?
Mt. Olympus, the highest point on the Olympic Peninsula, stands at 7,960 feet, yet there is not an iconic image floating around, sitting in picture frames around the world. I refuse to believe that this mountain isn’t picturesque! The Olympic Peninsula needs a signature view; we need to make Mt. Olympus the Pacific Northwest’s version of Yosemite’s Half Dome. We need to get images for the world to see of our mountains, our rainforest, and OUR national park. We need to let the people in desert countries see the millions of greens that make up the forest, the people in Europe need to see Mountains that rival the Alps and the people of Asia need to experience the sheer beauty that the pristine, untouched Olympic National Park possesses.

This is why, with great excitement, that I am pleased to announce a once in a lifetime opportunity with Exotic Hikes. For readers of this blog, I am offering a photography trip deep into the Olympic National Park to capture the beauty that the peninsula is keeping secret from the rest of the world. If you make it to the Olympia area, I will provide transportation to some of the most amazing places in the world. Contact us today!

You know you want to join us!!
 I want to take pictures of the mountains and high alpine lakes that will entice visitors from around the world to come and experience something unique, something beautiful, something that we all love, The Olympic National Park. 

Interested Parties should email or call us!

Email: exotichikes@gmail.com


Hope to see you on the trails,
Douglas Scott 
Exotic Hikes

* Listen to the Whole Podcast here: http://einmaleins.tv/episode/no_one_knows_what_mt._olympus_look_like

Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Mother Wears Hiking Boots

My mother does indeed wear hiking boots.I have never understood this to be an insult, as I think my mom is pretty bad ass. She also wore basketball shoes. She also wears the title of teacher, cancer fighter and mother. She, like most mothers, is truly an inspiration and she is one of the reasons I got into hiking.

My Mom and I at the Great Wall of China
                Back in the 80’s my mom and dad would take me hiking around the Skagit Valley. They would carry me when my little legs got tired, and would give me snacks when I started getting grouchy. They would load my sister and I in the car and drive for hours, looking for birds, animals and sweeping vistas. My dad was always the one to be gung-ho about it, but my mom brought emotion and compassion into hiking. For me, she was the one who introduced the gentleness and awesomeness of nature. She was the one who stopped me from stepping on ants and instead had me watch them.
                As a child, she was the one who told me it was ok to cry when Yellowstone was burning. Having just been there the year before, I was crushed and never imagined that the area would recover, but every year, she made sure we went back. My mom is the reason I fell in love with Yellowstone, and Yellowstone is the reason I hike.  My mom also taught me at a very young age to always pack extra gear, food and water because you never know what might happen. My mom is the reason I survived while lost in the North Cascades.

                In high school, my family went on a long hike across the Olympic Mountains and my mom was inspiration to not give up. We were tired, had little water and were roasting under the sun, yet she kept a pace that got us to camp. Trudging along, we were beat, but I saw that if my mom could handle it, I needed to as well. We still talk about this trip, and while it wasn't ideal (thanks to my grandpa thinking we needed 4 large jars of peanut butter and 3 jugs of maple syrup for a week long hike), it was time spent together. 

Hanging out with my mom at Tienanmen Square
                4 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It devastated me to a degree she doesn’t know. I had to get out, I had to hike, and I had to connect with nature because that is how my mom and I bonded. She had surgery and so far she is doing well, but is still unable to hike or get out much. She still goes to Yellowstone almost every year. She loves watching the wolves and looking for moose. She loves nature, and passed that down to me. My mom flew out to China to visit me when I lived there, despite health issues and a multitude of other stresses. She has supported me in my good days and my bad days. 

Because of numerous new health issues, my mom may never hike again, but every time I see her, she still has a pair of hiking boots near the door, just in case she can get back out and enjoy the great outdoors again.

I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!