Forests (& rivers, lakes, & waterfalls)
After three years of regular visits to a small corner of the Olympic Peninsula, I thought that my love of the place had to do with the beaches and the mountains. In planning this recent trip, I realized that we might have some pleasant experiences with forests too - I had no idea what we were in for.
Approaching the Hoh Rainforest Trails
From Kalaloch Lodge, we had a half-hour drive up the 101 until we turned in toward the center of the park. Then there were about 45 minutes of quiet winding road to get to the visitor center and trail heads. On this drive, we stopped off to see two large trees - very large ones: first a cedar, then a spruce.
When we arrived at the visitor center, we were greeted by a family of elk. They wandered around a creek then crossed into the parking lot. The patriarch was not very pleased with the crowd of spectators that had gathered, and he advanced on us to give his family more room.
Hoh Rainforest - Hall of Moss
Our first walk in this forest took us through the Hall of Moss. In this part of the forest broad-leaf maples fill the understory (with towering spruce above), and thick moss, which is an air plant living only on the moisture in the air and light, drapes from everything. The Hoh Rainforest receives about 12 feet of rain a year. It sprinkled on us a little, but not much at all. I did not anticipate that fall colors would be a part of this Fall Break trip, but in the Hall of Moss, the golden leaves were everywhere.
These pictures barely suggest the magic of this place. As you look at the photos, imagine the smell of amaretto. I have no idea why the air was filled with it, but we would often stop in our tracks so that we could drink in the deliciously scented air.
Hoh Rainforest - Spruce Trail
Our second walk here was on the Spruce Trail. It is very close to the Hall of Moss, but there were few maples and the smell of amaretto had vanished. We saw the elk again (the same family, we think).
This trail led down to the Hoh River. We had seen glimpses of the Hoh on the drive into the park and couldn't figure out why the water had such a weird blue color. It is glacier water - my new favorite color.
After this walk, we drove back to the Lodge for the night. On the drive we talked about the goodness of walking in the forest. The silence was so deep, and everything so alive. After carefully walking to not frighten the elk or crush tiny mushrooms, it was only possible to continue in the world with gentleness.
Sol Duc Falls
The next day, after our visit to Rialto Beach, we drove inland. We drove up along the Sol Duc River which has a few stopping points for viewing salmon in the river. (The dark spots in the first photo are fish!) The trees here are mostly Douglas Fir, which grow a little further a part, and so the light filtered in differently than in the Hoh forest.
The walk through the woods to the falls was my favorite of our forest walks.
Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls
We spent one night at Lake Crescent Lodge. Our walk to Marymere Falls began at this location.
This was a a beautiful, tranquil place to spend a night. The fist picture is the view from our room.
This walk was in low lands, compared to the other forests. I think most of the trees were Redwood. - Lots of moss here too.
In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things.
In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.
- John Fowles