Media in the Hoh Rain Forest is a paradoxical notion. While traveling in Olympic National Park, I had been trying to connect with friends in Portland on my i-Phone for more than a day. I hadn’t found the necessary “hot spot,” although I suspected they must exist along Highway 101. Then I spied this offering near the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Centre. An old phone booth now repurposed by the forest.
The sight reset my pulse. I stopped thinking about tomorrow and the days after that, and stepped into the forest.
The density of vegetation in the forest undergrowth creates a unique hiking experience in the Hoh. The area receives about 140 to 170 inches of rainfall each year. That’s 12 to 14 feet of rain per year, yet we happened to hike through it on a completely sunny day in late April. The beauty of the area was almost surreal, with huge ferns and mosses covering nearly everything. In retrospect, I can hardly imagine such good fortune!
We followed a cleared path because … well, it’s the law. Also, (a) I don’t want to destroy the undergrowth by crashing through it; (b) I want all my forest surprises to be aesthetic; and (c) most especially, I like returning from a dense forest.
Young Moose in the Hoh
We did not walk the path alone. The route of a young moose ran counter to ours, so for half an hour or so that day we had a joint experience in the Hoh. Incidentally, I give wild animals as much distance as they like and never tempt their defense responses. This fellow more or less ignored us. I suppose we were smelly superfluous interlopers who didn’t signify in his world. Come to think of it, I felt much the same way about him.
On another trip I would like to hike a lot of the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail and will get the updates for routes from their website. I saw enough waterfalls on this trip to really whet my interest.
A protein bar and an apple on the trail, plus all the water we could carry, kept us happy until we signed into Quinault Lodge that evening.
The approach took us past this totem, which added nicely to the tone of the hotel. But everything was lovely about the Lodge, from the views of Quinault Lake to the check we were served at the end of dinner.
During the night, however, I felt like I would drown if I lay flat. I remembered the feeling from years ago when I camped at Carpenteria Beach in California. Maybe it was wading in too many tide pools . . . maybe it was too many hikes in a damp forest . . . who knows what it was. But I know for sure that I wouldn’t want to have given up one single thing we did on our vacation.
The next morning we left Olympic National Park, which I’ll always remember as a place of wonder and beauty, and headed for our friends’ home in Portland. Our intermediate project, however, was to find a town large enough to buy medicine that would relieve my symptoms.
On a trip I hate to return the same way I come, so we left Portland driving east along the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Of course we stopped at Multnomah Falls as well as several others along the way.
I began this series of blogs about a road trip with my adult daughter wondering what it would be like to travel with someone so much younger than me. So it seems suitable to conclude with what I learned along the way.
I discovered a key difference between us as to our goals for traveling. At my age I feel compelled to find everything I care about in an area and explore it thoroughly. I have to climb to the top of the staircase if that’s the chosen activity. I have to get the trip right. I suppose it’s the “I may never pass this way again” syndrome. But my daughter thinks in terms of whatever is fun and interesting at the time. She’s not at all a frivolous person, but time is the key difference between us. She knows she can always come back. I don’t.