Continuing on the journey around the Olympic Peninsula, Jade and I made our way south along 101 and headed into the Olympic National Park at the entrance to Hoh Rainforest.
We had originally been hoping to camp and check out more of the park, but cut it short to a day trip because of the timing of Jade’s visit. The park itself is huge and includes access to Mt. Olympus and a lot of the more mountainous region from the North, near Port Angeles. That is where we would have camped, and I hope to make it back there at some point to do so. We decided that if we only had one day to see the park, we wanted to check out Hoh Rainforest, which is accessible from the west entrance only.
The Olympic Peninsula has some of the highest annual amounts of precipitation in the whole country. Hoh claims to get an average of around 140 inches per year. We somehow managed to go on a sunny day, where some of the trees were starting to change colors, and the sun was bright through the moss in some parts.
There were two hikes in the region that were each 1-2 miles, and then there was a multi-day trail that cut through Hoh up toward the northern end of the park. We did both of the small trails, and got to see some really great moss. There were also signs throughout the trail which explained a lot of the ecosystem, which I really liked. Usually I find these distracting from the surroundings, but I felt pretty out of my element in this rainforest, and was happy to learn more about it.
One thing I liked reading about were “nurse logs” which is when a tree falls down and seedlings that can’t compete on the crowded forest floor will grow on top of the log, absorbing its minerals and moisture. Eventually as these fallen logs rot away, the roots of the new trees are exposed and it looks like they are on stilts. As we walked through the forest we saw many instances of this, and the small trees growing in a straight line where it was clear a large log used to be.
Also populating the forest were a bunch of large ferns, which I wasn’t used to hiking around, that reminded me of Jurassic Park. The trees were also kind of spooky with all the moss. It felt so out of place for everywhere else I’d been in Washington.
He was pretty close to the trail so we took a picture and scuttled off before he decided to get up, which seemed terrifying. I’m not sure what was happening, if they are generally relaxed around people or if we got lucky to catch one napping.
From Hoh we drove down the coast, and it was surprising how quickly it transitioned from sunny forest to coastal fog.
Instead we stopped to watch the sunset over Lake Quinalt, which was on the Quinalt Reservation. We sat in the park and attempted to make noodle bowls with my camp stove. It was really cold. We hiked around the forest near there and then headed out for the long drive home.
We cut east along 12 and then 8 toward I-5, stopping in Aberdeen for dinner. We were excited to be as excited about Aberdeen as we were about Forks, because it was also a famous small town, courtesy of Kurt Kobain. Unfortunately Aberdeen was just really creepy and we drove around hangrily looking for a place to eat that seemed open late but not weird. (The place we ended up in actually had a brilliant pizza that used blue cheese dressing for pizza sauce. SUCH A GOOD IDEA. All pizza places have it already, and cheese sauce is delicious. We should somehow make this a more wide-spread thing.) After some satisfying pizza, we drove the rest of the way home, going briefly through Olympia, Tacoma, and making it back to Redmond.