Anyone with a sense of adventure will tell you take the scenic route. All too often we find ourselves in a rush to get from point A to point B. Minor inconveniences put major dampers on our daily life and we forget to enjoy the little things. For those of us who live along the West Coast a well known secret of pure, scenic travel is US Highway 101. Over 1500 miles of historic highway that will take you from Los Angeles, California to Port Angeles, Washington and beyond. If you look at it on a map you’ll see that it runs fairly north to south until you get to the top. Right before that eastward bank the road follows the Hoh River, and although there are signs pointing to the entrance, the path to the Hoh Rainforest is a rather unassuming one.
In a state known for its perpetual lush green, the Hoh, pronounced Hō, Rainforest stands proud. Averaging 10.5 ft (3.2m) of rain a year the outcome is a dazzling spectacle of vibrant green on green. You would be hard pressed to be there on a day it didn’t rain, and the morning our family visited was no different. In our excitement to get out the door we had found we left our smallest’s rain jacket at camp an hour away. Which is another thing you should know, there are no short cuts in and out of the Hoh Rainforest unless you camp there. The road to the visitor center winds along the Hoh River where you will see a beautiful aquamarine water that is synonymous with western Washington rivers. After a quick round robin of jackets, the oldest giving up his outer shell to the middle who passed along his to the youngest, we were set. Here we set out on picking our first trail. While the Hoh River Trail is a 17.3 mile (27.8 KM) walk along the river valley before you ascend Blue Glacier and Mount Olympus, we decided some of the smaller trails were just our speed. We opted to take the Hall of Mosses and The Spruce trail which were perfect for little legs and aging bones alike.
There aren’t a lot of times you see a word so beautifully personified to its description as the word canopy to the looming top of the Hoh. Even on its sunniest days, direct sunlight struggles to reach the floor beneath. It turned out that the shuffle of rain jackets wasn’t a necessity either. Once we were on the trail the steady down poor was all but nil. Words don’t do it justice and as I found out later, neither do pictures from a phone. I knew walking that I would have to bring my absolute A game to embroider it.
So much of it is filed under the ‘See to believe’ category. There isn’t enough floss in the world to cover the variant of green found in the Hoh, but I gave it an honest effort. The deeper you go the greener it gets, a literal fern gully. And, oh the ferns, forever reaching outward in hope to catch light.
The Hall of Mosses is just that. A gentle walk among very old trees draped in green and brown hanging impossibly low.
It’s so easy to get lost in what is above that you may miss the wonders of what is inching along beneath. Our nature princess spotted it first, slowly working its way across the bed in vibrant yellow, a banana slug.
Although local legend says it will end in good fortune and riches, we chose not to kiss it.
Three fourths of the way through the Spruce Trail you are sequestered along a portion of the river, quietly raging along, carving its own path through serenity.
It would have been easy just to stay here through the day, reflecting and embracing the shear luck of the moment.
When we did continue, we happened upon a ranger further up the trail. She put her finger to her mouth to give a universal ‘shhhhh’. When we were within whisper range she pointed and softly said, “elk”.
Though it was a good distance away from the trail we stood in awe of the size of it. An indescribable way to finish a wonder filled walk. And so, while I couldn’t see the forest, mountains or sky through the trees, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Get out there, get lost, and stitch your next adventure.
- Nate & Rosanna