- Photo Essays
It hasn’t rained at all today. The sky is blue and the sun is out in full force. None of which is usual on the northwestern side of Olympic National Park in America’s Pacific Northwest.
The tiny lumber town of Forks* where we have based ourselves has an annual rainfall consistently over 100 inches.
But not today.
(*Oh yes, I did say Forks and no, I am not going to talk about that other thing that Forks is famous for. It distresses me that only 20 percent of the visitors to Forks Visitor Center are there to inquire about hiking trails and the areas natural attractions, and the other 80 percent are there for that thing I am not going to talk about. So I refuse to even mention it except to have this bit of a gripe. If I’ve completely lost you and you are so inclined…Google it! The statistics are staggering.)
As I walk through the Tolkienesque wonderland of the Hoh Rainforest just south of Forks it looks, sounds and smells as though it is raining…and that it has been forever. Which is not so far from the truth.
The Hoh is drenched by almost 200 inches of rain each year. The fact that the sun is out today really makes no difference: everything is soaked and the excess moisture in the trees is dripping from strings of moss and lichen like a sun shower around me.
When you first enter the forest and walk along the Hall of Mosses trail it is like stepping into a strange, but beautifully intriguing fairytale from your childhood: a kind of Alice in Wonderland versus The Dark Crystal inspired landscape. A delightful land of fairies and gnomes and the tiniest of mushrooms, but strangely dark and creepy at the same time. I loved it. I kept imagining what it would be like to walk around here at night.
The Hall of Mosses trail is only a mile long. But we spent nearly three hours meandering through the forest breathing in the fresh, cold and damp air.
But while the rain forest was the highlight for me, this is only one tiny corner of the storm battered wilderness of Olympic National Park. Rugged beaches, waterfalls galore, the glaciated Olympic Mountains, enough hiking trails to keep you amused indefinitely, lakes, alpine meadows, rivers…all in gem of a place in the pacific north west.
With only five days here we merely brushed over what this misty peninsula has to offer. On the way to Port Angeles we made the hour-long detour, battling road works and delays, to Sol Duc Falls. It was worth the detour though and once a large tour group rowdily came, saw and (finally) left we had the place to ourselves. It would have been wildly romantic had I been there with someone other than my best friend…
The sole purpose of this road trip was to visit national parks and explore the vast natural wilderness of Alaska and the western states of the USA.
When I come to places like the Olympic Peninsula, I am reminded why I travel. There are always places that leave more of an impression on you than others, and then there are the ones that simply take your breath away, even if just for a few moments.
It’s those moments that keep me travelling.