30 OCT continued: Yellow leaves blanketed the edge of the narrow road as moss-covered trees leaned ominously into the highway, arching, defining our entrance. As we officially entered the rain forest, the moisture tapped upon the window anointing our arrival, and the light before us darkened. Ahead were two cars in the parking lot, one couple about to leave, while the other had just arrived and entered the visitor's center. Following our lunch, we followed to find no staff, rather a tall narrow metal box, secured, in which we placed an envelope with $15 and detached a receipt to place upon our car dashboard. (The forest was very dark; click on the photos to enlarge for enhancement.)
The Olympic National Park is approximately 1441 square miles or 922,000 acres (373,120 hectares) and within it are three ecosystems: Pacific shore, a sub-alpine forest and wildflower meadow, and the temperate forest. Today we would participate in the latter.
A sign posted elevation at 573 feet, and another telegraphed we were not to befriend (my word) any of the elk. Okay! I'm ready. We would venture through the .8 mile Hall of Mosses Trail.
Summers find the Hoh Rain forest relatively dry, but winter storms from the Pacific Ocean yield annual rainfall of 12-16 feet, which give rise to the big leaf maples, Western Hemlock, Sitka spruce, and old Western red Cedar. Some trees tower as high as 300 feet and 25 feet in diameter.
A light rain ushered us into the largest old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest with its rugged peaks, ancient trees, multi-layered canopies, and nature's felled trunks (blowdowns, they call them).
A mist-shrouded forest of epiphytic moss and licorice ferns drape the trunks of trees.
A hemlock seedling sprouts on a nurse log, and with time will sends its roots down.
. . . whereas, where nurse log once stood and has now rotted away, enormous roots (stilts) stand elevated, a cavity between it and the earth's carpet. Self sufficient is the living, breathing, and nurturing of this forest.
My husband stands 200 feet away at the end of the downed Sitka.
How beautiful is this hard shelf fungus that appears to be fluid? Does it not look like an ice cream cone turned upside down?
Seen in this crystal clear creek is plant life hanging to a log.
In mystical moments, we were captured, stood in solitude, and listened to the quiet.
It took slightly over an hour to cover .8 mile, and more time could have been enjoyed, but we had a long drive ahead. Another time, another visit will be necessary.
As we left the forest and began our drive back, the road was dry. Then suddenly my husband's cell phone rang! It made us laugh out loud: there are times we are disconnected while standing in our home, and here we are. . .
The dense green turned to groves of birch and the impending darkness still offered light. In just a few hours we would be back at our lodging and enjoying a marinated flank and some fresh zucchini on the grill and a nice glass of wine.
31 OCT: Day 6 and foiled was our plan to head back toward Port Angeles the following morning to visit Hurricane Ridge. As the rain and fog encroached, our morning yielded reading, laundry, and lunch at a recommended local restaurant, but never again. Two salad, two waters, tax, and tip - an outrageous $36 dollars.
A casual drive was in order for Day 6: south on 101 and a stop to view an antique light museum; 104 to Port Ludlow and north on Oak Bay Road; to Port Hadlock and back to Port Townsend and a driving tour of some of the old Victorian homes; stop at a local fish market to fetch dinner for the grill. $15 for tonight's dinner - a fine deal after that lunch.
(Just a note that gasoline prices were all over the place, from $2.45 to over $3 dollars a gallon and in just few miles of one another.)
1 NOV: Inclement weather had moved into the entire Pacific northwest, so last night we decided to pack it up and head out a day early. Our exploration had been full, and if we are to read, the comfort of our home beckons. So much left to explore, but that will have to wait for another time as our journey to this beautiful state is complete for now.
Thanks for joining us, and hope you enjoyed the time.