After driving up from Astoria, Oregon, we hiked the short Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trails
. Both trails wind through the rain forest while portions of the Spruce Trail follow the Hoh River itself. The braided river cuts its way through the debris as it meanders down from the mountains. The trail itself often follows and dissects old stream channels recording earlier courses of the river. After exploring a bit of this portion of the national park, we ventured further north to Bogachiel State Park in search of our next camping spot. The park was almost empty and we nestled into my favorite camping site of the trip. For dinner, we roasted asparagus and mushrooms over the fire while munching on smoked salmon and goat cheese on crackers. Near ten o’clock it started to rain, sprinkling at first through the heavy tree canopy. As the rain picked up, we settled in our tent staying dry and snug throughout the night.
The next morning, we followed the 101 turning east for the first time on the trip as we headed to Port Angeles. The road hugged the south side of Crescent Lake. Once carved by glaciers, this beautiful lake is ringed by the Olympic Mountains. The lake’s center dazzled in sapphire but the fringes revealed teal and sea foam delighting me with more shades of my favorite color. Mike was so enchanted by the water that we stopped for no other reason than to skip a few stones. It seems we had found absolute serenity.
In the western region of Olympic National Park exists one of the few temperate rainforests on Earth. The Hoh River Rainforest receives 140 -170 inches of rain a year. Only further up the slopes does any place in the continental US have higher rates of precipitation. Giant Spruce and Hemlock trees dominate the landscape, but ferns, maples and firs thrive as well. Outside of a giant crayon box, I've never seen so many shades of green in one place: moss, evergreen, sage, chartreuse, jade, emerald, olive and more envelop you as you hike. The Grand Fir’s needles are even two different colors. The tips are almost fluorescent while the rest is forest green creating the illusion that the trees shimmer. Taft Creek runs through with the clearest water I have ever seen revealing more green growth along the bottom of the crystal creek. In a word, this rain forest is magical.