Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park- An enchanted place

Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter.

After arriving at 1230 in the morning, the last thing I wanted to do was to wake up to the 7am alarm clock that was going off.  The rain outside made us both that much less motivated to get up and going.

Packing up in the rain requires lots of plastic bags.

Last time we were at Hoh Rain Forest was a few hours before I proposed to Barbara down on Beach Four.   My intentions were to ask her to marry me as we strolled through the big mossy trees of this old growth temperate rain forest.   Except in September, the rain forest was a little dry- in fact so much so that we both kind of thought it was lame.    It was decidedly not cool enough to propose to her, so I delayed (more on that in the next post).  On that day in September, we both vowed that we would have to come back when the rain forest was a bit more wet.   Guess we should be careful what we wish for, because this time around, the Hoh Rain Forest certainly is wet.

Finally, we got out of the car and began pulling together our things for the overnight trip ahead of us.   Taking twice as much time as usual to do the task, we joked about the weather.  We joked about cutting our overnight trip short- both of us testing each other to see if either of us would give in to the rain.

“Maybe we should see if there are any spots open at the ten mile sites, instead of fifteen miles.”

Decked out, head to toe in waterproof jackets and pants, we shut the van and locked it up.   We both threw a last glance at each other to see if the other was willing to surrender to the rain and call the trip early before it even got under way.  The rain has a menacing way of toying with my head, and often it can convince me to change trip plans.

“Let’s just see how it goes”

No more than 15 strides up the trail, the rain began to lighten.   It’s a funny thing.  We had fully so prepared ourselves for how awful 15 miles of walking in the rain was going to be, that we nearly didn’t start.   We nearly didn’t take the first step.   I think there is a lot to be learned from that- you always have to take the first step, because you never know what you might miss.

The rain did return, but it really isn’t that bad once you get going.   A temperate rain forest is pretty rare and special place.   Beard moss seems to stick to every tree limb, and the trees just feel old.  In many cases, that’s because they are.  Some of them are 8-10 feet in diameter!  The whole place feels enchanted.  We felt so small wandering amongst the trees.

The flat trail was an easy cruise, and we made good time.  Even though we didn’t start the 15 mile hike until 945, we finished the day off before five, stopping for nearly an hour at lunch.   At Elk Lake, where we camped for the night, there is a lean-to style wood hut that serves as an emergency shelter should the weather get really nasty.   We were able to hang out under the protection of a roof, and wait for the rain to subside a bit before searching for a tent site.   It was a nice break.

Still Gotta Smile

We set up our tent, and then returned to the shelter for dinner.   After devouring our rice and chicken meal, we heated up water for soul warming batch of hot chocolate.   With the damp air here, we never really seemed to be able to warm up our hands and feet.   So we fired the stove up for a third time and boiled another liter of water.   Very carefully, I poured this into a water bottle, and we booked it for the tent.   Quickly we sorted out the tent, and crawled into the sleeping bag, putting the hot water bottle down by our feet.   Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make such a difference.

1 Liter of hot water = Priceless.

We nodded off as the rain began to pick up again.

Pitter patter, Pitter Patter, Pitter Patter.

…………………………………………………..

“Thirty.”

Every morning we roll over, wipe the sleep from our eyes, and we add one to the previous days’ number- keeping track of the number of days we have been married.

Today it has been thirty days since we started this adventure!

Rain fell through the night, but our trusty tent kept us dry.  We are lazy about getting started with the hike back down to the car, but eventually our grumbling stomachs force us to abandon our warm sleeping bag and crawl back out into the drizzle.

We tore through the miles today, making even better time than we did yesterday.   Over the hills, and through the woods, across a very high bridge, we were hauling.  Seems that we are getting our hiking legs back- we cooked the last five miles at over 3 miles an hour.

Seems that water is about 100 feet down

A long way down

Eventually the rain did come to an end, and the fog began to lift.   Just as we got back to the car, we even caught a few glimpses of blue sky.  It was the perfect finish to a hike in the rain forest!

Check out the Gallery below by clicking on one of the images:

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