Although I’d visited the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic peninsula last year, I hadn’t gotten the chance to drive south to check out the Quinault Rain Forest – a situation that I made sure to remedy this August. The difference between the lands within the federal forest reserve and outside of that protection zone are really stark. Driving throughout the area, you’ll see patches of clear-cut earth interspersed with thick, green, wild flora. It’s a little jarring. I’m wondering how much of these temparate rain forests would be left if the land wasn’t protected. It isn’t a comforting thought.
This is the second time I’d been in the area during a very dry season, so the mosses weren’t as lush and verdant as I imagine they’d be during the rainy season in the colder months. The drive up the coast is completely worth any time spent on the highway. There are lots of pull-offs where you can check out the beaches along the coastline, complete with fantastic walks through almost unbelievably beautiful wooded areas. Hiking trails are everywhere, it seems, and a particulary determined traveller could spend days, if not weeks, checking all of them out.
I made my way north from Willemina, OR, heading out from another wonderful group of friends that allowed me to spend some time with them on my journey around the country. Along the way, I hit Short Sand Beach Creek in Oswald West State Park in Manzanita, OR. I walked around for about half an hour, then headed back. I didn’t actually make it down to the beach – I was trying to get further north before bedding down for the night, and so had to get back on the road.
(Short Sand Beach Creek photos)
Later that night, I pulled into a KOA about fifteen minutes away from Cape Disappointment in southern Washington to spend the night – and as fortune would have it, I ended up getting a space next to completely fantastic neighbors. Two wonderfully raucous Canadian women and a Scotsman – it was like the beginning of a ‘walks into a bar’ joke.
Shortly after pulling in, I asked if I could join them and share their fire, and they waved me on over happily. I broke out my camping chair, then swapped travel stories. They were wonderfully friendly, chatty, and HILARIOUS.
I haven’t laughed that hard, for that long, in a great while. It’s the social moments like this that I live for.
I got an early start the next morning, hitting Ruby Beach about 3 hours north. I love the sea stacks there, and there seemed to be a rather infectious tradition of stacking the flat ocean rocks throughout the area. Little stacks of rocks were all over several logs, one of the stacks, and they peppered other places throughout. It was both surreal and cool.
After a quick bite to eat in Forks, I headed on to the Quinault Rain Forest.
Each time I visit this area of Washington, I’m overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to take the time witness and walk around in such beautiful surroundings. I fall in love with the Washington coast again, and want to relocate. At some point, I’d love to spend about a month in that area. The very idea of being close enough to drive a few hours to wander around on a regular basis is hugely appealing.
The waterfall in the Quinault Rain Forest was a particular treasure. I’m an enormous fan of waterfalls, and this particular one was tucked back in an area where you couldn’t really get to it. I very much wanted to swim in it, but settled for simply being with the water for a while, appreciating the scenery. For some reason, falling water fascinates me – both the appearance of it, and the sound. It’s a wonderful sensory experience for me.
I’m still not entirely sure what I find some completely comforting about being surrounded by thick moss and enormous trees. The environment grounds me and blisses me out in a way that few other things/activities do. The forest has its own music, far preferable to that of cars, people muttering to themselves or yelling, or other machine oriented noise. I’m becoming less comfortable in cities the older I get.
That night, I spent camping in the Hoh Rain Forest, having parked Matilda next to an enormous tree that graced the entrance to the camping spot. The camping area was liberally draped in moss covered limbs and vines, almost giving me a sense of privacy. I actually made a fire (I usually don’t bother because I don’t want to tend it all night) and settled in for the night, relaxing as the light waned, then finally dancing into the night as the last of the light finally fled. Once I’d gotten to a point of being tired enough to sleep, I snuggled down in the back of Matilda.
All in all, spectacular weekend.
If you find yourself in the area, DO go check it out. And if you’re not? If it takes hours to drive there? STILL GO. It’s a ‘bucket list’ kinda moment to be in such places.