“Our national parks are blood.  They are more than scenery, they are portals and thresholds of wonder. . . Whenever I go to a national park, I meet the miraculous.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land

We ascended the road to Hurricane Ridge in a cloud.

We ascended the road to Hurricane Ridge in a cloud.

“What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness?  Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”
— G. M. Hopkins, from “Inversnaid”

Sign at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors' Center

Sign at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors’ Center

We began our tour of the national parks with a 3-day loop drive around Olympic National Park in Washington State.  This is a most amazing park because of the diversity of its landscapes — from snow-capped mountains to temperate rain forests to Pacific ocean beaches.

Our first destination was Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains.  Clouds had settled at the higher elevations.  There was little opportunity for sightseeing, as we looked out on nothing but white!

Our view of the Olympic peaks was a bust!

Our view of the Olympic peaks was a bust!

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This wet and gloomy weather is one of the hallmarks of our Pacific Northwest.  When you vacation here, you have to surrender to the elements.  We soldiered on to our next destination, the Hoh Rain Forest, thinking that rain in a rain forest might make a more authentic experience.  But, of course, it was not raining when we got there!

Still, the effects of rain were evident everywhere — moss-drapped trees, green green streams, nurse logs nourishing new growth, filtered light.  We walked the Hall of Mosses Trail and the Spruce Loop Trail.  The tall trees were awesome.

Driving into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Driving into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Tall, tall trees

Tall, tall trees

Along the Hall of Mosses Trail

Along the Hall of Mosses Trail

Nurse log, a fallen tree that nourishes new, young trees

Nurse log, a fallen tree that nourishes new, young trees

Green stream bed

Green stream bed

Spruce Loop Trail

Spruce Loop Trail

Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way
by Mary Oliver, from Felicity

If you’re John Muir you want trees to
live among.  If you’re Emily, a garden
will do.
Try to find the right place for yourself.
If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.

When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

Anything that touches.

God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable.  But holiness is visible,
entirely.

Some words will never leave God’s mouth,
no matter how hard you listen.

In all the works of Beethoven, you will
not find a single lie.

All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers.

To understand many things you must reach out
of your own condition.

For how many years did I wander slowly
through the forest.  What wonder and
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!

Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing.

The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

 

 

 

“the leaping greenly spirits of trees . . .”
— e e cummings

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Our second Olympic National Park destination was the Hoh Rain Forest.  This temperate rain forest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain each year, but we were lucky to be visiting on a sunny day.  We began seeing moss-draped trees on the road leading into the heart of the rain forest.  Instead of fifty shades of gray, we were seeing fifty shades of green.

Fisherman in the Hoh River

Fisherman in the Hoh River

The road into the Hoh valley

The road into the Hoh valley

Green, green stream

Green, green stream

Hall of Mosses trail

Hall of Mosses trail

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Living giants

Living giants

New growth on fallen log

New growth on fallen log

Light through a lacey green curtain

Light through a lacey green curtain

 

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Rings of a fallen giant

Rings of a fallen giant

Ground cover

Ground cover

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

Moss-Hung Trees
by Gertrude Gilmore, 1936

Moss-hung trees
Like the mantilla of a beautiful lady’s ghost
Bearing elusive fragrance of a faint perfume
Soft, caressing;
Shaped
Like the wings of huge, inert gray moths, —
Weird and uncertain branches veining them
Gossamer, intangible;
And reshaped
Like fairy cobwebs interlacing mesh upon mesh
With lights of foolish insects caught within them
Restive, darting
With shadows —
Like half reluctant thoughts lately modified
In a world of fantastical shapes and causes,
Mystical, fleeting.

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Moss-laden maple

Moss-laden maple

Moss-covered public phone outside the Visitor's Center in the Hoh Rain Forest

On my day-off work this week, my husband and I took a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula to visit the Hoh Rain Forest, a temperate rain forest in our state that averages over 12 feet of rain per year!  We caught the Edmonds-Kingston ferry across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula.  It hadn’t started raining yet.

On the ferry crossing to the Olympic Peninsula

One of the Olympic Mountain peaks

As we drove Hwy 101 north and west, we left any sun breaks and saw low-lying clouds caught in the trees on the mountain slopes.  By the time we reached Lake Crescent, it was raining.  From then on, our windshield wipers got a real workout.

Clouds caught on the mountain slopes near Hwy 101

It was still raining when we arrived at the Hoh Rainforest.  We hiked the Hall of Mosses trail, a 3/4 mile easy loop, where we were surrounded by immense trees, ferns, mosses and lichens.

Hall of Mosses trail

Ferns growing out of mosses on the side of a tree

Mosses and ferns

This fallen tree was 190-feet long!

Even the river was full of green plant life.

Some of the prettiest scenery on our drive was the section of Hwy 101 along Lake Crescent.  This was a trip where the journey was as satisfying as the destination.

Magnificent tree on the western shore of Lake Crescent

Low clouds over Lake Crescent