| September 6, 2016 |
I can’t believe how much I packed into one Sunday in July. It was somewhat of a mistake to make my Sunday so spontaneously long, filled with many discoveries in Olympic National Park. I may have overdone it a wee bit, considering the long drives involved… but, hey, no regrets!
The day started out with an 8am decision to journey to Second Beach with a fellow wanderlust heart. On the way to the beach, I saw a sign pointing toward the Hoh Rainforest – part of Olympic National Park. I thought, Wow! I can’t believe the Hoh Rainforest is so close! I’ll have to go there on the way home!
Did I dare to look at a map? Nope. I’m learning this is more necessary than I could have ever perceived. I’ve always been somewhat directionally challenged (okay, very directionally challenged), hence my immediate sign up for a Map & Compass Navigation course at my local REI upon arriving in Washington. I figured that, if I was going to explore some hiking trails, I would need to know how to figure out what way to go.
It would’ve been helpful if I decided to actually look at a map. Then, perhaps, a “quick stop” at HOH Rainforest wouldn’t have costed a 45-minute detour off 101. Nonetheless, the waterfall was worth it. Read on, Fellow Dreamer, and experience the magic of the Hoh! Warning: you may feel like you’ve been inserted into one of FernGully’s adventures.
Despite the longer-than-expected detour of Route 101, the stop at HOH Rainforest was well worth it. Firstly, I FINALLY purchased my America the Beautiful Pass ($80 for the annual pass to get into all National Parks)! I intend on visiting many National Parks in the next year, and figured it’d be helpful to have the pass! Plus, when a park charges $25 for a one day pass, the $80 for an annual pass doesn’t seem all that steep.
Upon arriving at Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center (finally), we consulted with a ranger for a relatively quick hike that would offer us views. We opted for the Hoh River Trail heading toward Five Mile Island because we were told it would offer river views and a waterfall grand finale!
In a short 4 miles, we hiked alongside an expansive river with rolling rapids of a bright blue color. The river was even visible between the foliage of the hiking trail.
We walked on, feeling a little tired and antsy to arrive at the waterfall. I felt somewhat guilty for having misled the group to the Hoh Rainforest (promising it was “close” to Second Beach), and was really hoping the waterfall would be worth the side track. There were actually a few moments where we asked passerbys if the waterfall was close because we all just wanted to see it… and then head home to rest.
Lo and behold! We came around a bend, and heard water flowing. Was it the river? No. Was it just the wind? Nope. It was a mossy, powerfully flowing waterfall!
Of course, we needed to get a closer look and crossed the mid section of the falls, then ascended on the lefthand side to be as close to the water’s power as possible.
I sat in awe and thanked the waterfall for showing us its beauty. This was my first real waterfall viewing in the state of Washington (besides for the creeks and falls I saw in my 30-mile backpacking trip), and I felt a fluttering sense of gratitude. Though we didn’t see any Roosevelt elk, and didn’t complete the entire hike to Five Mile Island, this trail was an excellent taste of the Hoh and a great way to end the epic day. Being that I had about a four-hour drive home, and unfortunately had work the next day, a longer hike wasn’t entirely feasible. Perhaps I will have to return to the Hoh to capture more of the mossy landscapes. It seems as though Olympic National Park has incredibly untamed landscapes. The purity and wild nature of the rainforest was not like anything I’ve seen before!
I bid my fellow wanderlust friend farewell (until our paths cross again) and headed home. Of course, I couldn’t let my belly go hungry, so I decided to stop at Kalaloch Lodge on my way home for a take out dinner of fish and chips! While waiting for my take out meal, I wandered toward the beach. The gray sky reflected upon the Pacific Ocean with a mysterious monochrome landscape, but this did not diminish its beauty. Just a few people were playing frisbee on the beach, and it felt entirely remote.
The somewhat dismal gray of the beach was contrasted by berries along the road, and bright flowers smartly spread around the lodge’s grounds.
The fish and chips, accompanied by a side of cole slaw (sorry, not pictured as it’s hidden in the little plastic container! Whoops!) and certainly fueled my drive… Happy belly 🙂
Tell Me Please!
Have you been to the Hoh Rainforest? What did I miss? What hike should I do if I return?