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09/17/11 - Hoh Rain Forest

We were out on the Hoh Rain Forest Trail for the first time in a while. This is a World Heritage trail, so we don't have to say much, especially this year. We arrived mid-week in the shoulder season and found the parking lot full. We're betting that the park had a record summer in terms of visitors, even with the Elwha area closed.

We walked up to Five Mile Island and made our way to the campground. Things had really changed. The river had eroded a fair bit of its northern bank leaving a much narrower flat area between the rise inland and the river itself. The gravel area across the channel had grown with a big region of fresh gravel contrasting with the shrub covered region of older gravel. It's easy to look at a river and think of it as defined by its banks. In fact, the a river like the Hoh is constantly remodeling and reinventing itself, moving its channels this way and that and redecorating its banks with gravel and driftwood.

We had also forgotten just how big some of the trees are. When a trail has a lot of big trees, it's easy to walk along categorizing them as "middling", "middling large" and so on, when in fact it would take a small team to just link arms around one. Early along the trail, not all that far from the trailhead, there is a fallen tree lying parallel to the trail. It's quite a walk from the broad section where it had broken from its stump to its upper reaches. It seems that a few hundred feet on there is still a tree beside the trail, and it takes a moment of thought to recognize that this is just more of the same tree.

It's an amazing trail, and we have only explored the first bit of it. Despite the full primary parking lot - we parked in one of the overflow lots - the trail thinned out quickly. Most people just explore the short interpretive Hall of Mosses trail at the start, but it is worth wandering a bit up the river to get a better sense of the river and the forest.

The twisty trees and vines of the rain forest

More twisted trees

The view up the river

A fallen tree on the river gravel

Another view up the river - the magic of framing

Pacific dogwood in bloom and in fruit

More amazing rain forest trees

A fungal friend

It's hard for a photograph to give a sense of how big some of these trees are.

A glimpse of the river

Another view up the river

Keywords: hoh rain forest