My wife and I headed up to the Olympic Peninsula last weekend to get away and reset. With all the drama last week, a little time with no internet or TV definitely needed. Even though the Olympic Peninsula is only a few hours away, it seems like most Portlanders don’t venture up there very often. Given the remote nature and sheer size of the place, we decided to just focus on the west coast — it has some of the best rain forests in the U.S. and totally feels like the land that time forgot.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its rain, but the Olympic Peninsula knows rain! The peninsula coast gets 10+ feet of rain in an average year, and more in some of the rain forest areas. While we had some rain over the weekend, most days had light rain with a few sun breaks and only once did we get over one inch of rain in a day.
The drive up U.S. Route 101 goes past Lake Quinault. And though we initially were going to motor right on by to our destination, it turns out that the Lake Quinault area is home to several of the largest trees in the world as well as some epic rain forests. Our first stop, just off the main road, was a short rain forest trail that included a giant old growth Coastal Douglas Fir. That was followed by a stop by the world’s tallest Sitka Spruce, with a circumference of 58 feet. Then we saw a great little waterfall, Merriman Falls, just past the lake on the side of the road.
Nothing stops the progress of time and we were saddened to find that the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, also near Lake Quinault fell due to high winds just in July. We manage to follow the closed trail to see what was left of the tree. Standing on the fallen trunk I had trouble visualizing just how big this tree really was. It’s also apparent how quickly the forest can reclaim manmade things like a nature trail. We truly are small and new to this place.
During our adventures into the rain forests, sadly we also found that the road to the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest was washed out. It was actually washed out the weekend that we were originally supposed to come up in October. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the Hall, but another section of prehistoric rainforest that was amazingly epic. Along the way we saw deer, shades of green that just can’t be described, trees that looked like they wanted to come to life, and drove over a bridge that was barely safe to walk across. Unfortunately, I didn’t see Sasquatch or even a Sleestack. I promise to keep trying though.
The trip was fantastic, and while we only saw a small part of the Olympic Peninsula, it lived up to everything I had hoped for. It’s good to get away and unplug from time to time. Nothing says unplugging like enjoying our national parks, walking through forests and seeing trees that were already hundreds of years old by the time our country was founded.
I hope the photos convey the magnitude of what we saw.