lance and i walk in the Hoh rainforest to five mile island

That’s my friend Lance below, standing on the north bank of the Hoh in Olympic National Park’s soggiest area. I liked how he was framed by the big maple here, it makes him look like a tiny elf. He and I hiked 10.6 miles (out-and-back) of the Hoh River Trail on Sunday.

Lance shutterbugging along the Hoh River

The Hoh Valley is home to a temperate rainforest awash with 357,931 shades of green and mushy slugs every fifteen feet. Which is why I felt off-kilter visiting on a bluebird day. I was a (happy) skeptic when we started out. No one should be allowed to eat their cheese and crackers at Five Mile Island with a clear view of Mt. Carrie on their first visit to the vaunted, holy Hoh. But that was the case.

I couldn’t turn Lance down, he had made it very clear earlier in the week that going out to the Hoh was something that meant a lot to him. I questioned our decision to adventure low when there is such precious little time left for the high country before the winter snows, but another part of me felt my destiny was to dwell in the valley deep with a man possessed. It turned out to be a very, very good day.

Bluebird day in the Hoh nonetheless, everything added up to something very special. I don’t even know where to begin. So I guess I will just start with these two pictures. In retrospect, the Hoh measures up to all my preconceptions and romanticism. The Giant Spruces and burbling, gurgling Mt. Tom Creek have filled my thoughts the past couple days. At the time I was unsure. Mostly because of the bright, sunny day. I’m in a freaking rainforest and I’m getting skin cancer because I’m too lazy to get out my sunscreen, goddammit. My first impression of the Hoh was of a place a lot shaggier and open than my daydreams. Absent were the hammocks of green, the contiguous layers of moss and liverwort all around and I could just fall backwards and take a nap in a moss bed, while moss fairies came fluttering by with trays of moss caviar and damp hot moss towels. We were missing the essential element of the Hoh…..mist. A regular, rainy day in the Hoh would have been too easy. A challenge for me for the day was appreciating the Hoh on it’s terms. And I did. Lance pointed out everything I didn’t point out to him. Before long, my pulse measured that of the Hoh Valley-bottom. From the clover-like oxalis to the six story-high firs and cedars…….

In the morning, we found a lovely spot on the river that occupied us for at least an hour of satisfying shooting. It was a dry bar of river rock off the main bank that we easily hopped and skipped over to.  We were treated to a scenic wedge of riffles with pretty fall colors in the background downstream, and he and I took turns snacking or shooting. Lance likes cheese sandwiches, they course through his veins.

We were accosted by a chattering squirrel I believe took offense to Lance’s camouflage fleece. The trail took us past several pretty waterfalls. We admired bridges. Lance lost his lens cap in the moss. I went pee seventy times (what’s new?). We kept barging in on a cute couple from Oklahoma making out in the woods. A seven point bull elk blocked the trail at the end of the day.

It was your basic perfect day in the Hoh rainforest.

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