Hoh Rainforest

Does this forest look familiar? It should +Twilight fans this is the rainforest near the real (and mythical) town of Forks, Washington +Twilight Fans, and it does feel as otherworldly in person as it does in the movies.

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The spectacular Hoh Rainforest is located on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. It is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States. Within Olympic National Park, the forest is protected from commercial exploitation. This includes 24 miles (39 km) of low elevation forest 394 to 2,493 feet (120 to 760 m) along the Hoh River.

The Hoh River Valley was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. Between the park boundary and the Pacific Ocean, lies 48 km (30 miles) of river, much of the forest along the river in that unprotected area has been logged within the last century, although some pockets of forest remain.

Flora of the Hoh Rainforest

The dominant species in the Hoh Rainforest are Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla); some grow to tremendous size, reaching 95 meters (312 feet) in height and 7 meters (23 feet) in diameter. Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western redcedar (Thuja plicata), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), red alder (Ainus rubra), vine maple (Acer circinatum), and black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) are also found throughout the forest.

The forest has a magical feel to it. I kept expecting a vampire to come out of the brush and bite me in the neck. It looks exactly like what you would expect in any vampire TV show or movie. . .kind of misty, kind of spooky, and really otherworldly.

Rain was intermittent but it was a soggy hike as mosses and ferns dripped water onto the forest floor.

Typically the forest receives between 140 and 170 inches of rain (3,500-4,300 mm) per year (that is 12-14 feet or over 4 meters of rainfall) and it rarely freezes allowing for incredible growth considering its latitude of about 47°50' N. or about the same latitude as northernmost Maine (Caribou, Maine is further south at 46°50') for comparison.

Fauna of the Hoh

Many native fauna make the Hoh Rainforest home, including the Pacific tree frog (Pseudacris regilla), northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), bobcat (Lynx rufus), cougar (Felis concolor cougar), raccoon (Procyon lotor), Olympic black bear (Ursus americanus altifrontalis), Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), and black-tailed deer (Odocoileus columbianus).

The area is also home to the banana slug (Ariolimax columbianus), which has recently been threatened by the encroachment of a new species of slug, the black slug (Arion ater), an invasive species from Northern Europe.

Wandering the Hoh in perfect quiet and with no cell signal I kept hearing that great old tune in my head, "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues." Why? One, it was written and performed by Washington State native Danny O'Keefe. Two, we were still reeling from the second stolen election in our short adult lives wherein the FBI had decided to install a puppet as president that they could control. That "President-elect" is a climate change denier and surely uninterested in wild places like these that desperately need our protection. So, the song is appropriate. Progressives moving to the West Coast deciding the rest of the country is a waste of time. . . growing up in a world with little hope. . .etcetera.

"Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues"

Everybody's goin' away

Said they're movin' to LA

There's not a soul I know around

Everybody's leavin' town

Some caught a freight, some caught a plane

Find the sunshine, leave the rain

They said this town's a waste of time

I guess they're right, it's wastin' mine

Some gotta win, some gotta lose

Good time Charlie's got the blues

Good time Charlie's got the blues

Ya know my heart keeps tellin' me

"You're not a kid at thirty-three"

"Ya play around, ya lose your wife"

"Ya play too long, you lose your life"

I got my pills to ease the pain

Can't find a thing to ease the rain

I'd love to try and settle down

But everybody's leavin' town

Some gotta win, some gotta lose

Good time Charlie's got the blues

Good time Charlie's got the blues

Good time Charlie's got the blues

[whistling to end]

Listen to the original recording below:

A Thousand Years

Christina Perri

I had this one on my iPhone so I played it in the forest to see if any vampires might appear. No luck.

Heart beats fast

Colors and promises

How to be brave

How can I love when I'm afraid to fall

But watching you stand alone

All of my doubt, suddenly goes away somehow

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you

Darling, don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years

I'll love you for a thousand more

Time stands still

Beauty in all she is

I will be brave

I will not let anything, take away

What's standing in front of me

Every breath, every hour has come to this

One step closer

I have died everyday, waiting for you

Darling, don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years

I'll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed, I would find you

Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years

I'll love you for a…

Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hon Rainforest, contributing to the massive yearly total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet) of precipitation each year.

The result of the massive amounts of rain and a temperate climate are a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns blanket the surfaces of the trees adding another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.

The Hoh Rainforest is located in the stretch of the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States. It is a popular destination but be warned that there is no easy way to get there. From Port Angeles it takes a couple hours to negotiate the peninsula around to the Hoh. On recent days a bridge has been out on Hwy 101 making the journey even longer. On a typical day it would take a little over an hour to drive from Port Angeles to Forks, Washington. . .and then another hour or so to get into the rainforest.

The Hoh River that traverses the Rainforest is about 56 miles (90 km) long, originating at Hoh Glacier on Mount Olympus. It flows through the Olympic Mountains of Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the Hoh Indian Reservation.

The indigenous people of the Hoh River are known as the Hoh but they call themselves chalat'. Their name for the Hoh River is chalak'ac'it.

On the north side of the mouth of the Hoh River, across from the Hoh Indian Reservation, the town of Oil City was established in 1911 by Frank Johnson and the Olympic Oil Company. Natives had discovered the oil, which seeps to the surface. This was proposed to be a deep water oil port. Many of the lots in the town were bought on the hopes of oil prosperity, but some were used for vacation homes. Oil drilling operations were conducted by the Milwaukee Oil Co., the Washington Oil Co., the Jefferson Oil Co. and others in the surrounding area. No significant commercial oil reserves were found. Later, two-thirds of the platted Oil City was returned to the state which now forms part of the Olympic Wilderness Park.

When the Olympic National Park was created in 1938 it was not to protect these magnificent forests, but its primary objective was to protect herds of Roosevelt elk. Today about 400 of the park's 4,000-5,000 elk live in the Hoh River Valley.

What does the name "Hoh" mean?

According to the Hoh Tribe page, the Hoh River takes its name from the Quinault language name for the river, "Hoxw." No meaning can be associated with the Quinault name. Some have claimed that Hoh means “fast, white water” but, in fact, no etymology for the name can be found in either the Quinault or Quileute languages. The Quileute language is also the language of the Hoh Tribe. Hoh is only a name. If there was an original meaning it has been lost. The Hoh River people themselves, who speak Quileute, call their river Cha’lak’at’sit, which means the “southern river.” We can divide the name up into its roots: -k’at’sit means ‘river,’ cha’la- means ‘(on) the south.’ Thus, just as the Calawah was called Kalo’wa (‘the one in the middle’), the Hoh River was viewed as the most southerly of the rivers in Quileute speaking country.

My Secret Garden

On highway 101 from Port Angeles to Hoh there are a lot of places you can stop and look out at the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I found this secret garden and moss-covered picnic table along the way.