August 3, 2016 – Hoh Rain Forest near Forks, Washington

Our plan for today is to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park and then drive out to the most northwestern point in the continental United States.

What a difference eight years makes! The last time we were here in this remote corner of the Northwest, there were very few visitors and we were able to enjoy a peaceful walk through the rain forest. This time, however, there are so many people – people playing music, babies crying, frustrated parents trying to get their kids to smile for the camera, kids running on the trails and off the trails, annoyed drivers not being able to find parking spaces, foreign visitors who don’t understand what is permissible, Americans who don’t understand what is permissible, and on and on. This celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service has strained the capacity of the parks.

We get to the Hoh visitor center early enough that we can find parking in the overflow lot. We decide to take the Hall of Mosses Trail.

John at the Hoh Visitor Center
John at the Hoh Visitor Center
On the Hall of Mosses Trail - moss!
On the Hall of Mosses Trail – moss!

Along this trail are interpretive signs explaining the cycle of life in the rainforest.

Explanatory plaque
Explanatory plaque
Nurselog with colonnade of trees
Nurselog with colonnade of trees
Stilt-like roots from growing over a now rotted-away nurselog
Stilt-like roots from growing over a now rotted-away nurselog

The forest is fascinating. I love the moss.

This moss gets all its nutrients from the air
This moss gets all its nutrients from the air
Moss growing on top of a fence post
Moss growing on top of a fence post
Moss covering the trees
Moss covering the trees
Moss in a swampy area
Moss in a swampy area

After our hike we head back to the our room for lunch and then head out towards Neah Bay near Flattery Point, the most northwestern place in the continental U.S. We stop along the way to search for whales (zero) and otters (also zero.) The body of water here is the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Investigating further we find that Juan de Fuca was Greek rather than Spanish and the Strait was named by an Englishman after him. All these waterways in the Northwest were caused by glaciation.

Looking across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Looking across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Reaching the road’s end, the area is the reservation of the Cape People, the Makah Tribe. The Makah were named by surrounding Native Americans with a name meaning “people generous with food.” Their flag symbol shows a red and white thunderbird with a whale in its talons.

Tribal symbol of the Makah Tribe
Tribal symbol of the Makah Tribe
John standing on a jetty in Neah Bay
John standing on a jetty in Neah Bay

After our excursion it is time to make dinner. The Quillayute River Resort provides each unit with a Weber grill. Tonight we’ll be having hamburgers!

Lastly, another beautiful view of flowers at the Quillayute River Resort.

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