Our next destination was Forks — these days perhaps more famous for being the location of the Twilight saga novels than home to the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. While we didn’t run into Bella or Edward or encounter any vampires or werewolves (thank goodness!), we did fall in love with some giants.
There are several trails leading out from the Hoh Visitor Center including the Hoh River Trail where you can hike for 18 miles to Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus that we first viewed at Hurricane Ridge. However, we chose something a wee bit shorter quickly immersing ourselves in the Hall of Mosses after crossing this lovely pond.
This leaning tree show a great example of epiphytes, plants growing on other plants, which are abundant throughout the area. They are not parasitic but derive moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water, and debris that accumulates around them. Moss, lichen, algae, ferns, and bromeliads are a few epiphytes you might know.
Here you can see that the forest is literally dripping with epiphytes.
If it weren’t for the paved trails, it would be nearly impossible to walk through this forest dense with giant conifers plus big leaf and vine maples that play host to these epiphytes.
Dead and downed trees like this enormous one still contribute to the rainforest. As they decay, they serve as nurse logs supporting new life.
Grazing Roosevelt Elk are responsible for keeping the understory open. Of Olympic Park’s 3-4,000 elk, 400-500 live in the Hoh Valley. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of one but we were not that lucky. President Theodore Roosevelt, after whom the elk are named, designated the land a national monument in 1909 to protect the elk; it became a national park in 1938.
In the Twilight saga, Bella worked part-time at “Newton’s Olympic Outfitters”. While completely fictional, it definitely has its counterpart in real life right in the heart of Forks, aptly named “Forks Outfitters”. We discovered a plethora of real (vs. designer) outdoor clothing there and got Norman properly outfitted for some of our next adventures with his favorite style of thick long-sleeved t-shirts and best of all, rain pants. That was truly an Olympic bonus!
Sadly, our Olympic Discovery Tour was almost over, but fortunately, there were still a few key places to check out on the way home. See you at the coast in the next post! 😉