Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Great Northwest Adventure, Days 11-13, the Hoh River, Coast

Our Great Northwest Adventure- Hiking the Hoh River Rain Forest

This is a continuation of the story of my family's Great Northwest Adventure. Just joining us? Go to the Day 1 to read it in order

Day 11-
   We had spent 4 days backpacking on the Olympic Coast. We came out at Rialto Beach where we had car-dropped our Suburban. We managed to get all of our stuff into the truck, and headed to the town of Forks, where we had a hotel reserved. We had chosen the Dew Drop Inn, based solely on the fact that it was next door to a laundromat. After 11 days of camping, we had a LOT of gross clothes. My brother David, his wife Nancy, my sister Barb, and her husband Al had taken a 3 day loop backpack at Ozette, and were meeting us in Forks, bringing our car to us. We all got there around the same time.

The hotel was wonderful, with a large quiet grassy lawn. We opened up all the tents, sleeping bags, pads, etc and stretched them out in the sun to dry. It looked like a camping yard sale.

We spent the rest of the day doing laundry, sharing stories, going out for dinner, and re-organizing. We were all sore and tired (except maybe David).

Day 12-
   We had run out of energy the day before to get groceries, so we went first thing the next morning. It was just across the street. Forks is a very small town that caters to campers and fishermen. It was so peaceful. Once we were resupplied, we said our goodbyes to David and crew, and headed out for the Hoh River Rain Forest, only half an hour down the road. The drive was nice, following the glacial Hoh River, with it's powder blue water. The blue color is from what is called "glacial flour". It is the very fine particles ground off the mountainside by the slow, heavy, frozen ice glacier. This fine silt washes down as the glacier melts, into the water.

We went into the Visitors Center and turned in our Coastal Junior Ranger books to get sworn in and receive our patches. It was lunchtime so we found a shady picnic table by the parking lot and had some lunch

   We had decided to take a short backpack up the Hoh trail instead of camping in the car camping place. Once we were at the visitors center, we secured a permit for a backcountry campground just 3 miles up the trail, and stuffed the minimum gear into our packs. Then we were off down the trail about 1:45 pm.

This area is the only temperate rainforest in the US. The trees are huge old-growth. There is moss and huge ferns everywhere. It's sorta like being in a Jurassic Park movie. EVERYTHING was BIG. And green.

 The trail slowly gains altitude, but nothing major. If you follow the trail to it's end, like 25 miles or something, it ends on Mt Olympus at the glaciers. We had no intention of doing that, though it may be fun for another time.

We moseyed along, passing a few pretty waterfalls, and taking rest breaks. None of us were recuperated from the coast hike yet.

At one point, we stepped aside for a mule train to pass. They supply camps that are doing trail maintenance weyyyyyy up the mountain. There were 3 wranglers riding mules, with 3 mules each behind them, 12 mules carrying all sorts of trail supplies.

We arrived at our camping area at 4pm. One reason we chose this camp area was because it has a bear wire to cache your food. We had NO desire to ever carry a bear can again.

Once we got our tents set up, we headed down to the river to explore. It was really pretty, but FREEZING cold.

It is the water that melts off the snow in the elevations above us. Brrrrr.

 When it was time to make dinner, we carried our food and cooking stuff down to the river's edge to cook and eat. Not only was the view awesome, but we didn't want the food scent in camp to attract bears.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, exploring, reading books, and we managed to have a small campfire. Then it was off to bed.

Day 13
   We were in no hurry to get anywhere, so we had a relaxing morning with breakfast, filtering water at the river, and packing up camp

   Let me insert something about filtering water. The glacial flour that makes the water so pretty? It is a nightmare for water filters. The Ranger had given us coffee filters for the ends of our intake tubes, but that wasn't enough. Melody didn't use her coffee filter the first time, and her pump was MUCH harder to pump after that. We used the coffee filter on ours religiously, but it got a little harder to pump each time. By the end of our adventure, it was a chore to pump. We will be buying a replacement filter insert now. Maybe next time we should use 2 coffee filters? I don't know if there's any good way to pre-filter it.
   We were ready to hit the trail around 9:15.

On the way back down, we dropped our packs at one of the waterfalls and went to explore some. It was really pretty pouring over the rocks with all the moss and ferns.

Once we had our fill of the falls, we headed out again, ambling along and enjoying the views. OK, I was ambling. The boys were speeding along as always, then resting while I "caught up". I will only be there once. I was in no rush to leave. I wanted to adsorb every moment in my memory (and my camera's memory card).

 We got back to the cars at around 11:30. Again with shoving everything in, and we were on our way. I was sad to leave this crazy cool place, but there were more adventures ahead.
   We made a stop to see a GIANT tree that was signed by the road. It was HUGE. It's hard to believe trees can grow that big.

Then we headed down the road to go to Ruby Beach.

This beach is supposed to have pink sand. This is a very popular beach, and we had a hard time getting a parking spot, which ended up being on the shoulder of the entry road. We grabbed some lunch food in a tote bag, and headed down the short trail to the beach. We looked and looked, but the sand did not look pink at all to us. There were beautiful sea stacks though, and the weather was perfect

And in the distance out in the water, you could see Destruction Island with it's lighthouse. Yup, another lighthouse to check off.

We had a nice lunch sitting on giant driftwood trees, relaxed some, explored some, and then walked back to the car.

Next stop was Kaloloch, where we had camping reservations for the night. It was a pleasant short drive along the coast, with periodic ocean views.

There was another "big tree" sign so we stopped to look

Once at Kaloloch, we set up camp. We had only gotten one site, and the area for the tents was TINY, but we made do.

We stretched out our backpack tents to dry. We had large car-camping tents for the nights at regular campgrounds. We spent some time re-organizing yet again. This was a rather constant process so that we didn't loose things into the black-hole that was the back of the truck. Of course we spent some time relaxing, cooking dinner, reading, and having a campfire. At early dusk, we walked down onto the beach and walked along the ocean watching the sun set.

Then back to the tents and bed.

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