Forks, WA, Friday July 19
Today was our day to hike in the rain forest of Olympic National Park. First we had to have breakfast. We stopped at a small, small café just outside of the park boundaries. There was one table. There was the owner and a young woman cooking who had worked just two days besides today. The owner was called away on a 20 minutes errand. The young cook was nervous but the food tasted reasonable and we have not gotten sick yet.
The Hoh rain forest is in the Hoh glacier and river valley. This part of the park receives 140 inches of rain per year on average. We went on a total of three hikes during the course of the morning and afternoon. This is old growth forest, so the trees are quite tall and old. The major difference in this area is the profusion of plants in the undergrowth.
Epiphytes such as moss and lichens are everywhere. Ferns grow abundantly. Sitka spruce trees grow extremely tall and thick due to the rain. Trees that fall over are allowed to decay naturally. When they fall, they provide additional sunlight to the forest floor and a different species of plant will sprout as compared to the shade loving previous plants.
We observed numerous examples of nurse trees. This is a dead tree lying on the ground. Seeds from other trees and from plants land on the dead, nurse tree and begin to grow. This is extremely important for spruce and fir trees in this forest. They will begin growing on the dead, nurse trees. As they grow more, the roots reach the ground and then eventually the young trees grow over and around the dead tree. Eventually the dead tree rots away and the young tree becomes tall with a gap in its trunk and/or root system. (Hopefully the pictures will demonstrate this.)
We only saw mountains a few times when we hiked directly next to the river and the gap in trees allowed an unobstructed view. Generally we were looking at: the ground so we did not trip on rocks and roots; straight out to observe ferns, moss, plants, etc.; and up to look at the tall trees.
After the hikes, we made two stops. One was at a huge Sitka spruce tree. The Sitka is the largest of the spruce trees and the ones growing in the narrow temperate rain forest band along the Pacific coast are the largest. The second stop was to view a large cedar tree. Neither stop tried to claim these were “THE” largest such specimen but they were big. Smaller than the sequoias in CA though.
We had a late lunch early dinner at Kalaloch Lodge close to Ruby Beach. Good food and excellent view directly on the ocean and beach.
Saturday we head out to cover Sol duc falls, Lake Crescent and Storm King areas of the park.
Ed and Chris July 19 9:30 pm