Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fallen Kings With Emerald Shrouds: Hoh National Rainforest

I remember seeing the ad on the side of a Uhaul truck and it stayed with me from my teens until now.  It was one of their classic & bizarre "did you know?" ads.  Now here on the West Coast on my 3rd cross country drive I had to opportunity to drive straight to Klammath Falls in Oregon but something about the idea of an actual rainforest existing in temperate climates was too alluring.  I then headed for Forks, Washington where most stay before going to see the amazing Hoh rainforest.  On the way there I passed by the Sklallam Tribal center which was also well worth a visit.

The drive to Hoh rainforest in Olympic National Park in Washington State was equally stunning.  A meandering drive through the most quiet forests and then along the infamous Hoh river, named after the Hoh Indian Tribe was surreal.  Fern choked gullies and grottos where waterfalls flowed endlessly proved to be one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on.    For me it was well worth the trip.

As for the actual Hoh rainforest it actually exists several miles even before you enter the actual park and no photos can match the feelings since these are some of the rarest rainforests on earth.  Here is the only place on earth where a rainforest flourishes more in winter than in summer.  In winter when the rains drench the Pacific Northwest region the mosses and Lichen create their magic giving these primeval forests their mystery.

The true stars of this forest are not towering palms but a dance between Mammoth size Spruces, some over 350 feet tall and the dazzling array of mosses and lichens which flourish during winter.  You could stop your car almost anywhere and walk into these forests and step into a paradise.  Together, with all of the towering Spruces covered with mosses, lichen and endless ferns that grew almost everywhere one gets a mixture of feelings from stepping into a prehistoric time that also felt like some type of hidden elf kingdom.  I have been to tropical rainforests but this was the only one where I felt the prehistoric mixed with an intangible magic. 

Nowhere on earth have I seen fallen Kings respected so much as here.  Gigantic trees, as old as the Declaration Of Independence lay fallen but even in death they were immediately draped with mosses and ferns almost as if the forest had its own kind of community that buried royalty with an emerald cloak.    The rainforest is so vast that you could walk for hours and not see another human.  To be a man, alone in these forests was truly an experience.  Unlike certain places that are filled with human history, here you walk through the fog thick forests and imagine meeting the Hoh Indian tribe or maybe a spiritualist or the Buddha himself in deep meditation.  I am sure if I visited the Hoh Indian reservation they have many worthwhile stories about their ancestors and these mysterious forests.