My daughter had been after me for a while to go visit the Hoh rainforest, so I finally conceded the long drive during a spate of good weather. Besides, we were in need of a warmup hike and the Hoh trail barely climbs over the first 14 miles, keeping the hiker immersed in green paradise that entire time. What with the long drive and various other chores, we didn't start hiking until almost 2 PM, but that was fine as we planned on going in about 10 miles for the first day, then making the second day a bit longer. There is still snow on the upper portion of the trail towards Glacier Meadows and we weren't sure how far we wanted to go in with no preparations for steep snow travel. We spent the first night in Lewis Meadows, pitching our Duplex right next to the river. The water lulled us to sleep as a nearly full moon tracked across the adjacent ridgeline during the night. Normally, having to arise for a nature call can be a pain, leaving one's warm cocoon, but the evening stayed mild and the moon glistened off the river, making me wish I had brought a tripod. Click here for the complete photo set.
With pristine weather on day two, we arose for breakfast and continued towards the river's beginnings, finally running into some mildish uphill on the way to Elk Lake. It was here I discovered I had failed to include some mandatory food for our trip, so the decision was made to turn around and complete a 20 mile day on what meager portions remained. I tried to make up for my faux pas by donating most of the remaining food to my daughter, because hunger is far preferable to starving daughter crankiness. It was rather comical for me to eat one chip with 3 miles remaining, a typical portion for the day. I've been told I'll never pack the food again, and I tend to agree on that point. However, growling stomachs did little to distract us from the cool breezes, the buttercup fields, the gentle trail through giant spruce, fir, cedar and ancient maples draped with moss, all the while serenaded by birdsong and breeze induced flora rustling. Who needs food when every breath is a feast for the lungs? And later in the day we had a cool encounter with a coyote, loping down the trail towards us with nary a glance at the multicolored bipeds. We stopped and wondered what he would do, but the bushy tailed beast simply arced around us and rejoined the trail, never even glancing back. We made it back to the truck by 8 with plenty of time to take a hot shower in the parking lot, this night sleeping in the camper converted Avalanche and lulled to sleep by a frog croaking cacophony (we did have food waiting for us in the cooler). After sleeping in with a late start out of the park, we were able to stop at a cafe for some calories and remochaize before spending some time at Ruby Beach on the way home. The Hoh certainly delivered on immersing us in a classic temperate rain forest hike, well worth the drive and the empty stomachs.