Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
Olympic National Park Day 2
Hoh Rain Forest - Ruby Beach - Beach 4
The road was covered in a heavy fog as I made my way out of the town of Forks and as it slowly started to clear up, it made the ride to the Hoh Rain Forest all the more enchanting.
Along the drive before the entrance to the park the sitka spruce trees were draped in moss with different shades of green and brown that pop on the twisting winding Upper Hoh Road. After passing the entrance to the Olympic National Park Hoh Rain Forest I passed a barely noticeable sign that simply read "Big Spruce Tree" with an arrow pointing to the right. Intrigued I pulled over in to the small parking lot to see just that, a big spruce tree, a really really big old sitka spruce tree.
The aptly named Big Spruce Tree stands over 270 feet tall and measures over 12.5 feet wide and is approximately 550 years old. And while it certainly large, believe it or not, it's only one of the largest sitka spruces in the United States.
Yours truly standing at the base of the Big Spruce Tree.
Once I arrived at the Hoh visitor center, I quickly found the very easy, accessible, and brief hiking trail the Hall of Mosses. Only a .8 mile loop, this little trail offers beautiful and almost eerie views of an old growth forest complete with more moss than you could ever imagine swaying in the breeze.
After I was done, on the wee "hike" I found the infamous phone booth with a moss covered top that I had seen in oh so many photos, however the phone itself was missing. While nature movies on technology is replaced I guess.
Ruby Beach was probably my favorite and most anticipated stop of the day. I had been obsessing about this particular beach for some time now, ooo'ing and aw'ing over photos from other photographers lucky enough to take the tip to this beautiful stone covered, sea stacked beach.
Between the slight mist coming off the ocean breeze through the trees, the dramatic sea stacks rising before me, the gray stones that lay beneath huge piles of drift wood, I didn't know where to start. I ended up taking about 2 hours there, snapping quite a few photos and then just sitting down and taking it all in.
One of the things I was most excited for when going to Ruby Beach was tidal pool activity, unfortunately the tide was starting to come in, and it had already obscured the main areas where sea life would have been most visible.
The path down to the beach from parking lot.
So when leaving Ruby Beach, I drove down the 101 and saw signs for yet another Olympic National Park beach. I checked the clock and had just about an hour to spare if I wanted to have lunch. I pulled in to the less crowded parking lot and was pleasantly surprised.
What Ruby Beach lacked for in tide pool activity due to the encroaching tide, Beach 4 (that's right the name of the beach is imaginatively dubbed Beach 4), more than made up for it. At first I was hesitant to walk the short, but steep trail down to the beach and the somewhat longer jaunt to the small sea stacks, due to time, hunger and tiredness, however I'm so happy that I did.
Once I made it down I saw that the tidal pools were teaming with life from mussels to sea anemone and a couple of ochre stars too!
I stumbled across a rather large Banana Slug on my walk back up to the car.
After my climb back up to the parking lot my stomach started yelling at me for me sustenance, so with about an hour to spare I was off an in search of lunch. The first place on the road that I came across was the Kalaloch Lodge, so I stopped the car and went into the restaurant, where the I was seated at a window with a lovely view and then was promptly forgot about for roughly 15 minutes. After that everything was copacetic and the food was delicious. Before heading back to the car, I made a quick stop at the general store on the Kalaloch Lodge property, picked up a bottle of wine and a few snacks and was off to SEA-TAC to return my rental car.
Despite a couple of traffic jams I made it back to the Seattle-Tacoma airport to return my Chevy Cruz and all with 20 minutes to spare. From there it was a quick jaunt on the Seattle light rail stop to make my way in to the city for my stay at the Panama Hotel, but more on that later.
Next up, Seattle.