Long ago, when my oldest son had just turned a year old, a simple front country hike in the Olympic Mountains changed my life. I had hiked and backpacked before, long before, but it had not woken that part of me. Hiking was something I had done because my friends were going when I was in college, and I didn’t want to miss out. It just hadn’t clicked into my mind that I would love it on my own. It was early fall of 1998.
I was 25 that fall and my Mother asked me to drive her to the Hoh Rain Forest, on the far side of the Olympic Mountains. She had caught a show on temperate rain forests in Washington State. To be fair, I somehow had never learned that Washington State was riddled with those. Pre-internet days there were many things I had not learned about yet.
So a few weeks later I drove her to the Hoh. And learned I was missing out on a lot of Washington State on that long drive. We passed so many river valleys. Elwha. Sol Duc. Bogachiel. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how big Lake Crescent was as I drove past it on Hwy 101. And somewhere, down those roads, it was waiting for me. I didn’t know what “it” was then, but I would soon.
I walked into the forest, which leans over the parking lot, and couldn’t believe how intensely green it was. Everything was lit up. I came away that day with a deep desire that I would come back and hike the Hoh Trail (which I did a few years later). That next week I started hiking local trails. Trails I am rehiking now, with our younger boys. And seeing again how much I miss it. Seeing it again with fresh eyes is amazing. Live it always. And yes, I still hike in jeans at times. Just like I did on that hike.
A simple front country trail, Hall of Mosses, it won me over. I didn’t want it to end.
I visited this tree, which is the Archangel Tree to me, once again, and when you see it once more, it fuels the mind.
Thick moss covers everything, and if there is space, huge ferns cover that.
Trees bent over, with deep moss.
Elder trees reaching for the sky, the ones that weren’t logged the first time long ago.
Something I couldn’t believe was the level of life in that forest. If a tree fell, it would have as many trees growing on it as fit. With ferns, moss and tiny fungi growing with it.
On a short nature walk my eyes were opened, and I found I had to see what else was out there.
And that started the clicking.