I knew within seconds that Olympic National Park was special.
It sounded different, smelled exotic, and looked like a mystical fairy-land that I used to imagine as a child.
My first stop was the coast, particularly Beach 4, where one of the locals promised me I’d be able to explore the tide pools when the tide was low. There were a couple other tourists on the beach, but most of them were clustered around the end of the trail. I ventured further north to a rocky outcropping that was being hammered away by relentless Pacific waves.
I scampered about, dodging ocean spray and scaring away seagulls with my presence. There were some amazing creatures: sea anemones, sea stars, mussels, sea urchins, and a host of other living things that I couldn’t identify. As I hopped from rock to rock, I grew in appreciation of this unique ecosystem. I was smart enough to keep an eye on the water level; it wouldn’t be fun to get stuck out on a high point unable to get back to land.
After I had exhausted myself at the beach, I entered the Hoh Rainforest portion of Olympic. Here, I viewed every shade of green conceivable. One type of lichen that clung to the large old-growth trees looked exactly like lettuce.* The mosses dripped down, hanging off of branches and twirled around trunks. There were waterfalls, creeks, and streams all within 2 miles from the Visitor’s Center parking lot.
I enjoyed the feeling of being in such an exceptional environment. Simply sitting and watching the world was engaging. A couple slugs came out to say hello, and some bugs that looked like mosquitoes hovered about (they didn’t try to chow down on my flesh like I expected, though). There was so much life and I was glad to be apart of it.
When I crawled into my trailer that night, moisture clung to everything. I didn’t mind, though – it wasn’t as annoying as the humidity back east. I fell asleep within the rainforest, feeling snug and cozy, and all wrapped up in green.
* I later found out that this is actually called Lettuce Lichen.