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Sophomore slump

On Monday I went to the Quileute Oceanside Resort for a second time, hoping to recharge my batteries before the April onslaught at work and to recreate something in the neighborhood of the wonderful time I had on the Olympic Peninsula a month and a half ago. Best laid plans of mousy men! As soon as I'd settled into my motel unit (the exact same unit I was in last time) I started feeling the symptoms of a cold. By the time I went to bed I was feeling so miserable I could barely sleep. I felt better when I got up in the morning, and I'd intended to spend a day lazing around in the room reading anyway. However, after another miserable night in which I slept only fitfully, I was done. I packed up my stuff and headed home, feeling defeated, bitter, angry, hateful, and, you know, not at all happy. Fuck my life!

Kalaloch Beach

It wasn't all bad, of course. I managed to get a little exploring done, even if it wasn't nearly as much as I'd hoped to do. On the drive to La Push, I stopped in Aberdeen and poked around downtown a bit. It's a logging and fishing town that's seen its better days, although it appears to still be the economic hub of the area. They're trying to revive the downtown core, but most of the new development is chain franchises on the fringe of town. Downtown felt largely depressed and desolate, like a lot of old logging towns in the the Pacific Northwest.

Public art in downtown Aberdeen

I'd read on a website that there's a compass rose where the Wishkah River joins the Chehalis River, so I used the map app on my phone to go looking for it. I found the spot where the Wishkah River joins the Chehalis, but it was a semi-industrial area that wasn't encouraging to pedestrians. So I didn't find a compass rose, but I did find the Breakwater Seafoods & Chowder House, where the chowder was good enough that I returned for more on my way back to Seattle on Wednesday.

On the muddy banks of the Wishkah

First Beach in La Push was its usual picturesque self. The weather was, if anything, more wintery than it had been at the end of January. I went for a walk on the beach on Tuesday and got caught in a hail storm, and on Wednesday I woke to find a light frosting of snow on the ground. There were also a lot more people at the resort, probably because it was Spring Break.

Thick sea foam on First Beach

There had been a huge storm on the coast the week before, and there was a buoy on the beach that I assumed had been carried in by the storm.

Beached buoy

My agenda for the week had included the nine-mile hike at Lake Ozette, a hike to Third Beach in La Push, and/or a thirty-mile drive around Lake Quinault, where there's another rainforest. The cold precluded any hiking, so when I drove home on Wednesday I decided to try the drive around Lake Quinault. Seemed like I could manage that much at least.

I wasn't really sure what I was doing, because I hadn't done much research ahead of time. What you can see of the rainforest on the drive isn't quite as impressive as the parts of the Hoh rainforest I saw on the previous trip, but there were various trails along the way that might have taken me deeper into the forest. The areas I could see from the road looked like they had been logged in the not too distant past, and there were plenty of houses too. Still, there were some impressive moss displays, and the back part of the loop, where it was only a dirt road, was national forest land that was considerably wilder than the settled parts. I found myself stopping frequently to take photos, although once again some of the best stuff came out blurry because I was too excited and not taking my time.

Temperate rainforest, without the forest

I need to find a good book on the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula. What I've picked up so far from reading on the web is that there are at least three major rainforests out there, all three running down river valleys on the west side of the Olympic Mountains. The three rivers are the Hoh, the Queets, and the Quinault. According to the National Park Service website, the Bogachiel river valley also has a rainforest, and that's an interesting one, because it looks to me as though the Bogachiel ultimately feeds into the Quillayute river, which comes out at La Push. Thus the the giant driftwood at First Beach likely comes from the Bogachiel rainforest. (Completely random association: Bogachiel sounds like a Yapese word to me.)

Anyway, even the Queets rainforest seems pretty inaccessible unless you have a boat or are prepared to ford a river in waist-high water. I haven't yet discovered any accounts of visits to the Bogachiel rainforest, although I really haven't gone looking either.

More epiphytes at Quinault

These visits to the peninsula leave me with a lot of questions. The Olympic Mountains were a mysterious, remote region until relatively late in the settlement game. I wonder if the fact that white settlers initially found the mountains innaccessible is one of the reasons the whole area ultimately became a national forest. Once again I saw signs all over the peninsula decrying the "Wild Olympics land grab". Google discovers the Wild Olympics Campaign, but I still haven't figured out what it's all about. No doubt it's another bout in the old loggers vs. environmentalists struggle.

The Olympic Mountains hover over the Quinault River


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 24th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC)
Nice photos!
Mar. 24th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
Mar. 26th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
I love the area. I used to fly into Seattle and drive through Aberdeen on my way to Ocean Shores and Taholah when I worked for the tribe. Great restaurant and store there on route 109 overlooking the trees and the beach. Aberdeen reminded me of the book Cannery Row. When the big storms would roll in to Ocean Shores it was interesting to watch them from third floor of the hotel. The hotel had gas fireplaces in each of the rooms. They came from Canada and they couldn't get replacement parts so they stopped repairing them which caused a couple to explode a little. lol Hope you feel better during your next trip.
Mar. 26th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC)
That must be pretty common practice, because I overheard one of the guests at the resort ask whether there were generators in case of power failures, and the staff person said the heating was propane. The stoves are gas too. So I guess you'd lose lights, but not heat. Or explosions.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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