I’ve done a lot of camping and hiking in my late teens/ early 20s and have spent a lot of time on the Oregon Coast and camping out in the woods and national forests on both coasts, Minnesota and even up in Quebec, but I don’t really remember being in such awe of nature like I have on this trip. Maybe it’s because I was just a kid back then and didn’t really appreciate it like I do now. You know how unimpressed with the world teenagers can be, even for a city kid who suddenly found herself in the middle of the woods for weeks at a time with just a backpack. “Isn’t this amazing??!!?”, I ask the girls. “Yeah”, they reply, a bit less enthusiastically than I expected they would. Oh, kids. But I get it.
The last time I did any sort of camping was right here in the Olympic National Forest. That was about 20 years ago and the only time Mark and I had gone camping together. We packed minimally and I figured we could just cook on a fire because that’s what I always did when camping, but when we got to the campgrounds after a 3 or 4 mile hike, we discovered that fires weren’t allowed. I still laugh at the hilarity of us trying to heat up tofu dogs with a lighter (yeah, that doesn’t really work). It started to rain the next morning so we left the site early. I never owned a pair of proper hiking boots and I think we were both in sneakers, but I remember booking down that trail in the rain so fast. I was hungry and wet. I think the first thing we did was drive to the first restaurant we saw (it was a Sizzler).
It was stormy the day we visited the Hoh Rainforest in the same national park, but much to our relief the rain and wind slowed down when we drove into the forest from our cabin on the coast. We even saw some sun breaks. But the rain started up again as we headed out on a short hike. Half of the family turned back when it started raining harder and the rest of us continued. I had 2 big, heavy cameras on me and it was ridiculously cumbersome to try and take photos while trying to keep the cameras dry. Halfway through the trail, I got stung by a yellow jacket bee in my thigh. At that point, I just wanted to get back to the info center, where there were warning signs about yellow jackets as I recalled, and look at the sting. I hurried the rest of the way down the trail as the rain started coming down harder and it reminded me of the last time we left the campgrounds in the forest.
Despite the rain and the bee sting, our visit to the Hoh Rainforest was pretty spectacular. You just can’t describe something like this in words or really even in pictures. I’m looking forward to the years when the girls can hike longer distances so we can really explore some more of mountains and forests of Washington. Maybe we’ll even go camping again someday. We certainly won’t be waiting 20 years to come back.