September 23, 2013

Olympic National Park: Hoh Rain Forest

The west side of the Olympic Peninsula is the wet side, where the trees grow big — but sometimes just when I am thinking to myself about that, I look deeper in the woods and see the really big stumps. A few even still display the holes for springboards.
The glacier-fed Hoh River flows west into the Pacific
M. and I drove up the Hoh Rain Forest road into Olympic National Park and hiked a couple of short trails. The Hall of Mosses trail features a grove of bigleaf maples completely swathed in mosses, lichens, and every local variety of epiphyte.

Says the Park Service website, "one criteria [sic] for the determination of a temperate rain forest is that the amount of moss and other epiphytes exceeds the weight of all the foliage (leaves and needles) per acre by at least two times."
Bigleaf maple trees covered in moss, Hoh rain forest
You don't often get a sunny day in the rain forest. Nearby Forks ("We brake for vampires") averages 212 days annually of measurable precipitation — about 107 inches (2.7 meters or 15.3 hands). The Hoh forest itself averages 140 to 170 inches (12 to 14 feet).

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