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NORTH AMERICAN RAINFORESTS
April 23, 2007
A Temperate rain forest is defined as a mid-latitude forest receiving more than 50 inches of rain a year. It's among the rarest biosystem comprising less than 1% of the earth's land surface. Rain forest can generate a biomass of up to 2000 metric tons per hectare exceeding that of tropical rain forests. This translates into economic value and only a small fraction of temperate rain forests remain in the world. European rain forests for example have been logged into oblivion with 95% having been cut in the States. Our Pacific Northwest rain forests range from extreme northern California to Sitka in coastal Alaska with the most intact forest residing in British Columbia.
We headed towards the Olympic National Park which can get over 140 inches of rain a year. Most of which fell on us and our camper during our two week trip it seems. Our research of course wasn't all work. It also involved a lot of sight seeing, museum inspecting, trail hiking, bush plane riding, and of course exotic meal and beer sampling.
Our first stop was to the Dungness Spit and lighthouse in Sequim, one of the worlds longest. At night we settled into Elwah, a beautiful campground in the Olympic park a few miles away and hiked some of their lush forested trails. Unfortunately our water pump gave out and it was hand bailing in the camper. From here we slowly worked our way up to Tofino camping at wonderful parks like Goldstream just north of Victoria. On the way to the coast we hiked the beautiful dense Cathedral Grove. Even in the rain it was memorable. Tofino has only one park in the Pacific Rim Forest called Green Point. It rivals the lushness of the surrounding rain forest and we found a spot on the cliff overlooking the Pacific. We stayed here a few days hiking all the major trails and taking an amazing flight over the area in a 50 year old Beechcraft float plane, one of the highlights of our trip.
Back in Victoria a few days later we opted out of paying $50 for the Royal Museum in favor of a simple walking tour about the town. With tourist map in hand, it wound up being a surprisingly interesting tour of back streets and alleys. From here we entered the states again, and after a always interesting ferry ride started around the west coast of the Olympic National Park. On our last day there, having had enough of cold showers and wet towels, we explored hoteling. With incredible luck we got a corner room with a panoramic views at the stately old Lake Quinault Lodge for the price of a Motel 6.
In summary, we felt that while the Hoh and Quinault areas were amazing, the equally interesting and beautiful areas of Elwah and Sol Duc were under-rated and under-visited during our visit.
Heading back into California there was an amazing weather transformation. It went from winter wet to desert dry within about 100 miles. Wonderful trip, but nice to be back.