Tuesday, 2 June 2015

An Ace in the Hole

Location: Mora Campground, Olympic National Park, Forks, WA 98331, USA
Full of burgers, with clean clothes and bedding we left Forks for the Hoh Rainsforest another 30 miles or so.  It was the Friday of Memorial Weekend which is the unofficial start of summer in the States, with the Monday being a public holiday so we were a bit concerned about getting a camp spot and since there's nowhere else very near by we had said that if the campground was full we would just go up to anyone with space on their plot and ask if we could pitch up.  En route Tom's guts became uncooperative and insisted on 'jettisoning fuel'.  We were unclear how far the next restrooms might be so this situation resulted in our first 'wild poo'.  So far this is only our third such incident, the other two were my guts, both times after eating Subway (never had that issue in the UK), but lucky for me within a cycle-able distance to a loo.  After a few does the bear/pope shit in the woods jokes we were back on our way.  We put this little bowel evacuation down to the massive quantity of coffee drunk.

The Hoh Rainforest is the most hyped place on our trip.  Pretty much all the cycle tourers we met had ridden through the Olympic Peninsula and raved about the Hoh.  I am very aware of how high  expectations can have a negative impact on your actual experience of something so I had been dialling it down in my head for some time now.  The road winds along, up and down, along the Hoh river and as we approached the end of the road where the visitor centre and campground are located the forest did get increasingly dense and lush.  We spent a little while riding around the grounds deciding on a good spot.  We were excited to be camping on grass and it proved to be one of the most comfortable nights we'd had in the tent.  It was still pretty early so we put on our jackets and went to find a short walk to do before dinner.

We decided on the Hall of Mosses trail, which is only about a mile long.  It takes you into the forest and through some amazing old groves of large leafed maple trees blanketed in moss.  It feels pretty primordial and considering its so close to the carpark you get totally ensconced in the trees, ferns and mosses.  We ambled along reading all the info boards and soaking in the environment.  It was very different from anything we'd been in around the US, but we weren't knocked down, open mouthed wowed out by it, unlike all the other bike tourers we'd spoken to and we spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why.  Our conclusion was that unlike the canyons, deserts and mountains we'd been in scenery like this before.  We'd never seen anything like Zion in the UK or anywhere else, but we had been in lush, green, old forests in the UK.  Don't get us wrong, it was beautiful and lovely, but it felt familiar to us, unlike the alien landscape of the Mojave Desert, for example, whereas most the people we'd talked to who had rated it so highly lived in the Western States which are primarily desert or high desert.

The next morning we walked the other short trail, the Spruce Nature Trail, where you can see the effect the changing path of the river has on the trees and plants.  We then called in at the temporary visitor centre and spoke to a lovely ranger about which beaches were accessible with the bikes and where would be best to camp.  He suggested that we camp at Mora and visit Rialto Beach as we weren't allowed to take our bikes on any trails in the park which made the beaches south of La Push pretty tough to get to for us.  So we rode back through Forks, stocked up on food, and headed for Mora.  We were feeling really tired by the time we got there after 5 days in the saddle and after eating we just hid from the drizzle in the tent and watched The Wire.

We had a lazy morning too, then rode down to Rialto Beach unloaded.  The carpark was pretty busy, the sky grey and I wasn't sure what to expect from the beach.  Holy cow!  This beach is like nothing else.  We have some wild coast in the UK, especially in the South West where I grew up, but at Rialto the combination of lurking, misty forest right up to the shore, brooding weather and towering sea stacks is mesmerising.

Huge trunks of trees that must have been centuries old, bleached and sculpted by the ocean litter the shore, like a graveyard of bones from leviathans of the sea.  Giant twisted roots look like the wiring from an ancient crashed space ship.  It was stunningly beautiful and to me it felt like America had kept an ace up its sleeve for our final few days, bowling us over one last time with its incredible scenery.


  1. Bowels run in the family...a family joke! I promise no more toilet humor.

    1. Yeh, not sure what happened there. Sophie and I were contemplating not writing about it but it was part of the journey so we put it in.

  2. Wonderful stuff as always! Mummy

    1. Glad you are enjoying the blog and the trip.