Hoh Rain Forest Photos: Seasonal photo montage of the Hoh Rainforest and Hoh River, plus photo illustrations of typical temperate rain forest features.
Having been raised in the greater Los Angeles area, I was used to "rivers" being muddy trickles in the middle of a cement aquaduct wandering toward the Pacific Ocean through industrial jungles.
It was wonderful.
After two glorious, sun-filled days, the rain set in. As we attended a ranger presentation just before leaving, a few guests in the audience feared the rain would ruin their vacations.
I had no idea that such a magical place as a temperate rain forest could exist on earth, let alone in the USA.
We stayed in the Hoh Campground for 2 wonderful days while we explored the mossy forest with its carpet of ferns and shamrocks, marveling at the evidence of ancient life: 800-year-old trees and colonnades growing on even older fallen nurse trees.
Because the Hoh had already made a deep imprint on my soul, I never forgot the words of the ranger as he opened his talk:
"Don't resent the rain! It is because of the rain that we have a rain forest, and without it, you could not enjoy the beauty of the Hoh."
Years later, Hubs and I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where we can now return to the Hoh Rain Forest as often as possible.
Here is a growing collection of Hoh rain forest photos. (Click on any photo to open a gallery of full-size pictures.)
It's not a proper temperate rain forest unless Oregon Wood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana) grows on the forest floor, I'm told. Wood Sorrel closely resembles its cousin, the Irish Shamrock.
Trillium is also found throughout the rainforest. It blooms white in the spring, and then ages to a dark red.
From death springs life:
One sees the circle of life played out everywhere in the temperate rain forest. An ancient tree gives up the ghost and thumps heavily to the ground. Moss and ferns soon begin to cover the old behemoth. Seeds fall from the giant trees still standing around it onto the wet moss covering the prone trunk.
The seeds sprout (pictured below). Seedlings put forth roots into the decaying wood, become saplings, and then trees, nourished by the rotting bones of the fallen tree, now known as a nurse tree or nurse log.
In 200 years, these saplings and others will have formed a colonnade such as the ones pictured above and below.
... Fall Hard
The 500+ year old renowned "Big Sitka Spruce" standing along Upper Hoh Road toppled in a storm in December, 2014.
Until it fell, it was the 5th largest tree in the area, at 12.5 feet diameter and 270 feet tall.
It now lies on the forest floor, nothing but a dead snag left standing.
Above: This Sitka will become another nurse tree among the many that litter the floor of the Hoh rain forest, completing the circle of life for following generations of trees.
Below: Can you see my friend Candi hugging the ankles of the giant snag?
Left: This snag has been standing for many years. It has lost its bark in areas, and lichens are growing, which do not grow on living trees.
Above: My friend Candi standing at the foot of this very large Sitka Spruce helps to illustrate the scale of these giant trees. This one is certainly immense, but still just a teenager compared to the Big Sitka Spruce that fell in 2014.
Right: This Sitka Spruce tree towers over the rain forest. It might be 250 feet tall.
Right: As banana slugs go, this is a small one; they grow to up to 10 inches long. This one was 4 feet off the forest floor on the bark of a tree.
Salmon in the Hoh
Left: We encountered this very large bull Roosevelt elk in the Hoh Rainforest in May 2015. His velvet-covered antlers were not nearly done growing.
Although elk usually migrate to summer and then winter forages, several Roosevelt elk herds live in the Hoh rain forest year round due to the plentiful food sources.
Left and Above: These battered Coho Salmon were spawning in early January. Pacific salmon die upon completion of the spawn.
Photos can give you a taste, but there is no way to fathom the glory of the rain forest without actually visiting for yourself. We hope you will do that!