Rainy Northwest Days. Stay Home or Get Out In It?

The Pacific Northwest is wet.  We have rain forests.  In the winter months it can rain a lot. So what does a person who is otherwise active, likes to hike, take photographs and generally just likes being outside and not confined to the living room with the TV do? You go outside and play anyway.  Grab your goretex, a hat, dry shoes and an extra pair of socks and go out into the rain and play.

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Over-hanging tree branches dripping with rain.

This past weekend my plans to visit friends in Portland, Oregon was changed at the last minute to accommodate some health issues and I found myself wondering what to do with my free weekend day.  It was raining, chilly and the forecast was for more of the same so I decided to head west to the Quinault Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park.  Seems crazy on the surface, but if you’re going to go out in the rain why not go to a rain forest.  With warm dry clothes, a lunch and camera gear I headed out early for the nearly 3 hour drive to Quinault.  It rained all the way there and I was beginning to wonder if I had made a mistake, after all my lovely wife was home with the dogs, TV, fire place and hot food.

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Old Growth trees are every where. For perspective, a 6 foot person could stand in the crevice in the center and still have a couple of feet clearance.

But once I got to the The Quinault Lodge, built in 1926 and visited by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, I got a cup of coffee, looked over the trail maps, put on my wet weather gear, finished my coffee and took off and knew immediately that I hadn’t made a mistake.  The trails are easy, well groomed and life of every kind is abundant.  From the smallest Fungi to the biggest old growth trees the beauty is over whelming.

So I walked, took photos, ate lunch, admired the absolute magnificence of this place and enjoyed a rainy day out.  One of the lessons I’ve learned over the many years I’ve lived here is to disregard the weather forecasts.  Even when it seems like the wettest possible day is coming, go out anyway.  Most likely it will stop, or there will be plenty of breaks or it won’t be as bad as predicted.  The key is to dress for it and you’ll be fine.

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Fungi grows on everything, everywhere.
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New trees growing out of old trees.

Much of the Quinault Rain forest lies at the foothills of the Olympic Mountain Range.  In this particular area The Quinault river flows out of the Olympics and down to Lake Quinault where the Lodge is located.  If hiking the trails aren’t for you there’s a twenty five mile drive that goes all the way around the lake.  In the winter that road can be pretty wet and portions of it aren’t paved.  The 10 miles or so of unpaved road are riddled with pot holes so it’s pretty slow going.

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North Fork of the Quinault River and as “un-predicted” the day turns out beautiful.
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The view looking west from The Quinault Lodge with, kind of, clearing skies.
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Fields of ferns and moss covered trees.
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Water Falls running down from the Olympic Mountains are everywhere.

So let it rain but don’t let it keep you home.  Our wet winters can be beautiful if you are prepared for the conditions and like to explore.  The Cascade Mountain Range in the center of the state offers, snow, skiing, snowshoeing, sunshine and an abundance of places to go.  Go west to the Olympics and visit some of the best Rain forests you’ll find anywhere with beautiful lodges on the Pacific Coast and in the forests.

Enjoy!