A unique trekking tour in the Olympic N.P. is the in and out 5 days hike along wild Hoh River valley to Elk Lake, one of countless tarns in the Olympics, and then on to Mount Olympus’ Blue Glacier. On this hike one can experience very closely all climatic and vegetation zones that the national park has to offer (58km/36M, 2000m/6560ft elevation gain and loss). At the beginning we hiked through temperate rainforests with age-old moss-clad trees, that often were gigantic and reached sizes that we can only dream about here in Europe. It is highly recommendable to do a short side trip to the Hall of Mosses close to the visitor center. Here many trees beautifully covered with moss could be seen. The first two days the trail followed Hoh River, a wild and untamed mountain stream with many branches and gravel banks, an unparalleled landscape. On the second day we crossed the here very narrow Hoh River gorge by the only existing bridge and then hiked steeply upwards into a side valley leading us to Elk Lake, a beautifully situated tarn. Here I could not resist taking a bath among the pond-lilies since the surface water was not very cold. On the third day we left our camping gear behind us at the lake and hiked further up. First we went through mountain forests, next arcoss alpine meadows and finally we climbed the huge moraine scree. From the ridge of the moraine we enjoyed perfect views onto Blue Glacier and to Mount Olympus’ icy tops. Then we had to hike back again. But this was never boring because there was so much to see along the trail. And when driving back to Olympia we had a wonderful stopover at the coast.
In the woods along Hoh River and also around Elk Lake R. menziesii could frequently be seen. In most cases it was long past bloom. R. albiflorum was found only in few plants at a single locality between Elk Lake and the Blue Glacier. Some animals could be observed as well – Downy Woodpeckers, Townsend’s Chipmunks, Douglas Squirrels, a Vagrant Shrew and a doe with two fawns. She was about to cross Hoh River with her little ones. It was in a place with deep water so that the fawns had to swim. Suddenly one of them was taken by the torrential waters and submerged. Fortunately it turned up again after a few moments and could reach the shore.