Ancients in the Olympics

Maple grove in the Hoh River valley

Maple grove in the Hoh River valley

Silence is not the absence of something, but the presence of everything.
— Gordon Hempton, Founder of One Square Inch of Silence

I feel safe, calm, and present in this forest.

As I stand between two massive cedars, the sound of the Hoh River creates a perfect background canvas for thoughts to float by. I ponder: What is it about the Olympic peninsula in particular that glimmers in my dreams throughout the years?

It’s the fact that the largest ancient Sitka spruces, Douglas firs, and western redcedars in the world live in the temperate rainforests that blanket the river valleys.

It’s the way light and wind blend together up on the ridges of the mountains – the most majestic of sky scrapers, cloud sculptors, glacier makers, and rain catchers.

It’s the weighty branches of massive trees, absolutely draped in bryophitic plants, that offer shade above hot spring pools bubbling out of the hillside.

It’s the fact that no roads cross the interior of the peninsula – offering real silence and solitude in one of our last remaining remote wildernesses.

In the summer of 2019, I will connect 100 miles of trails traversing rainforest valleys and subalpine high country of the Olympics. I’ll be sharing more about the adventure and it's purpose – including maps – in the coming months.

Anna Eshelman