Quinault Rainforest

Sunrise with the frigid foggy coast, sunset at a clear warm lake. I am confused about how this happened, but I guess this is a common occurrence in this part of Washington. 

We said bye to Calvin, sure that we would see him again, and layered up for the morning's ride. It was foggy, cold, and very grey. But then about an hour and a half into the ride, the fog cleared right on and the temperature skyrocketed. All layers were removed and sunscreen was applied. And then we rode bikes through a depressing landscape of logged trees and junk tree farms. For a long time.

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Quinault Rainforest came up quickly. We stayed at a Forest Service walk in campground, only five tent spot right on Quinault lake. We went for a quick swim, had some R&R time, and then went to explore the tiny tourist town of Quinault. 

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First stop was an extremely depressing museum. The artifacts were great-- mostly donated items from longtime residents, like a silk wedding dress made from a WWII soldier's parachute, woven pine needle Native baskets, and iron homesteader tools. But this town, like almost every other town in the peninsula, was founded on logging. The photos from the logging display were like a gamesman's trophy room, but instead of elegant mounted antelope or ferocious stuffed tigers, the trophies were Douglas firs 18 feet in diameter. Here's a tree that's been growing for 1000 years, and we are so stoked that we killed it! 

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These rainforests in Washington comprise over 60% of the world's temperate rainforests. The giant Douglas firs, Western Hemlocks, Sitak spruces, and Western Red cedars that grow in this little valley are literally the largest and oldest in the world. The most depressing part is that before the clear cut logging in the early 1900s, the giant trees left today were only half the size of some of the trees that were cut down in the past. 

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Yes, the Forest Service and timber companies do replant the felled trees. But this is a rainforest that receives an average of 12 feet of rain annually. All of the nutrients that have built up over millennia leach out of the soil when there isn't a vast system of tree roots to hold it in place. When the new trees are planted, they get sick and die from lack of fertility, and the loggers cut them down prematurely because they're dying. 

This is the problem with coming to visit America's last wild places: I'm simultaneously confronted with the larger-than-life wonder of these places and the giant human fuck ups that ensure that these natural places will probably never EVER be what they once were. Can you imagine a Northwest without logging? Florida's springs without fertilizer pollution? The way water used to taste, the way air used to smell? The mistakes of the past make it truly unfair for people alive today, and I really feel sorry for the next generation.

Well alright! With that downer train of thought, I leave you with this beautiful sunset on a very pretty, easy riding day. I'll perk up for my observations tomorrow, I promise. 

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