Whoa! Hoh! A Crayola 64-box Study Just in Green and a Scientist-Philosopher Ranger.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Repatriating to the US was a breeze. Up early to make the 10:30 ferry, we rolled to the dock at the required 60 minutes beforehand. Once the rig’s below we lock it up and bound above deck like we’re deeply experienced at this. Coffee and harbor views, then a light chop in the Strait, and soon we are on home soil.

We hit the market for a re-stock of eats and drive the rest of today’s 104 miles to Hoh Rainforest. 1st-come, 1st-served site selection and we find a good one, #44.

Whoa. Hoh. All the many shades of green that exist in the world are here in this valley. The people who invent names for slightly differing shades of paint (“heather sunrise,” “ascot downs,” etc) would be speechless here. The textures of the mosses, ferns, lichens, grasses and Sitka Spruce can be almost felt with the eyes. Every 10 minutes it all changes because the sun has a new approach or is hiding behind a new branch.

An evening campfire program, then our own fire, then another day, Tuesday. Blissful with rest, slow brunch, river hike, chapters of progress in a book, barely one late ray of sun that varies a gray day. Visitor center. A conversation with the young couple camped at site 46. A sighting of Barred Owl. Campfire, Seinfeld, sleep.

The great thing about Wednesday in the Hoh Rainforest was it being the second consecutive non-driving day, not even to other local sights. Just stay put! Also no connectivity. 66 degrees. The sun shone a bit more. Some campers moved on, creating even more quiet than the considerable peace already present.

The park ranger for the 2pm interpretive walk on the Hall of Mosses trail was quite something. Scientific, well-read, a pleasant and also quirky woman with a low center of gravity and high IQ. Absolutely fascinating. I had just finished a book that discussed things like group-level selection in the evolution of cultures (societies that adapted for cooperation and altruism succeeded over ones that did not). It turns out the lit in the natural sciences are noting this also, to hear this ranger talk. Example: Algae that somehow strike up a relationship with the trees to increase the roots’ efficiency, to the benefit of the whole forest.

Indeed, this forest gives the sense of being a whole macroorganism. I’d swear you can sense it breathing.

The three of us lingered to talk after, she going into how science is more open now–Ranger talks like hers, for example, used to isolate myths and stories on the one hand, “but science says” on the other. Now they have shed Cartesian shackles and consider “stories” as other means to convey truth, even scientific truth, just from a different frame of reference. Hmmm. When have I ever before discussed Descartes with a park ranger? Another first.

On our stroll back to 44, Nancy distilled all that science and wonder to the most sensible form: Living things adapt to survive.

Don’t we all.

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