From Portland, we drove up through Washington to Olympic National Forest. Occupying most of the northwest corner of Washington, Olympic has four distinct ecosystems and no roads that drive across the park. To start, we visited the Hoh Rainforest, on the west. Surprisingly for October, it was not raining when we arrived. We hiked into the trees to get to our campsite. There was moss and mushrooms everywhere and a handful of trees were changing color.
We set up camp at one of the designated sites right next to the Hoh River and went off to do a little more hiking. When we returned, some deer were grazing not far from where we had set up our tent. They ambled through the woods, munching on leaves, ignoring us entirely. We made our dinner overlooking the river as the sun set; a delicious meal of no beef stroganoff, a new staple in our camping kitchen.
It rained lightly overnight, just enough for us to enjoy the percussion of drops hitting our tent. We woke early, ate some oatmeal and hiked back towards the visitor center and our car. In the early morning we were only ones on the trail and as we walked we listened to the sounds of the forest. I heard a rustling of branches and we stopped to look for movement. Off in the distance, hidden in the trees I spotted the flank of an Elk as it bounded off. Though it was just a tiny glimpse, we were both elated. We continued walking, so pleased with our luck, when we came upon an entire herd of elk crossing the trail in front of us. We were surrounded by elk on both sides and in front of us. They continued to cross the path, slowly going deeper into the woods. We heard a few of them bugling. It was truly magical.