We stayed in a rainforest for 3 nights though our girls didn’t believe it was a rainforest (it didn’t rain once while we were there). The campground was beautiful, and I think we got the best spot right next to the river. We enjoyed some short hikes in the mossy forest, playing by the river, and riding bikes around the campground.
The first night we thought it may have rained in the night. When we woke in the morning, everything was soaked through, yet under vehicles it stayed dry. We thought nothing of it until we saw what the pattern was. Every evening just about dinner time, the clouds started descending down from the mountains. We could watch as they eerily snuck down from the tops of the giant sitka spruce pines from the hills that surrounded the icy deep rapids of the Hoh River that lay beneath. By dusk we were engulfed in those thick white clouds. The air got much cooler with the moisture from the cloud and it felt as though a mist was hanging in the air sticking to whatever it touched. It was very mystical! By the time we woke, around 6:30am, the clouds had lifted up to the pines again and would burn off so the sun could peak through by late morning. Quite lovely to watch and it put just the right chill in the air for good camping.
We didn’t get a reservation for this campground (the first for this trip) and we were pleasantly surprised to get, what we now know is the best site in our loop! It is positioned right next to the river (with enough space where I felt the girls would be safe after I gave them boundaries in which they could roam) with the entire woods at our door. The space is a corner spot which means we have no neighbors and the rushing white rapids make a relaxing white noise. There were some loud college kids last night in our loop, however, we didn’t even hear them until we walked a ways away from our campsite. All noise was blocked from us or drowned out by the sound of the river!
We try to do just one outing per day to keep the stress level of the family low. The first day we went on a 0.8 mile hike (plus getting to the trail head from the campground) through an old growth forest inundated with beautiful moss. My goodness there are a lot of different kinds of mosses! I am a total sucker for phenomenal trees and this trail through the forest did not disappoint.
We weren’t sure how the girls would do on the hike so we tried something new. We told both girls (2 & 4) that they could earn two dimes by walking the trail without being carried (one dime for the way there, and one dime for the way back). With this exciting incentive (my 4 year old saving up to create a squished penny at tourist attractions and my 2 year old excited because her sister is excited) the hike started off on the right foot. The girls were excited to find and report on some of their findings within the Jr Ranger packet (yay!). By accident we also started another reward throughout our journey. What ended up happening was this: The girls were in charge of finding a nice big “eating tree” to have some puffs under (apparently not just a baby snack :P). I would take a cute picture of both of them smiling (yes, both!!) and they would get their 4 puffs each. This was such a fun game for them and a total score for Justin and I too! We were getting great pictures out of this and the girls were enjoying snacking and finding amazing trees (every 10 ft). The result was both girls making it more than half way without asking to be carried. They each earned one dime. Not bad at all!
The second day we checked out another trail which was 1.2 miles. The same money reward was given to the girls. The hike was another beauty though through a new forest offering not nearly as many large trees but was airy and speckled with little hidden springs throughout. These crystal clear springs would pop up out of the ground and hide under the perky leafed bright green underbrush of the forest floor. The end result of the hike was our 2 year old did not earn any dimes —so close— and our 4 year old earned one of the two dimes. However, none of the usual complaining, fussing and whining occurred. Win! It was a very relaxing hike both days.
When we weren’t hiking through the beautiful forest, the girls were biking the campground roads, we were doing our family morning runs and playing down by the edge of the water. Each morning we try to start off our day with a family run. Justin or I push our 2 seated bike trailer/stroller with both ladies wrapped up inside with their nighties and a quilt. In the Hoh, morning runs were littered with giant black slugs “racing” to cross the road before the heavy dew dried. The girls would shout “SLUG!!” as we quite narrowly would miss the slimy little buggers. Not an easy task but very funny.
One thing I think Justin and I have both had to get used to is the sad fact that our excitement for something does not always transfer over to our girls (and that’s okay). Justin and I were really exited about the Jr. Ranger Program at the National Parks but overall our 4 year old has been less than enthused. Basically, she usually enjoys learning when it is her idea, not ours. We homeschool by playing school or house or other very open ended activities. When we gave her the Olympic National Park Jr. Ranger Booklet it was our idea and we suggested for her to start filling it out while were on our hike. She enjoyed doing a couple of the activities but had no desire to complete the booklet to earn a badge. Parents dream, not our 4 year olds. Eh, maybe in coming trips. 🙂