Monday, August 8, 2011
Lake Quinault Lodge

   It's misting this morning at 7:30 a.m. and the temperature is in the 50s. Fog covers the lake and lodge. A trio of mergansers sits on a log while a raven squawks from an old wooden dock. The lake itself is still. We notice a new yellow flower sprouting from ivy along the trail. The lodge has a well manicured lawn and is beautifully landscaped with hydrangeas and pansies. A rain gauge in the shape of a totem stands in the center of the deck. (The record is over 14 feet.)
   The gravel road to Graves Creek is narrow and bumpy. It winds along the Quinault River, passing dead trees and sand bars covered with rock. We pass Bunch Falls again, a cascade of white pouring down. A small black bear lifts his head and looks at us from in the tall, thick grasses beside the road. He is almost hidden behind yellow and green and easily disappears into the brush.
   Graves Creek Campground is heavily shaded with cedars, hemlocks and spruce. Moss hangs from branches and wraps around tree trunks, completely covering some trees. A nature trail starting at the campground winds through the trees, ferns and fallen logs into an open meadow of tall, yellow grass. Then it loops around back to the campground, a quiet place in the middle of the day.
   Across the Quinault River, the North Shore Road, also narrow and gravel based, running northeast leading to the North Fork campground and picnic area. The trail to Irely Lake begins south of the campground, climbing up through the forest. The trail is short and not too steep with several wooden plank bridges crossing marshy areas. Irely Lake is really a pond in the middle of the woods, a wetland that is a refuge for birds and other wildlife. The pond is still, except for a baby merganser gliding across the water. A peregrine falcon perches at the top of a dead tree, waits, then flies away. The sound of a woodpecker hammering a tree echoes in the peaceful afternoon. Tim spots a bald eagle circling above looking for ducks.
   On the south shore of Lake Quinault is the world's largest spruce tree, located at the edge of the Rain Forest Resort. A very short trail leads to the tree which is about 1,000 years old and whose circumference is 58 feet and 11 inches. Looking up, it's trunk goes on forever. Visitors sit on the trunk and step back to fit the tree in their camera frames - most of them unsuccessful. It's hard to comprehend the size of these trees until you see them.
   This evening we watch the sun set from the Gazebo while a man and a young boy play horseshoes nearby. Someone has made a fire on the beach and is roasting marshmallows. Inside the wood-paneled lodge, a family plays chess with the oversized chessboard as the fireplace takes the chill out of the evening.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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Yellowstone Experiences 2011