Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Kalaloch Lodge

    On our way to Rialto Beach we stop at the Hoh Rain Forest this morning again, hoping to see elk. The rangers seem rather tight-lipped about the elk, not giving out any specific information. A sign on the Visitor Center door asks "If you see an elk, please notify a ranger." Walking through the campground to the river, we find tracks along the river bank and around the campsites. It's puzzling and disappointing, but not surprising. This is the time of year when elk (at least in Yellowstone) move to higher elevations.
    In Forks evidence of the movie "Twilight" is everywhere from espresso stands to wood for sale to restaurants to shops. LaPush, which means "mouth (of a river)" and First Beach are a contrast in cultures. LaPush is Quileute Reservation. The beach is beautiful, sea stacks rising in the distance. Brown pelicans and seagulls float in the marina. Crows monitor the parking lot and pick at fish. In one window, an advertisement for Indian baskets; signs for smoked salmon or smoked fish are posted throughout town. An espresso stand called "Jacob's Java" has a picture of the Twilight hero next to it. A young girl picks up trash at the side of the road in between throwing a ball for her yellow lab. A few fishing boats push out of the marina.
    At first a fine drizzle dampens the morning, but the sky slowly brightens. We drive past Mora Campground to Rialto Beach to see the tide pools there and the Hole in the Wall. Rialto Beach is part of Olympic National Park and there are more visitors here; yet it still does not seem crowded. Waves crash against sea stacks and shore. Huge logs lie piled at the edge of the forest while a bald eagle looks down on us from a tall dead alder tree. The tide is beginning to go out; as the water recedes we peer into the tide pools to see orange and purple starfish. Walking further down, lime green anemones appear.
    The water is still high so we don't walk through Hole in the Wall; instead climbing a trail going over a huge hill to reach the other side. The trail is steep and harder than going through the arch. On the other side lots and lots of starfish cling to the underside of rocks. Tiny crabs make trails in the sand. The beach is littered with plankton and shells. Orange and purple contrast against the shiny slate gray of rock. Going back through Hole in the Wall at low tide is 100 times easier. Carefully stepping across rocks, more starfish and anemones appear. The air turns cooler. People with backpacks (one man with a baby in front of him) march past us along the beach to camp tonight.
    Back at Kalaloch Beach, high tide is rolling in. A man sits cross-legged in front of a fire, leaning against a small tepee made of driftwood, watching the breeze play with the flames. An almost full moon rises to the east of us. Seagulls dive at waves, crashing to shore. On the cliffs, lights go on in cabins.

Author - Christine Baleshta
Photography - Tim Springer

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