Port Angeles, WA
I daydream about places I still want to go, trips I want to take. It's a very big world, despite rumors to the contrary, and I grow fonder of it with each passing day. I think about the sights I have yet to see and I imagine how certain scenes will be set. Sunrise on a cold, high mountain. Deep green light, filtered through a canopy of ancient trees that were old when Leif Ericksen was a child. It's my planet, and I am in love with it.
About 15 years ago, in a salmonid ecology class at The Evergreen State College, I was daydreaming about traveling the length of the Hoh river, from the top of Mount Olympus to the sandy shore of the Pacific. I wanted to follow a river from its source to its terminus... it's a parallel to life, isn't it? It sure seemed that way to me. Summit to the Sea was what I figured I'd call the trip, and I was instantly possessed with the idea. I imagined the stories I'd collect on the hike in, the climb to the summit, and then the hike and canoe trip back out again.
I never attempted it, but I still daydream about that trip. For so many reasons. The Hoh is one of the most extensive watersheds in Washington, never mind the Olympics. It is unique, complicated. I have climbed Olympus a couple times before and I had thought about shortening the time needed (it's a long hike in up the river to Olympus), by doing the same trip but on a different river. The Duckabush, for example, would take less than half the time to complete.
I saw a blurb in the paper today that has me scurrying back to my original plan, to make this trip happen on the Hoh. There's a book called Fast Moving Water that is being released, a set of photos of the Hoh in all its various stages. The Hoh River Trust is sponsoring a book release party at the Burke Museum in Seattle on May 8th. I will be going to that, I hope.
The Hoh is one of the last river systems of its size in the United States that still runs unhindered from its source to the sea. To follow it along its way, to be able to feel what the river feels as it falls, to smell the cool mountain air rushing up the valley, or the pungent scents of the tidal ranges, to watch the salmon struggle along the shallows and to see the black bear move without any hesitation, through deep mountain pools … all these and more convince me that I need to make it the Hoh. And to make it soon.
It's exciting already, and I haven't done anything yet.