National Geographic : 1955 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine a short, not entirely snow-free summer) is at 7,000 to 9,000 feet; in the Olympics it lies between 3,500 and 5,000 feet. Thus, although the maximum height of the Olympic Mountains is only about 8,000 feet, as a result of their northerly as well as their coastally exposed position the Olympics have climate, vegetation, and animal-life charac teristics comparable to mountains of much higher altitudes. Trail Leads into Rain Forest While waiting for the snowdrifts on Hurri cane Ridge to melt and the meadows to reach their seasonal peak, we devoted ourselves to the less elevated rain-forest areas on the pen insula's west side. From living quarters in the lower Hoh Val ley we would drive day after day to the end of the spur road 15 miles deeper into the val ley, pay our respects to ranger Hugh Bozarth and his wife Eleanor, then set out on foot up the trail. For the first half-mile it is so thoroughly cleared as to be negotiable by al most anyone. To be sure, in the case of a family group such as ours, papa had to carry junior a good part of the way, and in one instance had to fish little Eda out of a stream; but aside from such minor hazards the going was easy. Yet, pressing in on both sides of the trail, there is a forest as wild and primeval as any found in the world. Sitka spruce, western hemlock, Douglas fir, and western red cedar are the dominant trees of this crowded world. Some of these thick bodied giants tower 200 feet into the air. Four miles farther up the Hoh Valley is the world's largest Sitka spruce, 51 feet 6 inches in circumference at chest height; farther down the Hoh Valley, less than half a mile from the Pacific surf, is the largest western red cedar on record, mentioned previously. Elsewhere in the rain forest, in the Queets River Valley, is the largest Douglas fir, and on the east fork of the Quinault River, the record western Nature Provides the Theater and Takes the Starring Role in the Olympic Park Show Surrounded by the peaceful night forest, an audience of log sitters watches Olympic's natural wonders unfold. A ranger-naturalist explains the picture at Lapoel campground. The park entertained 663,120 visitors in 1954.