The Lake Quinault Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula makes a great spring getaway destination. My husband and I headed there last year about this time. This is the kind of place to go when you wish for a misty rainy day, but last year was dry and we ended up having beautiful sunny weather. We didn’t complain too much.
The historic lodge is v-shaped with open arms to the shores of Lake Quinault. At it’s heart is a giant welcoming fireplace and a large lounge space with big comfy sofas, perfect for curling up and reading a book. Outside the massive yard begs to be walked on with bare feet. Famously, a towering totem pole shaped rain gauge climbs the chimney to measure the rainfall in feet.
Like much of the western Olympic Peninsula, the Quinault is a temperate rain forest. This southwest portion of the peninsula is the wettest, racking up an average of 140 inches a year. That’s almost 12 feet! The area around the lodge is criss-crossed in ten miles worth of trails through the forest.
This is the land of the giants. You may just find yourself under the largest Alaska Cedar, Coast Douglas Fir or Sitka Spruce in all of Washington. You don’t have to go far to feel the majesty and breathe in the energy of the impressive trees.
We wandered a bit further into the valley on the North Fork Quinault River trail. The trail follows the river for what feels like forever into the heart of the Olympics. This trail is just as green and impressive as it’s famous neighbor, the Hoh River trail, but much less crowded. In fact, we only ran into a few people on the 10 miles of trail.
With some trails under our belts, my husband wanted to try some fly fishing on the river. Last year the rivers were extremely low in this area, but he still wanted to see if he could get some nibbles. I’m not much of a fisherwoman (is that a word?). In fact, I’m pretty good at getting the hook anywhere except for in the water.
But I could sit on the banks of a river for hours. Just watching and listening calms me and I love lounging around on the shores and reading a book. But this trip I decided to try something new. I brought my paints and sketchbook and practiced a bit while the sun set.
My sketches were not good but I enjoyed picking out the intricate details of a river smoothed rock or every jagged edge of a tree limb. To sketch a place means to observe it in all it’s being. Like a meditation, it occupies the mind even if just for a little bit. The whole weekend in Quinault was rejuvenating. There is just something energizing about all those trees…
Bonus Camp Read!
A Pacific Northwest Nature Sketchbook by Jude Siegel
From choosing a palette and mixing colors to exercises for perfecting your sketches, Jude takes you through the sketching and watercolor painting process from beginning to finish. She focuses on natural subjects like rocks, trees, water and mountains and sprinkles in many of her own paintings of her favorite places around the northwest. Jude lives in Oregon and teaches workshops. You can find more about her and the book on her website. // Paperback