Upon Further Review - How Wet Is a Rain Forest?

Olympic National Park Rain Forest, NPS Photo.

Rain forest in Olympic National Park. NPS Photo.

Most people have a mental picture of what to expect on their first visit to a new location, and that was definitely the case for a woman at Olympic National Park.

High on a list of prime destinations in that park is the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the wettest places in the country. My first of several great visits to Hoh was on a spectacular summer day, with clear blue skies and perfect temperatures. When it comes to the weather, however, it's hard to please everybody.

Shortly after my arrival, a bus carrying a group of senior citizens pulled into the parking lot. The passengers unloaded, and a spry older lady marched straight into the visitor center. She spotted a young ranger on duty behind the information desk and zeroed in on him with the unerring aim of a heat-seeking missile.

Reaching her target, she rapped her umbrella smartly on the counter and spoke in a commanding tone that carried across the room. "Young man!"

The ranger gave her a friendly smile. "Yes, ma'am?"

"I thought this was supposed to be a rain forest!"

The enthusiastic ranger had his facts in order. "Yes, ma'am, it is. We can receive as much as 140 inches of rainfall in a year. If all that rain fell in one storm, the water would be deep enough to fill this room to the top of the ceiling, and …"

This lady was apparently well acquainted with the facts, and she interrupted with another resounding rap of her umbrella. Fixing the young man with a fierce glare, she snapped, "Then why isn't it raining?"

I conclude from this story that travel is a lot like a blind date—how happy you are with the experience depends a lot on your expectations!

This story is adapted from the book Hey Ranger! True Tales of Humor and Misadventure from America's National Parks © Jim Burnett and Taylor Trade Publishing, used by permission.


It is when I close the guidebook, abandon the brochures, fold up the map and walk away from my expectations that I experience happiness exploring Our National Parks.

Just don't forget to check the forecast. For any doubters, here's a bit of tonite's NWS Seattle:

The flood watch continues for portions of western Washington, including the following counties: Grays Harbor...Clallam...Jefferson...Skagit... Whatcom.....

* Through late tonight: Periods of locally heavy rainfall are expected to continue over the watch area through Friday night. Rainfall amounts of 6 to 8 inches are possible on the coast and the Olympic range...with 5 to 7 inches possible in the northern and central Cascades. There is the potential for localized amounts to exceed 10 inches on the southwest facing slopes of the Olympics.

Random Walker - thanks for an excellent comment.

Tahoma - a good reminder that the Hoh is a rain forest, and that on a lot of days, the lady in this story wouldn't have been "disappointed." Like a lot of things in life, timing plays a big role in how a visit to a park turns out.