Wednesday, September 20, 2017 (Part Three)
Day Trips: World's Largest Sitka Spruce and Merriman Falls
After two morning hikes, we headed back to camp for lunch before venturing out again. Now that we'd explored the North Shore, it was time to return to the south side of the lake. We had a couple of sights on our agenda -- the World's Largest Sitka Spruce and the Merriman Falls. It was beginning to rain, but we weren't discouraged. It is a rain forest, after all.
The walk from the parking area is a mere 0.3 miles, so it's not much of a hike. The tree is very similar to the Giant Spruce of Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon (which we hiked to earlier this summer). That tree is nearly 600 years old and stands over 185 feet. The Sitka Spruce near Lake Quinault is said to be 1000 years old and stands at 191 feet. Both are quite impressive!
The view of the lake from the eastern shore is stunning, especially as the sun peeks in and out from behind the clouds. Just down the road is the Salmon House Restaurant. We already had dinner plans, but we hope to return and give it a try some day. It's supposed to be very good.
We continued on down the South Shore Road in search of the waterfalls. There are several in this area (Falls Creek Falls, Cascade Falls, Gatton Creek Falls, and Bunch Falls), but we were in search of Merriman Falls, which are right along the roadside.
Honestly, how many pictures can I share to show the beauty of these falls? They are much larger (and higher) than they present in my photos and the pools of water in the basin are more expansive than they appear. I wish I had something to show the scale of this beautiful setting, but we were (surprisingly!) the only ones there and we were too busy taking our own photos to pose near the falls. Nonetheless, it absolutely breathtaking and the sound of the water was so soothing; I could have stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, the rain hadn't quit and it was time to start heading back to camp. As we got in the car we agreed that the only way to top such a great day is if we could see a rainbow.
And wouldn't you know it! We turned a corner and off in the distance, reaching from the mountains to a grove of trees in a meadow, was the most perfect rainbow! We quickly pulled off the road, grabbed our cameras and dashed across the street to capture the moment. I have never seen such vivid colors in a rainbow, nor have I seen the end of one touching the ground as with this one did! We must have shot dozens of photos when all of a sudden we saw a second rainbow beginning to show itself, ever so slightly. It never did come into full view, but it's there, just off to the right. Reluctantly, we got back in the car and headed back to camp.
After our return, we decided to head down to the river since it was our final night at this particular camp. The golden hour was in full force and the trees were dripping in buttery light. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful sunsets over the ocean, but there is something about the evening sun reflecting on a tree-lined river that makes my heart sing. Throw in a dramatic cloud-filled sky and I'm in heaven.
Yes, we will definitely return.
Click on the photos for a larger view of the image.