The western slopes of Washington's Olympic Mountains receive more than 140 inches of precipitation a year — our very own rain forest clothed in somber hues of green. Standing like meditating giants...

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The western slopes of Washington’s Olympic Mountains receive more than 140 inches of precipitation a year — our very own rain forest clothed in somber hues of green.

Standing like meditating giants among the humid breath of the valleys are dense groves of gnarled and ancient cedars, spruces, firs and hemlocks.

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Tucked between their toes, creeping up their trunks and tangled in their branches are living hordes of pixies, witches and devils. This is a forest Hansel and Gretel could get lost in.


Whether through whimsy or wonder, many of the names of the plants that inhabit the Hoh Rain Forest near the Pacific Coast borrow from mythological creatures and darker, brooding children’s tales. Among the curtains of moss and lichen droop Common Witches Hair and Methuselah’s Beard. Over the tangle of fallen cedars sprouts the petite False Pixie Cup, looking like rows of tiny goblets.


Flowers scattered on the forest floor include the morbidly named Pacific Bleeding Heart and, even more distressing, Enchanters Nightshade, named for the beautiful goddess Circe who used a similar primrose as an aphrodisiac. A poisonous aphrodisiac is a gloomy thought indeed.


Gloomy or not, the Hoh thrives as a damp sanctuary where the massive and diminutive coexist in abundance.


It was no accident that I traveled to this unique Washington gem for the last of my watercolor trips. Its cathedral-like halls have been a favorite destination for years.


Sitting and painting and feeling small among the trees, I marveled at the stillness of the forest while so much life was busy flourishing. Mists came and went, but time didn’t seem to mean much in this everlasting, solemn jungle. Eventually I packed up my watercolors one last time and headed homeward.


Paul Schmid: 206-464-2169 or pschmid@seattletimes.com

This is the 12th and final installment in a yearlong series of watercolors by Seattle Times staff artist Paul Schmid. The artwork, depicting scenes from Washington state, has run the second Sunday of each month in Travel. If you would like a reprint for personal use, contact the Resale Department at 206-464-3113 or resale@seattletimes.com. The images are reproduced on 13- by 19-inch watercolor paper and are suitable for framing. To see these and previous watercolors online, go to www.seattletimes.com/travel