On the Road with West Falls: Hoh Rainforest, Washington

by Nina Myers McCammon

Kelly Shea and Brendan Banks of West Falls, a creative studio on wheels, are crisscrossing the country in a restored 1984 VW camper van until approximately Thanksgiving and sharing a weekly diary and gorgeous photography with 50 States of Style readers.

Photo by West Falls Studio

This week, Kelly and Brendan documented their time in Hoh Rainforest, a primitive national forest in western Washington State's Olympic National Park, where they slept under the stars, floated on inner tubes, and gleaned some advice from an older, well-worn traveler. A huge thanks to K + B for keeping up such an insightful and adventurous weekly journal for us. Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Photo by West Falls Studio

Who we met...
Some local fishermen set up a large white tent down by the shore and tied their boat to one of the large rocks on the riverbank.  Their comfort and ease with the river’s eddies and rapids showed more age even than their wrinkled, sun-worn faces.  Though the terrain seemed theirs, they were welcoming, warm and helpful.  As I went down to fill our water filtration system in the river, one of the older, long-haired gentlemen warned me not to drink it without first boiling, with a caring smile. 

What we ate...
We both cherish the nights were we can cook over the open fire, as it’s not always the case.  Our head-lamp lit dinners consisted of seasoned steaks, rosemary potatoes, and roasted red peppers, followed by a dessert pairing of IPA’s and toasted marshmallows.

What we saw...
The color of the river was unlike the deep blues, murky greens, and dark browns that we had seen elsewhere.  Here, the ripples were an ice blue from the sediments below.  It was frigid, but we had to get in.  We inflated two inner tubes, tucked them under our arms, and gathered a 50 foot rope and three beers (two for Brendan, one for me).  We walked down the short path to the river’s edge and rounded the bend toward the rapids.  With the water on the far shore flowing at a steep and steady pace, the closer shore was calm and perfect for an afternoon beer atop the blue waters.  We tied the tubes to a rock and floated until the sun set over the trees.

On the radio...
This American Life #282: DIY

Van start time...
11:00 a.m.

Where to next?

Life lessons...
We set out to find a campground on the coast where the fog rolled in and out.  Trial and error with each campground made our situation more dire as the sun began to set and our options grew limited.  Suddenly, we saw a primitive National Forest campground off the beaten path (our favorite kind) on the map and decided it was worth a shot.  We rolled down the hill, onto a dirt road, and along a narrow path to find a secluded and relatively uninhabited area.  There it was, our favorite campground of the trip (thus far). We parked, popped the top, and fell asleep.  We woke up overlooking the Hoh River -- the best view you can have in the morning.  We enjoyed coffees on the banks of the river and reveled in the beauty of our hidden gem.