7/9/15. We know that all our incoming guests for the remainder of the summer are aware of our dry conditions very conducive to wildfires. Here’s a status report: Currently, there is a single blaze on the entire Olympic Peninsula. This is the “Paradise Fire” (shown in red on the accompanying map) located about 60 miles southeast of us far up the Queets Valley (we’re approximately at the word “Mora” west of Forks) . It’s been burning for about a month, and is slow moving, having burned about 1300 acres in that time. Prevailing winds this time of year are from the northwest, blowing any smoke from this fire away from us. Hence, the entire west side of the Peninsula, including us, Forks, the Pacific beaches, and the Hoh Rainforest remain unaffected by any fallout from this fire.
Update 4/30/15: For several years now, the Manitou Lodge has opened up two “Outback” cabins and 3 fully-equipped tentsites during the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall seasons. Guests in the Outback cabin have had access to a small bathroom inside the lodge or a portable toilet, but never a shower…
UNTIL NOW! Over the winter season we’ve rectified this deficiency by completing the construction of an outdoor shower facility powered by a high-capacity tankless water heater. The shower is lighted and guests will have the benefit of heater to keep the interior warm. This facility is now operational and available to guests. Incidentally, although open in the photographs shown, the facility has a lockable door. No peeping!
Just 3 miles down Mora Rd from the Manitou Lodge, you’ll find Rialto Beach, probably the most spectacular of the Olympic Park “front-country” beaches. Perpetually great surf, some of the largest driftwood logs on the coast, clear views of James Island off La Push on the opposite bank of the Quileute River. Hiking north, there’s an obligatory fording of Ellen Creek, following which you’ll encounter paired rock monoliths – the “Sisters”. Just beyond is “Hole-in-the-Wall”, a surf-carved tunnel in the headland that can be easily walked through at lower tides. At these lower tides, one can explore an expanse of tide pools around the tunnel teeming with intertidal life – multicolored sea stars, anemones, sea urchins, etc. Further north on the beach, there are a multitude of attractive coves, inlets, and headlands. Moreover, all of this can be accessed in a civilized way from a parking lot at the south end of the beach. No need to hike through the woods, fall down a bluff, and scramble over a pile of driftwood logs to access Rialto Beach. In the summer season, there’s even a ramp installed allowing disabled tourists to reach a good beach viewpoint.
Rialto, nonetheless, is a wild beach with its own rules. The Park Service provides the usual and obligatory warnings about not playing in the surf in the presence of driftwood logs, and, while on the beach, possessing some awareness concerning tides so that one does not get trapped between headlands by an incoming tide. These warnings should be taken seriously.
Our guests regularly experience an unexpected drenching from rogue waves on Rialto. For most, this is just part of the fun. For some time, there’s not been an incident entailing real danger. However, within the past month a group of our guests, which included a couple of chihuahuas and a baby, hiking well north of Hole-in-the-Wall in the late afternoon/early evening, to their dismay found their return blocked by a fast rising tide and oncoming darkness, and spent the entire night pretty darn uncomfortably (chihuahuas do not give off much warmth) on the beach. Ultimately, all ended well, but it is hoped that the underlying message will not be lost on the reader – time, tide, and daylight really do not wait for you and are unconcerned about your safety. Consult a tide table, and plan ahead.
With the winter solstice just two days away, we’re turning our thoughts to some celebrating of our climb back into the light. Christmas is for family, but New Year’s is a very different story. Nothing too crazy, but you’re invited to come out and join us and our other guests for a midnight celebration centered around the fire in the Great Room. As a reward for getting out this far only to be pretty much the last people in the continental US to welcome in 2014, there’ll be complimentary champagne (as well as a non-alcoholic alternative), noisemakers, party hats, a streamer or two, maybe some confetti, music, etc.
9/30/13: Yesterday and last night the northern Washington Coast (read us, 3 miles from the coast) was hit by what has been described as the strongest September windstorm on record – sustained winds of 65 mph, gusting to 75 mph. Makes you reconsider the wisdom of living under the really big trees. Trees down everywhere, surf on the beaches at 30 ft or so, with rolling driftwood logs stalking the surf for the unwary spectator. Local rivers were at mid-flood, but no water over the roads.
To the left are a couple of weather shots (courtesy Jon Preston, NPS Ranger at the Hoh Valley and local “weatherboy” – visit his Facebook page for much more) and a photo or two from my own visit to Rialto Beach late yesterday afternoon. Click to expand them. The large image at the top of the page shows “fireflies” of flying foam driven onto the camera lens.
While Forks lost power at about 7 PM last night, power at the lodge has stayed on (trees fall at random – sometimes you get lucky). Mostly, however, our power-on status was thanks to a project undertaken over the past 5 yr or so by the local Public Utility District to bury the power lines in immediate our area.
This morning, all is well, with better weather on the way. All roads that I know about are clear, and by midweek we’ll be back to normal.
08/15/13: We’ve replaced the deck on the cottage containing the Eagle and Owl units. The old deck (top photo) was more of a walkway in any case, and, over the past several years due to age and constant
exposure to winter rains, had become a bit of an embarrassment. The new deck (lower photo) is a nice upgrade, 10 x 25 ft or so in size, allowing room for patio furniture for outdoor relaxation, more refined consumption of adult beverages with far less chance of falling off or through the deck after this consumption, breakfast on sunny mornings, etc.
Here at the Manitou Lodge, Forks, WA, the 2013 Summer Solstice will occur at 10:04PM on June 20 (see countdown widget below) – BE HERE!. Incidentally, isn’t it remarkable how the Rialto Beach seastacks pictured at left look just like Stonehenge? Must be the light. The solstice (from the Latin sol [sun] & sistere [to stand still]) occurs when the tilt of Earth’s axis in either the northern or southern hemisphere is most inclined toward the sun. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or south pole. Depending on calendar shifts, the summer solstice occurs sometime between December 20 and December 23 in the southern hemisphere and June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere.
Although the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also used to refer to the day on which it occurs, the day with the longest period of daylight – except, of course, in the polar regions, where daylight is continuous around the summer solstice.
(My thanks to the Wikipedia author for a lucid description from which I have liberally plagiarized)
6/21/2013 Update: Now that the Summer Solstice has come and gone, there’s nothing for it except to start the countdown to the Forks Winter Solstice at 9:11AM PST on 12/21/13, the day on which the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon.
Outback Cabins: About a decade ago we found ourselves standing outside an unused cabin/shed on the property that nonetheless had electricity and indoor plumbing, and speculated that there might be guests whose sensibilities would resonate to the idea of booking an affordable little room combining the features of both B & B lodging and camping – a real roof, nice bed & linens, hot/cold running water, breakfast included in the rate, but about the size of a tent and you get to walk to a bathroom.
With that in mind, we kitted out the cabin and tested whether this idea had any actual merit. Initially nameless, it became the “Outback” in recognition of one of its first occupants, the Australian father of a lady getting married at the lodge. Guest response to the Outback cabin was so gratifyingly positive that within a year or so we “found” another, larger cabin, refitted it completely, and named it (really imaginatively) Outback II.
“Instant-Camping”: Our two “instant-tentsites” take the original Outback concept all the way to true camping, and nearly fulfill our fantasy for “blow-up” rooms inflated in only the height of summer. These are fully equipped campsites – tents, sleeping bags with liners, mattresses, pillows, flashlights, picnic table, firepit with grill, water source. Our instant campers need only bring their own food, wood/kindling/method of lighting a fire, a camping cookstove if they choose not to use the firepit for cooking, as well as cooking/eating utensils. Campers have access to a bathroom (no shower) inside the lodge as well as a portable toilet. Breakfast is not included in the tentsite rate, but morning coffee in the lodge is on us. These campsites offer excellent woodsy privacy, but are just a minute or so walk from the main lodge building.
We’re fortunate to have on the lodge property one of the last old-growth Western Hemlocks in the immediate area outside the Olympic National Park. Our tree sits, waiting for you to visit, in its own little grove on the western edge of our property. This tree, measuring 7.5 feet through the base at shoulder height, has a circumference of about 23 feet. By comparison, the oldest Western Hemlock thus far measured was 9 ft through the base, about 28 feet in circumference, and estimated to be just under 1500 years old. It’s hard to make an accurate comparison, but using the known areas of both trees at the base combined with some hand-waving math we estimate our tree to be 1000 -1100 years old. Probably alive at the Battle of Hastings, so old enough.
Like many truly old creatures, our tree remains alive today due in part to good luck and the “dodging of bullets”. It sits just feet away from commercial forestland, and except for that, would long ago have become an anonymous part of some building. However, this good fortune had a considerable downside as the logging of trees to its west exposed it to high winter winds, making it very likely that, due to its size, it would eventually have become a “blow-down”. But good luck intervened again: long-time residents in the area tell us that in the 1960s, a storm blew out just the top of the tree, greatly reducing its wind-profile and thus its chances of blowing down.
We’ve cleared out a quiet little grove for folks to come and visit this venerable giant.
You don’t have to stay with us to be very welcome to stop by. It’s not a Sequoia, and, hence, will not utterly dwarf you with its size. However, the closer you get, the more you feel the looming presence of this impressive creature.
Please join us in welcoming Marcy Schley, our new resident manager, who will be starting July 1, 2013. Marcy will be a familiar face to any of you who stayed with us in 1999-2000, as she was our principal housekeeper during those years. In 2000, Marcy moved to Wenatchee, where she eventually joined the staff of Wenatchee Valley College, rising to the position of one of their assistant Deans.
You may well ask “what the heck is she doing returning to the Manitou?”. Well, it seems that Marcy just loves innkeeping, and will be returning to the life for a couple of years while she pursues a Master’s Degree in the “The Flowering of Renaissance Literature in Firenze under the Medicis 1444-1553”. Truly fascinating stuff, way better than becoming an expert in the “Twilight” literary genre now so popular out this way, but you do need a backup plan
Naturally, just kidding about in the above paragraph. Marcy will in fact be pursuing an advanced degree while managing the lodge, but in a far more utilitarian discipline. We are delighted to have her back!
From the same minds that brought you instant camping, a novel way to lodge in Forks at the Manitou Lodge!
A very well appointed 40′ RV (stationary- sorry, you won’t be able to drive it off) with queen bedroom, fold-out couch, bathroom with shower. Fully equipped kitchen and living area both expandable via a slide-out, retractable awning, TV with VHS player, and wireless internet connection. The RV site is close to the lodge, yet quite private and will include lawn chairs, picnic table, as well as its own firepit. Grocery-shop in Forks and prepare your own meals or request breakfast from us
Currently not available for online booking. Call us at 360 374 6295 for details and pricing
(Robert Kaplan, Conde Nast Traveler, Aug. 1998)“Ten days on Vancouver Island and Washington State… convinced me that the Pacific Northwest – both the Canadian and American parts – constitute the esthetic landscape and travel destination of the future, eventually to supercede even Europe. This amorphous region…I shall call Cascadia since it stretches out from the Cascade Range, and ignores national borders. As someone who has lived in southern Europe for almost a decade, I will lay out my argument more in resignation than in triumph”.
“Paradise is a (cold) rainforest… Sword ferns and giant cabbage leaves were everywhere, in a plethora of luxuriant green shades. The bark of each tree was concealed under a mantle of velvety emerald moss. Labyrinthine draperies of lichen hung from the branches of western red cedars and hemlocks. Although I couldn’t see more than a few feet in each direction, I wasn’t claustrophobic… When the rain got heavy I took refuge in the hollowed-out trunk of a tree several hundred years old. From here I watched a Steller’s Jay land silently on a branch, its fabulous midnight blue clashing with the green background – the same bird first described by Meriwether Lewis(nope, Robert… they don’t call it “Steller’s Jay” for nothing – it was first described for science by Georg Steller during Vitus Bering’s Alaskan expedition in the 1740s) The mist, too, was a plus. In the forests of the Pacific Northwest the mist enhances and distills the quality of the landscape. Unlike the fog of the East, weighted with more heat and dirt, the fog here is a silken lacework, slipping over and falling off the hillsides, making their surfaces that more desirable… I found trees even wider than my car. Their trunks sparkled with moss, and their branches were cobwebbed with hanging lichen. The cool, sea-green dampness of the forest was delicious: a sort of glassy purity reigned. I felt as if I were walking on the bottom of an aquarium. The thin mist made the mountains look like reflections of themselves in smoky, sunlit glass. Looking at the spruces and other evergreens. I thought: These aren’t trees – they’re gods! No wonder totem poles became the principal means of artistic expression for the area’s native peoples.”
“I reached the beach, a hard-packed stretch of sand punctuated by black volcanic rock. I saw couples holding hands and people walking alone, deep in thought, but there were no crowds or even groups… Everyone was a lover of some sort – of nature, of solitude.”
“The Olympics are well named. They gather cloud formations as though the gods themselves resided on their summits. Everywhere I walked in the park, there were black tailed deer, unafraid of people. But it was the mountains themselves that gripped me, thickly clad as they were with the darkest steeplelike balsam fir. The escarpments were so steep that the base of one line of trees was near the top of the next. Beyond the tree line were sun-polished glaciers and summits that looked like crinkled tinfoil…with mountaintops appearing and reappearing through columns of fog.”
“Like a lot of people a few years back, when I heard of Washington State wines, I laughed… But the rainy climate, combined with mild winter temperatures, makes for a long grape-growing season. Many of the regional wines, especially the rieslings, have become quite good. The marketing of them is even better…Countries with fine winemaking traditions but uncertain marketing and worse environmental records may not be able to compete…”
“This region of North America is utterly relaxing…without the motorcycle-exhaust roars and tailgate-prone, stressful driving of southern Europe. Moreover, it will stay beautiful. Meanwhile, the wine here will continue to improve…”
Many folks plan a vacation in the Olympics between mid-July and mid-August, presumably to optimize their chances of not getting rained on, among a variety of other reasons. While it is widely known that the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains receive a great deal of rain, it is far less well-known that for 6 months of the year (April through September) we receive an average of less than 26″ of total rainfall (unbelievers please check the unfaked table below). Hence, if you have the flexibility to travel at off-peak times, try us out in the spring and fall. You’ll be rewarded with mostly excellent weather, the same extravagantly green rainforest, craggy wilderness beaches, and no crowds.
Outside Magazine is known for its “attitude”. Here’s a quote I like from their National Parks Companion …”People actually steer clear of Olympic National Park because they fear being rained upon. Pity the fools.”…