Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 12 May 2006

Swept Away!

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington -

As we drive into the Olympic National Park, we pick up a long-haired hitchhiker. He turns out to be Arthur, a physicist from Nottingham, England who studies MRI physics and was in Seattle for a conference of 5,000. He has heard of Arthur Dent.

We hike back into the dense rain forest valley and remember our first overnight hike here on June 5, 1968. I see our young ghosts on the trail. That time I stayed up all night in the dark by the river with a club, waiting for bears while Mrs. Phred slept.

We camp by the Hoh River which rushes past. A sign says 'Dangerous Boating Area'. The swift water is glacier-melt cascading down the rain forest valley. I slip on my dive booties and hand the camera to Mrs Phred. Out into the rushing water, I'm swept off my feet (according to plan). I end up in the deepest, fastest part of the river with no hope of regaining my footing.

Rapidly I float downstream scrabbling at the tiny river rocks. The clock is ticking... hypothermia or loss of strength? Aha! A big rock. Just in time... I love this place! Up on the bank. What a rush! Do it again!

Next day another hike and another helmet warning, this time from a Park Ranger, about Washington State helmet laws. My vehicle registration and driver's license documents come back clean.

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