By Elaine Rohse • Columnist • 

Rohse The gift of rain and glory of the rainforest

For most Oregon residents, our considerable quantities of rain is something we can’t do much about. We accept it and live with it, if not always amicably, because we well know that all it ever does in Oregon is rain, rain, rain.

But then, suddenly, the sun emerges. Everything is washed sparkly clean and lawns, shrubs and fields are green, green, green. Recreational opportunities beckon — swimming, boating, fishing.

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And now we’re being told of its medical benefits and that rainfall can be good for us.

As starters: rain helps purify the air. Researchers say that when the humidity levels are above 43% many airborne virus particles become powerless. When you are out in the rain it’s often cooler so you tend to use more calories, and are building more muscle.

We’re told that the chemicals in the rain actually reduce stress. True, it’s wet, but it can also be calming.

And running in the rain increases metabolism, helps give you a delightful experience and that lean, sleek look.

So, if you’re planning a picnic and rain intercedes, don’t glower; think instead of everything rain does for you. There is one rain benefit you may have missed — rain forests — a drive through a rainforest is a delightful experience. And mankind is mightily beholden to rainforests for all they do for us. Rainforests take care of one fourth of the world’s carbon. They are home to 6 million species. They provide a home site for millions of people. They account for one-third of all our fresh water. Rainforests are the world’s most essential ecosystem and we depend on them for survival.

The Amazon rainforest alone has more than 50,000 insect species. Protecting our rainforests because of their vast sequestering and their protection is one of the most effective acts we can take with regard to climate change.

The fertility of their soil is incredible. A single spoonful of rainforest soil contains 10,000 to 50,000 different kinds of bacteria and supports millions of species of fungi, plant and animal life. They know no dry season and average 138 inches of rain annually.

Rainforests also produce considerable food. And they are a delight to visit — if you don’t mind rain since they know no dry season. In the Quinault Lodge lobby a totem pole indicates inches of rainfall for the year to date. Rainfall in that Olympic Park area also averages annually about 138 inches.

But despite the interest and beauty of rainforests, beware of which you choose to visit. They can be not only inviting, but dangerous. There is a list of the world’s 10 most dangerous rainforests.

These rainforests are akin to battlegrounds where ferns, huge conifers, mosses and lichens battle to see which can gain the most sun. Ferns grow on about every tree trunk. Moss gloms onto the top of an old fence post and produces an attractive arrangement.

Rainforests are found primarily in South and Central America, Africa, Madagascar, Malaysian Indonesia, Southern Asia, India, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and is on the list of 10 most dangerous rainforests (and is also haunted).

A Chinese rainforest, Jiuzhaigoo, is not only the deadliest but is among the most beautiful.

The rainforests of Malaysian Indonesia and the Amazon are also considered dangerous because of their venomous snakes and insects, but many of these forests are almost gone.

Australia’s Daintree National Park is seventh on the dangerous list because of its density and many wild animals. California’s Redwood National Park is also considered dangerous, not only because of animals but because of its often foggy conditions that may cause people to become lost and disoriented.

Also on the most dangerous list because of dangerous animals and thickness of growth is Ancient Bald Forest, Germany. Jog Fall in Karnataka State, India, has many beautiful waterfalls and rare plants and animals and is said to provide an “adventurous trip” for anyone venturing there.

Boreal Forest is second on the dangerous list, with this word of caution: “It is difficult to visit this forest alone.”

Another dangerous forest is Crooked Forest in Poland. This famous forest has rare animals that can be dangerous for visitors. Although it is not very large, its “crooked” forest supposedly has a factor of horror in it. It’s one of the most entertaining forests in the world.

Rainforests cover a considerable portion of the earth’s surface and protect our water supply. When these rainforests disappear, drought may follow. They help provide the oxygen we need.

Each tree in the forest has a unique understory home to frogs, animals mosses, ferns, lichens.

The biggest forest in the world is the Tiag Biome Boreal Forest that is nearly a continuous expanse of forest through the far northern reaches of Europe, Asia and North America.

And now, let’s talk about the rainforest that I visited a few weeks ago at Lake Quinault, the resort community for Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest with its six conifer specimens in the National Registration of Big Trees. Hike the three-mile walking trail that branches off and takes you to a 191-foot giant that is nearly 59 feet in circumference and is estimated to be about 1,000 years old.

It was because of my birthday that I went to that rainforest. It was a surprise destination birthday gift.

Many years ago Homer and I were on vacation and stopped at Lake Quinault at the Quinault Lodge on the southwest corner of Olympic National Park in Washington state, accessed by U.S. 101.

When Homer and I were there, our itinerary had not included an overnight stay but we had checked out the lodge that is a classic old hotel with fine views of the three-mile long lake.

In AAA notes regarding the Lodge, it notes, “The beauty of the Pacific Northwest seems to rush in from all sides of the dining room, where President Roosevelt was a guest in 1937 while visiting what would become “Olympic National Park.” While we were still there, management advised that up in the nearby woods a bunch of elk were bugling and having a little concert and that if we hurried up there we might get to hear them. We rushed to the car and we did indeed catch part of that great concert.

When we left Lake Quinault, we vowed we’d come back again and stay a couple of nights and explore the rainforest. We never did go back.

After Homer passed, I mentioned to my kids that we three should go up there sometime. We often traveled together and I loved those trips. We had taken a cruise to Alaska, a railroad trip to Colorado where we ziplined over Royal Canyon, to Death Valley, the San Juans and other fun places. I always looked forward to those trips.

Shortly before my birthday in April, the kids called to advise I should pack for a three-day surprise-destination birthday trip. I thought perhaps we were going to their place at Agate Beach. I loved going there and walking the beach and at dinner watching the sun go down through the full-view windows. They picked me up that Sunday morning but we did not head for Newport. I was consumed with curiosity. Although I tried, I never could pry loose a clue where we were going. Down the road we headed and it mattered not to me, I loved going down any road.

At Astoria, we crossed the bridge and continued north as I tried to figure out where we would spend the night. In Astoria we had lunch at a delightful riverfront restaurant that was quite new. I had been wanting to eat there, so that took care of another item on my bucket list.

But now as we began to pass many signs posting the mileage to Quinault, I thought I had a clue.

“Could the first letter of our destination perhaps begin with a Q?” I asked the kids, and that indeed was where we were going to spend the next two days: at the Quinault Lodge. I was delighted.

That night we bedded down in our two rooms with wonderful views of Lake Quinault and planned to explore rainforests the next day. Next morning after a Rancher’s Breakfast we headed out for a great sight-seeing jaunt. Never could there have been a better birthday present. The sun was shining, scarcely a cloud in the sky. No wind.

We checked the map to chart our course and soon came to the Rainforest road. It was like entering a magic kingdom with greens of every possible shade and shafts of sunlight sneaking through the green canopy. Mosses, varied kinds and textures and greens commanded any unoccupied space and shaped itself into strikingly beautiful creations. Ferns grew from the trunk of every tree, and in places the trees were so thick we could not have walked between them.

I rank that day as memorable as seeing the Egyptian pyramids or the Grand Canyon or the ruins in Mexico. We hated to turn around and go back. And at dinner over a glass of wine, I tried to suitably thank them for a birthday I would never forget.

All morning we drove and the great rainforest show, at every turn in the road, provided another spectacular presentation. We parked and walked down a trail and viewed nature’s miraculous work close at hand

What a wonderful country we live in — a country where it rains enough to supply us with rainforests.

Elaine Rohse can be reached at rohse5257@comcast.net.

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