On my fruitless search for Mick Dodge, I soaked in the soul of the Hoh River valley. Sunlit open glades presented a rich interface between forest and river, providing food, water and cover. Riparian habitats are essential to wildlife. Ospreys, bald eagles, black bears and river otters visit the Hoh River and its tributaries in search of salmon.
I was also curious about the name…
Smitty Parratt, in his God and Goblins study of Olympic National Park place names, claims that Hoh means “fast, white water” but, in fact, no etymology for the name can be found in either the Quinault or Quileute languages. As Herb Fisher said, the “Hoh is only a name.” If there was an original meaning it has been lost. The Hoh River people themselves, who speak Quileute, call their river Cha’lak’at’sit, which means the “southern river”.
The Forks Library posted Poems along the trails in the Hoh. This one resonated with me:
Lost by David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers. I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, you are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.