When Jaya and Joshua set of for the Pacific Northwest in my novel Nearly Canaan, what they expect to find is something very much like the Olympic Peninsula rather than the fertile desert where they land.
Here’s some of the alternative.
- Set on the far western end of Washington state, the Olympic Peninsula is an anvil of land comprising nearly 3,600 square miles – more than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It has rare temperate rainforests, glacier-clad mountains, hot springs, timber-tangled shorelines, tall seastacks in the surf, hot springs, waterfalls, large lakes, and eight Native tribes and their reservations.
- Olympic National Park at the heart of the peninsula covers nearly a million acres and includes the state’s second-largest mountain range, crowned by 7,980-feet-tall Mount Olympus. Glacier-climbing skills are essential for ascent and descent. The park is the system’s sixth most popular, attracting more than 30 million visitors a year.
- The restoration of elk was so essential to the park’s mission that it was nearly named Elk National Park.
- The town of Forks gets 119.7 inches of precipitation a year – making it the wettest municipality in the continental U.S. And the nearby Hoh rainforest receives 140 to 170 inches a year.
- The peninsula abuts the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Strait of San Juan de Fuco on the north, and Puget Sound on the east. Its rugged interior shunts auto traffic toward the coastlines.
- The 300-mile, two-lane Route 101 loop around the peninsula is considered a three-day drive. More, for those who investigate scenic offshoots. There are no alternatives for traversing the peninsula.
- Hot springs access is available to the public at Sol Duc. Other sites are local secrets.
- Following the biggest dam removal in U.S. history, completed in 2014, the Elwah River once again runs wild for fish migration.
- There are more than 60 named glaciers.
- While the Olympics Range is seen prominently from Seattle on a clear day, its tallest point, Mount Olympus, is visible from no city.
Hope that serves as an introduction. We haven’t even touched on Port Townsend.