As the days and nights passed, my intimacy with the forest deepened. Sensory engagement with wild scents and sounds felt dreamlike, prescient, a portal to a primitive atmosphere disconnected from the present day. Inland, a few miles from the ocean, the silence and cold of the ancient trees soothed me into a meditation that numbed my physical discomfort, something that could never come from a clearcut or the dead soul of a city. It helped to be alone.
Awash in fog and rain and caressed by the damp breath of the sea, the ecosystem of the Pacific temperate rain forests was so fecund that their biomass was four or five times richer than the biomass of tropical jungles. In sheer volume of life and decay, the northwest woods triumphed over all ecosystems on Earth—the ranking a precious gift from the near-permanent clouds.
Sparrowhawk Creek was hellish to reach, especially in the rain. The wave was worthwhile. In two weeks I walked to it eight times. Just three miles each way, its trail was short, but steep grades—some nearly 45°—and slick mud linked the crossings of four waist-deep creeks. Dense foliage smothered much of the path, so most of the walk was done in my 5-mil fullsuit and 7-mil booties while holding my surfboard and backpack over my head. On separate occasions aside the trail, grazing elk and a foraging black bear were startled by my clumsy figure, but they didn’t flee. They were unafraid because they were never hunted. Hiking to Sparrowhawk I saw no signs of humans, not a shoeprint or a bit of plastic trash. It was unknown when the last surfer had passed this way.