a VirtualTourist member from Huntington Beach
The weather report says there is a chance of showers the week we plan to camp at Hoh rain forest. Do you guys have any suggestions as to any special preparations we should take? We have only camped 'dry' before.
It is called blue tarp camping, get a big blue tarp, put a high pole (with a large cap so as not to rip a hole in it) and tie off the corners to trees. If hiking a long ways in bring a lot of large ziploc bags, if a short walk or drive in large tupperware containers to keep things dry.
Here is a funny commercial about it
Yes, tarps and more tarps, and anything in plastic (like food) that needs to stay dry. The Hoh campground is the wettest in the lower 48 states: that area gets 12-14 FEET of rain a year. I'm guessing you have more than a "chance" of rain - I'd be prepared to get wet quite a lot. Aside from rain itself, intense humidity/fog will have everything feeling damp even during a rare a dry spell. And weather in the Hoh is unpredictable so reports can be short-lived.
There's a reason they call it a Rain Forest :)
But it is eerily, soggily beautiful, and the river is the most interesting shade of grey-blue!
There are some sprays you can put on your tent to help keep them water proof. Then you will also want to dig a small ditch around the outside of the tent, so that the water does not run off the tent and then under the tent. Do not touch the sides of the tent, this can cause leeks. Also put up a fly over the tent.
Another funny sidenote - parts of Washington State are so wet that the blue tarp has been nominated for the state flag - and has it's own Facebook page:
Yes, you definitely want one of these UNDER your tent as well. And beware of pitching it over that nearly invisible low spot - nothing more annoying that waking up in a puddle (speaking from firsthand experience here).
I've had luck pitching the tent on a slight slope, and digging a small ditch on the uphill side and around the sides. Make sure the footprint of the ground tarp is smaller than the fly.
From which direction does the wind usually blow when it rains? From the west?
This does depend a bit on what type of equipment you plan to take with you.
It has been a long time since I have been in the Hoh region, and also there are both National Park campgrounds in the area as well as State Parks. I will tell you in general about what I have found at state park campgrounds in the area.
Or, will you be backpacking through the park and not be at a campground?
Many of the campgrounds in the area are reasonably well set up already with well drained soil and all that, so usually the ditch digging isn't necessary. Also, a number of the campgrounds have locations that are well protected due to tree cover.
The typical "rain" that happens in that part of the coast is usually more of a very heavy fog than what most people think of as rain, so sometimes the tarp method of keeping the rain out doesn't work that well because it drifts around with the wind like a fog does.
What are you planning to bring with you? Are you tent camping or RV or in one of the yurts or cabins? If state park yurt or cabin then you have really no need to worry for the most part. Many of them even have sheltered cooking areas (you can't cook inside them due to fire problems). If tent camping do you have a stand-alone canopy - basically a canvas roof with four legs? Something like that may be helpful over your picnic table or cooking area. It can also be helpful to put it near the entrance to your tent or RV so that you have a place to dry off before going inside.
Regular rain will come from the W or NW or SW, real bad rain comes from the East
Remember not to keep your shoes next to the door or they will be wet in the morning.