The ‘Miracle of the Salmon.’

This year’s big run of humpies, or pink salmon, in the Dungeness River is like a miracle. It brings to mind the first recorded “Miracle of the Salmon,” which happened at a Shaker meeting at Jamestown in 1921.

The Shakers are a Native American form of Christianity that began in October 1881 at Skookum Bay in Mason County when a Squaxin shaman, Squs-sacht-un, who was named John Slocum by the white man, knelt in the woods to think of the error of his ways and the evil days that had overtaken him and his friends.

Squs-sacht-un had lived a life of the “white man’s vices,” horse racing, whiskey drinking and idleness.

Squs-sacht-un became very ill and hovered near death for about two weeks while five Indian doctors tried to heal him. He died at four in the morning. His brother went to Olympia for a coffin and a grave was dug. Late the next afternoon, Squs-sacht-un recovered with a story to tell.

Squs-sacht-un then described an out-of-body experience where he looked down at his own dead body and saw he had no soul. He saw, “a great light from that good land,” where angels told him that he could not enter heaven, because he was so wicked. He had a choice of going to hell or returning to earth to warn people to change their ways.

Squs-sacht-un was told he was given four days to live. He prayed the whole time until another voice told him he could live four weeks if he would build a church. The church was built and Squs-sacht-un was told he could live four years if he lived right. He did, combining Catholic and Native American doctrine and ceremony into the “Shaker Church.”

They were called “Shakers” because their bodies would shake during the services as part of a healing ceremony that would rid a person of sickness, sin or both.

James Wickersham, a Tacoma attorney, said in 1892 that Shaker Church members, “practiced the strictest morality, sobriety and honesty. Their 600 members do not drink, gamble or race.”

The formation of the Shaker Church was occurring at the same time as the Ghost Dance of the Sioux, which resulted in their persecution and ultimately the massacre at Wounded Knee.

The Shaker Church was strongly opposed by their Indian Agent at the time, Edwin Eells and his missionary brother, the Rev. Myron Eells, who banished Squs-sacht-un and his associates from their reservation, then imprisoned them in chains in a single-room jail at the Indian Agency in Puyallup.

Then, with the passage of the Indian Land Severalty bill in 1886, land-holding, tax-paying Indians were no longer wards of the state or under the control of Indian Agents. Squs-sucht-un was freed.

The Shakers spread to Native American communities across western Washington. In 1890, a Shaker Church was built at Jamestown.

In 1921, the largest group of Shakers to ever assemble was at a convention at Jamestown.

No one thought there’d be so many mouths to feed. The Shakers prayed. As the tide went out, hundreds of humpies were stranded in the eel grass on the tide flats. It’s said in the old days, salmon were stranded on the tide flats every summer, but no one had seen this happening for 25 years before the Shaker Convention.

In 1967, an estimated 400,000 humpies ran up the Dungeness River. While this year’s run of humpies isn’t that big, the fact that there’s one humpy left after a century of gross mismanagement of this fishery is a miracle — the miracle of the salmon.

The Winter Forecast.

Autumn must be my favorite time of year. If only because it helps us to prepare for winter.

You remember winter? Maybe you were so busy complaining about how it was too hot last summer, you forgot what was coming next. Fortunately, we’re here to remind you that there is no time like the present to prepare for winter.

First, we need to analyze the predictions for the coming season using the best available science.

There are many tools available to today’s climatologists to formulate an accurate picture of the severity of the season.

According to the Office of the Washington State Climatologist’s September Newsletter, El Nino, that dreaded mass of warm water that creeps up from South America every few years, has hit the snooze button, allowing the tropical Pacific Ocean to cool in the last four weeks.

However, these observations are inconclusive enough to institute an “El Nino” watch in case it does show up.

The climatologist’s outlook for September in areas west of the Cascades predicts, “equal chances of below, equal to or above normal precipitation.”

In addition, these same State of Washington brainiacs say, “the three-month outlook for fall has equal chances of below, equal to, or above normal temperatures.”

How’s that for going out on a limb? That’s why they get the big money.

Other winter prognosticators have warned that it could get very cold here in the months of December, January and February — which would be news to no one who lives here.

That is why we are forced to ultimately rely on the exhaustive research of a humble wilderness gossip columnist to nail down a winter forecast you can hang your hat on.

Make no mistake: Winter is coming.

All of the signs are here.

Already there’s been a dusting of fresh snow on the Olympics.

The geese, ducks, sandhill cranes and shorebirds are flying by at a dizzying rate.

And I’m curing my fish eggs with pumpkin spice.

These are signs of the season that should not be ignored.

The deer are getting shaggy coats.

The spiders are large, hairy and more numerous than usual.

Their webs are spun through the forest so thick, the first person up the trail is soon mummified in a layer of arachnid silk.

In the twilight, we see squadrons of spiders riding the air currents on parasails they have spun from their webs.

Other insects tell a darker story.

The massive invasion of caterpillars that has plagued the Peninsula should have us all worried.

It’s not just the large numbers of caterpillars that are concerning, it’s their thick growth of hair, much of which is a disturbing shade of black.

If that wasn’t enough to cause added anxiety, the corn husks are extra thick.

There is a disturbing over-abundance of cones on the trees.

To top it all off, that other sure sign of a hard winter has reared its ugly head, the old guides’ woodpile is large enough to be seen from space.

We have only to observe the appearance of the orange-coated road hunter to know that winter will soon be here.

Then, we will have the first frost and that other unmistakable sign of the changing seasons, the stupid turning of the clocks.

Mother Nature plays hardball. We have to be prepared.

Preparation is the key to winter preparedness.

I may be wrong, but I am positive this winter will be cold, dark and wet. That is a prediction you can take to the bank.

Get ready, this winter will be a bad one. We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.

Sympathy for the Fish Cop.

Thank you for reading this. You send the most interesting letters.

One of the best came as a response to my explanation of how our fishing laws are made — how our biologists emerge from their burrows beneath the State Capitol, where they have spent the winter hibernating.

If they see their shadows, they come up with another fishing law.

Favorites include the “Stationary Gear Restriction,” which says, “the line, weight, lure or bait must be moving while in the water.”

This makes it illegal to get snagged on the bottom.

The definition of wild Steelhead claims they have unclipped adipose or ventral fins, but tribal hatcheries clip the dorsal fin.

We are told in one section of the fishing laws we can use up to three hooks on a floating lure then told in another we can only use one single-point, barbless hook.

Who knew it was illegal to fish for jack salmon or steelhead after you caught your limit of adult salmon?

It’s illegal to keep a green crab. These invasive species could devastate our Dungeness crab and clam populations, but we must release them!

Our fishing laws are so confusing, no two anglers can agree on what they say.

It was wrong to call our fishing laws the “Fish Cop Employment Security Act.”

I know that now after being contacted by a retired fish cop who revealed that Washington’s whacko fishing laws victimize both the public and the officers entrusted with enforcing them.

Greg Haw started his 39-year career enforcing fish and wildlife regulations in 1985 in Forks.

As a young officer, Haw was obsessed, in his own words, with catching salmon snaggers and poachers while working 12-hour days, seven days a week. He thought he was making a difference.

His father, Frank Haw, was a fisheries biologist with 75 years of fishing experience who worked to improve recreational fishing opportunities back when the number of salmon anglers equaled the combined yearly attendance of Seattle’s three major league teams — when Washington’s recreational salmon anglers caught more than the sport salmon catches of California, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska combined.

This was accomplished by using fish hatcheries like the one at the Dungeness River, where in 1961, for example, 1,283,000 spring Chinook, 1,062,000 fall Chinook and 2,500,000 Coho salmon were hatched and released to migrate north and return, feeding a fishing industry and the orca on the way.

Upon retiring from fisheries enforcement, Haw entered a period of bleak depression.

He wondered if, after dedicating 39 years of his life working to protect the natural resources of Washington state in a hazardous profession, he had contributed nothing.

In his book, “Confessions of an Urban Fish and Wildlife Officer in Washington State,” (2019, Amazon) Haw notes that, “nearly all economically valuable populations of fish, as well as much of our native flora and fauna, are in a sorry state. Recreational fishing and hunting opportunities are shrinking.”

In his latest book, “Confessions of a Washington State Game Warden: An Insider Tells All,” (2020, Amazon) Haw says, “WDFW’s recreational fishing regulations pamphlet is best described as an oversized catalog of largely useless and misleading information. Courts don’t take our cases because of this publication. Our ability to prosecute violators is limited. This publication is used by defendants to beat charges.”

This, from a man who dedicated his life to enforcing the fishing laws.

How could such a disastrous collection of unenforceable laws be allowed to grow larger every year?

Go back and read the beginning of this column.

It’s enough to give you sympathy for the fish cop.

Don’t Get Lost.

Who says there is no good news these days?

A lost backpacker was found after four days by search and rescue teams made up of Olympic Mountain Rescue and Tacoma Mountain Rescue volunteers, National Park Service personnel, Washington State Search and Rescue Planning Unit and the Coast Guard helicopter crew that airlifted him to an Olympia hospital.

The search was conducted in the rugged high country, up the south fork of the Quinault River through an end-of-summer storm that brought high winds, lightning and 4 inches of rain.

Just camping in a monsoon like that can be a challenge, even if you have a blazing campfire burning.

While details have not emerged as to how the backpacker got lost, it’s easy to imagine how you can get turned around while hiking on a trail.

I blame the elk. Their trails look remarkably similar to the ones humans make.

Some elk trails have been carved into the landscape by centuries of seasonal migration from the high country to the lowlands and back again.

It’s easy to get confused between an elk trail and a man-made path, but elk trails all have one thing in common. They seem to disappear when you least expect it, leaving you somewhere in the woods with no idea how you got there.

Getting lost in the woods is a proud American tradition that goes back to before the days of Daniel Boone, who said, “I have never been lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.”

Back in the days of Daniel Boone, it was much easier to get lost in the wilderness since there was so much more wilderness to get lost in.

These days, there are more and more people getting lost in the wilderness, since there are so many more people.

The sad thing is that almost every year there are people who are lost and never found.

Jacob Gray disappeared on April 4, 2017, leaving his bicycle along the side of the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, causing a massive search effort that covered hundreds of square miles. They found Gray’s remains Aug. 10, 2018 — 15 miles away at Hoh Lake.

How he crossed the Sol Duc and Bogachiel rivers and the many rain-swollen tributaries during a stretch of nasty wind and rain to get 5,000 feet up into avalanche country remains a mystery, and a lesson to us all.

With the autumn rains, we’re entering what is arguably the best time of year to get lost in the woods — mushroom season.

You walk through the brush with your eyes focused on the ground as you scurry from one mushroom to the other like a kid on an Easter egg hunt, until you realize you have no idea where you came from or how to get back.

None of that matters now as you see more mushrooms just over the hill and down the little gully where you cannot believe your eyes. You had no idea there could be this many mushrooms left on earth!

The mushroom fever has you in its grip. You are hopelessly lost. You try to retrace your steps, but the forest looks the same in every direction. As darkness descends, you walk faster in what you are sure is the wrong direction.

The best tip I can give to not get lost picking mushrooms is, don’t go mushroom picking.

If that doesn’t work for you, tell someone where you are going, when you’ll be back, and pack the 10 essentials for wilderness travel. Don’t get lost and make someone look for you.

Disaster Preparedness Month.

By now we’ve all about had it up to here with the nanny-state government telling us what to do. The last I heard, this was still a free country where we have the right to pursue happiness, whatever that means. For me, it means doing whatever the heck I want to preserve my precious freedom.

Then, I heard that September was declared to be “National Disaster Preparedness” month. Now, there’s a government program I could really get behind.

Into each life, a little rain must fall. That’s where disaster preparedness comes in. It can be something simple like checking the batteries in your smoke detector or getting one of those disaster preparedness kits they’re always harping about. You know, the kits with food, blankets, water, flashlights and a radio and stuff. Or you can take on a more substantial project to get ready. This month, in honor of Disaster Preparedness month, I rearranged my sock drawer.

There are, however, other steps we can take to prepare for the disasters that seem to be headed our way more frequently with each passing year.

• Stay calm. Don’t panic. Experts are always telling us to stay calm and not to panic when we are facing everything from murder hornets to the Internal Revenue Service. This is probably because they’ve never been faced with these threats. It’s easy for experts not to panic, but it’s bad advice. I say panic early and often. It’s never too early to panic. Practice panicking now before the disaster hits, so you get it out of your system when the real trouble hits the fan. Maybe you’ll panic enough to get a generator. Don’t forget the fuel.

• Migrate. Millions of birds are beginning their migration down our Pacific Coast from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. Get a clue. If these dumb animals have sense enough to figure out that moving to a more civilized climate is a good idea in the winter, what is your problem? One of the best ways to avoid a disaster here is to leave home and head south. Problem solved.

• Bulk up. Here is another tip we can take from our animal friends. Many of whom are incapable of migrating south. Bears, for example, spend the summer and autumn putting on fat to adapt to the colder winter weather. In addition to the survival benefits of having an increased blubber content, the larger you are, the more likely you will be seen by would-be rescuers when disaster strikes.

• Grow your hair longer. In addition to blubber, many creatures grow a thicker coat of fur in the winter. Longer hair will not only keep you warmer, it will save you money on haircuts.

• Hibernate. Once again, we can take a hint from our animal friends. I’m not saying that everyone can attain a state of true hibernation like our iconic Olympic marmots or members of Congress, but you don’t know until you try.

• Super-size fast food orders. This is a no-brainer. We’ve all seen demonstrations of fast-food morsels locked in glass cases for years with no apparent deterioration. Our modern-day chemicals and food preservatives are not only good, they’re good for you.

• Contact your neighbors. A good neighbor will loan you stuff. Find out what to borrow from your neighbors now, before disaster strikes. By then, it will probably be too late.

These are just a few of the many things you can do for disaster preparedness month besides panicking and rearranging your sock drawer. We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.

Fall Chores.

Autumn must be my favorite time of year. When the Olympic Mountains stand so stark and tall in the smoke-free air, they almost seem like they are about to fall over, but they don’t.

Although there’s no time to stand around and admire the view when you have chores to do.

Autumn is the time of harvest. You can’t eat the view, so you’d better get to work.

The fact is, there are not enough hours in the day to get all of the chores done because the days are getting shorter.

Experts tell us not to get stressed out or bogged down by the details of life on the farm.

We should prioritize, delegate and move on to the next chore with the rhythm of the season.

Whatever that means.

I think it means now that the vines have died down, it’s time to dig the potatoes.

There are few things I enjoy more than digging potatoes.

To thrust the shovel into the mellow loam, exposing colorful tubers of varied hues of red, white, blue and yellow. Digging potatoes is a treasure hunt.

I was really looking forward to it.

Until I remembered loaning the shovel to a worthless clam digger.

It was a rare antique that was in really good shape. All of my tools are.

That’s another secret to life on the farm. Don’t use your tool and it won’t wear out.

I could never find a shovel that would fit my hand anyway.

It was time to prioritize, delegate and move on.

It’s time to pick a winter’s supply of apples.

An old apple farmer told me that once the coyotes started eating the apples, they were ready to pick. Lately there’s been a coyote party in the orchard every night.

People often wonder how the coyotes pick apples. They don’t.

The coyotes get the apples laying on the ground that the bear knocked out of the tree.

It turns out the bears figured out the apples were ripe before I did.

They must have camped out in the trees for a few nights and ate themselves sick, if the mess around the trees was any indication.

People said I should shoot the bear and tan the hide. Like I need another chore.

I tried to tan a hide once, using the old Indian cure that involved a greasy mixture of brains to do the trick.

It turns out that tanning a hide and writing a newspaper column have a lot in common. I ran out of brains before it was half done.

Besides, the bears have obviously read the hunting laws.

That’s why they never emerge from the blackberry tangles until at least a minute and a half after legal shooting light.

It was just another case of “if you snooze, you lose.”

All that was left of the apples was a few half-eaten ones that neither the bears nor the coyotes wanted.

It was a tragic end to another struggle to survive in the wilderness.

What could I do but prioritize, delegate and move on?

Autumn is also a good time to stock up on firewood.

Stacking firewood is another one of my favorite chores. But you have to cut and split the firewood before you can stack it.

That’s why it was too bad that I could not get the chainsaw started.

I was burning daylight. It was time to prioritize, delegate and move on.

That’s life in the wilderness.

We work through the rhythm of the seasons until salmon season starts — when, if any chore isn’t done by then, it won’t get done.

Labor Day Appreciation

Dealing with the crush of vacationing hordes that invaded the Olympic Peninsula this summer has stressed the tourist infrastructure to the breaking point. The problem is, many of our tourists have unrealistic expectations about their vacations. As a general rule, we like to advise tourists that the sooner they realize that their expectations are unrealistic, the better.

For example, every tourist wants to see a bear. And who doesn’t?

Unless you saw a bear like I did this summer. It was as big as a cow and cut right in front of me out on U.S. Highway 101 without even signaling. It could have been a disaster! Bears have no insurance. Bears, like most of our other wild animals, are irresponsible and unreliable. I can’t tell you how many times we have floated by Elk Creek without seeing an elk. That’s just wrong.

We have petitioned the Geographic Board of Names to rename it No-Elk Creek, but we haven’t heard anything back from them yet.

There could be many reasons for this record number of tourists. People were tired of being cooped up due to COVID. The Canadians wouldn’t let us in their country. And who could blame them? We wouldn’t let them into our country. Americans were trapped here so they decided to hit the road in everything from rental cars to the largest recreational vehicles on Earth.

There are only so many campsites and parking spots, and once these were taken, the tourists fanned out through the hinterland, blocking logging roads and boat launches with their fire rings and questionable bathroom habits.

Floating tourists down a river in a raft gives one a bird’s-eye lowdown on the tourist problem. I hear the horror stories. Like waiting for an hour for a hamburger only to wait for another hour to complain that you ordered it with no cheese. Or waiting hours to get into Olympic National Park only to have the park shut down because of a “law enforcement situation.” All the while trying to find the dump station for their RV before there’s an accident. That’s what it’s all about — creating family vacation memories that will last a lifetime.

Then there is the supply chain fiasco that has interrupted the flow of vital supplies needed for the production of apple fritters in Forks.

The only thing we can count on is the Hoh River, which will flow until the glaciers melt. While it lasts, the Hoh remains the last best river in America. Floating people down it is a rare privilege.

The most notable rafters this summer have been health care workers. They come to the Olympic Peninsula from all of our nation’s COVID hot spots to unwind and try to forget the horror of their working lives.

On the river, they often relax and tell stories of working 24-hour shifts while dealing with dying people they cannot help. They talk of arguing with people who insist they don’t have COVID while they are being intubated. They tell about the patients’ isolation from their families with no chance to say goodbye. They talk of being isolated from their own families and loved ones in an effort to keep them from getting sick. They feel victimized by people blaming them for the pandemic and guilty for feeling like they could do more to stop it. They spill their guts until they cry and so do I.

I can think of no better time than Labor Day to appreciate the selfless actions of these brave people. All of which makes me wish they could see a bear. It’s the least we could do.

Rough Bar Conditions.

IT WAS DAYLIGHT on the water. A heaving deck and the smell of saltwater told me I’d awakened to a real-life nightmare.

In the murk of dawn, I could see heavy surf pounding against sheer cliffs that rose into the fog.

The morning tide was taking us out into the Pacific past the ramparts of A-Ka-Lat, the Quileute fortress at the mouth of the river that bears their name.

It was aptly described by Capt. John Meares in 1788.

He said, “The appearance of the land was wild in the extreme.” Nothing much has changed.

A-Ka-Lat was also a burial ground for chiefs and a lookout for spotting whales and enemy raiders.

That’s how the Quileute saw the Russian brig Sv. Nikolai in 1808. She’d lost her anchors and sails in a November gale and crashed ashore. The 20 survivors of the shipwreck headed south for the Columbia River, where they hoped to find a ship. Instead, they were captured by the Hoh Indians.

Of the original crew of 20 — which included Capt. Nikolai Bulygin’s wife, Anna Petrovna, the first European woman to live in the state of Washington — seven died in captivity, including Petrovna.

The remaining 13 Russians and Aleuts were rescued in 1810 by Capt. J. Brown of the Boston brig Lydia. If it wasn’t for the sharp eyes of the Quileute, we might all be speaking Russian by now.

It wasn’t long before we were over the bar of the Quileute River and out into the towering waves of the open sea.

When the Coast Guard says “rough bar conditions,” they aren’t referring to the nightlife. They don’t call it the Graveyard of the Pacific for nothing.

It was just my luck to get shanghaied out into the middle of it.

Getting shanghaied was an Olympic Peninsula tradition from Grays Harbor to Port Townsend.

With the crew jumping ship to go live with the Indians every time they got near land, what was a sea captain to do but hire on the latest crop of farm boys, loggers or stray fishermen who came to town most any weekend for a spree?

There, a stiff drink and a quick trip through a trap door was your invitation to a new career at sea.

It could take years to get back home, if you ever did.

Once upon a time, a captain tried to capture a whole village.

A Quileute tradition described a large sailing vessel anchoring in the mouth of the river. The captain was attempting to entice visiting tribal members aboard the ship to capture and enslave them. An Aleut woman who was a survivor of the Sv. Nicholai happened to be aboard. She warned the Quileute in their language to get away while they could. The Quileute fled to their fortress atop A-Ka-Lat.

I thought that sort of thing had died out years ago. Then I met some shady characters at a boat ramp. They must have slipped something into my cocoa while I was rearranging my tackle box. The next thing I knew, I was headed out to sea.

Soon, we were working the gear, catching salmon as fast as we could reel them in. Until I had my limit and was just getting in the way.

Entering the cabin, I encountered something more terrifying than the Quileute bar, the captain’s dog, a hundred-pound man-hating female Rottweiler who was growling in close proximity to the swimsuit area.

I kept saying, “Good girl.”

She must have known I was lying.

Then I gave her a doughnut and made a friend. It was good to be alive.

Understanding Our Fishing Laws.

It was another tough week in the news.

The good news is the 2021 Washington State Sport Fishing rules came out. The bad news is the 2021 Washington State Sport Fishing rules came out.

To understand the significance of this annual event, you’d have to believe in Santa Claus.

He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice. You wait, not knowing where you stand, until your sock gets filled with coal or presents.

Some years, that first reading of the fishing laws is like opening Christmas presents. This year, reading the fishing laws is like finding a lump of coal in your Christmas sock.

I have spent years studying our fishing regulations in an attempt to translate them into English.

This is not as easy as it seems. At first, I thought I was just too stupid to figure out our fishing laws. It was then I discovered that most other people couldn’t figure out the fishing laws either. For example, what is a “single barbless hook?”

It was then I suspected the fishing laws were made to be as incoherent as possible for a reason.

The WDFW, which loosely translated means, “We Destroy Fishing in Washington,” is a massive bureaucracy with an enormous budget to match.

By making the fishing laws, also known as the “Fish Cop Employment Security Act,” as complicated as possible, the state was able to develop a lucrative revenue stream that had the game wardens writing so many tickets they got the dreaded tunnel carpel syndrome.

To understand how important it is to obey our fishing laws, it might be helpful to understand how they are made in the first place.

The process begins shortly after Groundhog Day, when the biologists emerge from their burrows beneath a bunker in the basement of the state capitol building.

Here, these dedicated professionals have spent months making fishing laws by spinning a roulette wheel affectionately named “The Best Available Science.”

Each spin of the wheel hires another biologist, creates a new fishing law or shuts down a fish hatchery somewhere.

The biologists then take the raw data to a magic place called the “North of Falcon Meeting,” where the imaginary paper salmon runs are divided between competing groups of commercial, sport and Native American fishers who can only agree on one thing, banning the other guy’s gear.

These are secret meetings, so we are not really sure what they do, but we’re pretty sure we won’t like it.

Shortly after the North of Falcon meetings, it’s April Fool’s Day, time to buy your new Washington State fishing license.

The fishing laws don’t come out until July. I couldn’t find a copy until August, Friday the 13th.

Coincidence? I think not.

Reading this year’s 148-page edition of our fishing laws, one soon realizes the evil genius of the writers.

Just when you think you are a law-abiding ethical angler, they change the law.

The goal of this current philosophy of fisheries management seeks to preserve and protect the resiliency of our iconic salmon and steelhead resources with a series of new laws that anglers will have a doozy of a time trying to figure out.

Biologists have somehow determined that fish hooks are a major cause of fish mortality. At first, they said you could use a single barbless hook to fish. That was wrong.

This year you can only use a single-pointed barbless hook. We can only hope that the best available science doesn’t outlaw fish hooks altogether, but you never know.

Is forbidding fishing with fish hooks foreseeable in our future? We’ll have to read the fishing laws.

Let it Rain.

“Does it always rain like this?” my fancy friend asked recently while huddling under a refreshing morning shower that hit so hard the raindrops seemed to bounce off the surface of the river.

I reassured the soggy tourist that, of course, it didn’t always rain like this. Sometimes, it rains a whole lot harder.

People caught in the rain sometimes have a hard time appreciating the beauty of precipitation.

Without rain, there would be no rainforest. We would eventually burn it down.

Someone tried to burn down the rainforest last week. That is, we can assume a human started the 70-some-acre fire on the south side of the Hoh River that fire crews and helicopters put out.

Humans seem to be the leading cause of wildfires, next to lightning, and we don’t get much lightning in this country.

Nothing will make you appreciate the rain more than not having any.

No one seems to remember the last few summers when the smoke was so thick it seemed like the end of the world, or we were living in California.

Rain is much preferable to the alternative, smoke. With an abundant rainfall, forest fires are much less likely to start and blaze out of control.

Make no mistake, despite the campfire ban, which was declared after the unprecedented heat wave we experienced in June, when the temperature went up to 113 degrees in the Hoh Rainforest, people persist in building fires.

Watching tourists stand around a campfire in 100-and-something-degree heat in a crackling dry forest is a wonder of nature thing. It makes you wonder about the place of people in nature.

A central theme of the campfire experience seems to be the construction of the campfire ring.

These miniature monuments to functional fixedness are found scattered everywhere these days. Along roads, in roads, parking lots and boat ramps — in fact, everywhere you want to be.

One campfire ring seems to spawn others, since no one seems to want to use a used campfire ring. Removing campfire rings has become a full-time job the locals are getting tired of.

The only weapon we have against the current tourist invasion seems to be an abundant supply of rain.

Unfortunately, we just can’t get enough rain. Record numbers of tourists have been crowding the Olympic Peninsula for months now, causing people to wait for hours to get into Olympic National Park.

Tourists waiting to view this World Heritage Site and United Nations Biosphere Reserve typically sit in their cars with the engine running and the air conditioning going, while their children melt into their screens playing video games as they inch their way closer to the fee station in a failed attempt to capture a moment of solitude in a crowded wilderness.

Once past the fee station, the tourists drive like the chase scenes in action-adventure movies with screeching turns around blind corners. Typically, these gangs of tourists drive inches away from the rear bumper of the car in front of them, in a conga-line of cars each itching to pass the other to get behind a different car.

That’s how a bear cub was run over on the Upper Hoh Road last week.

Every tourist on the Peninsula seems to want to see a bear, but no one wants to see one bad enough to run them over. We hope. Observing a bear in the wild is not so cool once it has been run over.

Rain is our only defense against the tourist invasion. We need rain and we need it now.