A curve in the road bends into a fog bank, blinding me to everything I came to the Pacific Northwest for. The fog is a bittersweet sight, making it unable to see the surrounding landscape of giant western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, and redwood. But the fog is a reminder of what is near, the Pacific Ocean. After months spent locked in snowy landscapes, the time has come for the air to be riddled with moisture and the skin to never feel dry again. The ocean is in sight and the fog lifts just as the road curves its way to the coast.

Stepping out of the car, the instant sound of the crashing waves is deafening. The sheer volume alone is not a distraction, but an enhancement to the experience of seeing the ocean descend upon the shore with waves towering as high as the trees lining the beach. The wind blasts the orifices and chills the body temperature to its core. The odor is like a medley from a sea food restaurant serving a stew with each item sold on the menu.

A glance up the highway shows a carless road with nothing but asphalt and blind curves questioning the next destination. The curves bend around each tectonic headland covered in trees towering up from the ocean. Sun fills the senses upon the arrival, but the looming rain shuts the car door and turns the windshield wipers on.

The rain is but another sensation. One that souths the soul and brings me to the Pacific Northwest. It provides moisture for soils so the trees can grow to the height they do. It brings all types of flora, which then bring the fauna. But on a personal level, the rain brings water to the rivers, which flow to the ocean and grant passage to a resident I drive to the coast each year for. The Steelhead.

Steelhead are rainbow trout. The difference is these rainbow trout decide at some point in their life history that they’ll travel to the ocean like salmon. And when doing so, grow to sizes far exceeding trout around the world. Making them an irresistible appeal. With their size, strength, and near impossible predictability, it makes them the ultimate gamefish for the traveling angler. One that has me driving thousands of miles, studying rain forecasts instead of doing my job. The elusiveness of these fish ponders the questioning of their existence.

The Pacific Northwest is riddled with mystery, but that’s the allure. The solitude and loneliness of the wet curvy roads and empty rivers bring in a different kind of traveler. One that is reliant on weather and curiosity. Making me come back for more each time without the slightest idea of what to expect. But with each rain drop, each curve of the road and each cast in the stream, I am just an archaeologist using the tools given, uncovering what else this mystical landscape has to offer.

As seen in: OutdoorX4