Triple-digit temperatures are baking the Rogue Valley, but here in the coastal rainforest, the air is just nudging 70. We're switchbacking up a trail out of Jurassic Park, the ferns up to our chests beneath a canopy of 300-year-old Sitka spruce that deaden sound and turn afternoon into evening.
We're trying to make time in an attempt to cover a dozen miles before dinner, but stands of tiger lilies, Oregon iris, cat's ear and other forest gems demand to have their photos taken, slowing our progress.
Just as our eyes adjust to the twilight beneath the old-growth and our breathing shortens from the climb, the trail dips toward the ocean, turns a corner and — bam! — Mother Nature punches us in the eye with a view that elicits involuntary utterances.