An Acoustic Ecologist Takes You on a Hike Through the Hoh Valley Rain Forest

Friday, January 6, 2017 - 7:00 pm

An Acoustic Ecologist Takes You on a Hike Through the Hoh Valley Rain Forest

Through the sounds of the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park, acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton guides us to One Square Inch of Silence — with the chirping twitter of the Western wren and the haunting call of the Roosevelt elk. Take this aural hike and be sure to listen with a pair of headphones or earbuds. You’ll discover quieting sounds you might miss without them. Promise. Download the MP3 and share it with your friends!

Good things come from a quiet place: study, prayer, music, transformation, worship, communion. The words peace and quiet are all but synonymous, and are often spoken in the same breath. A quiet place is the think tank of the soul, the spawning ground of truth and beauty.

A quiet place outdoors has no physical borders or limits to perception. One can commonly hear for miles and listen even farther. A quiet place affords a sanctuary for the soul, where the difference between right and wrong becomes more readily apparent. It is a place to feel the love that connects all things, large and small, human and not; a place where the presence of a tree can be heard. A quiet place is a place to open up all your senses and come alive.

Sadly, though, as big as it is, our planet offers fewer and fewer quiet havens. …

(Bala Sivakumar / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

In 1984, early in my recording career recording nature sounds, I identified 21 places in Washington state (an area of 71,302 square miles) with noise-free intervals of 15 minutes or longer. In 2007, only three of these places remain on my list. Two are protected only by their anonymity; the third lies deep within Olympic National Park: the Hoh Rain Forest in the far northwest corner of the continental United States. I moved near the Hoh in the mid-1990s just to be closer to its silences. In the Hoh River Valley, nature discovery occurs without words or even thoughts — it simply happens. Wondrously. But you have to listen.

And to do that, you first have to silence the mind.


From the book “One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet” by Gordon Hempton and John Grossman.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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