It is a frosty March morning in the Hoh Rainforest, deep within Olympic National Park in Washington state. The forest is full of Jurassic ferns, hanging moss, and towering spruce and cedars, but what I hope to find is an absence. I seek a spot known as the “One Square Inch of Silence” — one of the quietest places in the contiguous United States, free from chattering people, humming power lines, and the whoosh of cars.
When I find the moss-covered log surrounded by a collection of red stones marking the spot, I listen. I hear the roar of the river and maybe a waterfall. There is an occasional bird song. And nothing else. I had worried that something would ruin it — that there would already be someone there, a plane would rumble overhead, or I would hear kayakers yelling on the river nearby — but as I sit and close my eyes I can’t hear a single human sound. It feels amazing. I needed this quiet. We all do.