Sep 16, 2014

Second Beach - Olympic National Park

This place is incredible. I took so many pictures - couldn't help myself. We spent the day walking up and down the beach, scouting out perfect picnic spots, exploring sea caves and inspecting tidal pools. 

It was such a beautiful day, one for the books. 

picnic spot #1

Overexposed photo...but he's just so handsome




Again, wat?

picnic spot #2

snail swirls

starfish party

So hard to leave. I didn't want to leave. We say that about a lot of places, but the Pacific Northwest is...just made for us...or we were made for it... Either way, we'll be back.

Sep 15, 2014

The Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park

The Hoh Rainforest is a temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park. I was really excited to visit because I had written a report on the Hoh Rainforest when I was in 6th (7th?) grade. The report was actually supposed to be about the Hoh Indian Tribe, but between the library and the young internet, I found next to NO information whatsoever on the instead I mostly just talked about their environment, the Hoh Rainforest. It was neat to finally see, smell, experience something that was just a far-away concept to me ever since my middle school days. Honestly, we were bummed that it was a glorious, sun-shiny day. I wanted rain! Or at least some clouds. Everything seemed a little bit thirsty, but as the sun machine came down, things got all nice and cool and a lot more mystic. 

We hiked to 5 Mile Island, and a quick jaunt through the Hall of Mosses, but first stop - the visitor center. These nature center/bookstore/museums are the best. I always go a little (a lot) crazy over the dioramas, graphic design and illustrations.


Me with the trees

Drippy moss curtains

The Hoh River is a gorgeous milky blue. I've never seen a river this color before.

5 MI. IS.
love these arrowheads

Everything grows incredibly fast. As soon as a tree falls, it's overtaken with moss and lichens and other small trees, providing nutrients to the young plants. These are called nurse logs. Once the new trees' roots reach around either side of the nurse log, and into the ground, they really take off growing. The nurse log eventually decays, leaving behind a row of trees that are about the same age, and typically in some crazy magic-doorway shape. It's very cool to understand, and see each stage of this process.

A little forest on a nurse log

Super dense growth, another nurse log

Ferns everywhere

A lot of this going on. You can't sit still for too long, or something will start growing on you... Our friend Tracy from Oregon says everything is so mossy, moist, and grows so fast, some people find little trees growing on their cars!

Hey slug, you're gross!

Mossy crescent moon log

Along the trail

 I don't know what this is. Fungi of sorts?

Here be wizards


Aug 25, 2014

Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge

We were able to spend a week exploring Olympic National Park while we stayed at a park in Port Angeles, WA. Our first day in the park, was like every other one of our first days in the National Parks...first it's all excitement and awe as you drive through the gates, flash your pass, get your map, drive in and be funneled into the driver's "highlight reel" of the park. Which is absolutely stunning, of course, but...not the solitude we're looking for.

Hurricane Ridge

And to my left...

We jumped on the first trailhead we saw, fewer people, but still busy. We could see Canada out there past the water.

We didn't want to waste much time in the crowds so we immediately turned around and headed back down the mountain. The funny thing we've found about hiking trails is that you have to be a little bit in the have to be searching for them. Most national park guides will have the paved nature trails, the family friendly trails, and perhaps a few day hikes marked out, but typically that's it. The good stuff is a little bit secret, or just simply overlooked by most. I suppose one could do more research beforehand, but apparently that's not our style, ha.

Thanks to a friendly ranger, we were able to find this trailhead that was actually just before the Hurricane Ridge gate. We only hiked to Lake Angeles, but we were racing the sun, uphill the whole way.



Subalpine forest

Lake Angeles. Just amazing. Mountain lakes are the best.

pretty island in the middle

We didn't have too much time to explore the lake, so we just climbed out on this mess of logs, and settled down for dinner (it was another trail mix and cliff bar type of day :)

We had been getting caught up in weird silk-worm strings most of the way up, even our spider-swords were futile (a spider sword is a stick you wave in front of yourself as you walk. It catches spider webs, so your face doesn't have to. It doesn't make you look silly at all.) It wasn't so bad though, just a little gross and annoying. It didn't stick like spider webs, and on the way back down it had all cleared up. The season was over I guess? It made the forest glimmer in the setting sun though. This was a particularly webby branch. Is this where the term fairy floss comes from?

A handrail! Not all the bridges we've come across are so accommodating. Ed demonstrates this amenity while representing LBD and  the Clubhouse.

A successful introduction to Olympic State Park. Rainforests and beaches to come...