Tag Archives: olympic national park

Exploring in the Rain

When you visit a rainforest, especially in January, you should probably expect rain.  I could hear the light rain falling even before I was quite awake this morning, lightly tapping on the roof of the lovely Bed and Breakfast where we stayed in the tiny town of Forks (of Twilight fame).  Light comes late here, with sunrise around 8am!

It was gray and wet as we ventured out, heading toward the Hoh rainforest and the Hall of Mosses.  But we weren’t the only rainy day adventurers.  As we registered at the ranger station I couldn’t resist this shot of the hiking boots from the other side of the sign.

boots

All this rain results in spectacular displays of mosses.  Everything that stands still is covered in velvety coats of shaggy moss.  You can see the magnitude of the mosses in this shot of Geoff dwarfed by the mossy trees.

mossy tree

And of course, I continued to be on the lookout for mushrooms.  I wasn’t disappointed.  There were enormous shelf mushrooms that grew tall above my head and tiny mushrooms sprouting from cracks in logs.  This tiny fairy village of mushrooms caught my fancy today growing among the mosses.

mushroom village

As we left the rainforest my eye was drawn to the way the fog hung low behind the treeline.  It almost looks like snow out beyond the river.

low lying fogLeaving the rainforest, we headed north toward Port Angeles and another part of the park.  And after an unfortunate encounter with a park ranger (going too fast along the road near the lake) that resulted in a speeding ticket, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge.  This is the highest part of the park at over 5,000 feet in elevation.  We could see snow capped peaks as we wound our way up and could feel the temperature dropping.  And Hurricane Ridge lives up to its name, the winds were vicious as we got out of the car!  The fog and snow blended as we looked out across the ridge.

hurricane ridge

Away from the ridge, the winds calmed and it was fun to stomp around in the crunchy snow as the rain continued.  Geoff caught this picture of me enjoying my third visit to the snow in the last three weeks.  I think that is a record for me!  (I may not have spent as much time in the snow in the last decade as I have in the last three weeks!)

in the snow

On our way back down the mountain, we noticed a deer family crossing the road in front of us. We slowed to a stop, camera in hand, snapping pictures as they crossed…and then seemed to freeze in an effort to appear invisible to us.  This shot makes the deer almost look like a museum model rather than a living, breathing animal.  I got pictures of all three…

deer near Hurricane Ridge

We ended our adventure with a delicious and relaxing dinner at Next Door GastroPub…even sharing a rich and decadent dessert.  Before heading back to our hotel we took an evening drive around the seaport to try our hand at some nighttime photography.  I’ll end with this shot through the rainy car window of a small coffee shop.

coffee shop through raindrops

Another wonderful day exploring, can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Rainforest Serenity

Where I live it seldom rains…and when it does, it creates all kinds of havoc because we are not equipped to deal with it.  And our environment reflects the lack of water, with plants that take the least water–cacti, succulents, sages and other brushes–thriving, while others only survive because we take the time (and expense) to water them.

Today we snuck away for the long weekend to a place known for rain–and specifically headed off to explore the temperate rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula in the Olympic National Park. We knew that rain was likely for the entire weekend, and still headed off to spend time outside in this environment so different from the one we are used to.

Somehow, we managed to avoid rain today, but had plenty of evidence of its presence.  As we walked among the giant evergreen trees (spruce, cedar, and firs) I could feel the calm settle over me.  Out in the cool, damp air among the towering trees, the sun had to work to reach the ground.  The serenity was tangible, but seems difficult to put into words.

light in the center

I started to notice the water droplets hanging from tree branches as I brushed against them and caused my own little rain storm.  And then I became fascinated with the jewel-like quality of the water, trying to capture it with my camera.

drops from the branches

I noticed ferns and mosses and lichens all around me and I started to play with my camera, trying to capture the light as it danced and played hide and seek in the forest.

moss in the light

And I started wondering about mushrooms…why hadn’t I seen any?  At about that moment, I came around the corner and noticed this beauty growing on a fallen log.

mushroom close up

There were more…and more as I began looking closely.  I love this entire colony we found growing on the flat face of this stump.

mushrooms on a log

Geoff caught a picture of me leaning in closely with my camera trying to capture the unique beauty of fungi!

leaning in close

We left the rainforest and headed toward the beach…hoping to catch both the low tide and sunset before darkness pushed us indoors for the night.  And you know that I spend plenty of time on the beach…but these wide, wild, untamed beaches are very different from the beaches I frequent.  The tide was low and sand seemed endless.  Instead of driftwood, drift logs were in evidence!  We spent only a short time walking the beach as we took in the sunset.

logs on the beach

And as we headed off to a tiny town that would be home for the evening, we made one last stop after sunset, but before darkness had settled.  I love this post-sunset glow that shines pink through the silhouettes of trees that frame the ocean beyond.

post sunset at ruby beach

I didn’t know I was looking for serenity today, but it found me as I explored the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!