Wednesday, June 3, 2009

variability in olympic national park

Olympic National Park is a rare and varied place. There is a rugged coastline, a lush coastal forest, gigantic mountains that aren't part of any other range, and an exceedingly rare temperate rainforest.

On day one, we ambled around a clear alpine lake as the misty fog clung to the peaks of the mountains that jut up around it as a crown. We wandered into the main lodge, complete with mounted game, a giant checkerboard set, and forties jazz humming from the cedar floorboards to the pine trunk rafters.

The following day we shot over to the other side of the park to explore the protected Washington coastline. On our nine-mile hike over a rugged and buggy beach, we found our paradise: the wild and wonderful little ecosystem of tide pools. We discovered anemones that we disguised as pebbles and seaweed, bright purple and orange starfish clinging to the crevices of the rock, and gardens of mussels, barnacles and carnivorous snails. Oh, and overhead, bald eagles with newly caught fish soared to their babies in their nests. What a vast and differing world we have to explore!

Then we wandered into the depths of the Hoh Rainforest. One of the rare temperate rainforests in the world, it is a jack-and-the-beanstalk world. There are normal-looking fir trees elongated to hundreds of feet tall like a torture victim just freed from the stretcher, and maple trees with leaves the size of my head, and all of it is dripping in moss - adding an eerie and mystical feel to the forest. Ah, the power of water to make things grow.

Lastly, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge, an alpine lookout where you can gaze into the heart of this isolated range known as the Olympics. Up there we found deer munching on snow in the mid-80's June sun, and we had a little snowball fight in our t-shirts and sandals.

From sea to lake, rainforest to mountain meadow, snowballs to glaciers and tide pools to herds of young elk to bald eagles, this park exudes the wild wonder of life.