Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Olympic Coast - Olympic National Park

After photographing the moss covered trees in the Hoh Rainforest, Kimberly and I headed to the coastal area of Olympic National Park. I was hoping to photograph a sunset in the Pacific Ocean.

However, the weather didn't seem to be very corporative when we arrived to the coast. It was misty. The Pacific Northwest Coast was very different from the Southern Californian Coast where I live; so many washed out logs were piled up on the beach, huge rocks are sticking up where the waves crash, and some trees were growing on those rocks! I know there is scenery like that in the north coast of Japan, but not in Southern California.

The scenery was mysteriously beautiful with a misty rain. There were tide pools around the rock tower; full of starfish and other sea life in the area. I was amazed that the beach was well protected from development. The wilderness beaches went on for miles and miles. Kimberly used to backpack along this coastline for 3 days before. I was seeing several backpackers at the day.

Deep woods were growing right by the beach. A whole area was covered up the fog, which I found very photogenic.

Olympic National Park is very diverse. We also visited another beach and alpine ridge, drove by a large glacial lake, Puget Sounds and more. I could spend a month or more for photographing this rich natural area.

Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park

After backpacking at Seven Lakes Basin, we drove to the famous moss covered rain forest "Hoh" area. Driving in to the Hoh was amazing... the road was cut through deep woods - tall tree tunnels all covered with green moss drapes.

Two short hiking loops started from the visitor center. We were walking into deep mossy woods; Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail.

The forest floor was carpeted with fresh green ferns and mosses - so many different shades of greens!

When the light broke through the clouds, it created a fantasy world! I just loved being there.
We stayed in the campground in the area. I returned to these loops 2 more times.

Great wildlife viewing in the campground, too. Two huge bull elks feeding at a site when we drove in. Several deer families (mother and baby) walked through the campground. How lucky I was seeing all of those in a short period of the time.
Next Day, we headed to the Olympic Coast.

Backpacking in Olympic National Park, Washington

In early August, about a month after Alaska, I had another photography trip to Olympic National Park, Washington. I always wanted to photograph the mossy forests in the Pacific Northwest, and my good friend Kimberly lives there, so why don't I visit there?

I jumped on a train from San Diego to Tacoma, took about 40 hours one way. That was a pre-adventure! I was excited about having adventures with Kimberly; she is a very active outdoor girl, who used to be my co-worker in Alaska.

Olympic NP is a large diverse park located on the Olympic Peninsula right below the Canadian border. In the large park, there are 3 distinct regions; the Pacific Coastline, the glacial-capped peaks, and moss covered rain forest. In early August, wildflowers carpeted all the alpine meadows.

Our adventures began with the mountain part: 18 miles loop of backpacking in Seven Lakes Basin. The trail started from the beautiful mossy rain forest. The mosses draped down from tall trees, ferns carpeted the floor, and streams ran among mossy rocks... very green! I instantly loved the scenery. The trail slowly climbed up through the woods, and contained through sub-alpine area with small lakes. When I climbed up to the ridge, there were wildflower gardens! Yellow, orange, pink, violet, white.., I especially loved the patches of white lilies. (Avalanche lily) The rugged peaks rose om my right. There are so many places I loved to photograph!
We hiked up for a while, maybe 7 or 8 miles all up hill; it was time to find a camp site. The trail kept going on the ridge; it was hard to find an ideal flat area. Anyhow, we found a site and set up our camp. One thing I didn't like was that there was a pile of bear poop at the area. There wasn't any other options at the ridge, so we stayed there anyway. We tried to cook dinner, but the cooking stove fuel that Kimberly brought was broken... the liquid fuel kept leaking out... so, we could only eat dry food. Clouds moved over the ridge before sunset; the ridge was surrounded in thick fog. This meant there wasn't any sunset photo opportunities.

Luckily, the next morning was beautiful, the sky was clear! The first sunlight lit the peak of Mt. Olympus and turned its glacier to pink. Even the steam from the snow was pink. Before we left camp, we tried to pump water from snow melt. After we filled one bottle, Kimberly's water filter broke! what was happening!? It wasn't a hot day, so we weren't going to need as much water.
We had a wonderful view for the all-morning walk along the ridge; Mt. Olympus was on the right, Seven Lakes Basin was on the left, and colorful flowers were everywhere. I was happily walking the trail. On top of these views, 2 marmots were on the rock near trail!! What a bonus! One of them were posed for me.
The trail went down slowly but it was long... we began seeing several hikers coming up. We hiked down through the sub-alpine area and into deep mossy woods again. It was nice and shady. I began feeling tired a bit. we hiked through the woods for a while and crossed a "scary" foot bridge; at that point my body began aching. I was shocked finding out there was still a 5 mile long stretch left. There wasn't any short cut, I had to hike back. Kimberly seemed to still be energetic, but I was being a walking machine without thinking. My backpack got heavier than ever. She helped carry my tripod, which was nice. I needed to take breaks every mile or so... After the long 5 miles, we finally reached the trail head.

It was challenging, but the dramatic scenery was worth traveling 18 miles with pack.
More Olympic NP photos are coming soon!