Hurricane Ridge in the Rain

When we couldn’t figure out another Mt. Rainier hike to take that wouldn’t be overflowing with visitors trying to visit before the end of the season, we decided to explore Olympic National Park, instead.  I pushed hard to hike Hurricane Ridge since it had been over five years since our last visit. I’m glad we chose that hike, though things have changed considerably since the last time I was there.  It is such a popular trail that they paved it, which makes sense since trails quickly become stream beds up there.  We were reminded that The Olympics are a Rainforest as we spent the day walking in the clouds. The rain was heavy enough that I put my camera in my bag and relied on my iPhone to take shots.

Washington is the Evergreen State, but Fall’s colors were still on display

and I often think that Falls bright hues stand out more when framed with green.

On sunny days visitors are treated to awesome views of the coastal mountain range, but there is a subtle beauty In fog-shrouded forests. 

The signs along the trail pointed out that Hurricane Ridge is aptly named and that trees growing here are shaped by high winds, heavy rain, and heavy snowfall.  These forces combine to produce many beautiful, bonsai-like trees that cling to the barren rock.

I’m not sure if  the heavy clouds allowed us to get closer to the wildlife than usual, but this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a Spruce Grouse, 

and we got close to two different flocks of them.

We also saw several deer, but none quite as handsome as this buck that joined us while we sat and enjoyed lunch.

Rain or no rain, it was a beautiful day.

Cape Flattery Trail

Although the Hoh Valley was the destination of last week’s trip to the Olympic Peninsula, my favorite part of the trip wasn’t planned at all. As we went by the Neah Bay cutoff on our way to the Hoh, I said, “We have to go there on our way home” because it’s one of the few automobile-accessible places I haven’t been in Western Washington.

With the cooperation of some surprisingly good weather our trip there and the hike on the Cape Flattery trail was nothing short of fabulous. Here’s a shot taken just before the end of the trail:

Looking South

The view rivals anything the Oregon Coast has to offer, a statement I don’t make lightly since the Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places in the world.

At the end of the walk you get an awesome view of the Cape Flattery lighthouse,

Cape Flattery Lighthouse

the farthest NW piece of the United States.

As if that wasn’t enough, I spotted a flock of Black Oystercatchers, one of the few “local” birds I’ve never managed to get a picture of:

Black Oystercatcher

And, on top of everything else, I got a chance to indulge in a favorite pastime, staring at waves breaking on the cliffs.

Waves Breaking Over Rocks

At my age, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect day.

Rialto Beach

The day after we visited the Hoh River, Leslie suggested we should visit Rialto Beach, and, though I was ambivalent because I wanted to visit Neah Bay, the farthest NW point in the United States, that’s how we started our day.

I’m certainly glad we did because two of my favorite shots came from this side-trip. Here’s one of them, a shot of the Indian village of La Push,

Village of La Push

reduced to about 1/6th of its real size to fit your computer screen because it’s actually six different shots joined together.

I loved the driftwood on this beach. The combination of old-growth forests and powerful waves created magnificent sculptures:


I’m not sure if this is really a Winter Wren,


but I like to imagine it is since I’d been on the lookout for one since seeing one in the display at the Hoh Ranger Station.

This picture,


like the one at the top of this entry, is really much, much wider than this, but I prefer a small section of it to the full shot reduced to the above dimensions. I was upset that the fog was so thick while I was there, but it turns out this is my favorite shot of the trip.

I also realized as we walked the beach that this is probably the first beach I ever hiked with my former wife and kids some 30 years ago. Seeing the powerful waves helped me to understand why Dawn refused to wade around the point with a pack on.

Death and Renewal

Considering how alive a rainforest is, it’s probably not surprising there’s a lot of dying going on. Not even trees live forever, so some of these ancient trees are dying, as revealed by the fungi growing on their trunks.


Fungi are a common sight in any old-growth forest here in the Pacific Northwest, though I’d never seen many of the varieties I saw on this visit. When we weren’t looking up amazed at moss and ferns growing on the trees, we were pointing out strange varieties of fungi growing on the ground, like this,



or this.


My first reaction was merely to admire the beauty of these fungi. At home, I tried to identify them by searching through several of my books and online. I never could identify them, but while online I did discover that fungi

… play a critical role in nearly every ecosystem. They are key in recycling dead vegetation and making the nutrients available for the next generation of plant life. They provide a source of evolutionary pressure as plant pathogens, and help keep rampant monoculture plant populations in check.

I probably already knew that, but it served as a reminder that in a healthy ecosystem past and present are intrinsically linked, a concept perhaps best symbolized by the nursing logs:

Nurse Log

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