Olympic National Park – Exploring the Wet Side

In our last post, we explored the “high” side of Olympic National Park, hiking in the mountains and enjoying the alpine lakes of the eastern and northern regions.   We continued around to the west and south, hitting the “wet” features including the beaches and the rain forest.

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The beaches of the Pacific Northwest are rugged and wind-swept.   Driftwood logs are a prominent feature, some quite huge.

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Rocky headlands jut into the surf, and offshore rocky prominences known as sea stacks extend above the ocean surface…

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We explored the tidal pools at low tide, and saw these colorful anemones.

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The other kind of wet, to which the title of this post refers, is rain.  The Olympic Peninsula has one of the best examples of a temperate rain forest on the planet.  Ferns and other green plants crowd the forest floor.  In fact, if you need to sum up the rainforest in one word, it would be…..GREEN!!!

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Many of the trees are draped in moss.

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Critters that love the damp are also found, such as this banana slug.  At 4 inches long, it has not yet reached its full-grown size.

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One phenomenon which we thought was very interesting is the nurse log.  The nurse log is a fallen dead tree which decays and serves as a growing base for seedlings and other plants.  The log provides the seedlings with a head-start to reaching the sunlight, and also retains moisture for the new roots.

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After years, the nurse log decays and the seedlings grow into mature trees.  Here is a straight line of trees that all started their lives on the same nurse log, which can still be seen but is now nearly completely decayed.

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When the nurse log is completely decayed, an air space is left under the base of the growing trees.  So that’s how this very common configuration at the base of trees, seen time and again throughout the rainforest, was formed!

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After all that education, we thought it would be a good time to have a rest on a bench.  Except it was in the process of being reclaimed by nature and did not look too inviting to sit on.

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At least it made for a pretty picture!  With that we hike on, and say our goodbyes from Olympic National Park.


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