Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rainforest in Olympic National Park

Mountains, seashore, and rainforest.
Olympic National Park consists of three different ecosystems.
 It’s hard to imagine that one park can encompass such geographical diversity, but that’s what attracts visitors to Olympic National Park in Washington. This diversity has led to Olympic also being designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations.

Hiking through diverse landscapes is a prime activity in Olympic.
Because the park is spread over nearly one million acres and no roads cross the park, traveling to different parts takes time and planning. Within a couple of days, however, Larry and I and our friend Deb attempted to discover Olympic’s rugged, glacier-capped mountains, lush old-growth rain forests, and wild, offbeat beaches.
Madison Falls was an easy hike.
Our first full day in the park in September dawned cloudy and overcast. So we decided to wait for a sunny day to visit iconic Hurricane Ridge and opted instead to explore rain forests in the Crescent Lake area.

First, we hiked the Madison Falls trail on Olympic Hot Springs Road that runs along the Elwha River. It’s a short trek on an accessible path to a tall, slender fall, the first of many we would see in the park. Trail guides identify trees and ferns, so we looked for different varieties of flora—and stopped to take photos of many.
Hiking to Marymere Falls took us
through lush vegetation.
Then we hiked the nature trail to Marymere Falls, a popular two-mile round-trip trek through a pristine lowland forest. Marymere is the result of Falls Creek plummeting through a narrow cut before hitting the cliff face and fanning out in an impressive flow. Along the way, plants in every imaginable shade of green lined the path.

Green is the color of the day along
 hiking trails in the rain forest.
The rain caught up with us (it is a rain forest, after all) as we hiked downhill to a small beach at the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Salt Creek County Park. Rocks and roots were slippery because of the persistent light rain, but we continued walking carefully through thick forests filled with ferns, mushrooms, and lichens. The smell of dampness pervaded the air in this dark understory of plant life.
Later that evening we went back to Lake CrescentLodge, a fine accommodation overlooking the lake. For dinner we ordered salmon and elk dishes typical of this part of the country. Lights from the restaurant gleamed brightly through clear skies as darkness settled on the lake and shore—a fine ending to a busy day.

Overlooking Crescent Lake, a scenic spot in Olympic National Park.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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