Olympic National Park

I wrote an entry for my first day in North Cascades National Park, but it is somewhere out in my car, so I’ll add a back-dated entry later.

Tuesday morning shooting in North Cascades was perfect.  I was up at 5:30 and in position for some very interesting light during sunrise.  It felt like I was in a patchwork world…I was on a mountain, going in and out of fog while higher mountains wore clouds of fluffy white, quiet grey and stormy blue.  Beyond those mountains and the thicker clouds above, I caught glimpses of darker colors and realized they were even higher mountains.  The valley I was in was barely above sea level but the mountains were climbing more than 5000 feet all the way around me.  The rivers and lakes were providing plenty of moisture, feeding all the possible weather conditions.  I’m sure there was rhyme and reason to this patchwork world, but it felt rather like chaos….beautiful chaos. I’m not certain I caught the conditions with my camera.  There was so much depth to it all, I found it a true challenge.

I hiked around a lake to find a good vantage point and as I was waiting for the light to change, I started noticing these tiny birds several hundred feet down the shoreline.  They flitted to and fro, fast and darting, making small quick noises of “Eep! Eep!”.  They sometimes pecked through the pebbles of the shore, or stood on small stones just inside the water’s edge.  They flew back to land in branches at the edge of the woods, then chased each other over the lake’s surface.  As I stood there, they moved closer and closer.  Eventually, the seemed to decide I was acceptable, as long as I wasn’t moving about.  I stood still as they began landing near my feet and chasing each other so close to my head I could hear the whirrrr of their wings.  This continued for about ten minutes until something alarmed them and they flew off “Eeping”.

I continued to the Diablo Lake overlook where I spent nearly an hour photographing Pikas.  One in particular ventured very close and though he sometimes seemed to make a point of turning his back on me, I stayed long enough for him to ignore me altogether. There were quite a few pikas on the rocky hill.   Once in a while a bold red squirrel would come through and the pikas would sound the alarm, sounding off in a cacophony of squeaky toy noises.  The red squirrel would run through, popping his head in various pika homes as if to yell “boo!” and then pass through.  The pika would come out and life would return to normal for them.  It was like a village threatened by a pesky invader who never did much harm, but sent everyone scurrying for cover anyways.

I took a few small hikes through the mountain trails, scared a doe and her fawn into scrambling up a steep forest hill, and tried to venture out onto a bridge overlooking a gorge  to find that I could not quite bring myself to walk out on the metal grate walkway with its hundred of feet of elevation so clearly seen below my feet.  I’m better with heights than I used to be, but there are times…

I stopped back in camp after 5 or 6 hours to throw together some breakfast and look through my maps.  I decided to head west again, towards Olympic National Park.

I traced back through my original route into the North Cascades and passed, again, a sign for Sauk Mountain Pottery.  This time I made a U-turn and went to investigate.  The pottery was made by Stephen Murray and I was shown the showroom by his gracious wife, Nicola.  As we chatted and I fairly drooled over every piece on display, she offered to show me the studio.

We walked round the back of their house  (on which the showroom was attached), and she showed me where Stephen was curing clay in the sun:

And the scrap wood from shaker mills he uses to fire his kiln:

(The mills used to simply dispose of their scraps.  Big props to Stephen for making use of it!)

I was given a look at his studio where lovely pieces were lining the shelves in various stages of creation:

And then to the kiln which they built 22 years ago:

(Its huge!)

Nicola was charming and full of wonderful information about the process and her husband’s craft. I departed with several beautiful works of art, a wish list, and great information.  Saying YES to new places and experiences pays off once again!

I took a scenic route to Olympic and the hours flew by as I stopped to explore or photograph.  My route took me to one of my favorite things—a ferry ride.  I love ferries.  There’s something about leaving one shoreline and seeing the other grow larger as we approach that puts a smile on my face and a sense of excitement and discovery in me.

I was tempted to spend more time in Port Townsend when we docked, but I decided to file it away as a place I would check out again in the future.  You can be sure I’ll be returning to Washington!

It was a long day and I had thought to simply grab a KOA outside of the park, but had misgivings when I rolled into a campground that had probably (I hope!) seen better days.  I parked at the office and went to register, but found the doors locked and a woman on the other side of the glass determinedly ignoring me.  So, for reference, the KOA in Port Angeles/Sequim did not  get my business.

I went into the park and picked a site in the Elwha Campground.  Dinner. Sleep!

Wednesday I took some time to research the area a bit and do laundry (Peabody Street Coin Laundry is an unstaffed, dirty, smelly, run-down hole in the wall with no working bathrooms, but most of the machines work).  I discovered Bella Rosa Coffeehouse and its amazing staff and coffee.  I talked to a lot of locals during my errand running and found everyone surprisingly friendly.  I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t greet me with a smile.  People out walking will take out their earphones just to say hello in passing.  I took several long walks through  the town and though it didn’t immediately impress me as a pretty town, despite the surrounding mountains and water, its a really likable town.

My campsite for Wednesday night was Heart O’ The Hills within the park and near Hurricane Ridge.  I hiked to the sub alpine on Hurricane Ridge near sunset:

Afterwards, I had another early night– being in bed by 9/9:30 seems to be my new norm.  Goes along with getting up at 5:30 every morning I suppose.

This morning I was back up on Hurricane Ridge for an amazing sunrise.  I’m once again at Bella Rosa Coffeehouse.  I’m moving further west in the park today, towards Forks, Washington.  I hope to not go so long without an update this time.  Hopefully I’ll be adding another update (and the aforementioned backdated update) tomorrow.

Happy Trails… 🙂

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