Saturday, September 8, 2012

Labor-less Days

We closed our summer with another National Park expedition. This time found us heading to North Cascades and Olympic National Parks. Jim and I had been to the North Cascades over Thanksgiving, but didn't get a chance to do anything as it was raining like crazy and we were on our way to Victoria. This time we made up for it.

At the visitor's center, we were told about this local waterfall that isn't part of the park at all. Evidently the area provides hydroelectric power for the city of Seattle and the head honcho over the power company back in the day wanted to show the public that "anything was possible with electricity" and illuminated this waterfall. The pathway walking up to it was lit and was supposed to have a bunch of tropical plants strategically planted next to lights so that the PNW could actually grow plants such as Orchids. I didn't look closely enough to see if it had worked, I was much more focused on this:

Over time the lights changed colors; blue, to purple, to bright, obnoxious red, to pink, and back again. Aeryn still thinks it's one of the coolest parts of the trip.

We hiked to Diablo lake which is honestly the most interesting colored lake I've ever seen. It truly is this teal green color as a result of the glacial sediments that are in it.

Aeryn giving a wary smile... she was up and down and all around on this trip. I think the anxiousness for school to begin was eating at her. She did really well half of the time :)

This overlook looks at a place that one of the rangers used to teach about avalanches and how to recognize them in the landscape. All the stripes free of trees are places where avalanches have knocked them out of the way.

Our second night there we attended a ranger program on how to escape Seattle and survive a zombie apocalypse. I just about died laughing as it was the most awesome program ever. That ranger was seriously funny and made survival sound possible, even in the most gruesome of situations.

One of the things we knew we had to do was hike to the Sol Duc waterfall. It did not disappoint. The three separate falls were so lovely and I found myself wishing I had a wider angle lens to capture it more fully. It was a really fun place to play around with shutter speeds and camera angles.

The area seemed much smaller to me before Jim climbed down there. It wasn't especially large, but it does put some perspective on things. Aeryn climbed down there with him afterward and I think she felt is was the coolest thing ever, for that minute anyway.

After two nights in the forest we headed to Olympic National Park to camp by the beach. It was the most amazing campsite in the entire world. The coastline there is all part of the National Park and one campsite up from us was a trail to the beach. It was at most a 5 minute walk and we were there. Luckily we arrived and had camp set up in time to head down to watch the sunset on the beach. Even more remarkably, it was clear enough that there was something to see. 

We checked the tide tables and headed to the beach first thing in the morning to check the tide pools. They were some of the most convenient I've seen as the sand completely surrounds the rock and a freshwater stream flows out toward them creating a small estuary of sorts. 

We didn't have to climb over any rocks and we saw more starfish than we typically do.

Jim and Aeryn chased the seagulls and all I could think of was Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. "Suddenly I remember my Charlemagne. 'Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky.'" Only we didn't send any WW2 era Nazi planes into the ocean as a result.

We found this log covered in mussels. The critters were extended from the shells and we watched them move. Then we feared that since the log was a good 150 yards from the water they would all dry out and die. Jim got the idea that he was going to return the log to the sea to save their little lives (awww...) and spent quite a good chunk of time maneuvering the log down there.

Then we went back to the beach at high tide and found that our 150 yards of beach was completely submerged and the log had washed ashore again not too far from where we initially found it. We had both remarked that this was the largest beach we've ever seen and seeing it completely engulfed in turbulent waves was a crazy thing. Between waves we could see the faintest tip of the rocks where the tidepools are. In this picture it's out at the last visible row of waves toward the left, almost invisible. Oh, the power of gravity.

It was awesome. This little project of ours to visit all the National Parks is really quite a blast. I think everyone should camp by the beach as often as possible. We will definitely be going back.

1 comment:

  1. "You see Henry, the pen is mightier than the sword."
    I am envious of your National Park adventures. I'm glad you know how to survive zombies now, too. Now I'll know who to call when that happens.


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