Sunday, November 05, 2006

Trip Recap #4:  Moss is awesome. You can't deny it.

On Tuesday, we visited the Hoh Rainforest. It was the one place in Olympic I was most looking forward to visiting, and it didn't disappoint. I don't think words can adequately describe how amazing it really was. It rained the whole time we were there, but we had our dorky rainsuits at the ready, so it wasn't a problem. It was actually kind of nice, in a if we were seeing the forest the way it wanted to be seen, wreathed in mist and raindrops.

The bigleaf maples had all turned golden yellow, and the light that filtered through was soft and yellow and just surreal. This picture does a pretty good job of showing the light, but it was even more incredible in reality:

Other than the trail, there were very few bare patches of ground. Things were growing on every inch of dirt, on fallen logs, and on living trees. I think my favorites were the licorice ferns, tiny ferns that grew on the trunks of the big trees. Just about every tree was draped in club moss.

And then, there were the trees. Most of the big ones were Sitka spruce, and they just went on forever.

There's really no way to explain how amazing it was to walk through a forest teeming with life, to stand under 200' trees.

We hiked the short Hall of Mosses loop first, then started the longer Spruce Nature Trail. About 1/3 of the way down the second trail, our camera battery died. Disaster! It all worked out, though...we went back the next afternoon and hiked the trail again.

On the way in for day 2, we saw some elk grazing by the side of the road. So cute!

Roosevelt elk are the largest elk of all, and they only live on the Olympic Peninsula. That's what thousands of years of being isolated by glaciers can do for a place.

More moss:

According to one of the sign boards we saw, sometimes so much moss accumulates that it can cause branches to break off the trees.

All of these trees started as seedlings on the same nurselog:

Seedlings can't compete on the crowded forest floor, but they can root on fallen trees and take nutrients from the rotting wood.

I found out that Flickr has a pretty small allowance for pictures uploaded to free accounts, so I had to switch to Shutterfly. You can see more pictures from the Hoh Rainforest here.

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