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Gingerbread Snowflakes' Secret Places - Olympic Rain Forests.
Submitted by Pam on Sun, 07/01/2012 - 18:19
We escaped for a few days into my favorite place in the Pacific Northwest - the Olympic National Park Rain Forests - a world of magic and wonder and spirit healing.
And - a photographer's dreamscape!
The Hoh Rain Forest - located not all that far from now famous Forks, Washington (Twilight) - receives 12 FEET of rainfall every year resulting in a forest completely covered in mosses! Huge, old Big Leaf Maples support magnificent drapes of Club Moss and I do not exaggerate when I say that a photographer could get lost for hours and hours on this quarter mile trail!
No tree or stump or fallen log is spared from becoming a moss covered nursery. The very fact that there is nothing growing on this shattered ancient tree points to a very recent destructive wind storm. By the end of summer, the mosses will have begun to stake their claim.
We always visit the Rain Forests in June because we can usually depend on light, infrequent rain and constant cloud cover - perfect for photography in these dense forests. Sunlight is disaster - creating shadows so dark light can not penetrate and highlights so bright no detail can be captured.
As a result of choosing this time of year for visiting, never have we seen the Olympic Mountain Range from the Hoh River Valley - always it has been hidden in low lying clouds. But this trip, we were treated to a brief morning view! And we were on the banks of the river, camera in hand, almost before the car came to a full stop!
The Hoh River Trail leads the ambitious hiker along the banks of the Hoh River 15 miles to it's very source high up in the 8,000 ft. glacier covered peaks of Mt. Olympus.
It is these gorgeous peaks that are responsible for the rain forests below - snagging storms rolling in off the Pacific Ocean and wringing out almost every drop of moisture over the forests below.
The Hoh River Valley is not the only rain forest to benefit from the generous Olympic rainfall. The Quinault River Valley is also blessed by abundant moisture and mysterious, magical forests.
Extensive stands of Douglas Fir and Western Hemlock rise from densely packed carpets of Sword Ferns and have a way of entrapping photographers (and lovers of trees and mosses) for hours - even days! Since I am a photographer and a great lover of trees and mosses - I am doomed to being entrapped! Enchanted! And lost for hours on end.
And I go back for more as often as is possible!
The North Shore Road - just barely wide enough for two cars to pass - skirts the north shore of Lake Quinault and leads visitors into magic and wonder at every turn. We especially enjoy this area because it is much less traveled than the south shore area with it's lodges and tourist attractions and, at least in June, one feels as though they have the whole forest just to themselves.
I love shooting black and white in the Quinault. In the "olden days" when we were shooting film, we would set up our 4x5 camera under a huge umbrella and wait and wait and wait for a brief 8 second pause in the ever present air currents to trip the shutter.
Because sky light reflects off of every fern frond, using a polorizer is essential and 8 seconds exposures and a tripod are needed in these dark forests.
We have shot a ton of film in these forests! Now we are exploring them with digital. And believe it or not, as many times as we have visited, we have never come home with the same images.
Perfect spot to take a little lunch break on the 6 hour drive home - Lake Crescent which defines part of the northern boundary of the park. View from our picnic table!
Thank you for allowing me to share the magic. You can see why I am enchanted - right?