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lcometto
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PostWed Mar 11, 2020 8:08 am 
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The weather report for the Olympic Peninsula on the last weekend in February showed a cloudy Saturday and partly cloudy Sunday. This forecast was perfect photographing the three elements that make Olympic National Park incredibly diverse and one of our country’s best protected areas: forests, coast, and mountains. I decided to ambitiously sample all three elements on one weekend – and my effort is detailed below.

Lake Quinault Rain Forest
I first headed to Lake Quinault’s south shore in an effort to document the stunning features of this old-growth rain forest as I have the other rain forests on the Olympic Peninsula over the last four years. If you’re interested, this ongoing, multi-year project is located here: http://www.lucascometto.com/cascadia-olympic-peninsula

Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest

Starting near the Willaby Campground, the .5-mile Rain Forest Nature Trail climbs up from the parking area to a wonderland of moss and ferns. The trees here aren’t as large compared to other sections of the trail system. However, the path does have a series of interesting interpretive signs scattered throughout to help hikers experience the richness of the environment. Halfway through, I tried to follow the Big Cedar Trail to the Willaby Creek Cedar but the trail is in very bad shape – worse than when I first unsuccessfully attempted it in 2017.

Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest

From that trail, I connected to the Falls Creek Loop, which just had some magnificent waterfalls located in deep ravines. Continuing eastward, hikers reach the Gatton Creek trail or “Trail of the Giants.” This is the best part of the trail system as the largest Douglas Firs, hemlocks, and cedars grow. Several of the largest Douglas Firs measured grow in this region. In fact, the famous “Miracle Acre” identified by Robert van Pelt of giant trees is around here.

Quinault Rain Forest
Quinault Rain Forest

Ruby Beach
After a full day of big trees and waterfalls, I decided to catch sunset at Ruby Beach. The clouds were still pretty thick but I figured I’d try my luck for some color. The beautiful sea stacks here are quintessential “Olympic Coast” and there are many good compositions but none were lining up with the shifting light.

Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach

Despite getting a bit too close to the waves and getting ocean water in my boots, I stuck around to see if something would happen. With the background clouds beginning to light up, I stepped back and decided to shoot the simple scene pictured above. It was a perfect end to a productive day.

Hurricane Ridge
In the past, I’ve only visited Hurricane Ridge in the summer so I’ve never seen it in its full winter conditions. A partly cloudy day in late February was all the motivation I needed to head up there. With snowshoes in the car and a new pair of boots saving me from the previous day’s soaking, I drove the (mostly dry) road to the top.

Hurricane Hill Trail
Hurricane Hill Trail

The previous day deposited about 5 inches of new snow so the trails were freshly coated. Snapping on the snowshoes, I headed up to Hurricane Hill. The views from this trail are mind-blowing from mile one. The trail isn’t that long and the elevation isn’t really that bad. I was taken aback by how beautiful the trees looked with the recent snow and I took my time composing photos. By the time I reached the turnaround point, the clouds began to grow dark and menacing. So I swiftly packed up my gear and headed back, satisfied with an incredible weekend.

Hurricane Hill Trail
Hurricane Hill Trail

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I feel so privileged to live near Olympic National Park and experience the beauty of its forests, coasts, and mountains regularly. For my money, there is no more beautiful place in all of Washington.

-Lucas

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Portfolio: www.lucascometto.com
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Kim Brown
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PostWed Mar 11, 2020 8:26 am 
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I just made the giant hemlock photo my computer background photo at work. It will keep me going through tax season. Well, or it might make me pine too much, so I might have to put up a photo of downtown Cairo, IL instead.

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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neek
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PostWed Mar 11, 2020 10:00 am 
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Kim Brown wrote:
or it might make me pine too much

You mean... hemlock too much?

Seriously though, these are great.  You've mastered the difficult art of capturing the essence of these giants, at least from the ground-dweller's perspective.
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Kim Brown
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PostWed Mar 11, 2020 10:18 am 
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Yes; I'm hemlocking .  tongue.gif (Edit: I recall reading that a hemlock is a pine, so I just looked it up. It is in the pine family, so while I am hemlocking, there's an underlying pining as well)

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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lcometto
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Joined: 27 Feb 2018
Posts: 66 | TRs
Location: Seattle
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PostWed Mar 11, 2020 1:36 pm 
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Kim - that's awesome. Forest photos make the best desktop images.

Thanks for the kind words, neek! Speaking of ground-dweller's perspective, I've been considering a drone (at least for the forests that allow them) to get different viewpoints.

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Portfolio: www.lucascometto.com
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