Picture of the Day: Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park is a beautiful clear lake right next to the Lake Crescent Lodge. After a few days of backpacking and roughing it, there is nothing better than a night at a National Park Lodge. I really enjoyed my stay here and being near the water made it all the better!

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent Lodge

Sunday Hikes: Ruby Beach

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Not all hikes have to be through the woods, up a mountain, or to a waterfall.   One of the best ways to hike is to follow a secluded beach and see what you can find.   There is something peaceful in the waves crashing on the shore and occasionally splashing your feet.

Ruby Beach is on the coast of Washington state and part of Olympic National Park.   Rather than sand, you have rocks of every color and vistas of haystack rocks and fir trees.   When I was there last August, I took the short hike with a couple of switchbacks through the forest down from the parking area at Ruby Beach.   Once you get to the beach area, there is a tremendous quantity of sun bleached trees that have washed up on the shore.   It is amazing to think that these trees were once up somewhere near Mount Olympus, fell, washed to the sea via rivers of melted snow and glacier, floated in the ocean, and then eventually deposited up on the beach.

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It was great fun to balance on and travel down to the water jumping from tree to tree.   I went north following the shore to explore and see what all Ruby Beach had to offer.   I probably went about a mile following the beach before turning back.   During that short time, I collected rocks of many colors to show my wife who waited patiently for me to return.   There was a great haystack rock that I walked around and was amazed to see.  You just don’t see haystack rocks on the east coast and I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to see this one up close.  Amazingly, there was a rock formation with a really cool passageway through it.   The waves and the sun shining through this portal was amazing and made me very glad I took this hike.

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Washington state is amazingly beautiful and Olympic National Park showcases much of that beauty within.   I hope to get to come back soon and see more of this amazing National Park.   rk

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Sunday Hikes: The Cannibalistic Trees of Olympic National Park and the Roosevelt Elk who live among them.

The Hall of Mosses Trail near the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at Olympic National Park is as remote a location as you may find in the lower 48 states.  To get to the entrance of the Hoh Rain Forest, you have to drive around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington to come in from the west.   It is about a 3 hr and 45 minute drive from Tacoma.   Having said that, the unusually sunny day when I was there in August was well attended by hikers and adventure lovers.   The Hall of Mosses Trail is only .8 miles and is loop that begins and ends at the Visitor Center.   Despite the short length of the trail, the impressive old growth Sitka spruces and bigleaf maples in the temperate rain forest make this trail worth the time it takes to get here.   One of the most interesting things about this trail is that most of old growth trees are nurse trees.   What that means is that after one of the massive trees falls and dies, new tree seedlings germinate and sprout growing out of the fallen log.   These seedlings use the log for nutrients and grow up on the log.   Over centuries the growing tree roots will eventually anchor into the ground and the log beneath will decay and rot away.   This will leave the new tree growing up on stilts of roots giving it an unusual appearance.

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The Hoh Rain Forest is also a well known location to see Roosevelt Elk.  Roosevelt Elk are the largest subspecies of Elk in North America.  While driving down the tree lined road to the Hoh Rain Forest, I saw in a streambed a small herd of females and a giant bull elk who lorded over his harem.   Several smaller males were circling nearby but afraid to approach.   While hiking the Hall of Mosses Trail I saw another bull elk eating water plants in a wetlands area and then when almost back to the visitor center yet another bull elk came right down the trail towards me.   Even though I was backing up, it eventually got within 10 feet of me.  It paid me no attention and after a few minutes I was able to pass and get back to the parking lot area.

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When visiting Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rain Forest area is well worth the time spent to come visit.   There are several other longer trails in the area to hike and you are almost certain to see Roosevelt Elk up close.  I hope you get a chance to come visit soon.

rk