Posts Tagged ‘sitka spruce’

Sea treasures yield all-natural art show

April 24, 2008

Rialto Beach is a magic, mystical place, pulsating with energy from wind and waves. When we got out of the car, the pounding of the surf was almost scary. drift wood on Rialto BeachAnd, yes, conditions are ripe here for tsunamis. There are even signs warning of them. The beach is part of Washington state’s Olympic National Park, a sliver that hugs the coastline, while most of the park is a few miles inland. Rialto is littered with driftwood, but not the branches and limbs I’m used to from my childhood vacation days on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. While some of the wood here is smallish, much of it is huge, including whole trees that have washed down the Hoh River and other tributaries and, finally, into the Pacific Ocean.

drift wood on Rialto BeachThere are fewer big ones now than there used to be, because the logging areas keep being moved. In the old days, we learned, there were a good number of hollowed out trees you could walk into! That’s no longer the case, but you can still poke your head in a few. Have you ever put your head up in a tree? It’s quite special. I love the look of rocks and pebbles being stuck in the wood with the surf. It’s like the tree is accessorizing.

All the wood and pebbles, from tiny to golf-ball size and bigger were glistening in the surf and the omnipresent rain. We walked and walked, but didn’t have time to reach the famed Hole in the Wall. Another time, perhaps.

Wessel with heart of woodI’ve collected heart-shaped stones for many years, and on the beach here not only did I find a perfect one, but Wessel found me a small heart of wood that is a bit of a stretch for a heart, but just qualifies. Then he found a massive one. It was so beautiful that it clearly belonged to nature, not me, so we took only photos, not the heart itself. Oh hell, the truth is that had I been driving instead of flying I would have carted the thing home. It was a beauty. But I have my two smaller samples to gaze at and relive our wonderful walk on Rialto Beach.


Seeing green at Olympic National Park

April 22, 2008

I was lucky enough to have a story assignment for Ode Magazine that took me to Olympic National Park in northwest Washington state. About Ode: I first discovered it as a reader and am now thrilled to be writing for them. It’s probably the first glossy magazine I’ve written for that totally reflects my personal ethics and political leanings, which makes it now my favorite publication to write for.

I won’t give away the story, which will be out in the July/August issue, but I’m writing a profile on someone who has a strong connection to the park. This is the sort of story Wessel would not usually accompany me on, but he was dying to come to the park as well, and who could blame him. Of course he took his usual amount of photos (like 150 a day or so) and hopefully can sell a few.

Entrance Olympic National ParkMost of our time was spent in the stunning Hoh Rain Forest , the stunning park’s most popular spot. Because it was early April and the snow had only recently stopped falling, there were very few visitors, making it all the more special. Did it rain? Of course. But we never were subjected to downpours. The most spectacular aspect of the rainforest is the green – every shade imaginable and in all shapes and sizes, from giant log covered with moss to a carpet of frilly ferns. A rainforest is such a visible place to see life and death or the form of plant birth and decay.

Trees on top of remains of nurse logWe hiked the Hoh River Trail, which was quite muddy at many points. We passed towering trees here in one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest old-growth forest, including Sitka spruce that topped 200 feet and were 9 feet across. Wessel was most fascinated by the “nurse logs” that give tree seedlings a place to flourish before one day rotting away. We were often walking along the Hoh itself, a large river that is rather quiet this time of year. It carries logs from the forest all the way to the Pacific, where some become driftwood on the beaches we later visited. Quite the voyage!

Hall of MossesIf your time is limited, at least walk the Hall of Mosses loop from the visitor center. In less than a mile you’ll get a good sampling of most everything the Hoh Rain Forest has to offer.