Olympic

The magical Hoh Rainforest has every single tree covered in a thick blanket of moss.

The magical Hoh Rainforest has every single tree covered in a thick blanket of moss.

Back in the US and about as far west as we are going to get! One ferry got us onto Vancouver Island, and another to Port Angeles, Washington, from where we drove into Olympic National Park. This park consists of three main ecological areas – temperate rainforest, alpine mountains and coastline. While we would explore the rainforest and camp by the coast, we’d be skipping the mountains, having had them for the last couple of parks.

On our first day, we wandered through the incredible place that is the Hoh Rainforest: tall trees, covered in moss to such a degree that you cannot see the actual tree anymore! Allegedly, sometimes the moss gets so heavy, entire branches snap under its weight! Strolling through the green labyrinth, I felt transported to another world – something close to Avatar or maybe a Lord of the Rings set.

Marymere Falls sport some wild green moss next to the tumbling waterfall.

Marymere Falls sport some wild green moss next to the tumbling waterfall.

Some good old fire bbq’d Hot Dogs later, we hit Rialto Beach, excited to shoot Split Rock and The Hole in the Wall. Arriving after a good 30-40-minute hike along the beach, I realised this wasn’t going to work: low tide prevented the water from flowing around the rocks and the sun would be setting in the completely wrong place. Slightly demotivated, I set out to find some other compositions. We did get some colour in the sky, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with the shots I got that evening. So, I told myself, I’ll be back in the middle of the night for high tide, to get a moonlit image of Split Rock.

That didn’t happen that night though, as we needed some sleep and drove to Marymere Falls to shoot some more waterfalls. A short hike through more of the amazing rainforest led us to the thin, but tall falls, where we got some decent images, despite the spray coming off of it.

On the way to our evening location, we stopped in Forks, the town the Twilight movie was shot it, to get some delicious dinner – we didn’t spot any vampires though, despite the “Vampire Threat Level” sign indicating a “very high threat”. Lucky us, I guess.

Arriving at Ruby Beach, we instantly knew that we’d be getting some good images here, if the light would play ball. Stacks, reflecting beaches and plenty of rocks in the sand to use as foregrounds. We settled in for the wait, which may or may not have included napping on some driftwood logs on the beach.

Sunset at Ruby Beach - perfect reflection due to the lowering tide leaving lots of water behind on the flat beach.

Sunset at Ruby Beach - perfect reflection due to the lowering tide leaving lots of water behind on the flat beach.

As sunset approached, I set up in anticipation for the light, and play ball it did! The quickly moving clouds turned a soft orange-yellow and gave the whole beach a very serene and peaceful, paradise-ish look. Needless to say, I was plenty satisfied with that evening, and even motivated enough to go out at night to attempt my Split Rock shot.

Back at camp, I checked about 5 different weather forecasts – all of them giving me a completely different forecast: from clear skies to totally overcast and rain I had plenty of options to choose from. Knowing I would be royally annoyed with myself if I didn’t attempt it, I told myself that this was one of those situations, where gambling would pay off (spoiler alert – it didn’t). I napped in the car until 1 am, then headed to the beach. Seeing the spray from the incoming tide, I put on my rain jacket. Good thing I did, because 15 minutes into my hike through the loose gravel and sand, a light drizzle started coming down. Telling myself that this would pass, I pushed on. Big mistake. I made it to the Split Rock by 1.50 am, tired and wet. The rain started to pick up, so I found myself a driftwood log that was sheltered by some pine branches in the treeline and lay down for a little nap. The rain would surely subside and I would get my shot – after all, I could see the outline of the moon through the clouds!

The rain never stopped – it picked up instead. By 2.30 am I was tired and frustrated enough to head back. 30 minutes of stumbling through the dark, headlamp only illuminating the fog and mist in front of me, struggling with the loose pebbles, gravel and sand, I finally made it to the car by 3.15 am. I just wanted to be dry, warm and in my sleeping bag. One of those wishes came true about 15 minutes later, you can guess which one.

I felt like I deserved some sleep in and continued relaxing the entire day. We moved to another campsite, got a nice fire going and just kind of enjoyed the camping atmosphere, before heading to Ruby Beach once more for sunset. Arriving just in time to capture some amazing golden hour light, we then camped out in the car for another hour or so, waiting for darkness to fall. Once it did, we headed back to the beach to make use of the one-is hour we had to capture the milky way. Soon the moon would rise, though, and wash out our galaxy.

The Milky Way next to a sea stack at Ruby Beach. The rising moon starts illuminating the sky from the left, and soon thereafter would wash out the stars completely.

The Milky Way next to a sea stack at Ruby Beach. The rising moon starts illuminating the sky from the left, and soon thereafter would wash out the stars completely.

Satisfied, but tired, we returned to camp to catch some sleep, before we’d leave the park the following morning to head towards Portland. There, we’ll be meeting up with Dylan, whom we met in Yellowstone, and we’ll explore some gorges and waterfalls together. So yeah, looking forward to that!

Until then,
David