Part 3 of 3: To the NW edge of the USA!

Olympic National Park is huge and definitely needing more than 3 days to visit it all on our NW edge of the USA. On this day I drove to Cape Flattery. Between where I was camping and the cape, I stopped at a few viewpoints. The town of Sekiu overlooks the Strait of Juan Fuca. Many marinas, fishing boats and people out on the water, along with gulls and cormorants. 

There are eight Native American tribes associated with the park. For my visit to Cape Flattery I needed to purchase a recreational permit to park in the lots and hike in the area. The Makah tribe live in this area. There are many signs to remind visitors of the importance in purchasing a permit so the trails are maintained. From the trail head to the ocean is a .6 mile hike through tall trees, much vegetation and on wooden pathways in some sections. 

Tall trees and everything is green.
Along the coast at the cape.
Weathered limestone leaves sea caves under the cape.

There are gray whales, sea otters and a variety of birds along the NW edge of the USA: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The lands and waters are managed and protected by Makahs who work with the sanctuary to protect the waters and coastline.

I drove to ShiShi Beach further down the coastline. Arriving late in the day made me realize there was no way to hike the one way 2.5 mile trail to the ocean. I wanted to be back in daylight for my long ride to the campground. I had stopped between the cape and here which burned up time. Here are photos of the area. Many backpackers were about to start their hike to ShiShi Beach to camp for the night.

Coastline just north of ShiShi Beach

On my 3.5 hour drive back to the campground, I stopped at a couple of the Discovery Trail trailheads. If I had more time here I would have bicycled some of the segments of the trail. Eventually the trail will be 130 miles long from Port Townsend to LaPush. LaPush is the beach I visited a couple of days ago on the Pacific Ocean. Someday I will return and visit more areas of Olympic National Park. Tomorrow I am on my way to visit a Seattle area friend.

Remember the cougar info when back to bicycle ride in the area.

Part 2 of 3: Another Day in Olympic National Park 

After a leisurely start to this day, I was on the Hurricane Ridge trails in Olympic National Park. It is a beautiful drive up to this point with many viewpoints along the way. Crazy bicyclists ride up the 18 mile road and then speed down it … reminds me of the Mount Lemmon riders in Tucson, Arizona.

On the Meadow Trail, I saw my first black-tailed deer and then a young one as I hiked up to Sunrise Point. The trails are very easy to hike and the area is simply beautiful. Once upon a time there was an operating ski lift and skiing!

Mount Olympus in that range

Mount Olympus, I think the highest mountain peak here, was behind clouds most of the time. Glacier melt on some of the other mountains the past decades was very obvious according to the signposts and my photo.

Black-tailed deer
Gradual trail up to Sunrise Point

Next stop: Storm King Ranger Station.

From here I had more views of Lake Crescent and took a 1.5 mile hike to Marymere Falls which is also in Olympic National Park. I loved hiking through the very tall trees and seeing the falls, especially since water was flowing!

Marymere Falls

After food shopping in Sequim, WA, I visited the Dungeness Spit. There was a nice trail through the trees and then onto the spit. I heard birds in the woods, but not many easily seen. Many people were walking along the spit with its sand and driftwood on the shore. On my way back to my van, I walked with a family that just moved from Indiana to the Seattle, Washington area. Always interesting to hear another’s story.

One side of Dungeness Spit, Sequim, WA

Part 1 of 3: Visit Olympic National Park in Washington State!

There’s a long bridge between Astoria, Oregon into Washington state. As I drove across the bridge, I realized my west coast visit was continuing with misty fog into the next state! Is there any other weather happening on the Pacific Northwest coast? The good news: my front windshield is so clean!

Highway 101 is closer to the Oregon coast. Where fog lifted, I saw waves and shoreline, but not at Cannon Beach so I skipped that visit. In Washington, Highway 101 is further from the coast with plenty of trees between me and the coast. When along the shore, it is mostly mudflats. I visited Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in Hoquiam, Washington. Walking the boardwalk with a couple from San Diego helped me enjoy and pass the time since few birds were in the area.

My first stop at Olympic National Park: Lake Quinault. There are 4 rainforests in the park and this is one. Here I visit the world’s record oldest sitka spruce tree. This tree is 1,000 years old and people standing at its trunk are puny compared to the tree’s girth. The branch that fell off the tree has been determined to be 400 years old, wow! 

1000 year old Sitka spruce tree
Branch fell off…it is 400 years old!

This park has 4 rainforests: Quinault, Hoh, Queets and Bogachiel. They are moderate temperate rainforests, different from tropical rainforests. When I climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro years ago, one of the biomes you trek through is tropical rainforest. Being close to the equator, it was a hot moist area with dense vegetation where rains fall year-round. The moderate temperate rainforests in the northwest USA coastal areas also have dense vegetation with milder temperatures and seasonal rainfall. Everywhere you look, there are beautiful, huge trees! The misty fog certainly provides moisture for these trees to grow. There are also many beautiful ferns, wildflowers, fungi and goatsbeard lichen which hangs from the tree’s branches. 

Goatsbeard lichen

My next stop was to be the Hoh Rainforest; however, it was not to be. With its small parking lot, park officials monitor the number of cars in the lot so there is no gridlock. I did not want to wait an hour or more hoping others would be leaving the area. I continued miles down the road to La Push Beach. With three beaches in this area, people park their vehicle, walk to the beach and I suspect many stay for the day. I went to First Beach and had my lunch after walking the area. Here are photos from this beach:

First beach at LaPush

Most people are stopping at various vistas and hiking trails as I am. For others, their visit is a backpacking or bicycling trip through the area. The hiking trails vary in their steepness and the road through the park is not the easiest to cycle. After few hour’s drive, I decided to stretch my legs near Lake Crescent. Amazingly I saw an American dipper playing around in the lake’s edge! This is a new bird for me:

American dipper

Highway 101 is right through Port Angeles, a busy sea port with ferry service to Victoria Canada. I checked out the waterfront and spent little time in the city. My campground was about 10 miles away and I was ready to end this day. I had been traveling 11 hours … driving and sightseeing all on the park’s west side. Already I am realizing I needed to plan more days to visit this park.

Identify Unknowns With An App

In my twenties I worked as a naturalist at three county parks in New York State. I would lead nature hikes for visitors on the park trails. All ages of visitors would join me. While NYS ferns were my forte, we could never overlook the colorful wildflowers, slowly creeping slugs and snails, various mushrooms and fungi after a rain, or any flying bird or insect. As a result I was always studying my field guides or asking another naturalist to identify something for me.

We have come a long way….

Fifty years later, we have technology to thank with helping us to identify critters and plants we may have no idea of what they are. An app, iNaturalist, provides me with a way to include my photo of a living plant or animal, location and date. Then it suggests what I am trying to identify. After reading through the choices, I choose what the plant or animal may be. Once I share my observation, other individuals provide input to help identify my finding. They may not always agree with me and that is okay. I see their choice and can agree if I do agree.

Could you identify this wildlife?

With the help of the iNaturalist app and others who agree to my identification of each, here are some for you to see if you already know what they are or would need an app to help:

You know it is a dragonfly…specifically it is a blue dasher.
You know it is a cicada….specifically it is a scrub cicada.
You know it is a toad…specifically a red-spotted toad.

There are other apps available to help identify animals and plants. Give them a try!

Bullfrog is Everywhere?

How many times have you walked near a stream bed or pond’s edge to only hear a bullfrog jump away? Darn, actually missed seeing it! I know an area where this often happens when I bird watch. But on this day I decide to find a a bullfrog and photograph one. The heat and time of day meant few hikers or bird watchers would be on this trail. Will this be a perfect time for me to challenge myself in locating a bullfrog?

Slowly and quietly I crept along a grassy edge of a stream. I had heard bullfrogs jump in the water so I moved very slowly to get closer to the area. Do you see the bullfrog’s eyes through the grass in the photo below? I enlarged the photo so you could see the bullfrog more easily than I did.

Blades of grass made it difficult for me to get a good photo. I moved closer, quietly, and assumed the bullfrog saw me as I certainly saw it. This is an American bullfrog found in Canada and North America. It is actually native to eastern North America and considered an invasive species here in Arizona. It is especially a threat to California’s red-legged frog. I moved closer and wanted to get a different angle. Soon I was stepping on grass blades folded over in the water. I stepped closer till my sneakers began to take on water. The bullfrog remains in position with what I think is a smile on its face.

I am thinking this bullfrog is a female. Its tympana are about the same size as the eyes, as you’ll see in the final photo in this post. Male bullfrogs have tympana larger than their eyes. I would love to see any frog shoot their tongue out and attack a prey. I have only seen that on nature program. They capture the prey in less than one-tenth of a second! Wow, and I certainly have no photography equipment to capture that action. But this was a good challenge for me and here is an American bullfrog!

American bullfrog before it jumps away!