|Nick taking down his tent our first morning in Olympic National Park.|
The day started off a bit slow as people ambled around the campsite packing up backpacks, filtering water, and discussing who know what else but finally we were ready, kind of. After breaking camp we had a quick stretch circle to get our bodies ready for the 6 mile hike ahead of us and an ecology lesson from Tim, going over the various trees and plants (like Douglas-fir, Douglas Maple, Western Hemlock, Grand Fir, Nitrogen-fixing lichens, and Cow Parsnip) found in the clearing we camped in our first night. We hauled our packs on to our backs said a quick good bye to our first stop on our adventure and began hiking.
|My backpack. Photo: Phoebe Coleman.|
|A little toad friend (Bufo boreas) who paid us a visit after breakfast|
Our hike began with and easy crossing over Cameron Creek on a log bridge and then things got tricky. As we approached the second river we needed to cross, the Grey Wolf River, we realized that the bridge had been washed out and destroyed due to logs in the river that had come down stream. We spent about an hour fording the widest part of river and slowly getting people across one by one. Crossing the river was tricky for me. The water was extremely cold and initially was quite deep and came up to my thighs. Luckily, with the help of some trekking poles, and of course Tim and Shane, I made it across. When we had all finally dried off and put our hiking boots back on it was time to get to business. It was already 12 PM and we could still see our campsite!
|Bridge washed out on the Cameron Creek, necessitating a ford.|
|First crossing: Grand Creek.|
By the time we stopped at Ellis Camp for our first lunch of the trip we were getting fairly damp. The drizzle had turned into more of a shower and getting wet could not be avoided. Many people grabbed their rain coats and some extra layers to stay warm while we ate our bagels with peanut butter and cheddar cheese. Photo: Phoebe Coleman.
After lunch we did a very interesting activity called a solo walk. Instead of hiking in a big group, as we normally do, Tim spaced each person out. Allowing each student to hike for a time in the forest almost completely alone. This gave us all the opportunity to experience the forest in solitude, without the noise and distraction of the group. It was amazing to be able to listen so closely to the sound of the rain, birds, and flowing river and to take the time to look at everything around you. At one point I rounded a corner into a clearing and looked up to a waterfall peaking through the trees as misty cloud floated by it. It was honestly spectacular. This is not to say that the solo walk was without struggles. The last part of our hike into Falls Camp was mostly uphill, and with our legs getting tired, we crept up the trail.
Suddenly we were at the camp and everyone scrambled to claim tent spots that were sheltered from the rain. Tents were erected, sleeping pads blown up, and layers tossed on. Many of us took a few minutes to put on dry clothing and warm up in our sleeping bag before beginning to cook dinner.
After dinner we discussed some of the various things that we had seen or thought of while on our solo walks. The topics varied from caterpillar rescues to fascination with the mental ups and downs of the solo walk. We then all went around and stated our goals for the trip. Many of us seemed to have similar goals we wanted to accomplish and others goals that were very individual. Finally, darkness over came the camp and with that we packed our food into our bear canisters stowed them away and went to bed.
Only one whole day in, I don't really think that we all understood how far away from civilization we were getting or how much more we were about to see and experience. We had only just begun our journey but already I had learned so much and was only excited to keep learning more as we got further into the park.
Being in the wilderness is a very eye opening experience and one that is still extremely valuable in our urban, fast paced society. Though every person gets something different out of wilderness experiences I believe that being out in the wilderness allows one to realize how much bigger the world is. This is because when we are out in nature, away from all the things that put pressure on us, like societal expectations and the expectations we put on ourselves. I think this is extremely important in that it gives us a better perspective on the importance of the planet we live on the and environment. You realize that in daily life many people are very absorbed in their own lives and don't see how important the environment around us is. Some time wilderness can help us take a step back and see what we don't normally get to see.
More pictures from the day:
|Maddy Anderson shares a western toad (Bufo boreas).|
|One characteristic of Bufo boreas is the pale dorsal stripe.|
|Crossing the Grand Creek.|
|Crossing the Gray Wolf River, the 3rd of 3 required crossings just after "3 Forks" Camp.|
|Pinedrops, another mycoheterotroph, growing amongst Twinflower runners in a former burn area just upstream of the first crossing of the Gray Wolf River.|
|The beautiful Gray Wolf River Valley.|
|Detouring off trail to avoid bees.|
|Crossing the Gray Wolf again on a sturdy log.|
|A nurse log, and Devil's Club in the background.|
|The river channel moves around its flood plain from year to year, wreaking havoc on the forest. The riverine forest and hyporheic zone is a dynamic system.|
|An avalanche track rips from high in the alpine down into mixed silver fir and Doug fir forest. A waterfall cascades from above through Slide Alder thickets, Subalpine Fir and Yellow Cedar brought down from above.|
|The avalanche air blast zone on the other side of the creek eats into the forest on the other side. This track runs on big snow years, and typically snow bridges the river into July.|
|Old growth Douglas-fir on a talus slope are the site of a recent Northern Spotted Owl nest site. The NOSO has been forced into higher elevation habitat by invasive Barred Owls.|
|These Western Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars were everywhere on plants of the Apiaceae.|
|Moving into the upper limits of silver fir and mixed montane forest, this tree trunk was recently scraped by a bear looking for a quick infusion of sugars in the early spring.|