Archive for March, 2014

Trees of the Rain Forest

The Quinalt River valley and rain forest is home to some of the world’s largest trees. Some of them are the biggest trees outside of California where the Coast and Giant Sequoias grow. In this one valley are 6 of the largest trees, either in Washington State or in the whole world for some species. These include the Western Red Cedar, the Sitka Spruce, the Yellow Cedar, the Mountain and Western Hemlocks and the Douglas Fir.

In the first picture here you can see the world’s largest spruce tree. It’s a Sitka Spruce, or Picea sitchensis, as the sign tells and is absolutely huge. I tried to get as much of it in the picture as possible but it’s just too tall. It’s located just a short walk from the Ranger Station and the Quinalt Lodge in the heart of the river valley so it’s an easy one to get to and marvel at.

The next picture is of the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. We didn’t even try to shoot the top of this because the forest was too dense to see it but you can tell it’s a giant from the size of this trunk. It’s so ancient feeling. I’m not sure how old it is but it’s 174 feet tall and has a circumference of 63 feet. It’s on the north side of the lake and took some hard hiking to get to, as it was very wet when we took this shot last year. But it was worth the climb… The shot after that shows a large cedar from the top down. It’s not a record breaker but it’s still large and gives you an idea of how they grow.

The next shot is an unusual one and one we never thought we’d see. It’s in a subdivision near the ocean and is a Dougls Fir trunk that is estimated to have been 1000 years old when it was cut down at the turn of the last century. That’s the 20th century btw… so it was cut in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. They plan to hollow it out and cover over the inside to make it a tree house and a history lesson for the people who see it. It should be amazing to see when it’s done.

If you look closely at the left side you can see notches cut into the trunk. This is how they cut down these giants. They cut chunks out and hammered in planks which they stood on to saw thru the trunk many feet in the air as the bole of the tree was too wide to cut otherwise and was useless lumber. There are huge stands of these stumps all over the West in forests that have been logged. It’s am ingenious way to cut them down, tho personally I can’t understand the mind of a person who would dare to cut down an ancient being like this tree was. As I said in my last post I’m against logging old growth forests wherever they are. It’s too late for this one but there are many others that need protection.

Next is the trunk of a large Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Not a record breaker, still the largest one in the world is located in the park near where we hiked. It was too far to make it to it so here are its stats. It’s 302 feet tall and 40 feet around. Huge isn’t the word for it I guess. It’s massive. It’s a tie with one somewhere else I don’t know where, but it may be in British Columbia which also has some huge trees. I took a picture of the trunk close up and then looking up into this tree. The next shot is of the Fir gracing the lawn at the edge of the lake near the Lodge. It shows how a Fir can grow when it’s not surrounded by other trees. Pretty nice, eh?

Next is a Western Hemlock. The largest one of this in the US is here in the Park too. It’s pretty isolated so we couldn’t see it but I wanted to give an idea of how they grow. The biggest one is 172 feet tall and 27 feet around. Not as big as the firs but still large. The Mountain Hemlock isn’t pictured here, but the largest in the world is in a far away part of the park also. It’s some 152 feet tall and only 6 feet in diameter. They stay skinny, which is why I can grow one in my garden…

The final Big Tree in the famous 6 is a Yellow Cedar, which is neither particularly yellow nor a cedar but that’s what they call it. It’s a Chamaecyparis nootkatnensis and is on the north side of the lake. Too far to hike to. It’s “only” 129 feet tall and 37 feet in circumference. It grows from Oregon up into Alaska and is often called Alaska Cedar tho it’s a False Cypress by botanical name. I understand it’s name is in confusion now tho and may have a new genera name soon. We’ll see…

Here are a few of these trees all growing together in one place. In one you can see 4 of these big trees and in the other who can tell? I sure can’t from the picture tho I could at the site. I should have written it down I guess. These show how dense the forest is in the rain forest. Remember that this area gets around 12 Feet of rain a year on average, which means some years they get more! Amazing….

Here’s a large Red Alder, Alnus rubra. Not a giant at all but still quite nice. These cover huge tracts of land in the West and also fix nitrogen in the soil so they improve the soil where they often are one of the first things to come in after a clear cut or fire. Next is a Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, a large one at the base of a large cedar. These are also all over the rain forest and grow sorta like a Japanese maple. I have one I just planted in my garden too. The next is a simple shot of a Shore pine, Pinus contorta, which covers vast areas of the coastline all along the way from Oregon up to Washington and further north to BC. This is in someone’s garden in Moclips but it was a nice specimen I wanted to show you as its covers so much of the forest.

The last 4 shots are of trees that some human planted back in the day when the Lodge was first built in 1937 or so. I’m not sure just when they planted these there after that but I assume it was soon so figure these are only 75 years old or so and they are huge trees already. The first is of trunks of a few Coast Redwood that are probably 8 feet across and 0ver 100 feet tall, right out front of the Lodge. There are many more in back.

The next shot is of the Cryptomeria japonica that I have many cultivars of in my garden. This is the species and must be 80 feet tall or more. I’m not great at judging heights…  These have large trunks also and this is a clump of 5 trees you’re seeing here. I was surprised to be able to see this particular tree in the park. I didn’t know it was used so long ago in cultivation in such a place, but that just makes it more interesting to me…

The next is a large specimen of a Cryptomeria japonica elegans, which I also have in my yard. I’ve never seen one this big and was amazed that it actually gets this tall and wide. All the books say so but seeing is believing and it’s different in person. This is in someone’s front yard and I was thrilled to see it as we drove by and made Louie turn around so I could get a shot of it. I’m glad I did as it reminds me of mine as it grows.

Finally is something I’m assuming is an Atlas Cedar. A true cedar, Cedrus atlantica, not the Western cedar which is actually an arborvitae, or Thuja. This tree must have been planted here too and it’s probably 80 or 90 feet tall. I’m not 100% certain of my identification but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. It’s native to the Atlas mountains in N. Africa and elsewhere in the mid east. Related to the Deodar and Lebanese Cedars, all Cedrus species.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Big Trees of the Rain Forest. I’m so amazed that in this one little valley there could be all these huge trees. Obviously the rainfall is something they all love and the deep rich soil of the Olympic mountains feeds them well so they can reach record proportions. I feel lucky to have seen the ones I saw and hope that maybe we’ll hike in to see some of the others some time, tho as I get older that seems less likely. Hiking is hard work… 😉

Lovin’ the Big Trees,

Steve

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Quinalt Rain Forest and Lodge

As I mentioned in my last post we just spent a week at the ocean near the Quinalt Indian Reservation. One day we took ourselves into that forest and to the Lodge there for lunch and to tour the area. The first shot is entering the Reservation tho most of the time we were slightly out of it on Park land. The first few shots are of the lodge. It was built in 1937 starting in early June and finished by late August the same year. Teddy was coming and they had to have suitable accommodations.

In 1937 Teddy Roosevelt visited the Olympic Rain Forest and was met by hordes of school children holding signs saying “Please Mr President, we children need your help. Give us our Olympic National Park”. Roosevelt said it was the “most appealingest appeal” he’d ever heard, and in June 1938 he created a 648,000 acre National Park and made it part of the National Park system. It’s now over a million acres. It celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. The lodge is at the southern most tip of the Park at the southern end of Lake Quinalt.

Looking at this structure it’s amazing to imagine them building it in under 3 months back in 1937 without the power tools we rely on today. It’s s a huge place as you can see from the picture that shows it from the back outside on the lawn. The rain gauge on the terrace shows that the highest rainfall they ever had was around 14 feet. Last year is it was 12 1/2 or so. It gets very wet here…

There are a couple of shots of the interior of the Lodge, showing the fireplace that takes 4 foot logs and the entrance to the Roosevelt Restaurant. The picture of all the photos shows the construction of the Lodge from start to finish. It’s hard to read of course but you can see the building going up fast and beautifully. The view from the Terrace shows the Lake as you see it from the dining room windows where we ate lunch. It was amazing and we saw a bald eagle perched in the top of the big Fir at the lawns edge.

Next we start to go on some walks and first encountered this tree covered with Licorice fern which I have growing in my garden. It does this thing where it grows on trunks of trees all over, even here in Seattle, but this was a fine stand of it. Next is a shot of the edge of the woods looking into the depths of the forest. Then we went on a hike on a Nature Trail and took a lot of shots along the way.

Willaby Creek runs under the road here and we can see it as it falls near the bridge and runs under it. It’s a fast flowing stream that gets pretty big in the winter season as it is rushing now. The trail follows its canyon for quite awhile till it turns back to the start of it. There are many fine ferns to see all over. Here are the Deer fern and the Sword fern, two common NW natives that I have in my yard at home. Here they cover the whole area. Quite a sight to see.

Once again we look into the deep woods and see as far as we can into them. It’s not easy as these woods are so dense. I’d never want to bushwhack in them, tho I have. It’s too dangerous and very wet. Lots of water everywhere here. It makes for a lush forest and lots of good growth. Here’s a shot of some kind of weird lichen someone put on a stump so it could be seen well. I dunno what it is but it’s beautiful up close like this.

Next I show a few nurse logs and stumps. These are decaying trees or stumps that serve as homes for new life. In some cases even big trees start out on these logs and create a new forest that way. It’s fascinating. In the middle of them is a picture of a skunk cabbage patch just starting to grow into its fluorescent yellow. Pretty cool, eh?

Next is another picture looking down into the depths of the forest. It’s just so full of life here it’s amazing how it can all fit. But each plant and animal has its role to play and together they all create this incredible ecosystem that ends with a shot of Lake Quinalt from a nice picnic area near the entrance to the Reservation.

It’s a large lake and only is used by the Native fisher folk now because of all the troubles with non-native invasive water creatures being brought in by outside anglers and boaters. Now only the Tribe can use the lake for fishing and I think that’s a good thing. It’ll preserve it from the encroachment of more of the usual development that has already happened here.

Lots of controversy is brewing out here to keep the Olympics wild, tho some locals want it kept for themselves to log and cut down the forest. You can probably tell where my sympathies lie. I sympathize with the local folks but this is a National, even a World Class, Treasure, and it needs to be protected. I think the Tribe will do a much better job of that and maintaining more of the land will only make more trees safe from the chainsaw.

I hope it happens well for all concerned and that some sort of compromise can be worked out to save this forest and keep people’s jobs as well. It’s not am easy task. There are signs all over the area saying to “Stop the Wild Olympics” and let them log it. I personally feel that Old Growth trees should Never be logged, ever again. We won’t have more of them in our lifetimes and even our great grandchildren won’t have them if we don’t save this incredible Sanctuary now. It’s the right thing to do for the generations to come and for the earth itself.

From the Rainforest,

Steve

A Week At the Ocean

Louie and I continued our third year of tradition by going to the Ocean for a week last week. We got to a little town called Moclips on the Olympic Peninsula near the Quinalt Indian Reservation land. In fact we wandered on the edge of the Res. in our hikes around the territory. It was a peaceful and wonderful week at the Sea, just being with the tides and the woods and the sun, which amazingly shown the whole time we were there. Wow!

We left Seattle on Monday with plans to stay thru Friday and saw a bit of rain on the way but it wasn’t bad, and by the time we arrived it was sunny and bright out. I immediately took the first picture here from the porch outside our window. This is the view we had the whole time we were there on the ocean. It was magnificent and so close it felt you could just touch it.

You can see how old this motel is, and how funky. It’s about a 1/2 a star rating I have to say but we like it OK and it’s so close to the beach you can’t beat it for the price and ease of access. And being so close to the Res. is wonderful all by itself. We spent a whole day on the Res. at the Quinalt Lake and I’ll post a couple posts on that later on. This is about our time at the sea.

You can just make out the bald eagle in the shot here. It’s right in the middle of the picture, which I blew up so it’d seem closer to us. This was the first day we were there and it’s a real treat to see it dancing in the wind. We have them in Seattle too of course but there’s something that’s really cool about seeing one in the wild like this. Such a magnificent bird.

There’s a lot of trails into the rain forest and I’ve tried to capture a feel of what it’s like to walk along the beach and into all the forest itself. The wind does a really cool job of sculpting the plants and trees at the waters edge. It gets pretty high sometimes but when we were there we had a big beach to wander on. But in winter’s high tide time it gets pretty high and all the beach is under water. I’d not want to be there then I think…

We just wandered all over in the rainforest. The area gets over 100 inches of rain a year and it shows with all the mossy growth on the trees. I shot a picture with a huckleberry and a salal just growing in the top of an old piling. This is called a nurse tree and I’ll show more in another post. Many plants start out on rotting timber. It’s a handy spot to be in I guess.

Many of the rest of these shots show what it’s like to be inside the forest, and some of the cool things we found in it, like the treefort some kids probably put together to hang out in. It’s perfect for that and only a short walk from town, tho it feels miles away. I can just imagine the parties they hold there in the summer… 😉

It’s almost eerie inside the forest, it’s so green with the sunlight filtering down thru the plants. The trees are mostly Sitka Spruce which usually get huge but here they’re almost dwarf but still large in the trunk. They make the forest so interesting and the ways they’ve found to grow is just amazing.

We wandered along the edge of the Res. every day we were there, taking pictures and just being amazed at the scenery. There’s something very magical about being in a rain forest with all its colors and the constant dampness and rot. It’s very primeval seeing it in its growth and decay.  It makes you feel like you’re all alone in the world and no one can touch you. An amazing feeling to have.

I’ll write more on visiting the Quinalt Reservation later on and show you some big trees we saw. I’ll do that in a few days or so. We’re still recovering from all the walking we did on the trip. I’m not used to so much and it got me pretty good, but it’s OK because it was so healthy to do and made us feel so good to be there. We’re lucky to have been able to take this trip and I hope we can make it a 4 year tradition next year.

From Moclips on the Sea,

Steve

How Gardening Heals Me

I wrote this well over a year ago in my other blog, Naked Nerves, which is about Living with Invisible Illness. Some comments I’ve gotten recently have made me feel that it’s perhaps relevant to post it again here now. The picture is a Ghost Fern underneath an Ukigumo Japanese maple.

Naked Nerves

Well I suppose it was only a matter of time before my 2 blogs conjoined but I didn’t think it would happen in the same week I started them both. I’m writing here about my health and in the other about gardening and here they come together in a post about how my gardening is good for my health. It makes sense I suppose since it’s so much of my life. Perhaps the two most crucial factors in my existence except for my partner and our relationship. My relations with Gardening go back to my childhood tho so do my illnesses, some of the most significant ones that is. I’ve had Asthma since I was born. Literally. They put me in an incubator at birth so I could breathe and gave me medicine from the get go. And I can look back and see how the Bipolar Disorder has affected…

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