Posts tagged: rocks

Olympic National Park – Hoh Rainforest and Sol Duc Falls

By , July 31, 2010 8:17 am

Our second outing in the Olympic National Park took us to the Hoh Rainforest.  The is on the west side of the Olympic mountains, where the mountains push the wet sea air upwards, causing it to rain much more than anywhere else in the park.  Fortunately, we seemed to hit a good time in the year to avoid the rains and it was a beautiful, sunny day. 

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IMG_2169There aren’t any real scenic views or anything on the way into the park from the Hoh entrance.  The scenery is the forest!  The trees are HUGE and there’s a primeval feel to everything as you drive under that dense canopy.  Most of the ground is covered with water, mud or moss.  Ferns are also quite abundant.  We didn’t spot any dinosaurs, but I suspect there are a few wandering around in there somewhere. 😉

We stopped at the Sitka spruce, which is one of the first of the ‘giant’ trees that you’d encounter in the park.  It’s probably wider than our Jeep is long!  It’s big, old, and a bit gnarly looking.  I think it’s about 500 years old.

IMG_3322But, the real attraction is the visitor center at the end of the road.  Here you’ll find information on the rainforest and a few exhibits on the animals and plants in the area.  There’s also a small gift store, picnic area, restrooms and backcountry hiking permits.  Plus… trails!  There are trails for just about all levels, from 1/4 mile paved “kid friendly” trails, to multiple day hike-through-the-entire-park trials.

IMG_2193We went on the “Hall of Mosses” trail.  It wasn’t too long, but went through some of the old groves that we wanted to see (and we like moss).  The trail is about a mile and is relatively flat, although there are some fairly gentle inclines. The trees here are simply monstrous in size!  My poor attempts at describing them wouldn’t come close to doing them any justice.  There are a few pictures that give an idea of the size, but I’m not a good enough photographer or writer to really get the idea across.

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Our next stop was the Sol Duc entrance so we could see the trail and falls.  We decided to skip on the hot springs, as we’d heard that they’re not really that nice and are kind of commercialized (and we were there on the weekend).  I got the impression that it had been built up enough that it would be a stretch to call it “natural” any more.

IMG_2305I don’t know if the Sol Duc area is technically rainforest, as I think it’s far enough north to get a little shelter from the rains on the west slopes, but it’s still huge and primeval.  The trees are a bit different than the Hoh section and there doesn’t seem to be quite as much underbrush.  The trees at Sol Duc seem to be a brighter green and there were a fair amount of younger trees.  If you come to the area and don’t have time to see both Hoh and Sol Duc, it would be a tough to decide which to skip.  The trail is nicer at Sol Duc, but we only did the one.  There are a lot more trails at Hoh and a lot more species of trees there.  Hoh clearly has older trees, but there’s also a lot of dead stumps there.  Hoh is awesome, but there’s a feeling of “life” in Sol Duc that can’t be ignored.  It’s the kind of place where you wouldn’t be overly surprised to find a triceratops grazing on a patch of ferns just off the trail. 😉

Of course, the other thing that Sol Duc is known for is the falls. As with any decent sized river, there are generally smaller “feeder” streams.  You’ll cross a few of these on the way to the falls.  I always like these little streams because I can go rock-hopping and actually mess around a bit.  Bigger ones like the falls are kind of off-limits to anyone with the slightest bit of sense.

IMG_2316I only managed to get one decent picture of the falls (above), mostly because they spray up a water mist and my camera is afraid to get wet. ;)  There main trail crosses almost directly over the falls using a very stout footbridge (it would probably hold a decent sized truck easily).  This gives a great view right down the “throat” of the little box canyon than the falls have carved.  The amount of moss here (due to the spray) is ridiculous!  You could probably belly-flop on some of the rocks and be more comfortable than on some mattresses.

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Unfortunately, that pretty much finished our time IN Olympic National Park, but we also did a bit of exploring outside the park.  We’ll get into that on the next post!

Our Time In Moab – Part 3

By , May 22, 2010 9:43 pm

Tag-A-Long Expedition – Sand Flats – Kokopelli Trail

May 11th was a day for us to switch campgrounds (we couldn’t get a reservation at one place for the entire period) and catch up on some work, so we didn’t go anywhere. 

May 12th, we took a boat trip down the Colorado River.  IMG_0451Tag-A-Long Expeditions was well reviewed and was only a couple bucks more than the cheapest boat trip we found, so we met in the morning at their office and boarded a bus to the river.  The bus took us down Potash Road again to the boat ramp right before the off-road section.  The boat was unloaded and we boarded from the shore once our driver, Doug, had finished parking the boat and the bus.

Once everyone was settled, we headed south on the Colorado towards Canyonlands.  For most of the trip, we would be on the river below the plateaus we were on yesterday while going to Shafer Canyon.  Most of it looked like this:

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Of course, we also got out for a bit and did a short walk to an area with some petrified trees.  According to Doug, at some time in the past (a few millennia ago), a bunch of trees were washed down in a mud slide.  They then had lots of mud deposited on them over time, but never rotted because there was no oxygen.  Eventually, minerals seeped in and replaced the cells of the wood, which petrified them.  A few millennia later, the ground shifted and they were exposed. It’s hard to capture in a picture, but here’s one that is still partially “stuck in the mud”.

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Most of the rest of the trip was narrative about the different areas we were travelling through and how different layers of the rocks indicated different things.  Geologists and historians would go nuts for it.  I was pretty much just enjoying the ride and the scenery. 😉

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After the boat trip (roughly four hours), we headed out to Sand Flats Recreation Area.  It’s a park managed by both the BLM and Grand County with a lot of off-road trails.  One of the more notorious is “Baby Lion’s Back”.  Here’s the view about 2/3 of the way down:

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For those who are familiar with Moab off-roading, “Lions Back” is closed.  It’s a much larger “fin” that people used to be able to drive on.  I’ve heard various rumors about why it’s closed, but they all basically boil down to the fact that Lions Back is on private land and the owner doesn’t want to be liable.  Honestly, I doubt we would have taken it anyway.  There were plenty of vistas and extreme angles as it was.

Speaking of which…  we ran half of a trail called Fins And Things then headed up to the Kokopelli Trail.  We made a couple of wrong turns (okay, I was just going where I thought it looked cool) and came up to an overlook. 

IMG_0465We were driving along a road that looked like this:

IMG_0463We climbed a little hill and I couldn’t see over the hood, so we got out to take a look.  Here’s where we stopped:
From Dasy’s viewpoint in the previous picture…  it looks like this!
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Pretty neat, but I’m glad I didn’t take it on blind faith that there was a road over that hill. ;)  By the way, the above picture isn’t taken with a wide-angle lens and I didn’t “doctor it” or anything, it really looks like a giant bowl in the earth.  The parts in the center that look like scratches are roads.  It was really quite an unexpected and marvelous sight.

IMG_0470We backed out of that overlook and continued on what I thought was the Kokopelli Trail.  Either half the trail isn’t marked or I got lost.  The part that I did find was very steep and narrow and had a very good chance of scratching the new Jeep up, so I backed out… right as it started snowing.

  We continued on what became a forest road until we reached Lasalle Loop Road, which we took back towards Moab.  On the way, I spotted what looked like a waterfall, so we detoured to check it out.  We found Faux Falls… a fake waterfall made by the county when they diverted a mountain stream through a tunnel. 

After that, we headed back to the RV to unwind and prepare for another day.

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Rocks, rocks and more rocks…

By , May 16, 2010 8:28 pm

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Just a quick shot from Fins & Things OHV trail in Moab… it’s too nice here not to share. 😉

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