Saturday, April 2, 2011

Olympic Penninsula

This last weekend Stew and I embarked on a well needed epic adventure. The last few weeks I have felt a real need for inspiration and motivation, life has been feeling a bit stale. I always forget the power of being away and outdoors. There is a piece of my soul that is always longing for the forest, the longer I stay away, the louder it's voice. This little weekend vacation was just what the doctor ordered.

                                                           Grey's Harbor board walk

We began the journey with a night in Olympia where my best friend lives. Arriving in the evening we went straight for what was my favorite bar when I lived there, the Eastside Tavern. This is the bar that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, took inspiration for Moe's Tavern from. They have a ton of great beer on tap and I was excited to visit because I have gained a lot of beer knowledge since the last time I was there. The beer was delicious and I got a surprise visit from Ariel, my bestie.  After a little snack and another beer at Le Voyeur (also a wonderful Olympia staple) we headed back to Ariel's for some sleep. At this point the remainder of the trip was still a surprise, all I knew was that we were heading towards the peninsula.

                                                                 Stew at the lookout

Stew and I woke up early, got some coffee and groceries and were off. As we were nearing  Aberdeen I mentioned that I used to do work with WCC (The Washington Conservation Corps.) at a wildlife refuge near by and Stew suggested we stop. It had been nearly six years since I had been there and it was just as lovely as I had remembered. The refuge, on Grey's Harbor, shares land with a small airport. It boasts a near mile ling board walk that was built by the same conservation corps that I was apart of and it is mostly there for shore birds and the people who love them. We walked along the mossy boardwalk with the Alders and Cascaras hanging overheard and I was struck by the impact that places like this one had had on my life. When I had worked there, it was my first year learning about conservation, native plants and what hard work really was. The lessons and experiences I took from that period of my life have shaped my path into what it is today. The smile this thought gave me lasted the rest of the day.

                                                 Signs decribing invasive removal work being done.

Our next destination was the Quinalt rain forest, if you have never visited the rain forests in Washington you must. Saturated is the best word to describe how they look and feel. When I say that I mean it in a couple senses of the word, it is wet and the colors are positively saturated. We stopped at the ranger station and settled on a camp site on the north fork right by the Quinalt river. It rained, of course, but we were prepared with boots and full rain gear.

                                                                       Quinalt river

After setting up camp, Stew and I tramped off to explore the river. After a thorough exploration we decided that a fire was going to be possible despite the weather. There is almost always dry wood if you know where to look. The Alder stand that ran along the river was full of leg width trees that had blown over but not to the ground, they were both dead and dry, perfect. Beers in hand we began collecting which soon looked like a scene from our restoration days. Climbing, jumping, wedging trees between other trees to break them, sometimes even just bashing them against one another we gathered our wood. I remembered thinking once while working for Restoration Logistics that we were being paid to do almost exactly what I used to do as a child, run around the wood and break things. And here we were doing it again. It felt great.

                                                                    Our Ranger beer ad

We had our fire, after much labor and frustration. Building a fire in the rain in an exercise in patience and a particularly good one because if you succeed your reward is great and if you don't you are even more determined to do so the next time around. We woke up early the next morning and tired of the rain, opted to pack up and head out to have our breakfast in a more dry setting. I love the rain forest.

                                                   Alder stand where we gathered fire wood.

 I think I will save the rest of this story for the next post considering that this has turned out to be a fairly lengthy one. So stay tuned.