May 26, 2014

Quinault Rainforest

There’s a lot to see in Olympic National Park, but coming in from the southwest, I’ll be able to see the part I’m most interested in first, the rainforests.  These are “temperate” rainforest, rather than “tropical” rainforest, which we most often think of or see on TV.  The huge amount of rainfall this area gets each year (on the order of 12 feet!) combined with the cool climate produces the ideal environment for the massive conifers that so identify this part of the Pacific Northwest.
ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival
ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival-001As I reach and drive into the Quinault Lake area, right on the side of the entrance road is one of the largest living trees on earth.  It’s pretty obvious from the parking lot which one this baby is!  Wow what a sight.

Standing in front of it, I try desperately to stretch my arms to reach across it’s diameter, but the huge tree easily wins!
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ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival-002Starting right near the tree is a nice 1/2mile nature walk that gives one a great introduction to the rainforest.  All of the ferns & growth are so lush & huge!  Nothing here is wasted, even the dead trees support new life.  Every rotting example is topped by new growth in the form of vegetation or trees.

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ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival-009ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival-008The trees or trunks that host new tree growth are called appropriately “nurse” trees.  They provide lots of nutrients for the new tree to grow quickly with minimum competition from it’s surrounding siblings.
By the end of the evening, I find a nice spot in Willaby Campground, but have to nestle the truck carefully between the stand of firs in the spot!ALASKA 2014 Olympic Quinault Arrival-012
The spot sits on a high bluff above the lake, with nice views through the thick forest to enjoy a cold brew at the end of the day.
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