Olympic National Forest protects 628,115 acres in Washington and almost completely surrounds Olympic National Park and the Olympic Mountains. One of the forest’s main features is Lake Cushman, shown above. This 4,000-acre reservoir was originally just a broadening of the Skokomish River, but a dam flooded the valley, and now the lake provides electrical power to the Tacoma area. There was lots of real estate for sale along the lake. Just out of curiosity we checked out a few parcels of land, and they were selling for between $100K-$200K per acre. Location, location, location!
Here is a view of the west end of Lake Cushman the next day from 3,000 feet above the lake atop Mount Rose. The beautiful Olympic Mountains rise in the background.
The lush forest was filled with bright orange mushrooms. These may be Sulphur Shelf, also known as Chicken-of-the-Woods, an edible fungi. However, we never ever eat mushrooms in the wild because they can be deadly.
Hood Canal is a fjord and the western-most “lobe” of Puget Sound. It’s 50 miles long with an average width of 1.5 miles. It’s misnamed because it’s not a man-made canal, but rather was carved by glaciers in the last ice age about 13,000 years ago. This is the view from Mount Walker, which is the easternmost peak in the Olympics and the highest drive-up mountain in Washington.
Also from the top of Mount Walker we could see the Seattle skyline including the orange top of the Space Needle (click on the photo for a larger version). While we were enjoying the view from Mount Walker, there was a family mourning the death of their son who worked at the Bangor Naval Strategic Weapons Facility slightly visible in the foreground.
We stayed in the Falls View campground which had its very own 100-foot waterfall. We met a professional photographer on one of the trails who said that the sun is the enemy of photographers. On the contrary, we believe nature photos are much more beautiful in the sun. One exception: waterfalls in the shade with a sunny foreground.
Shadow and I rested on the rocks just downstream from the waterfall shown above.
Theresa and Shadow walked across a large log over the Quilcene River.
We were delighted to see the wildflowers still in full bloom on our hike up to Marmot Pass through the Buckhorn Wilderness.
Marmots are large ground squirrels that live on the rocky slopes of mountains. This marmot was about the size of a housecat and watched us carefully as we passed by with our dogs.
The skeleton of this old tree offered some interesting designs.
Once we reached the 6000-foot elevation Marmot Pass, we had terrific views of the Olympic Mountains. The Olympics are not very high (the tallest peak is just under 8000-foot elevation). But the mountains rise straight up from the Pacific Ocean and are the wettest place in the lower 48 states.
One major consequence of the high precipitation in the Olympics are glaciers. There are over 250 glaciers in the Olympics. Here Darby appears to be enjoying the beautiful view of the Olympics, but she’s probably just scanning the fields for marmots.