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Washington Trip: Part 1

Well it's been one hell of a week! You may notice that it's been a little while since my last post. That's because I've been out of town to two separate locations since May 22nd. The first trip was to Olympic National Park in Washington state - which is what these next few blog posts are all about - and the second was to Joshua Tree National Park. Both trips were a blasty and I'm really excited to share my results from the Washington trip.

But before I get into the results from the trip, let me just quickly thank everyone for the overwhelming response to the launch of my new online courses and course packages! I poured my blood, sweat and tears into these courses, so it's great to see them received so well. I've already heard great feedback from some of the early sign-ups.

But on to the trip...

Moss-Covered Branches and Sword Ferns in the Hoh Rain Forest

For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may know that I recently went on a 4-day solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula to get some new photos. I had 2 days of travel and 2 full days of shooting planned out with the Hoh Rain Forest and various waterfalls as my main targets.

I've been dying to visit Olympic National Park for years. Maybe it's the Irish and English blood in me, but I feel at home in a rainy climate. I love the beautiful weather here in So Cal and I love spending time in the desert, but the lush, rainy, wet ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest really speaks to me. And having never visited a rain forest before, I was anxious to try my hand at photographing one. This park has been at the top of my "To-Shoot" list for awhile now.

All in all, I snapped the shutter about 700 times on this trip, so I'm breaking up my results into several blog posts. This first post is just the first half of Day 2 (the first day of shooting).

I started the day with a nice, leisurely hike through the Quinault Rain Forest right across the road from my hotel. Although this section of rain forest isn't quite as dramatic as the later-visited Hoh Rain Forest, the scenery blew me away. I walked through this forest of 200-foot Sitka Spruce trees, ferns, wildflowers and endless mosses almost unable to believe my eyes. The amount of life that surrounded me was awe-inspiring. It seems there isn't one thing that doesn't have another plant growing out of it. Ferns grow out of trees, mosses grow on branches, trees grow out of other trees. And it's as though there's no open patch of dirt. Every square inch of ground is covered with a plant. It's really astounding.

The trail was so picturesque that it felt a little like I was walking the queue to a rainforest-themed ride at Disneyland. The forest is practically a parody of itself. It was fantastic.

The light wasn't ideal during this hike and I was anxious to get to the Hoh Rain Forest, so I only got a few shots of these yellow Creeping Buttercup flowers and a picture of some cascades in the creek.

Creek Cascades in the Quinault Rainforest - Olympic National Forest, WA

Creeping Buttercup wildflowers in the Quinault Rain Forest

Creeping Buttercup wildflowers in the Quinault Rain Forest

Creeping Buttercup wildflowers and Lady Fern in the Quinault Rain Forest

After a quick bite, it was off to the Hoh Rain Forest.

Before we get to the pictures from the Hoh Rain Forest, I have to tell you that walking through the Hoh Rain Forest was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It's difficult to put into words, but the best I can sum it up is: "Oh my God." My internal dialogue was repeating that with every head turn.

As I walked amongst the giant spruce and hemlock trees all draped with moss, I could actually feel how old this place was. I'd never experienced that sensation before. It was like suddenly I was this small, insignificant blip on the radar screen of time. I hate to get all abstract on you here, but that's the best way I can describe it. These giants around me were older and wiser than I could ever be. I'll come and go and they'll still be standing. And if they're not standing, they will have fallen, decayed and come back as new plant life to carry on the cycle. This forest was here long before any of us were and if the entire human race were to go extinct tomorrow, the forest would carry on (probably thrive, actually).

The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

It's rare that my photos don't do the location justice, but this time, I don't think they could. The photos can only record the visuals. Without the depth, the stillness of the air, the mental sensations, the sounds and everything else us humans can perceive in a location like this, these photos couldn't capture it in its true form. But, I did the best I could, so enjoy 🙂

The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

Oxalis in The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

^ This beautiful clover-looking plant is called Oxalis and it covers much of the forest floor.

Cat-Tail Moss on a branch in The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA
^ This composition of a tree stump and some deadwood is intentionally cluttered to illustrate the dense, cluttered look of the scenery in this forest.

Sword Ferns in The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

^ These prehistoric-looking sword ferns were everywhere.

Tree Trunks in The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

The Hoh Rain Forest - Olympic National Park, WA

^ Oxalis and moss grow from old deadwood on the forest floor.

These pictures only account for about half of my final shots from the Hoh Rain Forest. I'll be posting Part 2 of my Washington trip sometime tomorrow. That will include the rest of my shots from the Hoh Rain Forest - including pictures from my favorite section, the Hall of Mosses - plus a single coastal shot I was able to snag that night.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned!

 

High Up Above Trabuco Canyon

Trabuco Canyon Hike

Well, it's official. I'm in love with the Trabuco Canyon trail. You may notice I've been posting a lot of pictures from this area of the Cleveland National Forest recently. It's for 3 reasons: 1) I can actually get there now that I have a 4x4. 2) The weather has been gorgeous lately. And 3) I absolutely LOVE the scenery here!

It's like a little taste of Oregon right in Orange County. Yes, a very little taste, but a taste nonetheless. After all, where else in Orange County can you find stately spruce trees enshrouded in fog blanketing an entire mountainside? That's not to mention the creeks winding through the canyons.

I visited this trail again on Sunday, and this time, we made it all the way to a peak above 4000'. Total hike was about 6.6 miles with around 2000' elevation gain. Not the most treacherous I've done, but with 38 lbs of camera gear on my back, it was a solid workout. Luckily, we started off in the rain and the temperatures hovered around 52 degrees all day.

Here are my pictures from the day (click the panos for larger versions):

Trabuco Canyon Hike

Trabuco Canyon Hike

Trabuco Canyon Hike

Trabuco Canyon Hike

View from the top. We could see all the way to Catalina!

Trabuco Canyon Hike

Trabuco Canyon Hike

I've only scratched the surface of these Santa Ana Mountains. I'm sure I have many more years of exploring its depths ahead of me.

Trabuco Canyon in Heavy Fog

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

It was rainy and drizzly on and off this Easter Sunday, and since I'm too old to hunt for eggs, I thought I'd hit my favorite local trail, the Trabuco Canyon Trail.

Most people tend to hike when the weather is clear and mild, but not me. There's few things I love more in life than hiking in the rain and fog. So with the heavy cloud cover hanging over the local Santa Ana Mountains, I knew I'd be able to hike up into the clouds to get some great "forest in the fog" shots.

I had the trail all to myself and the fog was superb. Remember, all the following shots were taken in sunny southern California. I don't know about you, but had I seen these pictures without knowing where they were taken, I never would have guessed Orange County as the location.

Lots of similar shots here, but I loved them all. I played with the white balance quite a bit on some of these to get some cooler blue tones. I'm really happy with how these turned out. I can't wait to see how they look on Metallic Paper.

Alder Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Oak Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Oak Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Spruce Trees in Fog - Trabuco Canyon Trail, Orange County, CA

Thanks for viewin'!