Another picture of my favorite bear from my trip to Washington. I watched it graze on huckleberries for an hour in a meadow below the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park, so it was already pretty comfortable with me when it started moving up towards the trail. I could tell where it wanted to go so I moved down the trail in the opposite direction to give it plenty of space.
I assumed it would continue higher up the hill but instead it started walking down the trail in the same direction I hoped to head. I followed at a long enough distance to keep it in its comfort zone, so mostly I had a view of its rear end. I should post a gallery of animal rear ends I’ve taken over the years, keeping an animal in its comfort zone doesn’t necessarily lead to the best pictures ;)
I’ve experienced this in my own home, Scout has liked to sleep on me ever since she was a little kitten, but unlike Templeton she often sleeps with her rear end pointed towards my face. Sometimes to the point that she actually sits on my face, when she was younger I woke up many a time getting smothered by a little kitten butt. My wife convinced me to take it as a badge of honor, that she was showing trust by exposing her most vulnerable position, so I’ve adopted the same philosophy to animals on the trails. Missed picture opportunities are a small price to pay for earning their trust.
In this case though, the bear’s desire to fatten up for the winter worked to my advantage, it turned aside for a moment to grab a few more huckleberries before continuing down the trail.
I was troubled that the windows of this moving van were left rolled down, it was pouring and rain was getting inside the truck. On the plus side, the tree growing in the middle of the cabin was getting watered.
The funny thing is that I never photograph things like this. Four years ago when we first saw this abandoned Chevrolet at the end of the Kestner Homestead Trail in the Quinalt Rainforest, I didn’t take a single picture. But this time I felt the desire pretty strongly, so I followed my muse despite the steady rain. I do wish I had framed it a little more loosely but otherwise like the contrast of the smiling truck face with the sadness of the decay, as well as the reds and oranges and greens.
I took a handful of pictures but haven’t edited the others, so more pictures of this experiment may come online down the road.
I knew that there were Elk in Olympic National Park and we had seen one in the Hoh Rainforest on our trip there a few years ago, but I hadn’t expected to see them on this trip. As it turns out I saw them in again in the Hoh and wanted to photograph them in the lush green forests to contrast with the sea of browns of many of my elk pictures from Yellowstone. This bull was one of two that were browsing in the streams next to the Hall of Mosses Trail in the Hoh Rainforest.
Speaking of the Quinalt Rainforest, one word of caution: it might be tempting to huddle inside one of the massive trees to shield yourself from the rain, but do so at your peril. If a tree should grab hold, no mysterious nature-sprite will answer your summons, you’re on your own. Fortunately for me, for reasons unknown the tree seemed to expect someone half my size and I took advantage of its confusion to make my escape.
Olympic National Park is home to several rain forests with the Hoh Rainforest being the most famous and most visited. And with good reason, the Hoh hosts two short loop trails that take you past massive Sitka spruce and western hemlock hundreds of feet tall, moss-draped maples, plus firs, cedars, alders, and cottonwood. If you’re visiting the park and have only a little time, I’d recommend the Hoh Rainforest and Hurricane Ridge as two must-visit sites, both boasting easy access and short hikes that capture the unique nature of the park.
But if you have more time, wander around the less visited parts of the park like the Quinalt Rainforest pictured here. My wife and I visited here four years ago during the summer and enjoyed this quiet rainforest, we saw only a few other hikers even while the Hoh was swamped with people.
On this visit in the fall, the Quinalt again proved a quiet respite, I stopped off for a short hike on the Maple Glade Loop Trail and the Kestner Homestead Trail. I only had a couple of hours before dark and it was raining steadily but I had a great time in the forest. It hadn’t rained at all during our summer visit so I was happy to finally get rain in the rainforest!
Most of the water levels were low at this time of the year, but it looked like some downed trees had dammed up this creek. Most of the trees aren’t as large on these short loops as the trails in the Hoh, but I like the moss-draped trees amidst the gentle creek.