New Panoramas of the Olympic Peninsula

(February 7, 2008)

Today I posted a new edition of my virtual guidebook to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. There are now 112 panoramas (up from 83). I have replaced some very old panos taken on negative film a decade ago with new high resolution cubics (so you can look straight up and down).

I had several days of beautiful weather in August 2007 when I revisited the north side of Olympic National Park - great new images of Lake Crescent, the forest at Marymere, and Hurricane Ridge. My favorite was taken from the end of the pier at Crescent Lake Lodge, with a rustic bench offering serene views in two directions.

Then a cloudy day gave me perfect conditions to shoot the Hoh Rain Forest. There are rain forests in each of the major west-facing valleys on the peninsula (Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Hoh, Queets, and Quinalt), but the Hoh is the most famous by far. Two short loop trails from the visitor center at the end of the road show off the Hall of Mosses area with its bigleaf maples, and the towering Sitka spruce rain forest.

I'm not nearly done with the Olympic Peninsula. Most importantly, I hope to backpack up the Queets River again to photograph its superb wilderness rainforests. My wife Nora and I did this years ago (before I started taking panoramic photos) with her sister Barbara and brother-in-law Mike, who have been hiking it annually for many years. Mike grew up in nearby Hoquiam, and the Queets is his family's special place - we even met two of his cousins while hiking there. One of the allures of the Queets is the small number of people, largely due to the fact that the trail begins with an often daunting ford of the river. Once across there are miles of nearly flat trail through prime Sitka spruce forest, maple and alder groves, with good camping on the river bars.

I have other high priority destinations on my Olympic trip planning list. When I was still in high school I hiked (alone) up the Hoh River all the way to the Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus, an adventure I hope to repeat. And as a waterfall fancier (see my site Waterfalls of Western North America) I have always wanted to visit the Enchanted Valley. This is a lush steep-sided valley high up on the Quinalt River, a two day hike from the roadhead. It has glacier and snow-fed waterfalls all along the valley walls, and is sometimes called the "Valley of a Thousand Waterfalls". I also have always wanted to backpack the wilderness coast of Olympic National Park and I need to revisit Cape Flattery on a non-foggy day. And finally, I hope to explore some of the short steep valleys on the east side of the Olympic Mountains above Hood Canal.

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