100 years

Olympic Mountains

I’m belatedly observing the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Parks System. I coincidentally woke up on the anniversary — August 25th — away from home, camping, something I’ve done most of my life.

I’ve visited over two dozen national parks. Luckily for me there are a lot of them in the West. These are the places that have formed the backbone of my visual vocabulary and have created the best, most vivid of my memories. It’s no coincidence that I’ve chosen to live near the foot of the Olympic Mountains and Olympic National Park.

Ruby Beach

Olympic National Park stretches from the wild Pacific coast inland across the peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Majestic. Incomparable. Like other National Parks, ours allows visitors to breathe in and experience nature, to find peace and stillness, to reconnect with themselves and their world.

Hoh rain forest

Our forests are filled with beauty and magic. Trails stretch onward for miles. Where they take you is as much a matter of destination as it is where you allow yourself to venture.

Where there’s smoke

Smoke

On July 21st we had a very dramatic evening storm. Thunder and lightning. And the lightning wasn’t just short, sharp bolts. This stuff shot horizontally across the sky or came down vertically in long zig zags and lasted for hours. So it was no surprise to learn within a few days that the lightning had sparked several small fires in Olympic National Park. Crews have been monitoring them and since they’re in wilderness areas response has been fairly low key. We’ve occasionally seen smoke from one of the fires.

On Wednesday I noticed a plume of smoke that diminished in the evening. Yesterday it was hot — in the 90s, rare here — and the plume grew, fast. Then, by sunset, it was gone.

Our forest isn’t a tinderbox like most of California. But there’s plenty of fuel. And we’ve seen enough forest fires that smoke is always worrisome.