Back at a blogger retreat I attended a few weeks ago, a few of us got to chatting about the importance of our National Park system, and so Sasha and I decided to put together a blogger “virtual hike” on Earth Day (that’s today!) through some of the park systems near each of us. I have everyone’s links further down in the post, and you’ve *got* to take a look at all the scenic and different national parks everyone visited! So beautiful. We also used the National Parks hashtag #ourwild and you can take a look at some of the photos from instagram through it, too! For my journey, Jeremy and I took a long weekend trip up to Washington and visited Olympic National Park. I’ve always felt really at home in the forest—as a little girl one of my childhood best friends lived on a home that bordered a giant wood and we’d always spend the day running around in and amongst the trees, pretending to be an ever-rotating cast of fairies, pioneers, and woodland creatures. The forest felt so big and mysterious and unknown; it had this element to it that always bordered on ethereal. And I think part of why I love the forest so much today is that as an adult, it is one of the few things in my life whose mystery and wonder hasn’t been dispelled as I’ve grown older. I still feel a deep sense of awe every time I enter the woods for a hike or for foraging, like I’m entering enchanted and mysterious territory. That feeling was even more profound than usual during our visit to the Olympic National Park, and I hope these photos help you understand why.
The Olympic National Park is almost 1 million acres large, and occupies most of the land in the most northwestern part of the state of Washington. Olympic has mountains, beaches, and my personal favorite, rainforests. Yes, there are rainforests here in the United States, and while they don’t look like the tropical ones in south America, they do look shockingly exotic and beautiful in their own right. If you remember Endor from the Star Wars movies where the Ewoks lived, the rainforests are basically that place in real life, but with much more moss. Literally, there was moss covering every. SINGLE. thing. in the rainforests there. There’d be trees towering hundreds of feet tall above you, entirely coated with moss hanging from each and every branch. And the craziest part was that when you got close to a tree and really looked at the moss, you’d see it was actually many different textures, colors, and varieties of moss all growing together on these some still-living some long decomposed trees. It was very wet and misty, but we kept ourselves and our things nice and dry with some awesome rain gear, hats, and roll-top backpack from Orvis.
We also stopped by Rialto Beach on the coastline and got to see what I can only describe as a driftwood forest, where piles of giant logs had been pulverized into driftwood by the raging sea, and some trees were still standing upright on the coast, but turned completely ashen grey from the weather and saltwater. It was a beautifully solemn place that felt like some sort of natural graveyard. It’s a sacred site for the local native american tribes and I can completely see why that is. We also stopped at a place known as The Edge of The World to watch the sunset, which was pretty jaw-dropping.
As we hiked all over the park, I loved seeing all the families and and folks of all ages walking through and enjoying the parks as much as we were. Parents with small children taking in the incredible scenery and enjoying the great outdoors, and senior citizen couples walking through and still finding awe in the beauty of nature. I sincerely hope that when I’m in my old age, our national parks system still exists and that it is still owned by us, the citizens of the United States. If you’re unfamiliar with how the National Parks work, they are funded by American tax dollars, and as a result, we all jointly own and share these incredible 83 million acres between us. There are currently protections in place to ensure that federal park land is properly conserved, but there have been recent actions, both successful and unsuccessful, by our current national government to try to transfer this federal land to be owned by the states, where it can then be used more readily for industrialized purposes (such as fracking, logging, and oil drilling). The vast majority of us want to preserve our national parks and keep them as a birthright for future generations, but to keep them we have to make our voices heard. Please, reach out to your local senator or representative’s office (you can find out who yours is here) and let them know that National Parks are important to you. The parks need our support now more then they ever have, and if we work together I know we can ensure that our children and their children’s children will be able to enjoy their natural beauty as much as we have.
You can take a look at all my fellow blogger + friends visits to national parks at the links below. It’s so amazing to go through each of their trips and see the amazing variety of landscapes and wildlife contained in one beautiful country.
Tending the Table: Okanogan-Wentachee National Forest
Eat Your Beets: Cheney State Park
Healthy Nibbles and Bits: Leek and Kohlrabi Fritters and Pinnacles National Park
Husbands That Cook: Point Mugu State Park
Brooklyn Supper: Shenandoah National Park
The Bojon Gourmet: Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls
Wholehearted Eats: Happy Trail Bars and Into the Universe
The Broken Bread: Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Year in Food: A Church in the Wild
Fresh Off the Grid: Weekend Escape: Planning an Impromptu Camping Trip
Vanilla and Bean: Lemon Tahini Cashew Granola and Ebey’s Landing National Historical Preserve
The Modern Proper: Trail Mix Pancakes
Faring Well: Death Valley National Park
Olympic National Park