Monday, June 22, 2009

Olympic National Park - Part 3 (the coast)

... and then there's the coast. Ahhh. We stayed in a little cabin at Kalaloch Lodge right along the beach. The cabin wasn't particularly fancy, but it was clean, the staff was friendly, and the view was fantastic. Could hear the surf with the windows open, and it had a fireplace for relaxing at day's end. The cabin had neither a TV nor phone/internet connection, which I found liberating but it was not exactly embraced by all in the group.

We hit a few different spots along the coast during our stay, ranging from Kalaloch at the south end up to Rialto, near La Push, further north. I spent most of my beach time at 4th beach and Ruby beach, both of which offered some good critter viewing during low tides. Took a bunch of pictures at Ruby beach, as I found the large sea stacks really compelling. Never did get the sunset right there, but that didn't stop me from clicking away.

Olympic National Park - Part 2 (Hoh rain forest)

... and we also spent some time in the Hoh rain forest. Hit the Spruce Trail one day, then another day I hit the Hall of Mosses (its real name) and the Hoh River Trail. Very cool. So many different shades of green, it was amazing. The mosses. The ferns. The more than 250' tall sitka spruce. Nice! Almost wanted it to rain while hiking the trail - almost.

It was great getting out on the Hoh River Trail early one day - it was totally quiet. Only sounds were a few birds and the sound of the Hoh River when the trail meandered close to it's banks. Even managed to surprise a few elk. Good stuff, would certainly recommend this trail.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Olympic National Park - Part 1 (mountains)

We visited Olympic National Park in Washington state earlier this month. Really sweet spot. It was a quick trip, but we managed to visit some of the coastal areas, the Hoh rainforest, and the mountains near Hurricane Ridge. Gotta dig a park that offers all these different ecosystems.

Below are a few shots from the Hurricane Ridge area . The peaks maybe aren't as high as some other mountain ranges, but they make for a very cool vista anyway. We spent a little time hiking on some of the nearby trails. Dodged a few patches of remaining snow, got to see some black-tailed deer and a really fat marmot. It was a good day and a spot where I'd like to return and spend a bit more time exploring.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Ran up to Lake Erie last Monday to participate in the 2009 Nerodio! What's the Nerodio? Its an annual survey of the federally-threatened Lake Erie Water Snake or LEWS (Nerodia sipedon insularum). A look at the scientific name gives you some insight into the derivation of the name for this annual event. Organized by Rich King and Kristin Stanford, the Nerodio is a fun time - good company and plenty of herping, a sweet combination indeed - but of course it serves valuable scientific and regulatory purposes as well.

The weather in the morning was not ideal, with rains and a cool breeze. We used that as an opportunity to search for some salamanders. Very cool in their own right, these unisexual salamanders exhibit some pretty amazing reproductive strategies (i.e., "kleptogenesis"?). I probably can't explain it properly, but the link below takes you to an article on the topic. Wild stuff.

The weather improved in the afternoon, so we hit the shores with pillowcases in hand. Didn't take long after the clouds moved out for the LEWS to make an appearance. Strolling along the rocky shorelines, we found quite a few snakes. And in typical LEWS fashion, they were a bit feisty - but that's completely understandable given that they were minding their own business, chilling in the sun, perhaps flirting with a neighbor, when something large comes along and grabs them. A couple of bites later, as well as a healthy dose of stinky excrement, and they are in the pillowcase for processing. After processing, which gives them an opportunity to share a bit more of their unique cologne, they are returned unscathed to their homes.

For additional information on Kristin's efforts, check out this link:

Or you can check this link for some regulatory information pertaining to the LEWS: