Last weekend we headed out to the Washington Coast. I wanted to revisit the mouth of the Hoh River and see how much had changed since my last visit some years ago with Jason and Brad. We took advantage of the off season to grab a site at the Kalaloch campground which stays open year round. Our site gave us a front row seat to a powerful, if not exactly rosy, sunset.
The weather our first day on the coast was sunny with high wispy clouds moving in from the west. Sitting around our campfire I watched as the incoming front thickened the cloud layer just as the sun was making its final descend towards the horizon.
The combination of high ice clouds catching the rays and the thick ominous lower layer of clouds make for a very powerful and moving sunset. Sitting there I felt very small indeed. In an effort to catch the feeling of power I used the EV compensation to lower the exposure by about ⅓ so as not to crush the highlights.
The Kalaloch area offers a sampler of the variety of coastal habitat protected Tin Olympic National Park, from sandy beaches to rocky headlands. For millennia, these beaches likely offered a safe landing place for ancestors of area tribes. For thousands of sea creatures, these waters are still a safe haven.
Olympic National Park protects 65 miles of wild coastline. Fortunately, the safe haven extends beyond the water’s edge. The marine environment and offshore islands are protected in partnership with three national wildlife refuges and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The refuges manage the islands visible above high tide. Colonies of birds like common murres and tufted puffins rely on these rocky outposts for safe nesting habitat.
The marine sanctuary extends 20-50 miles offshore and 135 miles north to south. Sanctuary waters encompass nearshore kelp beds, subtidal reefs, rocky and sandy intertidal zones, submarine canyons and plankton-rich upwelling zones. Olympic National Park works with the sanctuary and refuges to preserve the rich diversity of life in these coastal waters. Life is not limited to tidepools, but spreads outward in all directions––a great, swarming sea of forms and processes whose nature we are only just beginning to understand.