Hamma Hamma Since the Record Fires

Steve meets up with fellow photographer Matt White and they turn their lens toward the Hamma Hamma and see signs of last summer's record-setting fire season.

Dosewallips Basecamp

It’s been a while since the last time I camped in the Dosewallips State Park. It’s placed in a perfect location for accessing the Olympic Peninsula, but its proximity to Hwy 101 and its heavy truck traffic has always been a bit of a put-off. It’s also very popular with families and has open sites with no privacy from your neighbors, but visit during the shoulder season and it’s worth a visit.

Hamma Hamma - Matt White
Matt climbing his way to the top of Lena Creek Gorge. We were rewarded by a spectular view.

For this weekend’s adventure, friend, co-worker, and talented photographer Matt White was joining me. We’ve gone out in the field together in the past, but like most things with COVID-19, it’s been quite a while, so we were both looking forward to catching up and enjoying the outdoors.

Wild and scenic rivers

wild and scenic rivers project a huge success

As a team, we more than tripled the amount of data to date. We’ve received 573 completed surveys from 91 rivers this year, compared to 183 surveys from 41 rivers in 2020.

We’re proud to have been a part of this effort! We’re working on articles and videos so stay tuned. 

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Steve meets up with fellow photographer Matt White and they turn their lens toward the Hamma Hamma and see signs of last summer's record-setting fire season.

Steve Weileman
Jefferson Lake
Jefferson Creek flowing into its namesake lake with Mt. Washington as the backdrop and the ‘hangmans’ tree to complete the photograph.

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Enjoying a bit of warmth on a cold clear winter's evening on the Olympic Coast. We don't get many days like this in the winter. ...

Setting up camp at Toleak Beach on the Washington coast. We took advantage of the clear but cold winter weather and hiked in the day before our #COASST bird survey. ...

Snug Harbor Cannery on the southern half of Chisik Island. I spent a few years guiding out of the Alaskan treasure. ...

Just published our latest adventure - Hit and Run at Bear Creek - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

At the mouth of the Columbia River stands the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Still active, she’s been guiding mariners since 1856. ...

A multitude of grey defines Lake Crescent during our latest #COASST survey. ...

The old Navy torpedo warehouse located on the grounds of Washington’s Manchester State Park. ...

While out dodging the rain showers, came across this beautiful Amanita muscaria near camp. The cap was a big as a dinner plate! ...

During our recent science trip to Suiattle River for the Wild and Scenic River Project, we were treated to these wonderful views. Here we're enjoying the winter's day with Mt. Baker in the background. ...

Our collection site for the Wild and Scenic River project. We grabbed river samples as well as tested ph, dissolved O2 and other data points. Turned out to be a great day in the field. ...

Heading out to start the Winter series of collection for the Wild and Scenic River project for Adventure Scientist. ...

These Nootka Rose caught my eye in camp this morning. Sitting here enjoying the fire listening to the geese overhead as they fly south. ...

Bear Canyon just outside Morton Washington is a little pocket of pristine wilderness. ...

Theresa doing her best to imitate the North Head Lighthouse. ...

A bridge span over the Green River. I love the contrast between the texture of the bridge and the fall colors of the background. ...

Here's a sunset from our recent #COASST bird survey at First Beach. The next day it poured rain. I measured over two inches just that afternoon. ...

Lena Creek Falls

Like much of the west coast, just last year, the Olympic Peninsula endured a record-breaking fire season, including unbelievable unhealthy air conditions. Included in these fires was the Hamma Hamma drainage and specifically Mt. Lena which was sparked by a lightning strike. Much of this area was closed during and after the fire so we were unsure if we’d be able to access some of the waterfalls we hoped to photograph.

Finishing a quick breakfast, we jumped in the FJ and headed south to see how far we’d get. Turns out we were in luck and we were able to visit most of the waterfalls we had on our wish list. There were certainly signs of the fire present in blackened tree trunks and scorched underbrush. What struck me was that you’d have very defined areas that were burned with others seemingly untouched right next to them. Some of this was certainly due to the valiant effort of our firefighters, but some had to be due to the whimsical nature of fire.

Washington Pass

In addition to the fires, we encountered quite a bit of blow-downs as we headed up towards Jefferson Lake. Patches of snow were also present in the spots that never receive sunshine. Despite this, I was anxious to see if we couldn’t get over Washington Pass and down into the Lake Cushman drainage.

I had noticed this web of Forest Service Roads on the topo maps some time ago but never had the chance to get up in the thick of it till now. Matt was game so we headed up. It was a long bumpy ride, but the view from the actual pass was worth the time and we paused to get out of the rig and soak it up.

The only moment of real concern was as we made our way down towards Lake Cushman and had a FedEx truck come barreling and sliding up the dirt road. I gave him a wide berth and he flew on by. Guess it was just getting in touch with his inner rally racer.

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