From Tropical to Temperate Rain Forest

How quickly we replaced the warm humid climate of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forest with the cold humid climate of the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forest.

Returning to Our Temperate Rain Forest

How quickly we replaced the warm humid climate of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forest with the cold humid climate of the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forest. Same green colors and lush foliage but about 40 degrees difference in temperatures.

Each has a uniqueness and special charm to it but to be honest, as we were slogging through the mud and up the next hill, I was missing Costa Rica. Not that I begrudge the Pacific Northwest, it’s just that this January has been cold, wet, and windy. When I say wet, I mean consecutive days in a roll record-breaking wet. Not to mention snow in all the wrong places.

Surveys Conducted in Winter

That said, once we make it our survey beach, it felt like coming home to an old friend. Temperates were chilly and the wind made it seem more so, but we both enjoyed discovering the changes that the current season had imposed on our beach.

Our particular beach, Toleak Beach,  is one of the more remote and difficult beaches to get to. It’s quite a hike just to get to the starting point of our survey section. A couple of miles through rough terrain, having to cross multiple drainages and then navigate Scott’s Bluff. This isn’t the norm for COASST beach surveys so don’t let that put you off if you’re thinking of volunteering, but it’s the very remoteness and physical challenge of this particular beach that drew us to it.

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

Winter makes it all the more challenging. We have a small window of low tide which will give us access to the entire length of the survey. Combine that with the short winter days and it can be difficult to find that window during daylight hours. Then add in our winter storms and it really becomes a crapshoot.

More than once we’ve made the grueling hike down to the beach expecting to have a survey in the bag only to find the storm surge and extra high low tide closing off the beach entirely. Nothing left to do but have a snack and turn around to tackle the hike out.

To add insult to injury is often it’s too cold, wet and windy to have a comfortable break to fuel up on lunch and hot coffee. Stop moving during winter storms and hyperthermia can become a real issue. But doing the hike in, survey, and hike out can be both physically demanding and a spirit crusher.

How quickly we replaced the warm humid climate of Costa Rica’s tropical rain forest with the cold humid climate of the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forest.

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Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

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Toleak Beach is located on the coast of Washington. The sea stacks in the background are part of the Giant's Graveyard. ...

This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) was unusually relaxed during our hike out on the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge boardwalk. We almost tripped over him before noticing him. Never could see what he was so intently looking at. ...

Mt. Rainier as seen from the mouth of the Nisqually Delta. ...

Sunset over the Pacific on Washington's coast. ...

Just published our latest adventure, or maybe misadventure. You can find the link in my bio up top. - "A Regenerating Dip in Coldwater Lake" ...

Here's my latest news article regarding the world of citizen-science | "A Summer of Wild and Scenic Rivers" ...

Lake Crescent after the big wind storm we had last night. We got hammered on the beach, losing our weather station from atop the RV. I was recording gust of nearly 40 before we lost our instrumentation. However, all’s good this morning. ...

Pinto Falls in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This little hidden ravine sits on an otherwise nondescript hillside. Never know what you’re going to find. ...

Took advantage of the clear skies and set up a day camp on the Washington coast. After a week of forest fire haze, it was a relief to see blue on the horizon. ...

The North Head lighthouse was built in 1989 just north of the Columbia River on the Washington coast. ...

Just published our latest adventure - "A Night at Dusty Lake" - You can find the link in my bio up top. ...

Lewis & Clark had their dog, 'Seaman’ and we have 'Ghost' to round out our team of explorers. Pinto Falls is in the background. A big thanks to Brad for bringing him along. ...

Tower Rock in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This monolith soars 2000' above the Cispus Valley floor. ...

Sunrise from basecamp over Tower Rock in the background. Are we sure this is October? ...

Made it to the top of Burley Mountain and the fire lookout there. Mt. Rainier in the background. ...

Bothy Bag to the Rescue

I dug out some kit from my kayak gear that seems to have solved that last issue; the bothy bag. I use to carry it when I was kayaking guiding. I was introduced to it during one of my BCU training weekends. Apparently, it’s a bit of kit that is used by the mountaineering group as an emergency shelter but adopted by the kayak group as well.

Basically it’s a nylon igloo that you can drape over your party (they come in different sizes, mine is a 4 man bag). A couple of hiking poles keeps it off your head, but it provides instance shelter from the wind and rain. Your body heat will quickly make the interior pleasantly toasty. Add a blow-up cushion to sit on and you’re all set.

To be honest, I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to remember this be of ingenious kit, but all is forgiven with Theresa since she now can look forward to warm, comfortable breaks.

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First Beach Cast Bird Found

I really don’t want to think about the number of miles or the total elevation lost and gained that were traveled to find our first bird but it finally paid off with the discovery of our first bird (and second) to document for the volunteer COASST program.

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