Last weekend, for the third year, I joined Patrick Swenson's excellent Rainforest Writers Village, out by the shore of Lake Quinault, on the Olympic Peninsula. Obviously, based on the name, writing is the main focus of the retreat, however, it's a beautiful area for photography, too. There is beautiful forest, a picturesque lake with plenty of birds on and around the water, wooded hills, snow-capped mountains not far away... and the resort is hands-down the place for sunsets I've ever seen in my life. This far away from the city, there's even astronomy photography to be had.
This year, I decided to do something a little extra, and I rented a 100-400mm zoom lens to try out on the local wildlife, as well as the night sky. And I'm pretty happy I did-- I caught a nice sequence of a cormorant taking off the water; and on Saturday, when I went for a drive, I caught a long-distance photo of a herd of elk crossing the road. I got some nice shots of the moon, too, although I never really got a truly night that would have worked best for star photography.
The Saturday drive was probably the photographic highlight of my trip-- I drove the 31-mile loop around Lake Quinault, and actually went beyond the end of the loop further up the north side of the gorge to Lake Irely, which was a 1.1 mile hike in from the road. It was a fun, not too challenging hike up to a small picturesque lake, although overall, I was actually more impressed by the variety of forests and woodland environments that I passed through in my drive along the road-- groves of stark white alder trees; entire areas covered in green moss; undergrowths so full of ferns it felt like something out of the Jurassic period.
On the way home, I made a detour south and west from Aberdeen toward the town of Westport on the coast, just to explore a little bit. I passed through the Johns River State Wildlife Area, a large area of wetlands with a paved greenway running through it and lots of canada geese-- even a heron on the riverbank. From there, I actually went a bit further to the coast, and walked along the beach for a bit before finally turning around and heading back to Seattle.