Natural Beauties of the Olympic Mountains

Sol Duc FallsIt isn’t just the coast of the Olympic Peninsula that shelters natural beauties. Other wonders are found in secluded mountain valleys and along the streams that plunge down from the craggy heights. Under deep forest cover, you come across sights like dazzling Sol Duc Falls. Fed by snow melt high above, the falls roar in multi-channeled splendor, plunging into a serpentine gorge crisscrossed by fallen giant forest trees. Its mighty rumbling roar summons spirits from old half-forgotten Quileute Indian legends. Here, it is said, the great dragons Elwha and Sol Duc fought over ownership of the valley. Neither could prevail against the other and so they vanished into the land, becoming these falls, whose name means Magic Waters, and the nearby bubbling, boiling Sol Duc hot springs. If you stand in the swirling mist and close your eyes, you can still hear their mighty struggles and feel the earth tremble beneath your feet.

Marymere FallsOther falls are smaller and more graceful. Frail trickles like Marymere Falls splash onto cliff sides, sharing their waters with thirsty ferns and mosses. Dippers–crazy little brown birds that build their nests right under the falls–fly into and out of the falls’ wet spray, where sheltering crevices foster their nests and babies. You’ll see them hopping around on river rocks or wading into and under the flowing waters below the falls to fetch bugs to feed their broods. All the while, delicate Marymere, daughter of mighty Storm King Mountain high above, patters down her protective shower.

Shelley at the fallsI’m not the only one around here who is charmed by these moving mountain waters. Here’s a snapshot of Shelley in her element. She loves to stand near enough to falling water to catch the spray on her face, to feel the cool joy of the clean wet stuff and breath in soft air that can only be found near the base of a falls. She’s a natural beauty, too.

Whenever we travel to the Olympic Peninsula, there is at least one hike to a waterfall and often two or three. Falls abound among these rain-washed mountains. And a person can never really get too much of such enchanting places. Wet. Magical. Cool. Beautiful!

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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