Four thirty in the morning and the dog wakes me up again. This is becoming a pattern. I open the door of the 4runner and let him run around the parking lot of the walmart we slept at. There’s nobody around at this time of day, except for the trucker who spent the night with his big diesel idling.
I wake up, shuffle everything in the truck back around to ‘driving mode’ and round the dog back up. We are on the road toward Olympic National Park, but of course we are far too early. I sit and wait for the ranger to show up, I hike a quick quarter mile and see a wonderful waterfall:
Around nine thirty the ranger is there and opens his booth, I buy a national parks pass, I ask about local trails to check out and campgrounds to sleep at. Then it’s up the road to Whiskey Bend trail. The dog sits in the truck, he’s not allowed on the trails in the parks. A boring day for him.
I hike down to the Elwha river, I go to a place called ‘Goblin’s Point’. The water is a hue of blue that is hard to describe or capture. It is gorgeous as it careens into the rocks:
I try to keep my eyes out for the smaller things, like the early signs of fall. A few leaves changing colors already this time of year:
I explore a bit, but I don’t have all day. I have to get back to the truck to let the dog out. I need to eat something. I didn’t realize it until now, but I forgot to eat anything this morning. I talk to a ranger on the way out, he says to check out ‘hurricane ridge’. With the sky as clear as it is today it should be a decent view. He tells me they are ripping the dams out of the Elwha river soon, no more lakes. The lakes, while man-made and environmentally unnecessary, do have a certain beauty to them:
I pull out the map and make my way to Hurricane Ridge. it is quite a ways, at a totally different entrance to the park. I make the long drive, I stop along the way to let the dog chase sticks. I am pelted by rainbow bugs as I step out of the truck. Hard to be mad, when they culprit is so photographic:
We get to the ridge, it is everything they said it would be. The mountain range stretches out in front of me, and all around me.
I try everything I know to capture it. I try a panoramic, which doesn’t do it justice:
I try some HDR treatment, which still can’t capture all the dynamic range:
I include people in my shot, to try and give some sense of scale:
None of it works. There is no way to properly capture it. It’s not a problem of having the right lens, or the right camera. My mind cannot capture it, and until that can happen there is no way to make a camera do it. These things rarely happen just by accident.
I hike some more, I take the ridge trail. It shows the road I came in on, and by which I shall be leaving shortly:
I get back to the truck, I take the dog down to the campground and pick out a spot, pay my twelve dollars, set up camp. He is antsy, so we jog through the entire campground. My legs are tired as I cook my dinner over my little camp stove.
It’s funny how my ideas of luxury have changed. Now, having a campsite where I can cook in the open on a table seems luxurious. Setting up the tent and stretching out as I sleep seems luxurious. We still wake up at four thirty, I’m still wet and cold and covered in dog hair, but at least I’m not in an asphalt parking lot. It’s a good day as we head out of the park, and make our way to Seattle.