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No less impressive are its miles of wide, gently sloping Pacific beaches peppered with rocky crags, boulders and driftwood.
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The Olympic Mountains on the eastern end of the peninsula acts as a natural barrier to the moisture coming in from the Pacific Ocean, causing much greater average rainfall in the peninsula than anywhere else in the the region. The high levels of precipitation have created the relatively rare natural phenomenon known as the temperate rain forest.
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The Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington in the US supports one of the most lush, beautiful virgin forests on Earth.
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Although three-fourths of the Earth's surface is covered by the oceans, a majority of the land we call home was once covered with virgin forests. So in a way, ours is - or once was - a forest planet.
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In addition to the frequent and abundant rainfall, the soil has been blessed with the mineral-rich volcanic ash from eruptions of millennia gone by.
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Because of these ideal conditions, all vegetation, from the enormous Sitka Spruce to the lush ferns and mosses enjoy the most fertile of environments.
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The temperate rain forest is teeming with life cycles that span the better part of a millennium. Some species of trees thrive on the decaying logs of their fallen elders. Once the seedling germinates, it sends roots down around the nurse log, reaching the moisture of the earth while close to the nutrients of the decaying log.

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Over centuries the original nurse log decays into nothing more than a mound of reddish logwood occasionally over 200 feet long. Here an older nurse log supports several adolescent trees, sturdy roots still straddling the once existing hulk of the mother log.
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These, like all forests on Earth, have survived the worst conditions the planet had to offer and have always bounded back over time....but how much time?
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This former stand of virgin timber, on the road to Graves Creek from Lake Quinault, served its purpose making thousands of tons of newsprint, 2x4s and toilet paper. It will be well beyond a thousand years until our descendents will see a majestic row of tall trees rising from a single 200 foot nurse log again in this site...or until the scent of Spanish Moss and woodruff dances through the air as you walk down the trail.
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Protected from the logger's chain and occupying a large portion of the peninsula, the Olympic National Forest is one of the few natural wooded cathedrals left for us to experience.
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Why do we need to cut down one more tree in any virgin forest?

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Click on any photograph above for an enlargement.
Photography, Imaging and Web Design by George Clay

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Copyright © 1998 by George Clay
All Rights Reserved

"Magic Travel" - Composed and
sequenced by M. Walthius