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  Field Notes From
Olympic National Park

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Olympic National Park On AssignmentArrows

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From Photographer

Melissa Farlow

Olympic National Park On Assignment

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From Author

John G. Mitchell

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Thiessen (top) and Brian Strauss


Olympic National Park On Assignment Olympic National Park On Assignment
Olympic National Park

Field Notes From Photographer
Melissa Farlow

Best Worst Quirkiest
    Olympic National Park has many different moods. And there is so much diversity:  65 miles (105 kilometers) of uninterrupted Pacific coastline, lush old-growth temperate rain forest, and rugged glacier-capped mountains. It was a gift to be able to spend so much time there. I made several short trips and saw the park in every season.

    It was sad to drive through the rain forest and pass through all the clear-cut areas. The contrast was stark between the pristine beauty of the canopied forest inside the park and land outside park boundaries where there were slash piles and debris left from logging. Trees are often replanted, but there is no comparison between the young forests and the majesty of the old growth. Thank goodness for the park! Without it, I don't think there would be anything left.

    Before making a final trip to Washington to photograph fall colors, I called several people to try to determine when the leaves would turn. But it's difficult to ascertain, especially over the phone. So I flew to Washington, only to find that everything was still green.
    I called park rangers for advice and spent the next few days driving and hiking in higher elevations, but I only came across a few hints of color. Even worse, it rained every day. On the last day I finally found some brightly colored leaves, but it was difficult to keep my lenses dry and cameras working in the pouring rain. I ended the assignment regretting that I hadn't waited another week, that the weather never cleared, and that the leaves hadn't turned.
    When I got home I received an e-mail from one of the rangers. Apparently the storms raged for ten more days after I left, and the park endured horrible flooding. The roads I had driven had been underwater and some even washed away.


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