November 1, 2012

Olympic Peninsula Field Trip

Last week students in the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program traveled west to the Olympic Peninsula.  Our first stop was the Makah museum on Neah Bay.  


On display were artifacts from a village that was buried in a mudslide some 500 years before.  We saw instruments used in whale hunting, cedar boxes and clothing, a reconstructed long house, and ceremonial objects. 

Next we were off to Lake Ozette to explore the coast and see where the village of Ozette once stoodIn order to get to the coast we hiked through the forest and learned about the plants, trees and mushrooms growing there.

On the coast the students climbed sea stacks.  Sea stacks are vertical rock formations standing in the sea that were formed entirely by wind and water. The formation process usually begins when the sea creates cracks in the headland, causing them to later collapse, and forming free-standing stacks.

Nereocystis, bull whip kelp, was found all along the shore.  All seaweeds are edible and excellent source of minerals, especially potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, iron, zinc, boron, copper, vanadium and nickel.

Instructor apprentice, Jeremy, found bear and cougar tracks on the beach!

 Makah petroglyphs etched into the Wedding Rocks, a cluster of shore-hugging boulders.

In the morning we were back in the vans and headed south to the Hoh Rainforest, where we learned about old growth forests and animals who live there.

The park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk, Cervus elaphus roosevelti, in the Pacific Northwest.

Roosevelt elk feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as meadow grasses. 

Pileated Woodpeckers are often associated with mature and old-growth forests.  They need standing dead wood for nesting and as a food source.  Pileated woodpeckers eat wood-boring insects and insects that nest in trees, including long-horned beetles and especially carpenter ants.

Picea sitchensis, Sitka spruce, dominate the park.  They reach heights of 80 meters with a trunk diameter of 5m and can live for over 700 years.

Another amazing field trip with Alderleaf, thank you to the trees, plants, the waters and our students...

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