This past week the adolescent students and teachers went on a trip to Washington state to experience the Olympic Peninsula. After a very long journey by plane, by boat, and by car, we drove into the wonderful forest that was Olympic National Park. If we looked one way, we saw vibrant green trees covered with unusual mosses and ferns called epiphytes, making the forest look like a mystical fairytale land. If you looked the other way you could see the cliff sides and the peaks of the nearby mountains. As we traveled further toward our camp, we got our first excellent view of Lake Crescent, near where our cabins would be located. When we reached our campus, we unpacked our luggage and moved into our cabins. After we got comfortable in our cabins we visited Rosemary Inn, where we were introduced to the program and ate dinner. During our evening program, we learned more, not only of Olympic National Park, but also the entire peninsula where we were located. After a long day of travel, we tucked in, and slept thanks to waking up so early.
No one could go on a five day nature trip without good food. Mealtimes may have been some of the best times on our trip to Olympic National Park. We enjoyed breakfast and dinner at Rosemary Inn, usually with one or two other schools, though none of them traveled as far as us to get there. Some of our favorite meals served to us were pancakes, teriyaki chicken and rice, and penne pasta. Lunch, however, was often different than the other meals. During lunch time, we were often in the field doing some fun activity and did not have time to go all the way back to Rosemary Inn. Instead we ate lunch in the field. Lunch usually consisted of sandwiches and fruit but were always delicious. The CMS Adolescent Program always appreciates good food.
Our campus was a very large area, that we not only shared with other schools, but also with visitors from the public. Our cabin, along with many others, was located near the beautiful Lake Crescent. We were allowed to go up on the shoreline and dock to see not only the wonderful view of water, mountains, and forest, but also to see the immense wildlife. Ducks, bald eagles, black tailed deer, and bats were all spotted around Lake Crescent. Some of our most enjoyable moments was when we went down to the lake to skip rocks when we had some downtime.
We not only ate our meals at Rosemary Inn, but we also had meetings and educational speakers there too. During our first night on campus, we met our guide for the first time. His name was Nick. We also had the opportunity to learn from two wildlife experts about the Elwha River dam removal project, and its effect on wildlife. Other memorable places on campus included, of course, our cabin. We were glad to have a great place to relax, play games, and sleep. We often played soccer and frisbee in the field between Rosemary Inn and Lake Crescent. Most days we did not have much downtime, but we made the most of the free time we got.
Our first big hike was to an amazing place known as Barnes Creek. The hike was much better than the drive because we got to fully experience the beautiful colors, clean air, and calming sounds, from the forests of massive trees with vibrant green epiphytes. During the hike, our guide, Nick, proved to be both very fun and informative about the surrounding environment. We always stopped at a cool point to hear a story, or to play a game, or decide what to do next.
When we reached Barnes Creek, we just stopped to listen to the calming sound of the rippling water, the birds singing, and the wind blowing through the trees. Nick taught us about tools and data collection and let us use them to do some science! Once we gathered plenty of data, we started for a more challenging hike up to Merrymere Falls.
Many scientists from places all over the world seek out the Olympic Peninsula to run tests on the environment. The Adolescent Program got to be a part of the research project in Olympic National Park. We researched four river systems. Each group of two researched different possible problems within the river. For example, some of the students researched pH in each of the river systems. We learned many things, including the fact that the water they tested, was pure and healthy.
On Tuesday, we had the chance to visit the Elwha river and its mouth. After we had learned much of its background from our presenter. In order to understand this we needed to learn and understand the salmon life cycle. Then we listened to the story of the dams. In 1910, a dam was built to create power and energy. This dam was affecting the salmon life cycle. It was also affecting the Elwha people by cutting of their food source. In 2011, the dams were taken out to help restore the ecosystem.
When we visited the Elwha river, we ran our tests and listened to a story about the Elwha People from our educator. At the mouth of the Elwha, we spotted seals and skipped rocks. When we were all tired, we sat down and listened to a story about, well, listening.
It was Wednesday morning, and many of us were thinking about climbing Mount Storm King. Most of us were dreading this idea. We started our day as expected, but then Mr. Mike called us to the main room to make an announcement. He announced that we were going to hike up the mountain as planned, but Ms. Jenna surprised us all by announcing that we were, in fact, not going to hike up the mountain. We were going to the beach!
We hiked in the nice weather for around a mile and a half to get down to the beach. It was a perfect day to be at the beach, and to admire its beauty. We enjoyed playing in the ocean, finding kelp, and getting our hands wet and sandy. By noon, the tide was low enough for tide pooling! We found many sea anemones, snails, mussels, and crabs. We were even lucky enough to find a sea star. We also ate lunch, found cool sedimentary rocks, and did a lot of walking at the beach before we decided to head back to the vans.
On our last day we went to the Hoh Rainforest. We were especially excited when we saw a banana slug on our hike. We thought the epiphytes we saw when we were driving to our cabins were impressive but that was before we saw the Hall of Mosses. The Hall of Mosses was a beautiful forest area where the trees and epiphytes were creating a peaceful path through the woods.
When we were planning our trip to Olympic National Park, we knew we were in for a treat, and we sure got one. Although the travel days and the hikes were exhausting, participating in all of the fun activities was definitely worth that effort. We got to do all sorts of things including viewing a massive waterfall, tide pooling, collecting data, and seeing the beautiful, diverse environment. Overall, we greatly enjoyed our grand journey throughout Washington and Olympic National Park.
-Written By: Embry, Anna, and Kaylee (CMS Adolescent Students)