Walking in the Columbia River Gorge you’re likely to come across slugs and snails underfoot, such as this snail (maybe one of our lancetooth species? I know nothing about snails) near Latourell Falls. It was just crossing over the fern frond that had fallen to the forest floor, not dining on it, I think lancetooths are carnivorous and eat other snails. The little creatures of the forest are one of the reasons I value short close-focusing distances in lenses, it minimizes the need to switch to (or even carry) a dedicated macro lens when you only need to get close, but not macro close. This was taken with the Sony-Zeiss 16-70 f/4 zoom lens, a lens I wasn’t sure about initially but which I’ve really come to like.
I’ve seen ferns growing on canyon walls before but never where they are about the only thing on the vertical walls as in the aptly named Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Visiting the canyon had been on my list of places to visit in the redwoods, but so had many others, but it was a friend’s insistence that I go that made it a focus on this visit in June 2016. You can drive in but I hiked the James Irvine Trail from the Visitor Center down to the Fern Canyon Loop Trail.
It’s a mesmerizing place to visit, thousands of green hands waving gently in the wind, and I took some video with the old camera but hoped to return this spring with the new and better one. The road into the canyon was closed however so I decided to wait until the fall. I want to get there early in the morning so I can get some video without so many people around, the voices of people shouting was hard to avoid on my last visit, even when I couldn’t see anyone from where I was standing. It’s such a lovely and peaceful place — at least it is when the stream level is low like it was here, I can only imagine what it’s like when the water is high.
While I love the old growth sections of the rain forest with its massive trees, I love the younger forest too reclaiming this little section of the Olympic peninsula in the Quinault Rain Forest. I stood beside this meandering stream, swimming in a sea of green, a smile on my face. A little ways away young trees grew, covered in moss of course because this is the rain forest, while ferns grew in the open spaces below. Ferns whose ancestors first appeared hundreds of millions of years ago, before the flowering plants, but some of which have survived through to today. Some of which I grow in my yard, wood sorrel too, my little reminder of the forests that hold my heart.
At Latourell Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, ferns grown not just in the earth but on the columnar basalt near the falls. The ferns must be able to get enough purchase in the cracks of the basalt to not get blown off by the wind, and that wind brings enough water over from the falls (just to the right of this picture) that they can survive. There is lichen growing here too, but not the dramatic yellow lichen that grows further up the cliff face.
I love this place.
I finally had the chance to visit Fern Canyon on this trip to the redwoods, but this picture of layer upon layer of ferns comes from a different part of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a footbridge on the Prairie Creek Trail. I have a little group of ferns in our yard that I call “Redwood Corner” to remind me of hiking in ancient forests like this one.
Sometimes when looking at my wildlife pictures it’s hard for me to remember how big or small an animal really was without something familiar to provide a sense of scale. I don’t get to see pikas that often so this time, to help me remember their size, I took a picture of one eating a Christmas tree.