Han Solo, Frozen in Carbonite

Patterns in an old tree in the Hoh Rain Forest

Seeing Han Solo getting frozen in carbonite broke my heart as a child but it saved my life as an adult. I was hiking along the Hoh River Trail, reveling in the rain in the rain forest, when I saw this unusual formation in an old tree. I stepped back when I recognized the pose, like Solo all those years ago, an unfortunate photographer must have turned his back too long to the tree and was captured, enveloped, erased, as he slowly disappeared into the tree. Thinking back to that scene I’m glad they didn’t freeze my beloved Chewbacca too, I think that would have radicalized young Boolie and sent him over to the dark side.

An Explosion of Green

Everything is green in the Hoh Rain Forest

I was hiking the Hoh River Trail in the rain when I walked past an open area and was struck by this explosion of green, a young moss-draped tree arching in all directions. There were so many different shapes and sizes and textures of green, clover and maples and moss and ferns and the large trees beyond, all different ways life has adapted to live in this damp and verdant forest. If I could hike in only one type of terrain, it would be the forest, nothing restores my spirit like a walk in the woods.

Sign of Sanity

A Douglas' squirrel sits atop a tree stump on the Hoh River Trail in the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

While visiting Olympic National Park in 2004, my wife and I escaped the crowds of the Hall of Mosses Trail and walked down the lovely Hoh River Trail where we met this Douglas’ squirrel. When you spend time photographing something as common as a squirrel at a place as special as the Hoh Rain Forest, some of the other tourists look at you with a mixture of curiosity and pity, as though you’re either slightly mad or slightly a moron.

Both of which might be true, but I enjoy photographing squirrels and do it no matter where I am, especially species like this one that I see less often. While the squirrels I see in my yard in the city are invaders from the east, the Douglas’ squirrel is one of the native tree squirrels in the Northwest.