Monday, May 11, 2015

Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

Giant Sea Stacks and Myself, Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park, WA
Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is not your typical beach. This is a wild stretch of coast more popular for backcountry hiking and camping.
Coastal Forest and Ocean Beach @ Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach is just a few miles West from where we stayed at the town of Forks. Our drive from Forks to Rialto Beach was very beautiful. The road winds between a thick canopy of pine and maple forest and ends at the beach. Rialto Beach beach starts at the mouth of the Quillayute River.
Mouth of Quillayute River and Forest Capped James Island, Rialto Beach
From the mouth of Quillayute River, the beach extends about 4 miles, bounded by sea stacks, tidepools and the Pacific Ocean on the West, and by piles of driftwood, ghost forest and the pine and maple forest wall to the East.
Driftwood (above) and Ghost Forest ( Below)
While walking on this coastal strip, we saw several white eagles perched on top of the tree, or flying above us,
or perched on top of the rocks in the middle of the sea ready to fish. 
How Many Bald Eagles do you see here?
Among the sea stacks, Hole-in-the-Wall is one of the most interesting, which is about 1.5- 2 miles from Rialto's Beach Parking lot, and within an earshot to the camp sites. Camping right next to the ocean in the midst of pine and maple forest and the sea stacks in front of you is definitely a one of a kind experience.
Hikers at Hole-in-the-Wall
Even in the middle of summer however, it can be very windy, cold and chilly camping and exploring here at Rialto Beach. It is good to bring the best of your camping equipment to protect yourself from the elements and enjoy fully the wonderful gift of nature in this area. Vacation becomes more fun for me if it is about actively exploring the great outdoors, without sacrificing comfort to really optimize the fun. Camping Gear Outlet is one of the wonderful places you can look for supplies for your outdoor needs online.
Hole- in- the- Wall
Hole-in-the-Wall is a natural arch that was pierced through a cobble-stoned rock by centuries of surf and wind. At high tide, hikers can not cross this arch, instead they must climb the rock to continue up North. We did our homework the day before coming here, we checked the time of low tide which was 10:00 am. The day prior to this we reached Olympic Peninsula at past low tide, therefore, we spent our time doing more land hiking at Moments In Time and Sol Duc Falls, before retiring to Forks. We woke up early enough and had early breakfast to reach Hole in the Wall at low tide. Dining at Forks was fun, most restaurants says something about "Twilight" :), but surely, all those "Twilight" meals helped us in giving energy for our physical activities.
While walking, we saw a lot of starfish sticking to the rocks pounded by the waves, however, as we got closer to Hole in the Wall, there were no more pounding waves and the tide pool was exposed. We saw hundreds of starfish, anemone, and other shells cleaving to kelp-laden tide pools. 
Orange and Purple Starfish (top 2 pictures, by KTL),
Anemone and underside of Starfish ( bottom 2 pictures, by Betchai )
Starfish feeds on clams, oysters and mussels, through their mouth which is the middle opening on their underside ( bottom right picture above). Starfish don't eat shellfish with their shells on, but rather, they use their powerful suction cups on their legs to open the shell of their prey. When the shell is wide open and meat is exposed, star fish push their stomach out through their mouth and digest it. Star fish are scavengers and hunters that clean up the bottom of the ocean floor, eating some fish-killing algae. Most of the starfish we saw are not by themselves, but they are cleaving to each other and on the rocks.
Group of Starfish
Grouping together is one of the starfish defense mechanisms to protect themselves from the pounding waves as they can easily be washed off shore by the very strong waves. As the star fish cleave together, their strength multiplies exponentially that they will be able to hold on together defying the pounding waves that crash on them. The star fish exemplifies best the quote, "Together we stand, divided we fall." 
Someone from my Facebook friends left me a comment if the picture above is real, I think we had presumed before that this question may be asked, that's why probably we have different attempts to take this picture with the ocean scenery to say, yes, they are real.
the same group of starfish in the last starfish group picture above
Since I have been awakened to the magnificent beauty and power of nature preserved in National Parks during my first National Park hike at the Grand Canyon's South Kaibab trail last thanksgiving 2006, I had made a list of our big trips exploring the 58 US National Parks. Olympic National Park was one of those that were high in my priority. Olympic National Park is not just about these ancient sea stacks and the abundance of ocean wildlife, is not just about the glacier-capped mountain peaks, not just about the amazing and out-of-this-world rain forest, not just about its roaring waterfalls, but Olympic National Park is the embodiment of a stunning variety of landscapes, plants and animal life. I am glad I came, I won't be surprised if one day I will find myself here again even without completing all the 58 US National Parks yet. 
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  1. Such excellent pictures. The eagles, the Ghost Forest, and the sea creatures. Each one is good enough to make me forget all others.

  2. WOW, gorgeous photos! I love the starfish and the eagles. Awesome sightings. I have been to Olympic Park years ago but we there there for a short time. It is a beautiful place.

  3. Fascinating post! I learned so much about starfish. So interesting how they group together. And I like to see the forest by the beach. What a neat place Olympic National Park is!

  4. Wow...I wanna go there too. I am so amazed with the starfish and anemone. :D

  5. the drift woods and ghost forest reminds me of scenes from the Twilight Saga. :)
    i saw 2 bald eagles, are there more than 2?
    whew! i am always blown away by your stunning nature photography, it is very hard to pick a favourite.
    you completing the 58 NParks? not impossible! ;)

  6. You always find such beautiful places. They look more beautiful through your lens.

  7. Bets, you should start your own Travel & Adventure Business. You (and the rest of your team)organized a very well-planning hiking/vacation. I hope to write a string of National Parks Adventure. Your photos make me so envious of the beautiful scenery, well done!

  8. wow the eagle n sea creatures n the

  9. Giant Sea Stacks and Hole-in-the-Wall are fabulous. Excellent nature shots! I saw two eagles..or are there more?

  10. You left me speechless and breathless! Fantastic pictures of such a beautiful place, betchai..Both you and Khai are made for each other. Pictures and all!

  11. Those formations are really stunning. Nothing like seeing eagles right there up close and personal. Your photos here are so vibrant and alive. Amazing, my friend!

  12. What can I say? As usual great shots. The Husband and Wife team strikes again. I love the Hole in the Wall shots. Great perspective... great composition... great capture.

    Have a wonderful weekend Sis.

  13. HI Betchai! Ready to relax this weekend?

    The place is like a magical place you see in movies and fairy tales. Great pictures with so much stories to tell.

  14. Hindi ako magtataka na one day bibilhin ang mga "work of arts" mo ng isa sa mga sikat na publications...

    Well-defined captures!

  15. I love the bald eagles and starfish amazing pictures Betchai.

  16. Beth, I am unbelievably wowed by your photos! That majestic eagle is a rare capture. The most I had was a falcon -and of course our usual pelicans! :) Lovely, Beth. Each one looks as if it jumped out of a travel mag! :)

  17. Such a unique place with the sea stacks! Photographing tide pools is like digging for buried treasures because you never know what amazing surprises you will find.

  18. Those are beautiful pictures. You did an amazing job capturing the color and density of the scenery. When you went to Forks, were there a ton of Twilight fans?

  19. beth, your spectacular nature photos took me on one very interesting virtual journey to Olympic National Park in WA today! every single photo was a joy to behold, but i would like to share with you my favorites:

    1) the giant sea stacks!!- i was not even aware that such a term- "sea stacks" - existed:) but what a perfect term, coz they do look like haystacks, only in solid rock form!! simply amazing! and i love how you stood in the shadow of one. by doing that, we have a clear perspective of how gigantic those sea stacks really are!

    2) the hole-in-the-wall- i love openings in rocks like this! the sharp contrast between dark and light pouring through the hole is magnificent! is that khai standing near the hole's opening? i find it even more amazing to learn from you that this natural arch was the product of many centuries' of pounding by surf and wind! how neat!

    3) the colorful collage of starfish pictures- what a delight to gaze at such marine wonders! my favorite among these 4 is the purple starfish!! how very unique! the green sea urchin is my 2nd favorite. i was also intrigued by your explanation of how starfish feed- specially the part about how they push their stomach through their mouths to digest their prey!! whoa!!!:) kinda creepy to imagine it, but still very interesting! thank you for sharing that info with us. i learned something new today:) awwwww, and of course, the quote you applied to the throng of starfish grouping together- "united we stand, divided we fall"- is indeed the perfect quote, beth. awesome choice!

    because of your photo-rich and information-rich post, beth, i feel like i traveled to ONP today. so, thank you!

  20. I didn't know that u have to do your "homework" first before embarking on a journey,hehe.I would have gone there at any time of day (w/c is, yeah, unwise). Thanks also for the trivia about the starfish. Love your photos as usual!So have u seen any werewolves in Forks yet? lol!

  21. You have captured natures beauty wonderfully. Those giant rocks are awesome.

  22. Love the starfish.

  23. whew, bathing in blue here Betchai, and i love the starfish! i wish i could someday join you at any park hehehehe, love yah wonderwoman!

  24. I see four bald eagles, three obvious ones.

  25. My goodness! The pictures show a magnificent place. I am almost speechless.