Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 34 – Olympic Staircase – August 2, 2011


In 1890, when Lt. O'Neil and his crew blazed their trail through the Skokomish wilderness, the rock bluff across the river across the Skokomish River was a major obstacle. To get over it they built a cedar staircase. The Devil's Staircase was the only path over the bluff until the Shady Lane Trail was built in 1911. The name, and O’Neil’s legacy remains as the area today is still known as the Olympic Staircase.
















Douglas-firs dominate the forests on this side of the Olympic Peninsula. A tree that grows best on bare mineral soil with loads of sunlight, the Douglas-fir's survival depends on that most fearsome but respected of forces––fire. The eastern Olympics experience large scale natural fires every 300-400 years.

Thick bark protects mature trees, so they can survive to produce seeds that repopulate burned areas. Flames burn away organic forest floor debris, giving Douglas-fir seeds access to the soil they need. Fire also kills understory plants that may intercept the young sapling's sunlight.

Douglas Firs

Skokomish River Rapids

Skokomish River

Douglas Firs, Moss & Ferns

Washington Red Huckleberries

Skokomish River Video


Lake Cushman Panorama
Lake Cushman Panorama

Lake Cushman is a 4,010-acre lake on the north fork of the Skokomish River. The lake originally was a long narrow broadening of the Skokomish River formed in a glacial trough and dammed by a terminal moraine from the last ice age.

The lake was expanded after construction of the Cushman Dam. The lake is maintained by this dam and provides electrical power to the Tacoma Power system.

Lake Cushman was named in honor of Orrington Cushman, who served as interpreter for Governor Isaac Stevens during the Treaty of Point Elliott negotiations with Puget Sound Indians in 1854.

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