The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Since this blog debuted on New Year's Day of 2006, I have yet to show you actual photos of the rain forest in and around Wild Rose Creek, where Mrs. Trowbridge once lived. The photos below are the first images that I have ever posted of this special place in the forest.

My son, Brad and I had come to the Quinault Rain Forest to survey the damage from last year's "storm of the century" that hit the Washington Coast. We were shocked and dismayed to see entire forests brought down by the 100-mile-per-hour-plus winds. The entire mountain of old-growth rain forest south of Lake Quinault Lodge, where President Teddy Roosevelt once stayed, appeared to have been logged off. It was undoubtedly the biggest blow down ever witnessed in the Quinault Rain Forest.

We forgot to bring any kind of time piece on this trek, and our cell phones didn't work in the wilderness, so we couldn't use them to check the time. Have you ever gone for days without knowing what time it is? It's a strange feeling.

WOLF BAR BEFORE - Once a verdant fern glade nestled among the young Douglas firs, Wolf Bar was unrecognizable when we first came upon it. We couldn't even find the spot where we had camped in previous years. The above picture of Wolf Bar was taken in 1992. The photo below shows what it looked like last week. This is where we camped our first night.

WOLF BAR AFTER - The giant sword ferns that were once the trademark of Wolf Bar have been buried under 18 inches of silt from the raging Quinault River that passes nearby. Several lifetimes must pass before the Quinault Rain Forest will be restored to its former splendor. Some of the trees in this forest are large enough to have attained world record status. I don't yet know if some of the world record trees were destroyed by the storm.

Countless thousands of trees were brought down, some caught by the river's flood surge, and carried downstream to form chaotic slash piles all along the course of the river.

As daylight began to wane with the setting sun, the forest took on an eerie blue aura. I looked up river and wondered what tomorrow would bring. We would be exploring Wild Rose Creek, where Mrs. Trowbridge once lived, about two miles up river from Wolf Bar, where this photo was taken.

I awoke the next morning with eager anticipation. The foggy morning mist soon burned off to reveal a splendid day. Upon arriving at Wild Rose Creek, we found more devastation. The creek had been storm-scoured to the extent that a rope ladder was required to descend 25 feet into the creek bed. The dirt and rock on the bank behind the ladder was once covered with lush vegetation.

Exploring the creek further, we found large old growth trees that were effortlessly snapped like twigs by the forces of wind and water. Up to 15 inches of rain fell during this one event!

We continued upstream and finally reached a point where most of the devastation was behind us. This canyon is just downstream from what was once Mrs. Trowbridge's village of Huckleberry Hollow. I was pleased to see that the canyon Mrs. T wrote about in her journal was not severely affected by the storm.

Just as we were about to embark on the second phase of our exploration, ascending above the canyon into Huckleberry Hollow itself, we were approached by two cranky forest rangers who asked us to leave the area immediately. So our exploration of Mrs. Trowbridge's village had come to a sudden halt.

Before we left Wild Rose Creek, the ranger was kind enough to give me a souvenir to remember our trip by---a warning ticket, for trespassing into an area that had been closed-off because of storm damage.


Digital Scott's Illustrationblog said...

Nice photos and story!

Ces said...

Oh man, it is sad to see the trees gone. I love the last photograph.

Princess Pepper Cloud said...

Wow, this must have been a surreal experience. I guess that ranger hasn't been enchanted by your stories. The storms this past winter were so extreme!

Princess Pepper Cloud said...

Next time you are in southern oregon there is a killer Darlingtonia fen in Selma at the Deer Creek Center you might like if you haven't seen before... check out my other blog for some pictures of the fen, if you are interested in visiting it, I can send you some more information.