Hoh, Hoh, the headless photographer

On June 29, 1938, Congress created Olympic National Park in Washington. One of the major wonders of the park is the temperate rain forests between the Pacific and the Olympic Mountains. I was hiking in the Hoh rain forest early one April, and no one else was on the trail as I walked deep into the forest.

 Hoh Rain Forest

Hoh Rain Forest

I heard a woodpecker and stepped off the trail to follow the sound. One of my favorite birds, the Pileated Woodpecker was building a nest in a trunk.

 Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

I then heard someone coming down the trail. As I looked, a man and a young girl were coming up the trail. The man was carrying a tripod--a kindred spirit. Then I noticed there was head on the top of the tripod--a human head.

The nearest town of any size is Forks, WA, and as fans of the Twilight series know, the area around Forks is inhabited by vampires and werewolves. And I had thought that was a work of fiction. I wasn't so sure now.

As the man got closer, I could see the head on the tripod was of a mannequin. I felt a little bit better. Just a little. The man said he and his daughter were out for walk, and the tripod head was holding stereo sound recording equipment. Gordon Hempton was an Emmy winning sound recordist and I've since purchased many of his remarkable recordings of the sounds of nature. He collects sound. He said just up the trail was a place he calls One Square Inch of Silence, which may be the place most free of human noise in the U.S. His book of the title of that place is part of his activism as an acoustic ecologist to help preserve the natural soundscape in National Parks. Here's an interview of him by Krista Tippett: https://onbeing.org/programs/gordon-hempton-silence-and-the-presence-of-everything/

In the interview, about 12 minutes in, he includes a recording of the remarkable sound of a winter wren. Here's an image of one of those little fellows I saw -- and listened to -- on my hike that day.

 Winter Wren, Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, WA

Winter Wren, Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, WA