the Olympic Mountains
Incredibly rugged, mysterious, and sublime, the Olympic Mountains of Washington State are the upthrust, crumpled, and eroding remains of sandy sediments and coarse volcanic rocks that once lay far beneath the waves on the ocean floor. Washington's Olympic Peninsula, from whence the mountains rise, is the leading edge of the North American continent as it rides roughshod over tectonic plates of the eastern Pacific.
Flecked with glaciers and perennial snowfields, and home to isolated and endemic animals and plants, the Olympics are nearly as wild now as they were when first explored just over a century ago. Here is the last stronghold of wild salmon and steelhead, cutthroat and bull trout finning the arching rapids of a wagon-wheel of wild rivers. Winter green lands of rainforest moss, marsh and elk meadow, rock and ice high, and eastside steeps plunging to seals and starfish of the vast yet intimate inland fjord of Hood Canal. Secure for the present within the Olympic National Park and adjoining wilderness areas of Olympic National Forest, much of the interior mountain mass is currently protected from a profit-ravenous logging industry that has repeatedly cleared the surrounding foothills and lowlands of what were once Earth's greatest temperate coniferous forests. Though only a fraction of their former extent, the big trees do remain, and the stunning biodiversity of this "museum of primitive America" still exists for future generations - from the shining glaciers of Mount Olympus to the deep surrounding sea.