A Few Totems Around the Olympic Peninsula
After a meeting in Sequim we stopped to look at the new totem pole installed at the site of the new City of Sequim offices. The totem is the starring highlight of the plaza outside the building. Stop to take a look (and some photos!) on your way through Sequim. The totem represents the sun always shining in Sequim. We know that’s true! The legend this pole represents can be found at this link. There is also a geological reason the sun shines a lot in Sequim; and that is because of the rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains. As weather systems come ashore along the Pacific Coast, the mountains slow the systems down where a majority of rain gets deposited on the western slopes, creating the famous, lush, mossy rainforests.
For a description about the rain shadow, Wikipedia does a pretty good job:
The Dungeness Valley around Sequim, Washington lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. The area averages 10–15 inches of rain per year, less than half of the amount received in nearby Port Angeles and approximately 10% of that which falls in Forks on the western side of the mountains. To a lesser extent, this rain shadow extends to other parts of the eastern Olympic Peninsula, Whidbey Island, and parts of the San Juan Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island around Victoria, British Columbia.
After spending some time examining the Sequim totem, I got to thinking about other totem poles and carvings on the Olympic Peninsula. Port Ludlow did a re-dedication last July 4th of their 40-foot refurbished totem pole that sits on Burner Point. It was originally carved from a 720-year-old western red cedar that grew near the Hoh Rain Forest and was blown down in the 1993 windstorm. If you get to stop to see this totem, you’ll find places to go kayaking, good food and beverages, and a picture-worthy marina. There are often bald eagles keeping an eye on things around the area. If you have time, Ludlow Falls is not far. OlympicPeninsulaWaterfallTrail.com
Another stop on Hwy 101 is in Blyn at the Tribal Center for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Longhouse Market and 7 Cedars Casino. There are several totems at these properties along the edge of Discovery Bay. A stop at the House of Myth (the totem carving shed) at the Tribal Center is a special treat if the doors are open. Stick your head in to watch! They are actively carving totem poles by traditional methods and tools. It smells so good with cedar essence in the air.
Port Angeles waterfront has two totem poles to stop and visit while you pick up additional information you may need from the Visitor Center on Railroad Avenue. One represents our glorious past, our great present and the future for all of us. While you are there you might want to walk out the pier for a view back across the city with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
Part of the Olympic Discovery Trail goes in front of the Visitor Center. This rails-to-trails project along the old railroad line traverses peninsula lowlands, bordered on the south by the Olympic Mountains and on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. One end point is the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend, the other is La Push on the Pacific Ocean. When complete, the trail will be a 130-mile-long, wide, paved path designed for multiple uses: bicyclists, hikers, and disabled users, with a 4’ shoulder for equestrians where appropriate.
There are several totem poles in Forks and some lovely carvings in La Push. If you’re in Neah Bay, you’ll see two figures by the Makah Cultural & Resource Center and Museum. Be sure to stop by the new Artist’s Center on Hobuck Road, Neah Bay.