Fast moving water

The summer sun bouncing off the clear blue water, mighty Mount Olympus standing tall and snow-peaked, the crisp chill in the air as fall slowly turns to winter — Phil Davis knows not everyone is lucky enough to experience the Hoh River and the landscape around it.

“One of the challenges of the Hoh River, which is also the blessing, is that it is so remote,” said Davis, the executive director of the Hoh River Trust. “Not a lot of people (from off the peninsula) make it there.”

The trust was formed in February 2004 to own and manage lands along the Hoh River to enhance the area for dependent species and also to educate people about the area. In 2006, Davis got to work brainstorming ways to bring the beauty of the roaring river so people off the peninsula could learn about it, while still staying true to the people who call the Hoh home.

“I wanted to capture the essence of the river for those who don’t live here,” Davis explained. “And who better to capture it than those who are connected to it.”

Davis enlisted peninsula nature photographer Keith Lazelle to capture the landscape and creatures of the Hoh in images and nearly 20 other area residents, including writers, mountaineers, fishing guides and even the mayor of Forks to capture the essence of the Hoh in words. The result is “Fast Moving Water,” a 142-page book packed with 82 glossy photographs, 18 essays and a foreword from Washington state Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton.

“We wanted to tell the story of the ecosystem by finding people who could speak about the different elements of the river,” Davis said.

For his part, Lazelle traveled from his Quilcene home to the Hoh River for a few days of each month in 2007, often with his wife, Jane Hall, taking photographs from dawn until dusk so he could capture the river and its surroundings in different light.

Although Lazelle has spent decades shooting landscapes with his camera, he said he had to slightly rework his photography techniques for this project.

“My usual way of photographing is to put my cameras on my back and just kind of walk around and photograph what I see,” said Lazelle, who also was doing his own research on the area. “I did do a lot of that this time, but some of the essays were coming in and that affected how I saw things.”

University of Washington earth and space sciences professor David Montgomery, who was doing a study on log jams, wrote one such essay. Lazelle read Montgomery’s essay before making a trip to the river and began to see the fallen trees in a new light.

“His essay got me to looking at log jams in a completely different way,” the photographer marveled. “I was able to read about them and incorporate them into the photography.”

Sequim poet and natural history writer Tim McNulty begins the collection of essays with his piece, “Ocean’s Gift.”

“Of all the rivers that spill from the dizzying array of Olympic peaks, none issues from so grand and powerful a source or nourishes so rich and productive an ecosystem as the Hoh,” McNulty writes. “… And few rivers anywhere receive such fierce allegiance from those who know and love them. In a land of wild, free-flowing rivers, the Hoh stands apart.”

For more information on the book, visit

“Fast Moving Water: The Hoh River Story” is a traveling exhibit that opens at Seattle’s Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus on April 24 and will stay there until June 8. According to museum traveling exhibits coordinator Mark Hand, the exhibit then will travel around the state, stopping at Peninsula College for a month beginning in January 2009. For more information on the traveling exhibit, visit

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