A "nurse log" is a fallen tree. It illustrates both the profligacy of life (it's everywhere) and the practicality (nothing is wasted). Nurse logs are first colonized by mosses and liverworts, then fungi and ferns. Later still, saplings take root, using the extra light to grow faster. Saplings send their roots outside the nurse log as shown here; whoever reaches the ground first can outcompete the others. Occasionally, on a big nurse log, you'll see three or four trees in a row. (This one only has two.) Eventually, the whole log will be reabsorbed into the forest, leaving trees standing on root buttresses.
We first became fascinated with nurse logs at Twin Falls and Wallace Falls state park. Because those two parks are second-growth forest that were logged early in the 20th century, the nurse logs there are primarily stumps.
We have to go back to the Hoh so I can take a whole series of pictures of nurse logs, from freshly fallen to reabsorbed.
Pine White (Neophasia menapia) butterfly
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
I'm not sure of this ID. This is the closest in the National Audobon Society Field Guide to the Northwest, which I use for most non-bird IDs.
Roosevelt Elk (Cervus elaphus)
Alas, these are the only Roosevelt Elk we saw.
Except as noted: Hoh Rainforest, WA
All: September, 2009