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01/17/17 - Dungeness Spit - The New Year

The Dungeness Spit is a five mile long sand spit that juts out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It's basically a beach without anything inland. Unlike the littoral beaches of the east coast that parallel the mainland, the spit heads away from land and then turns east. Hiking the spit is always an otherworldly experience. There is salt water on either side and just a long, wild beach littered with driftwood that runs for miles. There are spectacular views of the the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Mountains and often the Cascades. Otherwise, it is sky and salt water.

The spit varies greatly with the tide. The gap between low tide and high tide is often six feet of water. At low tide the beach can be broad and easy going. At high tide it is narrow, just a bit of sand and lots of driftwood to clamber over. In the autumn, the tides make hiking the spit difficult. There are some nice low tides, but only at night, but as winter sets in, the low tides cycle into daylight. By early February there are long low tides, under three feet, right in the middle of the day, so we expect to visit the spit more often as the season progresses.


A winter sky

More winter sky and driftwood

Definitely driftwood

The Olympic Mountains as seen from the sea

Another sand and sky picture

Rocks and driftwood

The spit from the climb out

Keywords: autumn, beaches, dungeness spit, winter


10/05/16 - Late Season Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill trail may only be open for another few weeks, so we’ve been heading up there to enjoy the autumn colors. They aren’t as spectacular as the brilliant red of the Fields of Mars out at Obstruction Point, but they nicely mark the season.

The last rose

More snow in the mountains

Fading colors

The side spur

Fields of gold

Another late fall view

Yet another field

Still some red below

Autumn colors

Where the red and orange come from

Late season yarrow

Keywords: autumn, hurricane hill


10/23/15 - Autumn Phlox at Hurricane Hill

This has been a strange year. We hiked up to Hurricane Hill the other day and couldn't help noticing that there was phlox blooming by the trailside. Phlox are usually one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, not long after the snows have melted, so seeing it in the autumn was a surprise. There was enough of it to scent the air here and there. As we said, this has been a strange year.

Phlox in bloom

A real surprise

Also, a dramatic mushroom

The scenery is getting paler.

The view

A bit of frost in the shade

Still some color here

More snow in the distant mountains

A last harebell

More phlox

Pine cones

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill, spring, trails


11/06/14 - Whiskey Bend and the Elwha

We took a short walk from Whiskey Bend down to the Elwha River. Despite the recent rains, the river is far from flooded, but the trail was pretty. The foliage color is nothing like the glory of a New England autumn, but we could see definite signs of fall. We also saw the new viewing station for the river where the old dam used to be.

A bit of autumn color

A bit more autumn color - still kind of subtle

Trees and late season light

The Elwha

A bit of snow on the foothills

Whiskey Bend Road - It's not that scary.

The new viewing area where the old dam was

Keywords: autumn, elwha


09/15/14 - To The Lighthouse

The walk out to the the Dungeness Light is one of the amazing hikes of the North Olympic Peninsula. It's not completely obvious from the pictures, but it's a walk out to sea along a narrow strip of land. There is salt water on either side, but one walks for miles along the outer beach as it curves away from the mountains and out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

We've been watching the tides at Dungeness Spit. There is usually a period from mid-autumn into mid-winter when the tides are just too high during the day to hike all the way out to the lighthouse without pulling oneself across soft sand and clambering over driftwood. Worse, during the winter, the sand washes away leaving a rocky beach behind. We decided to take advantage of this prime hiking time for our hike.

As you can see in the photos, we made it to the light. We did the full ten mile round trip in excellent time, well under four hours, thanks to a sandy beach and beautiful weather. We kept an eye on the sea and saw seals, seagulls, plovers, and sea ducks. The sky really was as blue as in the photos. Our next chance is not until February, and then only if the spit has some sand. Otherwise, it might not be until next summer.


The Dungeness Light

The curving spit

Our first view of the light

Beach flowers

A common flower

On the way back, mountains

A plover

More mountains and sea

Driftwood fashioned into a shelter

Keywords: autumn, ducks, dungeness spit, flowers, tides


09/12/14 - Fall Colors at Obstruction Point

We always like the Lilian Ridge hike out of Obstruction Point in the autumn. In truth, this hike has its charms in every season, but in the fall the wild, high country foliage starts changing color. There are bright yellows, pale silvers, and some amazing brilliant reds. The high country is exotic enough, but sometimes we feel like we are on another world, hiking the bright red plains of Mars.

Bright reds set off by deep summer greens

One of the many crickets about

More brilliant red

Red fields and red stairs

More early autumn color

A few last harebells

Cedums and dried flowers

More alpine flowers

A patch of red

Red grasses

More red fields

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point


01/10/14 - Dungeness Spit

The autumn tides at Dungeness Spit are terrible for hikers. The day time low tides are often as high as the high tides which leaves just a narrow strip of rocky, gritty beach for walking. Winter, however, is different. Already, we are getting real low tides during daylight hours, and unlike some winters where most of the sand gets washed out to sea, this year there is a fair bit of sand which makes for good footing. We haven't made it all the way out to the lighthouse yet, but anything is possible in the new year.

A very clear view of Mount Baker

The tide was out and the beach was walkable

An even better view of the mountain

The Cascades to the north, beyond the San Juans

The view south, the Olympic Mountains

Keywords: autumn, dungeness spit, tides, winter


10/20/13 - Olympic National Park Is Open Again - Hurricane Hill

The park is open again, and about time. As soon as we got the word, we were heading up Hurricane Ridge Road, and we weren't alone. There was a short line up at the entry station and a short wait where they are still repairing the tunnels, but it didn't take us long to return to the high country. Hurricane Hill was spectacular. There are a few spots of snow on the ground, but the trails were clear and the air almost crystaline. The grasses are turning golden brown. It was only two weeks, but it was way too long.

The fields are golden brown

More color, more mountains

A spot of snow below

That snow on the north face is there until next summer.

The side spur

The Strait of San Juan de Fuca

A view north

Golden hills

Some autumn color

Fields, snow and mountains

Mount Baker, a distant meringue

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, autumn, trails


10/15/13 - Salmon Homecoming on the Dungeness River

This is the season that the salmon come home to the rivers to spawn and die. It's great news for the fishermen, and for salmon in general, but not so much for the fish themselves. We noticed the scent near the Dungeness Dike parking area on Towne Road. The lot was full of fishermen, or rather, their trucks with their permits in the window. The fishermen themselves were out along the river.

One always hears of the great salmon homecoming adventure with heroic tales and desperate struggles upstream. Indeed, the river was full of fish fighting their way against the current. There were also the predators, mostly gulls, of course, and the above mentioned fishermen. It is most definitely autumn, with the leaves starting to turn and nature itself lush, but preparing for the frost.


A side channel full of fish

A silver salmon

A closeup of salmon fighting upstream

The silver river

An early autumn field

Keywords: autumn, dungeness, salmon


09/13/13 - Obstruction Point

Autumn is coming to Obstruction Point. It is always dry at the end of Obstruction Point Road, and the high country is always wild and open here. Already, the foliage has started to turn red, so part of our hike feels like crossing the Plains of Mars.

Another view of the mountains - We will miss them when the hiking season ends.

The Plains of Mars

Striking red foliage

Red fields and mountains

More of the plains

High country, dry country

Still some melting snow

Resin on the pine cones

Mountains and another lake

Harebells

We call these mock dandelions, but we're sure no on else does.

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point


10/22/12 - Port Angeles Farmers' Market Report

We had a very slow summer this year with just about everything coming in late, but now the market is in its harvest bloom with the autumn squashes, chard, potatoes, carrots, cabbages and the like coming. There are a few summer treats, like tomatoes, left, but this may have been their last week. Farmers' markets are about reflecting the seasons, so we are welcoming autumn and its bounty.

Johnston Farm potatoes

Johnston Farm squash

Nash Huber's stand, as pretty as ever

The Korean Garlic Lady's stand (That's not her.)

Clark Farms was selling sausages. We really liked the brats and kielbasa. They were lean and delcious.

Keywords: autumn, farmers' market


10/18/12 - Hurricane Hill in the Autumn

Unlike New England, the Northwest is not known for its autumn colors, but Hurricane Hill tends to put on a good show. The fields turn a rich gold, and there are bursts of red and gold. The flowers of the alpine summer are now dried specimens waiting for their winter covering of snow.

Golden fields and - oh yeah - mountains

More golden fields

Another view to the west

Red gold

More gold

Red and gold in the valley

More red and gold

Dried flowers

The hanging gardens, ready for winter

A touch of gold

A touch of red

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill


10/14/12 - Elderberries

With the drought this year, we weren't sure if the elderberries near mile 13 of Hurricane Ridge Road would ripen. Well, they did, and they're looking pretty good. If you do stop to admire them, keep a weather eye on your rear view mirror. There's a lot to look at on the road to the ridge, so keep your eyes open.

Some ripe elderberries

Keywords: hurricane ridge, autumn


10/10/12 - Late Season Klahane Ridge

Climbing the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is always special this time of year. The intense mountain light comes in at a lower angle, so shadows and contrasts are much darker and stronger. The vegetation has turned from green to gold, and everything seems to sparkle in the thin air.

Standing stones

Mount Angeles and the last bit of snow

Dark castles

High castles

The dusty trail

Golden meadows

More of the trail

Fading green

A distant stream through a golden meadow

Keywords: klahane ridge, autumn


11/13/11 - Port Angeles Farmers Market Report

The autumn market is here. There are potatoes, in red, brown and blue, squashes, pumpkins, celery, lacinato kale, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, baby turnips, bok choy, savoy cabbage and all of our fall favorites. The four stalwarts, Nash Huber, Westwind Farm, Johnston Farm and the Korean garlic lady are all there along with a number of other sellers.

It isn't just vegetables either. You can also buy beef, pork, lamb, cheese, salmon, halibut, steelhead, oysters, bread, and an array of seasonal mushrooms. If you search a bit, you can find a last few tomatoes, arugula, coriander and a few other hold outs, but the cold weather is coming.

Don't miss out on the prime of the harvest. Drop by the Port Angeles Farmers' Market this coming Saturday.








Keywords: autumn, farmers' market, johnston farm, nash huber, oysters, port angeles, salmon, weather, westwind farm, garlic lady, kale


10/14/11 - Journey to the Land of the Snows

We recently returned from a journey to the land of the snows. We climbed Hurricane Hill, starting in autumn and climbing up into winter. It was something of an adventure.

The short, wet summer kept the hillside vegetation green late into September, but now it had all turned to gold. Here and there we could see the fall colors with browns and golds and here and there brilliant red. Above us loomed the bulk of Hurricane Hill, its summit dusted white above us.

We walked through autumn, but as we ascended, panting and wheezing as is our wont, the season changed on us. First there was first snow by the trailside, then on the trail itself. The golden grasses were covered with a lacework of light snow. It grew colder.

As we neared the summit we were in winter, surrounded by snow, with snow dusting the gnarled trees. At the peak, it was winter. We were in another land, the land of the snows.


The looming snowcap of Hurricane Hill

A hawk of winter

Fall colors below

White lace on the golden fields

Entering winter's frigid domain

More lacework

Towards the summit

The view from the top, in the land of the snows

More winter in the high country

The side spur

Mount Angeles and a deer family

Keywords: autumn, high country, hurricane hill, trails, winter


10/07/11 - Signs of Christmas

While we were hiking on Hurricane Hill, we couldn't help but notice signs of the season. Yes, there was some autumn color, but when we Kalebergs say "season", we mean "Christmas season". So while the stores are still pushing Halloween candy, stage makeup and costumes, we Kalebergs are already leaping ahead to the real thing. We usually don't jump the gun like this, but there were the signs: the first snow and the brilliant red and green of the season.

Snow by the trail

Snow on the trees

Look, Christmas trees

and more Christmas trees

We've really got to start decorating.

There's the red and green.

Deck the trails.

OK, so this is a bit autumnal.

That might make a nice tree blanket.

Keywords: autumn, christmas, hurricane hill, trails, kale


10/06/11 - Hurricane Hill in Autumn

This year the high country grasses stayed green until almost the last minute. Usually they turn to gold by late August, but this year was much moister, and the snows melted much later. Now, they are turning golden with a vengeance.

We were a bit disappointed with this year's crop of corn lilies. We took the side spur and found a number of spikes, now dried and brown, but the taller corn lilies were fallen with no signs of their blooms. Even the mouse on a stick seemed a bit dispirited, but there were a few flowers left including yarrows and harebells.


Scenery

more scenery

and, good grief, more scenery.

The little snow melt lake is gone. The snow you see is old snow that never melted.

Golden grasses

A last harebell, almost translucent

Some corn lily spikes

We love the way water beads up on the lupines.

Wild flowers

Wild fields

Yarrow and harebells

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, autumn


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