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04/22/14 - Lake AngelesTrilliums

It's definitely spring. The trilliums aren't as far advanced as at Lake Crescent, but they are coming out on the trail to Lake Angeles.

The trail - long time, no see

A trillium - It really is green here.

A trillium bud opening

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium

11/23/13 - The Trail Out of Whiskey Bend

It was a really bright day, not the best day to drive from the Elwha Ranger Station out to Whiskey Bend, especially now with the sun so low in the sky. Still, it wan't that bad a drive, and it was a wonderful hike we had. Most of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves, so the sun shone brightly through to the forest floor. Through the tree tops we could glimpse the snow covered mountains west of the river. The trail was hypnotic.

Michael's Cabin

Ferns on the forest floor

The hypnotic trail

An overlook

Snow covered mountains

More hypnotic trail

A ragged section

Keywords: elwha

08/05/13 - Lillian Camp

We recently surprised ourselves. We took what we expected to be a modest walk out from Whiskey Bend, but rather than punking out at Michael's Cabin, we made it all the way to the Lillian River.

When we started, we were sure we weren't going to get far. We didn't even bring a bottle of water, but as we hiked along we realized that we were much less tired than we expected. Surely, the 400 foot climb from the cabin to the first crossing would leave us exhausted. No, it didn't. How about continuing to the overlook. That should tucker us out. Nope. Well, the second crossing was right there, then over the bridge and through the stunted forest.

We were absolutely certain that by the time we reached the junction where the trail starts its descent to the Lillian River we would be barely able to stand. Instead, we were eager to head down and check out the rushing blue waters.

The return walk went just as well. Yes, we were tired when we got back to our car, but not anywhere near as tired as we had expected. It was a great hike and, all told, a pleasant surprise.

A cool, bright day

The Lillian River one way

and another

Fern forest

The view from the overlook

Keywords: elwha

05/08/13 - Elwha - Down to the River

We didn't really get down to the river, but we get down far enough to have a good view of it. The glacial melt is starting, but it's still early in the season. The tiarella are not yet in bloom, so we'll probably have to come down to the woods near Hume's ranch to watch their progress. Meanwhile the trilliums are starting to show their age with many petals turning a subtle pink.

One thing we particularly noticed, as we took this hike on a very sunny day, was that while most of the trail is purely of the Pacific northwest, there are dry stretches where one turns a bend or comes out of the forest, and it feels as if one were hiking in California. The vegetation changes, and the smell of the trail changes. If we didn't know the trail and where we were, we'd imagine we were hundreds of miles south. Then, the trail turns or reenters the forest, and we are back in the Pacific northwest.

Hume's Ranch

The Elwha river

Another view of the river

Tiarella, not yet in bloom

A little waterfall right by the trail

The forest on a very bright spring day

The cathedral of the woods

We never tire of this view of the river.

A trillium, turning pink in passing

Keywords: elwha, spring, waterfall

04/28/13 - Spring Changes on the Elwha Trail

We were back on the Elwha Trail out of Whiskey Bend and couldn't help noticing a lot of changes. To start with, there were trilliums everywhere, or at least everywhere with enough water. (Trilliums like streams and drainage ditches.) There were also a lot of other flowers, but the real change was the light. The Northwest isn't noted for its sunny days, but when we have them the forest floor is transformed. The tree trunks are steely pillars and the undergrowth just glows.

The usual view of the Elwha Valley from the trail


More trilliums

Even more trilliums

The trail in sunlight

One of the orchids

More of the trail in sunlight

Another orchid

More of the trail

Violets and a strawberry flower

Sap running from a tree

Keywords: elwha, flowers, trillium, spring

04/20/13 - Elwha Trail Out of Whiskey Bend and Our First Trilliums

Whiskey Bend Road has been open most of the winter, but we were waiting for a clement, sunny day. Then we turned off the paved road and made our way to the trailhead and were pleasantly surprised. The trail was as green and lush as ever with streamlets and little waterfalls here and there. We headed down after Michael's Cabin, rather than up, but we didn't get all the way to Hume's Ranch. Instead, we turned at the waterfall.

It was on our way back that we were surprised. We saw the first trillium of the year growing by one of the little waterfalls. Somehow, we never seem to see trilliums on our way out on a hike. Maybe we are too intent on our destination. Maybe they all grow on the wrong side of the trail or pointing in wrong direction. But, on the way back, there they are.

One of the little waterfalls

Another view of the little waterfall

The forest (and my thumb)

The forest trail

Michael's Cabin

The view from the trail

More running water


Trilliums, right by the trail side

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

08/01/12 - Lillian Camp

We made it back to Lillian Camp for the first time in six years, and it was as beautiful as ever. We took Whiskey Bend Road to the trailhead and walked and walked. It's a forest trail with lots of trees and ups and downs, but not many views. It was a bright sunny day, so the forest was bright green and dark brown, a far cry from the gloomier hues of winter. We made it to Michael's Cabin and then on to the first crossing, a narrow stream nestled in the fold of the mountainside. We went on to our favorite overlook which is where we usually turn around, but this time we continued, down to the second crossing and then up to the stunted forest before descending to Lillian Camp and the Lillian River. We were well rewarded by the roar of the river in the darkened valley. We stepped out onto the bridge and made a few videos of the rushing waters. The Lillian River is no mighty Columbia, but it is a beautiful mountain stream and impressive in its own right. It was good to be back there again.

Our movies:

Is that a blue grouse?

The Lillian River one way ...

... and the other

The trail

View from the trail

A walk in the woods

A view of the Elwha

Keywords: elwha, grouse, movies

05/19/12 - Whiskey Bend and Above the Elwha

We've gotten out to Whiskey Bend a few times lately in hopes of getting back to Lilian Camp. This time we made it to the overlook where we could see the snow covered mountains on the other side of the river. The spring flowers are coming out in force, so we'll be back again soon. Maybe we'll even get across the second crossing or down to the Lilian River. Who knows?

The mountains as seen from the overlook

A typical stretch of trail

An older trillium, turning pink


Mahonia, oregon grape, in flower

Wild strawberrys - We've never seen any fruit, but they are pretty flowers.

A fresher trillium

Keywords: flowers, spring, trillium, elwha

04/27/12 - Elwha Open Again

We are building up again after a long slow winter. The trail out of Whiskey Bend is open again, so we pushed ourselves past the cabin and up 400 feet to the first crossing. This is maybe halfway to Lilian Camp, our eventual goal, but one must crawl before one can walk, though in our case it feels as if we walk first, then crawl back.

There were a couple of trees down, but the trails are in great shape. Even better, the trilliums and other spring forest flowers are coming out. Next time, the second crossing, for sure.

Self portrait


The green way

The stream at the first crossing

Spring waterfall

The forest

Another trillium

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring, trails, trillium, waterfall

02/08/12 - Whiskey Bend Road Has Reopened, Kalebergs Return

Whiskey Bend Road was closed for well over a year. With all the dam removal work going on, we were afraid that the park service would forget about it, but it finally reopened, and we finally went back for a visit. The road is definitely smoother than it was, though this is unlikely to last. There are also many signs of repair, including sections that have been almost completely rebuilt and others which are again passable, but are narrower. The dam access is closed off by a chain link fence, but the trail to Lake Mills and the other trails at Whiskey Bend are all open and in good shape.

We had forgotten what a pleasant hike it is from the parking lot to Michael's Ranch. We headed up a short way towards Lilian Camp, but were are a bit out of shape. The sun filtered through the trees, and this part of the river, above Lake Mills, hasn't been affected by the dam work. We could go on describing things, but, as usual in this blog, it is better to let the pictures do the talking.

Sunlight and forest

Translucent red berries

Snow covered peaks

The river below

More river

Our favorite overlook

Some of the trail, near the stream

Some of the little waterfalls at the stream

Green ferns

A tree down on the trail

Another snow covered peak

Keywords: elwha, trails, waterfall

07/07/11 - A Walk Down The Elwha To Lake Aldwell

This was just a little walk, maybe a mile or so, from the parking lot just east of where route 101 crosses the Elwha River down to what is left of Lake Aldwell. It isn't a well maintained trail, but it has long been used by picnickers and fishermen. It follows the land up and down along the Elwha River and then leads down to one of the flats at the north end of the draining lake. You can really see the power of the river. It isn't even tempting to wade in that rush of water. Still, with the dams coming down, it will be interesting to see how the changes along the Elwha shores.

The river and some driftwood

The south end of Lake Aldwell

The Elwha

Another view of the Elwha

A typical stretch of trail on a sunny day

Keywords: elwha

07/12/10 - Elwha Out Of Whiskey Bend

Whiskey Bend has been busy lately, so the winding one and a half lane road leading up there has been a bit more of a driving challenge. Still, we had to go, if only to see how the river was doing. Well, the river is doing just fine. The wild roses are out, as are the turk's cap lilies. The thistles though seem to be dying. If nothing else, they are kind of twisted. Our big treat was seeing two fawns. One was on the trail and scampered into the woods where we couldn't get a good photograph. The other was right on the road. We had to stop, so we took a few pictures while we shared the road.

The forest floor

The field near Hume's Ranch

The Elwha River

Wild roses

A dying thistle

Turk's cap lilies

Mother and baby

Keywords: elwha, flowers, summer, animals

06/09/10 - Larkspur by the Roadside

We always think of larkspur as a high altitude plant, so it is surprising to see it growing along Olympic Hot Springs Road not far from the junction with 101. It's in full bloom right now, and a bit tricky to find. If nothing else, all eyes are on the Elwha River this time of year. This larkspur grows across the road. Look for a power line pole on the right as you are heading north if you care to find this patch.

Keywords: summer, flowers, elwha, olympic hot springs

05/24/10 - Elwha Tiarella

The tiarella are coming into bloom on the Elwha Trail. There was also a bit of dogwood blooming here and there. This seems to be a good year for dogwood. As for the trilliums, they seem to have passed for the season. We'll have to climb higher.

Some tiarella in bloom

More tiarella in bloom

A spray of dogwood

Keywords: elwha, trillium

05/06/10 - Elwha Adventure

Our big excitement was a bear we saw along the road to Whiskey Bend. The folks in the car ahead of ours got a better view, but this fellow, poorly photographed, was retreating into the woods as we passed by. It is just as well we were in the car. That's an awful lot of bear. (We'll use this as an excuse to post another couple of pictures from our hike.)

Terrible photo of a bear - or is it Sasquatch?

Mountain view

Yes, we post this shot too often, but it is an Elwha River classic.

Keywords: elwha, animals

04/17/10 - Trilliums

Trilliums are a certain sign of spring. They can be surprisingly tricky to find, for it seems that the mind builds a block against seeing them, but once one has been found, others abound. We noticed this on the Spruce Railroad Trail and on the Elwha Trail out of Whiskey Bend. Trilliums like water, so watch for them near streams where they often lurk. We wish you luck in your trillium spotting, but note that success, especially in this endeavor, favors the prepared mind.

Seen on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Seen on the Elwha Trail

The first paintbrush

Keywords: elwha, spring, spruce railroad, flowers, trillium

03/21/10 - Morse Creek Wildlife Area

There have been some changes at Morse Creek curve on Route 101, that roller coaster turn east of the Walmart. There's the new fish crib that seems to be complete, possibly save for the fish, and there's the little building to the east of the creek which seems to have been spruced up somewhat. That's the interpretive center for the Morse Creek Unit of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The fish crib is apparently a survival plan for the Elwha River salmon who will be having their river remodeled in 2012 when the dam comes down. Think of it as temporary housing. If all goes well, they'll be back in their new, improved digs by the middle of the decade, but we all know how remodeling works. Still, it's good to know that there is a plan in place.

The interpretive center is part of the 133 acre Morse Creek Wildlife Area. It was closed when we dropped by, but it looks lived in. We'll see how it shapes up.

The interpretive center

Keywords: elwha, morse creek, salmon, washington state

02/10/10 - Hike Out of Whiskey Bend

The road to Whiskey Bend is open, so we had a nice walk above the Elwha River. The weather was mild, but the trail gives a few glimpses of the high mountain peaks. We always try for the overlook on the trail to Lilian Camp, though we don't always make it that far. Still, when we do, it is worth it.

Mountains across the river

Snowy peaks

The classic view

Keywords: elwha

01/03/10 - The Elwha River

We hiked out of Whiskey Bend down to the Elwha River, or rather, to just above the Elwha River, but low enough to get a good view of the flood plain. It was a wonderful green trail, and the Elwha River was wild and full. The winding road to the trailhead does get closed now and then, but it is open for most of the winter, and the Elwha River walks are beautiful this time of year.

On our way down to the river

The river

Our favorite overlook

Click for a bigger version of this panorama

Keywords: elwha, winter

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