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06/01/15 - Quick Trip to Seattle

These are photos from the Conservatory in Volunteer Park. We arrived at 3:55, five minutes before closing time so we had to make lightning tour. On our way to dinner, we stopped at Agora on 15th Avenue. It's chock full of Greek food, wine and spices. They have a good looking selection of Greek wines and a wine bar, so we'll have to come back and try a few.

The conservatory

Flowers

More flowers

Keywords: flowers, seattle


05/08/15 - Sunny Day on the Spruce Railroad Trail

While we are fervently hoping for rain, we are enjoying the sunshine. We were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail enjoying the sparkling views of the lake and all the flowers coming into bloom. So far, it looks like a great summer, albeit an early one.

A classic shot or the bridge at the Devil's Punchbowl

Mount Storm King

Towards the west horn of Lake Crescent

One of the sedums

Lots of paintbrush

One of many trilliums

Another trillium

Keywords: flowers, spring, spruce railroad


04/07/15 - Mill Creek and Bennington Lake

We were out in Walla Walla to celebrate the Cayuse spring release and a friend's birthday. With all the good food and wine, we really needed a bit of stretch. So, we drove out to Mill Creek and Bennington Lake at the eastern edge of town and explored a landscape we found quite exotic. For one thing, it is much drier out here than back home in the North Olympic Peninsula, and the mountains are much farther away.

Mill Creek and Bennington Lake is an Army Corps of Engineers site, much like the Ballard Locks. The primary purpose of the site was water management, but there were picnic tables, bathrooms and lots of hiking trails. There was also the Mill Creek diversion dam, Mill Creek itself, and the Mill Creek storage dam itself, a large earthwork near the parking lot.

This may sound awfully industrial what with all the dams, but like the Ballard Locks, it has a lot of charm. A short walk gave us a good sense of the prairie and at a high point across the diversion dam there some wonderful views of the distant snow capped mountains. So much of the area is agricultural and off limits. Either that, or it is a vineyard. It was nice to have a place to go and just wander.


A dry country

Coneflowers

Lake Bennington

Public works

More public works and more trails

The view from a high point

These flowers had an amazingly sweet scent.

Looking down at the diversion channel crossing

Another view - Those are big concrete blocks.

Keywords: flowers, spring, trails, walla walla


02/05/15 - Salmonberries

Salmonberry flowers are one of the first signs of spring out here. This is about as early as we've ever seen them.

Salmonberry flowers

More February flowers

Is it spring already?

Keywords: flowers, spring


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


09/10/14 - Elderberries

We forgot to mention that we saw some elderberries on the drive down from Hurricane Hill. There are two trees right near the road. We've been watching them. First there were the flowers. Now, the berries are ripe.

Elderberries

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill


08/29/14 - Hurricane Hill

We were up at Hurricane Hill, and already we can see the end of summer. Most of the flowers have passed, though there are still some harebells and yarrow. The grasses are turning brown and gold, sometimes with a bit of red. The light is different, more muted.

Late summer colors

A golden marmot

A resting deer

More gold in the grasses

The green valley

More late summer color

Even more late summer color

The side spur path

More grasses

Butterflies

Clouds and mountains

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, summer


07/24/14 - Obstruction Point, Just the Flowers

The glacier lilies and phlox may be passing, and the lupine a bit off their peak, but otherwise, this has been the most amazing year for high country flowers. We won't even bother with captions; we don't even know the names of most of these. They're just beautiful. We'll let the pictures do the talking.











Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point


07/23/14 - Obstruction Point Revisited

Obstruction Point Road opened a bit over a week ago, so we ventured out from Hurricane Ridge. It's a one and a half lane unpaved road, so we drove carefully to the parking lot at the edge of the high wilderness. Most of the snow on the trail had melted, so we made it all the way to where the trail drops off for the descent towards Grand Lake. Here, there was some snow on the trail, but otherwise, it was easy going.

The high country here is wild and austere with dusty trails, cracked rocks and a profusion of wild flowers. There was some phlox and a few glacier lilies left, but there were so many flowers that we'll have to have a separate post just for them. Some years, the alpine lakes in the valleys below are covered with snow, but this year, the snows have melted early, so they are all full of water and almost like distant mirrors.


The view down the staircase

The last few glacier lilies

A last bit of phlox

One of the seasonal lakes

More lakes - the one on the left with icebergs



The mountains

More mountains

Melting snow

The trail

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, trails


07/15/14 - Klahane Ridge

The theme of our last climb was critters. This week it is flowers. To be honest, we didn't really see many critters this trip. The sky was crystalline, and the day was warm. The marmots, and even the chipmunks, were most likely avoiding the heat of the day. The flowers have no such desire or option, so they were out in full force. We have never seen so much larkspur out on the hillside. The paintbrush was glorious in shades of red and orange. There were shooting stars, turks cap lilies and bog orchids about. Maybe the lupines were a bit disappointing, but the full profusion more than compensated for it.

Crystalline sky and just a bit of snow left, looking north

We really need to get a flower identification book. You'd think someone would write an app.

The view south with even more crystalline sky

Paintbrush

Another mystery plant

Larkspur

Mixing it up

Shooting stars

This one blooms in the understory

Bog orchids

A slender bog orchid - It's a whole other type.

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge


07/01/14 - Klahane Ridge Again

We panted and wheezed, but we made it up to Klahane Ridge again. The phlox and glaicer lilies are passing, but the next round of flowers is just coming out. Our theme this post is critters. It wasn't as busy as Hurricane Hill, but there were four, or perhaps five, mountain goats on the crags above us, and at least one marmot about on the ridge itself. The young stag we saw on our last climb was still enjoying the local vegetation, but the real surprise was the black bear we saw. We only saw it because a fellow climber pointed it out, just a black dot below us on the hillside. This is the kind of luck we plan for, so we had or binoculars and modestly priced ultrazoom point and shoot camera handy.

Mountain goats on a misty ridge

The land is green.

Mist at the ridge

But, great visibility - That's Mount Baker.

Looking down to the north

Our marmot friend

Looking up

The young stag

The violets are brilliant this year.

A black bear at a safe distance

Toad lilies

Keywords: flowers, animals, klahane ridge, mountain goats


06/26/14 - The Critters of Hurricane Hill

The flowers are near their peak on Hurricane Hill. The phlox may even be a touch past its peak, though its scent lingers. The lupines are blooming, as are the western wallflowers, glacier lilies, rock larkspur, avalanche lilies and yarrows. The marmots are out and active, as are the deer. There was also a mountain goat wandering about. The park service seems to have fitted this one with a collar. These can be dangerous animals, so we kept our distance.

While we were exploring, clouds and mist were rising in the north, and by the time we were heading back, they had engulfed the top of Hurricane Hill. Through the mists we could see a blue lake forming from the melted snow and a golden marmot cooling him or herself on the snow.

This was a great day for the flowers and for critter spotting on Hurricane Hill, but our real surprise was on the drive out. Driving through the parking lot, we saw a mother bear with two cubs scampering along Sunrise Ridge. We didn't have time to take a photograph, but those were the first bears of the season.


The scenery

One of the many golden marmots

Western Wallflower and some phlox

Phlox and the mists

Marmot of the mist

Clouds from the north

Another view

A mountain goat

Even closer

Glacier lilies

Larkspur and paintbrush

Keywords: animals, flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


06/05/14 - Klahane Ridge Report

We still aren't sure how we did it, but we managed to climb up the Switchback Trail and get all the way up to Klahane Ridge. We were sure that this was as early in the season we had ever managed the climb, but we actually did make it to the ridge on May 29th back in 2005, so it has been a while.

This is always an exhausting hike, but the sense of the mountain and the spectacular views always make it worth the effort. This time that effort included having to clamber over a few remaining mounds of snow. The trail starts among trees in the ghost forest, then emerges onto the lush hill side. Most of the flowers have yet to bloom, though there was plenty of richly scented phlox and a lot of golden glacier lilies.

As we climbed, the distant rocky ridges overhead drew closer, and our view expanded. At around 1000 feet above the parking lot, Sunrise Point no longer blocks the view of glacier covered Mount Olympus and its cousins. The sky is wide and sparkling. Of course, at the ridge, the view is panoramic with the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, and everything else in creation, it seems, distantly visible.

We saw one lone marmot as we approached the ridge, but he or she - a matter primarily of interest to another marmot - dodged under a tree and some rocks. If we want to see marmots, we'll head back to Hurricane Hill. The high country is open. It looks like an early season.


The white stuff in the foreground is phlox. The white stuff in the background is snow.

The view

Mount Angeles

There were fields of richly scented phlox.

Phlox and more view

The view north of the strait

More phlox

The Olympic Mountains

Rocky fingers and lush green slopes

A glacier lily

This is a carnivorous plant growing not far from the parking lot. Click to enlarge the image and you can see the trapped insects.

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge


06/02/14 - Hurricane Hill Trail Report

The Hurricane Hill Trail is open. On slow days, we have been heading up to Hurricane Ridge to watch the snow melt and glacier lilies blossom. Usually this time of year, there are ten foot high ramparts of snow at the far end of the parking lot. This year, the area was almost snow free, so it was only a small surprise that the road to the Hurricane Hill trailhead was open. The big surprise was that the trail was relatively free of snow. There were some patches and a long stretch, a section of the trail shaded by evergreens was still covered. Still, we made it to the summit.

The trail is open early. We usually don't make it to the top of the hill until late June or even early July, but this year is different. The alpine flowers are already coming out, and not just the glacier lilies. The trail is scented with phlox. The paintbrush is out and the lupines are starting to bloom. Even the marmots are up and about. If you are planning a trip to Hurricane Ridge, it might make sense to plan to come early. The high country can be hard country, so it pays to sieze the day.


The trail is quite clear here.

This shaded corridor is the most snow covered part of the trail, but passable.

The views are spectacular.

A view from the summit

Another high country view

Lupines

Phlox

A marmot

Another marmot

Bachelors, out grazing

Paintbrush

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, marmots


05/26/14 - Lake Angeles Trail in Bloom

The trilliums are passing, but the Oregon grape is in bloom along with the pacific dogwood, tiarella and a few other flowers. This is the second wave, but it is coming right along. We've made it past the half way point to the lake, but we have a good bit of getting in shape ahead of us. Still, the high country beckons, so next time, excelsior.

We aren't sure what this is, but it's pretty.

Some latter day trilliums

Mahonia aka Oregon grape

Wild water at the crossing

More wild water

Pacific dogwood

... and more dogwood

Tiarella

... and more tiarella

New growth on the salal almost looks like flowers.

A sylvan collage

Keywords: flowers, high country, oregon, trillium


05/19/14 - Hurricane Ridge - Spring Report

We drove up to Hurricane Ridge today to watch the snow melt and see if any flowers were in bloom. The road is completely clear, save for the usual runaway rocks. There was lupine in bloom at one of the lookouts, and as we approached the ridge proper, the first phlox of the season was in bloom.

The snow is melting rapidly on the ridge. There were 57 inches of snow at the official snow stake, but there were plenty of clear patches, and there was less snow than we expected on the continuation of the road towards Hurricane Hill. Usually this time of year, there are eight or ten foot high ramparts, but this year they were much reduced. We wandered down the road a bit towards Hurricane Hill, and we're guessing that they'll open the road earlier than usual this year.

Then we explored the parking lot and found them, glacier lilies. The first few were just buds with a touch of yellow, but a few were starting to open. The Hurricane Ridge flower season has begun.


Some mountains

Sunrise Peak

Melting snow

No ramparts here

The road to Hurricane Hill

Glacier lilies

Another glacier lily

A glacier lily starting to bloom

Yet another glacier lily

We aren't sure what this is, but it looks interesting.

Clouds and fog

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge


03/31/14 - Late Currants

The currant blossoms are late this year, but better late than never.

Currants in bloom on the trail west of Morse Creek

Keywords: morse creek, flowers


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