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08/20/17 - Hurricane Hill as Summer Passes

The summer is passing. More gold and brown are creeping into the colors of the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail again and saw a bit of drama, two young marmots were attacked by a hawk. They were unharmed, but one tends to thing that these things are just staged for nature documentaries. Not true.

We also ran into the team planning to rebuild the trail. The Hurricane Hill Trail is heavily used in season, and it has been showing signs of wear. We're hoping they don't have to close the trail for too long. We've been having a lot of trail and road closures lately.


Summer colors

Still plenty of green

Mountains in late summer

Another view

The view to the north

Clouds add drama.

A silky sky

Late summer flowers

The season

Yet another view

The trail planning team at work

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


07/31/17 - Obstruction Point

We made another visit to Obstruction Point to see how the season has been progressing. The snows have continued to melt and more flowers have come into bloom.

Flowers and mountains - That's why we come out here.

A view down

Lupines

More lupines

The trail as it goes

More flowers

The less shy of two birds

A seasonal lake

Another seasonal lake aforming

Even more flowers

Another seasonal alpine lake

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


07/20/17 - Klahane Ridge Again

Our three favorite high country trails are the Hurricane Hill Trail, the Lilian Ridge Trail out of Obstruction Point and the Klahane Ridge Trail via the Switchback Trail. This season, the last of those of three keeps calling us back. We've been watching the flowers, with more and more lupines appearing as the phlox starts to fade. We've been watching the mountain goats, carefully, as there seem to be a lot of them. There were over a dozen on our descent. We didn't stop for photos. We wanted to keep an eye on them and be ready to react.

We made it up past the ridge overlook and followed the trail leading to Lake Angeles. The "rooms", areas carpeted with alpine flowers and divided by crags, were a trip back to early in the season. Only a few flowers had blossomed, though we expect more when we answer the call of Klahane Ridge again.


A view from the ascent

As we approached the ridge

A mountain goat and her kid

Another view of them

A view of the Olympic Mountains

One of the alpine "rooms"

The end of our hike, lingering snow

Phlox, probably at its peak - It's a pity there isn't HTML to capture the scent.

Lupines, a great year

Blood wort

Bog orchid

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, mountain goats, trails


07/12/17 - Obstruction Point

All of Obstruction Point Road is now open, so we drove out to the end and took a little stroll. The air was high and thin. There was still a little snow to deal with on the trail, but otherwise the going was easy. The fields and hillsides are full of flowers. The distant mountains are covered with snow, but it is melting and the seasonal alpine lakes are forming. It was a magnificent hike, one we hope to repeat soon.

Melting snow on the trail

There were lots of lupines this year.

Mountains in the distance



Glacier lilies

More flowers

One of the alpine lakes

Even more flowers

Spring is here.

An avalanche across the way

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


07/05/17 - Goat Patrol - Klahane Ridge Edition

After two failed attempts, we made it up to Klahane Ridge, and even a bit beyond. Just about all of the snow has melted, and the wildflowers are out in force. The view from the ridge was spectacular. We continued on the trail a bit to check out the alpine gardens. There, the snow was still melting, and we turned around when walking in the snow became a problem.

On the way up to the ridge, we saw a mountain goat with a kid. We thought this was a great mountain goat sighting, but on our way there were at least a dozen mountain goats grazing on the trail. We made a bit of noise and they moved aside rather nonchalantly. None of them seemed particularly agitated which was good given that they have rather sharp looking antlers.


Mother and child

From the distance

High country

Flowers

Mountains with rocks in the foreground

More flowers

The view north with a Mount Baker visible - Click the image for a better view.

Mountain goats on our way down

The trail

More mountain goats

More mountains

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, mountain goats


06/19/17 - Hurricane Hill - Critters

We've been getting up to Hurricane Hill to watch the snow melt, enjoy the views, gawk at the flowers and do some wildlife spotting. Hurricane Hill is great place for seeing all sorts of animals: marmots, bears, hares, deer and even mountain goats. Well, we didn't see any mountain goats this time, but we saw just about everything else.

The scene

A black bear ...

... from a safe distance

One of the marmots, not Marmot Rock

Melting snow

More snow on the north face

Another marmot

Yet another marmot

A snowshoe hare

Phlox

The lupines are back; we missed them last year.

Keywords: animals, flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


06/15/17 - Lake Angeles Trail

The Lake Angeles Trail is great for a workout. It's only a ten minute drive from town, so it's often our fallback for exercise when we don't have a lot of time. On our last trip we got to experience the season with trilliums both ready to open and already with pods having bloomed some time ago. The Pacific dogwood was like this too, with both slightly green early flowers as well as white ones in full bloom.

The bridge on the Lake Angeles Trail

White water

Water under the bridge

Early Pacific dogwood

Pacific dogwood in full bloom

An early trillium

A late season trillium

More water

And even more water

Keywords: flowers, lake angeles, trillium


07/29/16 - Obstruction Point

We waited for a sunny day before heading out to Obstruction Point. We really did not want to be caught on the road out in the fog. We were well rewarded with spectacular high country views, alpine flowers and the return of the alpine lakes, even now filling with melting snow. It is always an otherworldly experience, a journey to the top of the world and another clime.

The trail

One of the views - the Olympic range

Another view

A seasonal lake

Glacier lily - It’s still early spring out there.

Some lupines, nice to see

Another seasonal lake

A lake and melting snow

Yet another view of the mountains

Another lake and melting snow

Phlox, a sign of spring

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point


07/19/16 - Hurricane Hill - Fog and Goats

We recently climbed Hurricane Hill on a cloudy, changeable day. At one moment there was sun, blue sky and a fantastic view of the distant mountains, at another one was walking in a cloud barely able to see a few hundred feet. If nothing else, there was variety. There were also mountain goats. We saw them from the summit. They were along the north face of the ridge, at least ten including a number of kids.

This may or may not have been the same group of goats we encountered on Klahane Ridge. Apparently, the goat population has been growing, and the ranger we talked to noted that there was a goat census in progress. She also asked if we had thrown any rocks at them. We hadn’t, but we’ll carry a sling shot in the case of any problems in the future.


A sunny view

An odd flower season

Fog rolling in, or perhaps out, or even both

Mountain goats

A close up - Ultra-zoom is great!

Fog and goats, as promised in this post’s title

Fogs, goats and bonus snow

Two kids tussling

More rolling fog

Another cloudy view

Bright flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, mountain goats


07/05/16 - Hurricane Hill - The Fifth of July

We took advantage of the cloudy weather to hike up to Hurricane Hill. The distant mountains at times were obscure and at others clear, so the view changed as we walked. Now and then a bright ray of sun would illuminate a field of snow on a mountain top, then the clouds would move and hide the entire range from us.

This has been a magnificent year for larkspur. It loves the rocky mountain soil, but this year seems to have been perfect for it. The wall flowers and phlox are passing, but there were roses blooming, dirty sock plant, paintbrush and a host of other flowers. After last year’s drought left the lupines shrunken, we feared the worst this year. There were lupines out, but it looks like it is still early in their season. The corn lilies on our favorite side spur have grown larger, but are not yet in bloom.

Not everyone likes the trail in gray weather. There is always the risk of fog and rain, and the view can be limited. There is nothing like the crystalline view of the distant Olympics on a bright sunny day, but the clouds add depth and give a greater sense of the sheer majesty of the view.


A view of the mountains

A seasonal lake

Corn lilies

A misty field

Lupines

Last bit of phlox

Paintbrush

Witch’s hair

Hair of the mountain goat

Larkspur

Roses

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, weather


06/10/16 - Volunteer Park Conservatory

One of our favorite places in Seattle is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. We missed it on our last few visits. It closes at four, and sometimes it is closed when they are updating the plants on display. This last trip, however, we had the perfect spring conservatory experience. Everything seemed to be in bloom.

The Conservatory

Berries

A flower

Carnivorous …

… and friends

Also in bloom

Even the cactus

Another cactus …

… and another

An orchid display

An orchid close up

Keywords: flowers, seattle, spring


05/20/16 - Hurricane Hill Flowers, Marmots and a Bear

The wildflower season progresses up at Hurricane Hill. The hillsides are covered with phlox. The wallflowers are out, and the glacier lilies are blooming. The marmots are out as well. We saw at least four of them including two younger ones sparring. On our way back down from the summit we saw a black bear eating ferociously along the hillside below. It was close enough for us to see its black mane, but far enough for comfort. They say black bears are the little ones, but they are not that little.

One of the amazing views

A golden marmot amidst the phlox

Another marmot

Snow still covers the north face.

The hills are alive.

A wallflower and friends

More flowers

Another marmot reminding us to stay off his or her lawn

Two young marmots sparring

The black bear at the limit of our telephoto lens

More flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


03/09/16 - Cherry Trees in Bloom at WSU

Washington State University has a beautiful campus including a quad filled with Yoshino cherry trees. They usually bloom the second or third week of March, but this varies with the weather. We lucked out on our most recent trip to Seattle and saw the blossoms at their peak.

The quad was full of people admiring the 80 year old trees and taking pictures. Some were serious photographers who were actually using cameras instead of cell phones. The trees were full of flowers, clouds of them, light pink set off by the dark bark of the trees. We made a lazy double loop of the quad exploring the pathways with the laden branches arching overhead.

That’s enough labored prose for now. Enjoy the pictures, just click to see the larger version.


As we approached …

Dark trees with pink blossoms

More cherry trees

Even more

A close up

Lots more

Yet even more

Clouds of cherry blossoms

Another view

Yet another

A token magnolia doing its best in the shade of the cherry blossoms

Keywords: flowers, seattle


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


07/10/15 - Hurricane Hill in the Haze

We ran into some foggy spots on the road to Hurricane Hill, more or less centered around the tunnel, but by the time we made it to the Switchback trailhead, the sky was softly milky, but blue. It was dry on the trail to Hurricane Hill. It is only July, but we were seeing late summer flowers, the harebells and yarrow. There were butterflies everywhere.

The clouds below filled the valleys and the haze softened the mountains. This wasn't the usual crystalline mountain air. Mount Olympus, in the distance, was softened, almost part of the cloudscape.

There was a mountain goat grazing not far from the summit and a real marmot keeping his or her distance on the field containing a deceptive stone we call Marmot Rock. The corn lilies were doing surprisingly well. There was a full crop of them, a good number of them already in bloom.

On the way down we passed a young girl heading upwards. She wore a tee shirt exhorting us to "Stop, Smell Roses", so we did. There were a few wild roses still in bloom. Few tee shirts offer such excellent advice.


Soft clouds, soft mountains

Awash with clouds

Harebells and yarrow

More soft mountains

A mountain goat

More soft shapes

A plover

Corn lilies

More mountains awash with clouds

A golden marmot in retreat

We stopped to smell the roses.

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, summer


06/12/15 - Top of the World

Obstruction Point Road has been open to the end for some weeks now. We've been recovering from our colds, so we weren't too keen on a big dose of dry, thin air. Then we hiked up Hurricane Hill and realized that this year's flowers are well along. If we hoped to see the blossoms at Obstruction Point, we would be ill served by delay.

So, we drove out from the Hurricane Ridge parking lot and were soon on the top of the world. The Olympic Range was gloriously visible across the valley, there were still a few patches of snow, and there were flowers in bloom. The air was dry and thin, but it was great to see the seasonal lakes, some already vanishing, and enjoy the tapestry of alpine plants and flowers.


Some of the tapestry with some mountains

Lingering snow

A pine cone

A seasonal lake, drying quickly

A last glacier lily

Another seasonal lake, also drying

More mountains

The Olympic Range in the distance

Phlox and wall flowers

Another seasonal lake

Less snow, more lakes

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


06/08/15 - Hurricane Hill

The road to Hurricane Hill has been open for over a month now. We finally made our first climb of the not so new year. With the ongoing lack of rain, we were worried about the alpine flowers. We expected a few bedraggled lupines and not much else. We were pleasantly surprised. This year is not anything like last year when it seemed every flower was in abundant bloom, but it was not the misery we had anticipated.

There were plenty of flowers in bloom. There were lupines and avalanche lilies, richly scented phlox, larkspur, paintbrush and wall flowers. Even the corn lilies were well along, though not blooming yet. There was no lingering snow, even at the lingering snow sign. There is a good chance that this is the peak of the season. There is no rain in sight, and the snows are long gone.


Yet another photo of the Olympic Mountains

We should look this one up.

A marmot

The little pond is usually much bigger this early in the season and surrounded by melting snow.

Phlox and a wall flower

Another marmot, digging

One of the butterflies

The corn lilies have yet to bloom

Avalanche lilies

Larkspur

Lupines

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill


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