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09/18/16 - Smoke in the High Country

The Cox Valley fire is still smoldering in the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill trail and could see the smoke filled valleys to the south. We also saw a number of blue grouse. The grasses on the hill sides have been turning golden, but it was the spectacular blue of the smoke and sky that caught our attention.

Autumn colors and smoke

More valley smoke

Smoke and clouds

Golden grasses and forest fire smoke

One of the grice or perhaps one of the grouses

More distant smoke

Smoke, sky and trail

Dried flowers

Even more smoke

A close up …

… and another one

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill


09/07/16 - Hurricane Hill in the Mist

The weather in the high country is as changeable as ever. That means packing a light raincoat and making the most of whatever the mountains and clouds offer. We didn’t expect much from Hurricane Hill on a cloudy day, but the round trip walk takes over an hour and a half. That gave the clouds plenty of time to shift and change. At times we were wrapped in fog, but we still managed to discern a blue grouse and a marmot. We also had some spectacular scenery and a beautiful walk.

Mixed skies

Autumn colors

Mist

One of the views

A blue grouse

Autumn colors and autumn mist

The flooded foot path

A marmot in the mist

A closeup of that marmot

Some teasing blue sky

Another view

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill, weather


10/02/15 - Hurricane Hill

We made a trip up to Hurricane Hill and hiked to the summit. One of the things we noticed was that we were short of breath. Our Australia trip included a fair bit of climbing, but there aren't all that many high mountains in Australia. The continent is old, and most of the high mountain ranges have long since eroded. The Hurricane Hill Trail starts at over a mile up, so for our unaccustomed lungs the air was thin.

The air was also moist with clouds and mists draping the hills and blocking the spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains. The hills were golden with accents of red and yellow. We saw Olympic blue grouse and a merlin in a tree. At first, we were sure it was a mock bird sighting. "That clump of foliage sure looks like a bird. It could have fooled me." As we approached though, it turned out to be a hawk, and this time we actually looked it up in a bird book. It was a merlin as best we can tell.


Mists and fields

An ascent into the clouds

More clouds

The misty mountains

After the summer's drought, this was a sight for sore eyes.

Glimpses of mountains

The trail down

That clump at the top of that tree almost looks like a bird.

An excellent example of protective mimickry

More clouds and mist

Another glimpse into the distance

Keywords: grouse, hurricane hill


09/08/14 - Fall Colors

We've been awfully busy lately, but we have been getting up to Hurricane Hill to check out the fall colors. Each time we go, the grasses have more color, and, here and there, we spy some fiery red fall foliage.

This trip we spotted our first blue grouse of the season. Is the plural of "grouse" "grouses" or "grice"? Walt Kelley, the cartoonist who drew Pogo, once said that the mongoose is a singular animal, because no one can say two of them. The blue grouse seems to be a singular animal as well. If we saw more than one of them, we couldn't tell you.


A bit of gold

More color

A young blue grouse

The same grouse again

Mountains

More color

Almost the same place as the photo to the left, except a cloud was blocking the sun and the pallete shifted

Hints of red among the green

More gold

More red

This will resemble the plains of Mars in another few weeks.

Keywords: grouse, hurricane hill


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


09/24/11 - Hurricane Hill Was Crawling With Critters

Hurricane Hill was crawling with critters on our last visit. There were marmots, chipmunks, and blue grouse wandering about. The flowers of summer have passed for the most part, but our big disappointment was the corn lilies on the side spur. We had hoped to, at long last, catch them in bloom, but they don't seem to have blossomed this year. Still, there seem to be a lot more of them.

A golden marmot

Chipmunk alert: watch your shoelaces!

A plump blue grouse

A couple of marmots

The disappointing corn lily crop

Early autumn colors

More golden grasses

and mountains

and more mountains

Keywords: autumn, flowers, grouse, hurricane hill, marmots


10/28/10 - Just Grousing

We often see blue grouse in the drainage ditch on the side of the road. They seem to like these ditches, but we know that they actually live all over the North Olympic Peninsula. In the summer they are out in the alpine fields, but in the winter they head lower to the forests where it is nearly impossible to spot them. We say nearly, because we saw these two grouse right on the Lake Angeles trail. They are most likely mother and chick, and they were quite unperturbed by our arrival, use of the flash and animated conversation.

Grouse always remind us of Walt Kelley, he of Pogo fame. Kelley always said that the mongoose is a singular animal, because no one could say two of them. Is the plural "mongoose", "mongooses" or "mongeese"? We wonder the same about grouse. Is it "grouse" - as we've used here, "grouses", or "grice"?


The trail

A grouse - slightly blurred - They kept moving.

Another blurred grouse, or possibly the Loch Angeles monster

Keywords: grouse, lake angeles


10/31/09 - Something To Grouse About

Autumn is the time for game birds. For those of us who cannot be trusted with firearms, that means D'Artagnan, the specialty food provider founded by Arianne Daugin, the daughter of one of France's great chefs. This recipe calls for four grouses, or perhaps four grice, if that is what are available at your market. It also calls for a head or two of savoy cabbage, twelve rashers of the best, smokey bacon you can get, a tart apple, at half a stick of butter, dried thyme and/or marjoram, pepper and salt.

Grouses, or perhaps grice

Shredded savoy cabbage
Clean the grouses, or grice. Save any good insaginnies. Clean the cabbage and save eight of the largest leaves for wrapping the grouses. Shred the rest of the cabbage using the slicing blade of a food processor. Cut up four rashers of bacon into 1/2" bits. Toss the shredded cabbage and bacon with a teaspoon or two of thyme, marjoram or both, and some salt and pepper. If there were any hearts or crops, chop them up and toss them in as well.

Cut up the apple into eight pieces. Put a piece of apple, a chunk of butter and as much of the cabbage mix as you can into each grouse. Put the remaining cabbage mix into a flat roasting pan. Put each grouse, breast side up, on a cabbage leaf. Drape two rashers of bacon over it and cover it with another cabbage leaf.


All ready to bake, except for the top cabbage leaves

Grice, or perhaps grouses, in the cabbage patch
Add perhaps a quarter inch of water to the baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 325F. Check the birds. They should be cooked through and getting tender. We raised the temperature to 350F at this point and gave them another 15 minutes. A lot depends on your oven.

When the birds are basically cooked, remove the upper cabbage leaves. Slide the bacon down to the sides of each bird so it doesn't burn. Raise the oven temperature to 450F and give the grice another 10 or 15 minutes. This should brown the birds nicely. They can be served straight from the oven along with the cabbage.


Ready to eat

Keywords: autumn, birds, grouse, recipe


10/21/09 - Hurricane Hill In Gold

Obstruction Point Road is closed, as is Deer Park. We were up at Hurricane Hill and had the mountain nearly to ourselves for a bit. Even the marmots and grouse seem to have vanished for the year. The grasses have turned golden, and there are splashes of brilliant color set off by the somber greens of the forest. Was it really 97 degrees and so very green up here back in July?

Corn lily stalks

The golden fields

Fields and mountains - still on the top of the world

One of the views

The clouds like the valleys.

Some color, but fading already

Maybe we'll do this on our mantel for Christmas.

Keywords: hurricane hill, marmots, autumn, grouse


08/26/09 - Great Year For Grouse

You can really see the change in color up at Hurricane Hill. The grasses are getting golden, and most of the flowers have passed into straw. The mountains are spectacular as ever, and there are grouse all over the place. You just have to keep an eye on the tall grass.

Passing green

Scenery

More scenery

Watch out. They'll eat your shoelaces.

A grouse: one of many

More scenery, and if you look carefully at the rocks you'll see a marmot.

Even more scenery

More grouse

A young grouse

Late flowers and the mountains

The last of the corn lilies

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, high country, grouse


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