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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


06/24/13 - Hurricane Hill - Part 2 - Summit and Flowers

The summit of Hurricane Hill was surrounded by clouds. Our view degraded as we made our final ascent, scaring one poor marmot from his or her perch. Port Angeles and points north were invisible, hidden beneath the clouds. The entire north slope before us, sheltered from the sun, was covered in a thick layer of snow. It was quite dramatic.

The marmots were still out as we descended and the fields were starting to blossom with glacier lilies, phlox, paintbrush, lupines and even some dirty sock plant. We didn't see any avalanche lilies, and the phlox didn't have its usual sweet scent. Still, it was a spectacular hike through the high country.


Another view north

The mountains shrouded by clouds

Fields of flowers

Yet another marmot

A snowshoe hare

The clouds would come and go.

A marmot with glacier lilies

Lupines and paintbrush

Larkspur

Lupines

Phlox

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, marmots


06/22/13 - Hurricane Hill - Part 1 - Clouds and Marmots

Hurricane Hill Road is open all the way to the trailhead, so we readied our Yaktracks and made our way up the mountain. It was a cloudy day. We couldn't even see the mountains from Port Angeles, just a wall of fog. There was some fog on the drive, but at some point after the tunnels we realized that the fog had cleared and what we were seeing was just gray clouds above.

There was a band of clouds obscuring the tops of the mountains, but otherwise the view was fine. We walked the relatively flat first part of the trail enjoying the views and flowers, but dreading the ascent ahead. We were out of shape for high country hiking and the air felt thin. Despite this we pushed our way up past the Wind - The Sculptor Sign and past the little bench. Here was the first real snow, but it was melting quickly. With our trusty hiking sticks in hand we lumbered forth - excelsior.

The sky stayed gray, and now and then a cloud would block our view of one part of the Olympic range or another, but we were getting higher and into marmot country. We turned a the hamper and started on the switchbacks. There were marmots everywhere. They were in the fields, perched atop mounds, racing across patches of snow and a good number of them were eating. We counted at least nine of them which might be a record.

TO BE CONTINUED WITH MORE PICTURES


The snows are still melting.

Clouds and snow

The mountains

Distant clouds



A marmot, one of many

Another marmot

Two marmots, at home

Yet another marmot with a good view of his or her golden tail

The view north

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill


05/10/13 - Hurricane Ridge Melt Watch

We've been watching the snow melt at Hurricane Ridge on the park webcams, and we've been following the snow depth at the weather website, but we had to drive up and see what is happening live.

The Kaleberg Report - The snow is melting rapidly. We were quite surprised. The phlox is in bloom a bit below the Switchback trailhead, so the high country is opening for the season. The biggest surprise was the state of the road to Hurricane Hill. It was blocked off by a barricade of orange highway cones, but instead of the usual high ramparts ending in a wall of snow, the road seems to have been plowed, at least as far as we could see. It may even be open now as you read this.


There's more and more grass showing.

We are reminded that summer is coming.

More signs of melting snow

The ramparts and the barricade

but, the Hurricane Hill Road has been plowed and may soon open.

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, weather, kale


07/25/12 - Hurricane Ridge and Sunrise Point

We are usually more adventurous, but now and then we need to take it easy. We just weren't up to a real serious hike, so we parked at Hurricane Ridge and climbed Sunrise Point. That's maybe a 200 foot climb, and we never got out of key clicker range of our car.

This year spring came late and summer came later, and that meant that the rains lingered into July. Cool wet weather make for lush green vegetation and lots and lots of alpine flowers. Some years the lupines barely grow as they race to bloom before drying out in the summer heat. This year, they've grown and grown, and while they are blooming now, they are still early in the cycle with many flowers yet to come.

It's like this for all the flowers: a late start, a lot of green, and a lot of flowers. This may be one of the best years in a while for high country blossoms, and you don't even have to walk very far.


A great view of the mountains and the fields

Lupines in the foreground

Lingering snow

Avalanche lilies

Phlox

More avalanche lilies

Guess

A very lush field of lupines

We aren't sure about these, but they're pretty.

Another lupine view

A lot of lush green means more to come.

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane ridge, summer, weather


06/19/12 - Hurricane Hill

Despite the cool spring this year, we made it up to the top of Hurricane Hill before the solstice. We took advantage of one of those great sunny, un-June like days we've been having and drove up to Hurricane Ridge. The Hurricane Hill access road was open and most of the parking lot cleared. There was some snow on the trail, but we had our trusty YakTrax and hiking sticks, so we had extra traction on the trickier stretches.

The hard part was really that we weren't used to the altitude, but the blue sky and amazing vista pulled us upwards. Marmot Rock, a rock that looks like a marmot, had survived the winter, but we also saw a real marmot chittering and playing sentinel now that we humans have returned to the high country. There was some phlox in bloom along with a bit of Indian paintbrush, some yarrow and a lupine or two, but otherwise the landscape had just melted. It took us a fair bit longer than usual, but we made our way up to the summit and admired the views of the Olympic Mountains, the San Juans, Vancouver Island and the great white meringue of Mt. Baker.


One of the views

Last summer's grasslands, now faded

This is sort of what the trails look like, but the snow is melting rapidly.

Another view, this one from the summit

Blue sky

The view east from the summit

Phlox

Indian paintbrush

Another view

Yet another view

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, spring, animals, flowers


06/08/12 - It's Going to Take a Lot of Melting

We've started our seasonal Hurricane Ridge watch, waiting for the high country trails to open. There's still a lot of snow up there, and the webcam points at a southern slope, so it doesn't reveal much about how clear the trails are. Another useful resource is the real time Hurricane Ridge weather report which gives the snow level. The park posts its own trail condition reports, and while things are thawing, the cool spring means that much of the high country is still closed. We'll be heading up to the ridge now and then to see what things are like, and we'll post a note when we get our first high country hike of the year.

There was a lot of snow.

These ramparts are lower now, but there's still a lot ot melt.

We walked the road to Hurricane Hill a bit. When we last checked, it wasn't plowed far.

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, spring, trails, weather


10/20/11 - Our Last Klahane Ridge Climb of the Year

Well, probably. There was a bit of snow and ice on the trail, but it was melting rapidly, so we might try to climb Klahane Ridge one more time. Already snow is building up on the north face and Mount Angeles, and all but a few flowers are gone. There is moisture, but not the green moisture of spring. It's the cool gray moisture of approaching winter. Right now the trail is clear, so we have hopes, but conditions can change rapidly, so we'll have to see.

Snow to the north

Snow on Mount Angeles

Snow on a sheltered tree

The mountains

More mountains

The trail, good footing, no longer just dust

Folded rock

Cow parsnips in passing

A few stragglers

More stragglers

Shadows

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge


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


10/06/11 - 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


10/01/11 - First Snow on Klahane Ridge

This has been a short season for the high country. Already, there is snow on Klahane Ridge. Granted, it was just a sprinkling and seems to have melted in all but the shadiest areas, but it was snow none the less. The recent rains and snow made climbing much easier. The trail was turning into soft sand as it does late in the season, but this time the footing was good.

We saw three bucks chowing down for the winter, trying to put on some weight. They largely ignored us, shuffling a few steps away as we passed. Their attention was on the vegetation, and we weren't vegetation.

We're hoping for one more visit to the ridge, but a lot depends on our oomph. That and the weather.


These towers of stone are always inspiring.

A peephole view

Enjoying the buffet

It's still very green. The grasses and the like never turned golden brown.

Mountains and clouds

A bit of snow by the trail

Old snow and new snow on the north face

A bit more snow

The last fields of flowers

More inspiration

A few late harebells

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, weather, winter


08/16/11 - Hurricane Hill Corn Lily Update

We took the side spur off the Hurricane Hill trial to check out the meadow where the corn lilies grow. They are most definitely growing. They are even spreading with corn lilies appearing in areas we had not seen them in before. The views, not surprisingly, were spectacular. The corn lilies have not yet bloomed, but lots of other flowers have.

Corn lilies of the field

The corn lilies are not blooming yet.

We always take a picture or two of these rocks for some reason or another.

It pays to look closely.

The snow is melting and the water is trickling down this part of the trail.

Some anemones

Among the other flowers, a glacier lily, a sign of recent melt.

Corn lily shoots coming through the snow

More scenery - There is more to life than corn lilies.

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, summer, high country


08/15/11 - Hurricane Hill Revisited

We took the trail up Hurricane Hill again today. It has been a few weeks, so we expected the snow to be gone and the season to be passing. It is mid-August. In fact, the snow was more or less all gone, but the flowers are still blooming in earnest.

There are still some pretty spectacular views, even this late in the season.

Yep, another spectacular view

The blue seasonal snow melt lake is forming

Is this sweet cecelia? We aren't sure.

Lupines, apparently good for the memory

Pink paintbrush, or so we believe

There are lots of flowers

There are avalanche lilies under the pine trees where the snow lingered.

Bright colors

Our camera does not do justice to the scent of wild roses.

Those masses of white flowers are dirty sock plant. We call this area the hamper.

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, high country, summer


08/13/11 - Klahane Ridge Success

This time we made it up Klahane Ridge. We really didn't think we were up for it being a bit out of shape, but we dragged ourselves up, stopping often to catch our breath. The high country flowers are in magnificent bloom, though the glacier lilies are gone. Still, we have no reason to complain about lupines, paintbrush, yarrows, and the hosts of others the names of which we still haven't learned and memorized.

We even saw a family of mountain goats safely perched on a snow ledge far away and above us. That's about the right distance. That's why we bring binoculars, not that the Klahane Ridge climb is in need of scenery what with the distant mountains, alpine flowers, rocky crags and great sky.


The climb

Look carefully at that snow ledge to the upper right.

There are mountain goats there, at a safe distance.

The view from the ridge

Sunrise point and the high Olympics

Mountain flowers

Rock flowers

The mountain goats on the move

More flowers, fields of them

Even more flowers

Lupines, among others

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


07/09/11 - Hurricane Hill

We were always fond of those mountain climbing movies from the 1930s with their portentious narratives, and their imagined voices always seem to accompany us on our ascents of Hurricane Hill. Maybe it's the park signs for Folded Rock and Lingering Snow. Maybe it's that there is a stretch "so full of dirty sock plant, they call it 'The Hamper'". Well, those voices are back, and we've made our first Hurricane Hill Ascent of the season.

The snows are melting rapidly, and most of the trail is clear. The shaded section through the trees (from The Bench to The Hamper actually) still has a fair bit of snow, but it's well packed and the footing is obvious. The area near the Hurricane Hill Trail side spur is also still covered with snow, but melting rapidly. The side spur is already walkable, at least for a ways.

The views, as one might expect, are spectacular. There is still a lot of snow on the mountains in every direction, and the alpine flowers are coming into bloom, even near the summit. The fields are adorned with a carpet of glacier lilies, and we saw at least one marmot. It may have been two, or it may have been just one who followed us to the summit. All told, the high country is open for the season and is as spectacular as ever.


The view hasn't changed much. There is a fair bit of snow on the big mountains.

Golden glaciers lilies

Melting snow

More glacier lilies and melting snow

The view from the summit

More view

Even more view - There is lots of view from Hurricane Hill.

The trail through that shady stretch of trees is still covered with snow, though passable.

The marmots are back.

This may or may not be the same marmot.

Marmot the Bold, in profile

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


07/01/11 - Hurricane Ridge to Hurricane Hill

We've fallen behind updating our web page. That's because we've been busy. We've been into Seattle a bit - more on that soon - and we've been getting up to the high country. The road between the lodge at Hurricane Ridge and the Hurricane Hill trailhead has been plowed, but not yet opened to traffic, so we've been walking it and a tiny bit of the Hurricane Hill trail. It's rather hypnotic, and the flowers are already in bloom.

The avalanche and glacier lilies are among the first, but it is the scent of the phlox that is the real sign of alpine summer. In fact, it seems that everything is blooming at once. Everything is late, but everything is there. We aren't sure when the park will open the road, but until then, we'll use it as a trail. Spring has come to the mountains.


The snow is melting.

Phlox is back.

As are these little violets.

And more phlox

Early lupines

Indian paintbrush

Melting snow on the Hurricane Hill trail

Avalanche lilies

A high country mushroom

A glacier lily

And the mountains

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, spring, summer


08/22/10 - Late Summer - Already - at Hurricane Hill

It's late summer in the high country. The corn lilies are out on Hurricane Hill, and the fields are colored by the myriad harebells. The snow has all melted on the north slope leaving that seasonal lake behind. That's news enough.

The seasonal lake

The fields are colored with harebells and yarrows.

Corn lilies

More corn lilies in bloom

There are still some lupines.

It's like an impressionist painting.

You can see the colors of the flowers in the fields.

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, summer


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