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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


08/15/10 - Obstruction Point

We were back at Obstruction Point. The snow is melting rapidly, forming fantastic shapes as it does in the summer mountains. Wild lakes appear in the wakes of melting snow fields, and all around the flowers are in bloom.

Melting snow

The vista

The trail

An emerging lake

Snow saved by shadow

Phlox

More fields

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point, summer, high country


07/29/10 - Obstruction Point

Obstruction Point Road has been open for a bit over a week, and we Kalebergs were not far behind. The road itself is in good shape, though dusty and vertiginous. The scenery, was spectacular. The hiking trail is still partly covered with snow, but the portion we take was not hard going. The snow that there is was soft.

Other hikers had seen marmots, but we didn't see any. We did see lots of wildflowers: phlox, pink paintbrush, lupines, asters, and, of course, the melting snow. Some of the lakes below are stil covered, though some have melted through. Now that Obstruction Point is open, we can say with certainty, the high country is open.


A view from the parking lot

That little lake seen descending the stone staircase

Snow on the trail

The mountains

It's sort of like this.

One of the lakes

The snow ridge

Pink paintbrush

Lupines

We're not sure of what this is, and we're not ashamed to admit it.

Phlox

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, marmots, kale


07/20/10 - Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill trail is one of our favorite trails. It offers the high country, amazing views and great accessibility. This year, the flowers have been spectacular. The corn lilies are not quite out yet, but they're getting there.

The big excitement this year, was that there is a bear down in one of the valleys visible from the trail. Usually, when we spot a bear in the high country, all we see is a large dark dot moving against the green below. This bear was close enough to positively identify it as such. To be honest, that's about close enough a sighting for us.


Definitely a bear, not a marmot and weird atmospheric effects

The bear is down there.

A snow crescent on the north face.

From the corn lily side spur

Corn lilies

Sometimes it's the grasses.

A floral spectacular

Avalanche lilies

Lupines

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


06/28/10 - Lake Angeles Trail Update

We're doing a lot of updates lately, largely because a lot is happening. Summer means another season of local produce and another sesason of access to the high country of Olympic National Park. The Lake Angeles Trail is one of the first trails we explore, if only because it is open for most of the year, especially if we take our snowshoes. Now, of course, the trail is shoe ready, and from what we have heard, there is only a bit of snow left around the lake. (Yes, we really have to get up there, but we have to get back in shape first.)

For other news, the Pacific dogwood is out, the trilliums are passing, and the park service has removed that big tree that was blocking the start of the boardwalk about 700' above the parking lot. Stay tuned as we Kalebergs start checking things out, or check out the park service's trail reports.


Pacific dogwood

The trail repair team from a few weeks back - note the chain saw at the ready

The cleared trail

The rude bridge

Another flower we really should look up somewhere

A fading trillium, its petals turning pink

Descending into the mists below

Keywords: high country, lake angeles, summer, trails, trillium, kale


06/27/10 - The Hurricane Hill Trail

While we were off in Hawaii, the snows of the high country were melting. Not only was the road to Hurricane Hill open, but the trail was free of snow save for one section which is shaded by trees. It's great getting back up there, and already the flowers are in bloom. So far, this looks like it is going to be a great year in the mountains.

An avalanche lily

The big mountains are covered with snow, but down on Hurricane Hill, the snow is melting apace.

Another view

The high country

That section of snowy trail - not as bad as it looks.

Phlox scents the air.

One of our marmot friends

We really need to look up what this flower is on the internet.

Some of the first lupine

Indian paintbrush

Glacier lilies

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill


03/31/10 - Good To Go Pastries

We've been watching our weight in an attempt to pare down some of our winter fat, but we were sorely tempted by Good To Go's pastries. They bake every day, but Fridays and Saturdays are special. Eric goes all out, and the danish and croissants appear. We'll probably break down as soon as we get back into fighting trim. As the high country clears this spring, we are going to need fuel for climbing. The calories we'll burn climbing Klahane Ridge or up to Lake Angeles have to come from somewhere.

Bear claws

Croissants

We aren't sure, but they sure look good

Keywords: good to go, high country, lake angeles


01/20/10 - It Was Fun While It Lasted

These are some photos from our last snowshoeing trip up to Hurricane Ridge. As you may know, Hurricane Ridge Road is closed until early March, so this may have been our last snowshoeing trip of the season. We suppose it is a rule of the high country, carpe diem - seize the day.





Keywords: high country, hurricane ridge, snowshoeing


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