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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


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


05/12/16 - Hurricane Hill Road Is Open

Hurricane Hill Road opened on Sunday, the 8th of May. This is earlier than usual. There was a lot of snow up on Hurricane Ridge this winter, but it has been melting quickly. We took advantage of this early opening and went out to hike one of our favorite trails in the high country. The sky was blue. The snow covered mountains were crystalline in the distance.

It was still early in the season, though. There were only a few glacier lilies, but a lot richly scented phlox. In places it covered the hillsides, and its aroma covered the trail. We made it all the way up to the summit, about a 650 foot climb. The only snow on the trail was where the trail was protected on both sides by pine trees, the section running from the bench, about 200 feet, to the open switchbacks above, about 350 feet.

The high country is open. We should note, there is only one open restroom at the Hurricane Ridge lodge during the week, but the picnic area restrooms down Hurricane Hill Road are open, even during the week.


The snow capped Olympic Mountains

The one long snowy stretch of trail

A spectacular place to hike

A glacier lily

More scenery

The mountains again

… and again

Phlox

A view from the summit

A north facing hillside

More phlox

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


10/30/15 - Mountain Mystery

The clouds may have blocked our view somewhat, but they also made everything wonderfully mysterious. While the grand view is one of the big attractions of the Hurricane Hill Trail, it has its charms even on a cloudy day.

One of the better views

Valley clouds

Golden grass and misty mountains

The fog rolling in

Golden grass and mist

A mysterious view

More mystery

Clouds in the mountains

More clouds and mountains

More clouds and mountains - What did you expect?

Some left over phlox

Keywords: hurricane hill


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


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


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


06/08/15 - 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


11/15/14 - Hurricane Hill - Early Winter

Hurricane Ridge Road is now being closed during the week from Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and weekends the road is open, and, right now at least, the road to Hurricane Hill is open as well. It was a bright sunny day, and there were lots of people climbing up to Hurricane Hill. We were a bit out of shape for the mountains- the trailhead is nearly a mile up - and it was cold. Despite this, we made good time. The colors are muted now, but the scenery is still spectacular.

Bright sun, mountains and valley haze

Port Angeles

Frozen for the duration

Mountains

Mount Baker, floating like a meringue in the distance

More mountains and a touch of color still remaining

More mountains and some lens flare

More

and even more

Another bit of scenery

A last bit of fall color

Keywords: hurricane hill, hurricane ridge


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


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


08/29/14 - 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


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


06/02/14 - 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


05/19/14 - 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


10/20/13 - Olympic National Park Is Open Again - Hurricane Hill

The park is open again, and about time. As soon as we got the word, we were heading up Hurricane Ridge Road, and we weren't alone. There was a short line up at the entry station and a short wait where they are still repairing the tunnels, but it didn't take us long to return to the high country. Hurricane Hill was spectacular. There are a few spots of snow on the ground, but the trails were clear and the air almost crystaline. The grasses are turning golden brown. It was only two weeks, but it was way too long.

The fields are golden brown

More color, more mountains

A spot of snow below

That snow on the north face is there until next summer.

The side spur

The Strait of San Juan de Fuca

A view north

Golden hills

Some autumn color

Fields, snow and mountains

Mount Baker, a distant meringue

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, autumn, trails


09/25/13 - Hurricane Hill - After the Equinox

Obstruction Point Road has already closed and the weather has been changeable. Instead of the usual September sun, our skies seem to be visitors from October. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail on a quiet day and watched Mount Olympus fuss with its wreath of clouds before vanishing. The marmots were out, but turning darker and browner for winter. Only their hindquarters were golden. We saw only a handful of flowers, dried yarrow, a few harebells, and the like. Instead we saw fall foliage with the grasses turning golden and leaves turning red and brown.

Golden fields and misty mountains

One of five marmots we saw

Another marmot in closeup - not very golden

A view

A misty view and changing colors

Mount Angeles

To the north, a touch of blue

The first bit of snow, near the summit

A band of gold

A mushroom

Last of the flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots, obstruction point, weather, winter


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