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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


07/18/13 - Hurricane Hill in Season

Hurricane Hill is in season. Even the roses and corn lilies are out. The hills are thick with marmots, and the scenery is spectacular. If you can't reach us at home, we'll be hiking the trails.

A marmot surrounded by dirty sock plant

A buck on the snow

A marmot beating the heat

Melting snow

A rock garden

The mountains

The snow really does melt faster on the sunny side.

A mountain plover

Pasque flowers and corn lilies - yes corn lilies

One of the first roses

More mountains and flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots, trails


07/04/13 - Back to Hurricane Hill

Yes, we've already been back to Hurricane Hill - twice in fact. It is really beautiful up there. There weren't as many marmots this time, but we did see some other wonderful things.

The snow melt lake is forming below the peak.

The mountains - well, what can we say?

Green shoots

An early corn lily

We saw a mountain goat on a rocky hill side, at a good safe distance.

A marmot

The snow is melting quickly.

Glacier lilies blooming by the melting snow

Avalanche lilies growing in the shade

A little rock garden

Lupines

Keywords: hurricane hill, marmots, flowers


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


06/07/13 - Hurricane Ridge

We've been getting up to Hurricane Ridge now and then to see how the snow is melting and whether the alpine flowers have come into bloom. Our report: the snow is melting, and the flowers have yet to bloom. There's also the spectacular scenery, the Olympic Mountains and the dramatic sky. The road to Hurricane Hill is still not open to traffic, so we walked and made our way to the trailhead. There was some pretty impressive scenery en route.

Dramatic clouds

More drama in the sky

Hurricane Hill itself is still covered with snow

The parking lot, however, is clearing

More dramatic views

Blue sky below

Big mountains, big sky

Dark clouds

A different sky, and all at the same time

A mixed sky

Sunrise Peak is still covered with snow.

Keywords: hurricane hill, hurricane ridge


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


11/12/12 - Hurricane Ridge

Saturday was sunny, so we headed up to Hurricane Ridge to check things out. The road to the Hurricane Hill trailhead was closed and covered with a thin layer of snow, so we hiked from the lodge to the trailhead. We saw some wonderful things.

Just a touch of frost

The grasses are golden

That's the Hurricane Hill Trail. It's still walkable, but we were too tired to continue.

A red branched bush

Another view of the Hurricane Hill trail

The mountains and clouds

More mountainas and clouds

There is just enough snow to make things look beautiful.

The road

A view through the trees

Mount Angeles

Keywords: hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, winter


10/18/12 - Hurricane Hill in the Autumn

Unlike New England, the Northwest is not known for its autumn colors, but Hurricane Hill tends to put on a good show. The fields turn a rich gold, and there are bursts of red and gold. The flowers of the alpine summer are now dried specimens waiting for their winter covering of snow.

Golden fields and - oh yeah - mountains

More golden fields

Another view to the west

Red gold

More gold

Red and gold in the valley

More red and gold

Dried flowers

The hanging gardens, ready for winter

A touch of gold

A touch of red

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill


06/27/12 - Marmot City

Hurricane Hill is so full of marmots that we're thinking of renaming it Marmot City. We saw at least ten of them, including one so large we were thinking of counting him (or her) as two. The snow is melting apace, and we're getting more used to hiking the high country, so stay tuned for more news from Marmot City.

These two were tussling, like something right out of a nature documentary.

These two are digging their digs right near the bench and the new marmot sign.

They are fearless.

A proud profile

This one lives at the summit of Hurricane HIll.

Another marmot lurking

Some token scenery

Yup, more scenery

Most of the trail is easy going, if you don't count having to climb a bit.

Keywords: hurricane hill, marmots


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


01/17/12 - Hurricane Ridge

Shortly before the recent storms, we drove up to Hurricane Ridge and did some snowshoeing. The snow was crunchy having been compacted, melted and refrozen, but it was easy enough going with our steel foot claws, our snowshoes.

It was a cloudy day, so we managed to capture some of the strange color that the mountain sky gets when the air is unsettled. It was a good workout, and, now that the storms have settled, we're hoping to get back up there.


Some of the strange sky

A bit of blue sky - There were colors for every mood.

The mountains and a pale gray sky

Vancouver Island across the strait

More strange and angry sky

Hurricane Hill in the distance

The trail itself

Keywords: hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, snowshoeing


11/07/11 - Frost On Hurricane Hill

This was a hard post to compose. There were so many amazing photographs of the gray skies, majestic mountains and frost covered trees and grasses that we just gave up and chose eleven pictures when we could have chosen dozens. Judging from the webcams and weather reports, the ice seems to have melted on Hurricane Hill, so we are glad we managed to capture our amazing walk in the sky.

The summit

A view down

Frost on the grass

Mountain sky and frosty trees

A field of ice

More mountain sky

Windblown

Grasses and sky

Another view down

Did we mention the sky?

It's almost Christmas.

Keywords: christmas, hurricane hill, weather, winter


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