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10/10/12 - Late Season Klahane Ridge

Climbing the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is always special this time of year. The intense mountain light comes in at a lower angle, so shadows and contrasts are much darker and stronger. The vegetation has turned from green to gold, and everything seems to sparkle in the thin air.

Standing stones

Mount Angeles and the last bit of snow

Dark castles

High castles

The dusty trail

Golden meadows

More of the trail

Fading green

A distant stream through a golden meadow

Keywords: klahane ridge, autumn

09/17/12 - Klahane Ridge and Beyond

Whenever we climb up to Klahane Ridge and find ourselves with a tiny bit of strength in reserve, we like to continue our climb another ten or fifteen minutes exploring a particularly beautiful area that one hiker we met called the "kick in the ass". The views are amazing from the ridge with Port Angeles, Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands and the Cascades all visible to the north, and the full glory of the Olympic Mountains visible to the south. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming. That's one of the charms of heading on and climbing another 100 or 150 feet.

The trail heads across the usual sloping alpine field until you get the rocks, the gateway to a series of rooms, each with its own carpet of ground cover and its own arrangement of rocks and wind twisted, stunted trees as furniture. We think of them as rooms, though often the walls are transparent, presenting fabulous views north and south, but framed by the presence of the space. We almost always explore the first few great hallways, but sometimes we continue until the trail starts its descent to Lake Angeles in earnest and then turn around.

If you ever do make it up to Klahane Ridge and find yourself with a tiny bit of strength in reserve, walk on a bit and see something very special.

A typical view from the ridge

The view north and east, and a bit of snow remaining

The Olympic Mountains

One of the magnificent carpets

Late lupines

Another room dominated by a great stone

One of the portals

Another view, another carpet

Alpine summer

More of everything

Mysterious stones

Keywords: klahane ridge, summer

08/12/12 - Klahane Ridge, Hurrah!

This time we made it up to Klahane Ridge. We were horribly slow. We kept having to stop and rest, but then we pushed on. The hanging gardens were lush and green with lupines, turks cap lilies, yarrow, cow parsnip, larkspur, paintbrush and even some phlox in bloom. The usual summer drought has not set in yet, and might not this year.

The view from the top was as spectacular as ever. To the north we could see the Dungeness Spit, the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker rising above the Cascades. To the south were the grand Olympic Mountains clad in their glaciers. Like many things this year, we were late in our return to Klahane Ridge, but we did it.

Mount Angeles and a bit of snow

The view north

The view to the east

A view north

Another view north

The trail through the green


Did we say lupines?

More of the trail

More wildflowers - an amazing season

The little waterfall near the trailhead

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, mount baker, summer, waterfall

07/17/12 - Assault on Klahane Ridge

We made our first assault on Klahane Ridge for the year, and we made it up about 900 feet from the parking lot. The whole climb to the ridge is about 1450 feet, so we made creditable progress, but we still have a way to go. It also means we didn't get high enough to run into any mountain goats, which was just as well.

There were a fair number of flowers in bloom - bog orchids, lupines, cow parsnips, phlox, indian paintbrush and all too many that we don't have names for. (We do look them up now and then, but then we forget them.) There were even a few golden glacier lilies, rapidly fading. On the other hand, the hanging gardens on the hillside were quite lush and very green. Over the next few weeks we expect to see a lot more blooms. We also expect to climb all the way to the ridge.

We shall see.

Lupines in full bloom

A lot of green, but not all that many flowers

The view

We were not high enough for a real view of the Olympic Mountains.

More of the trail

Phlox - We can't capture the wonderful scent here.

A melting river of snow

We forgot what these pretty flowers were, or maybe we never did look them up.

A bog orchid with yet another wonderful scent

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, mountain goats

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


Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge

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

08/13/11 - 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

08/03/11 - Klahane Ridge, But Not Very Far

We recently made an attempt to climb Klahane Ridge via the Switchback Trail, but we didn't get very far, only 850' above the parking lot. We did get up into the hanging gardens, past the junction with the trail to the lodge. All told, it was a beautiful climb. There were some flowers, but the hanging gardens were lush and green, not yet in bloom. We turned around at the first patch of snow on the trail, poor spirited. We'll be back again, and we are hoping to go higher. Every season, the challenge begins anew.

Up the steepy mountains

On the trail

Glacier lilies

Another view of the mountains




Ants swarming

The umbrella forest

A bog orchid

Spring flowers, yeah in late July

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge

10/04/10 - Klahane Ridge

The Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is always a challenge, but the views are always worth it. The colors have been changing a bit, and there are only a few alpine flowers left. Like Hurricane Hill, Klahane Ridge is chock full of marmots this year. We saw at least two of them out catching a few rays and enjoying the view, an inspiration for us Kalebergs.

There's just a bit of snow left.

Some scenery

More scenery

An alpine meadow, a magic carpet

There is nothing like a good rock in the foreground to set off the vista in the background.

Safety orange

Can you spot the marmot?

Another marmot

A well camouflaged marmot

A bit of paintbrush remained

As did a few asters

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, klahane ridge, marmots, kale

07/13/10 - Klahane Ridge

It took us a bit of doing, but we managed to climb up the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We had been putting it off for all the usual reasons which generally come down to laziness and possibly cowardice. We hadn't really intended to get all the way up to the ridge. In fact, our goal was the junction with the trail to the lodge, around 630' above the parking lot. Somehow, we pushed on, climbing another 850' or so.

We were well rewarded. The snows have melted, save for a few patches by the side of the trail. The flowers are in serious bloom, and we even managed to catch a few avalanche lilies along with the usual glacier lilies, violets, phlox, indian paintbrush, cow parsnip, and a host of others. But, the big reward was at the ridge itself. No, there wasn't much of a view of Port Angeles. The bowl in the mountains was full of cloud, but right on the trail was a male mountain goat in a clearly mellow mood. He posed for the camera, munched on the foliage, gave himself a dust bath and sauntered on.

There was another reward waiting for us near our trailhead. All along the trail the air was full of phlox, a deep sweet scent, but there was a different scent, a familiar one. The bog orchids in the streams by the parking lot were coming into bloom. All told, it was a most rewarding hike.

P.S. Did we mention the views? Yes, there were spectacular views.

Our ascent into the clouds

The hanging gardens

The view from above

A surprisingly mellow mountain goat

Posing for the camera

He's so cute.

Another view



This is a great year for larkspur.

Bog orchids

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, port angeles, animals

10/09/09 - First Snow at Klahane Ridge

Winter has been creeping in for a while now. We ran into the first snow of the year on Klahane Ridge. It was a mere dusting, but it was a sign of the changing seasons. The air was brisk, and the views were as spectacular as ever. The flowers of the hanging gardens were dried to silver and gold. The summers are short in the high country, so we must make the most of these trails in their season.

Snow at the junction

The trail and silver

A view of Mount Olympus

Snow down towards Heather Park

Snow on the slopes

Snow on the trail

The fingers

Dried flowers

More hanging gardens

More dried flowers

Last paintbrush

Keywords: klahane ridge, winter

09/22/09 - Klahane Ridge and the End of Summer

The summer flowers are gone on Klahane Ridge, but the trail still beckons in the fall. The views are as spectacular as ever, and the thinning vegetation makes it easier to spot wildlife. We saw one of the marmots that lives in the rocks near the crest of the ridge. We wanted a photo with him in the classic marmot pose, but the poor guy just wanted to eat what greens were left. This mean we took eight photos of him with his head down, but we snared a passable shot on the ninth try.

This is either a marmot or Sasquatch Junior on a bad hair day.

Amazing views

Clouds from the sea

Keywords: klahane ridge, autumn, marmots

07/27/09 - Klahane Ridge and the "Kick in the Ass"

Usually by the time we reach Klahane Ridge via the Switchback Trail we are so exhausted that we take a rest, turn around and head back down. But, now and then we continue along the trail that leads down to Lake Angeles. This trail heads along open mountainside, generally covered with wildflowers, and then into a series of "rooms" delineated by trees and rock formations, each carpeted with its own display of alpine blossoms. If you get up to Klahane Ridge and you have the strength, it is definitely worth walking another ten or fifteen minutes and climbing the additional hundred and something feet to explore these amazing gardens.

We were discussing this part of the trail with a fellow hiker one day, and she knew exactly what we were talking about. "That's the little extra kick in the ass", she said, and given what it takes to go on after climbing the first 1400 feet or so, we understood her exactly. If you don't think you can handle the climb, you can still enjoy our pictures.

One of the "rooms" with its magic carpet

One of the "towers"

More magic carpet

A carpeted glade

A carpet with a view

The open slope abloom

Spectacular scenery

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, lake angeles

06/24/09 - The Hall of the Mountain Goat

Our most recent journey up the Switchback Trail was more menacing than usual. True, the ridge was no higher than ever, and the trail no steeper. True, the light clouds portended no stormy disaster. It was only the hastily posted mountain goat warning stapled to the trailhead sign that gave us a clue as to what awaited us.

We had further warnings on our ascent. One hiker had turned back in defeat. Tales were told of a jogger who had been followed by the angry beast. Still, our experiences with mountain goats had generally been uneventful, save for the loud clicking and whirring of our digital camera. This time, however, was different.

We met the goat after climbing a full thousand feet. Mount Olympus now loomed over Sunrise Point. The goat was on the trail above us and proved to be a cool customer. He took note of us, nibbled some greens, then made his way down the trail towards us. Nimbly, he took the switchback. Viciously, he nibbled the vegetation. We tried moving forward, then forward again. The goat hissed in warning. We had gone too far.

The goat would not be moved. He, for the goat was a billy, would not let us pass. We retreated and contemplated our failure. Cabrito, we have savored, but this fellow was beyond our limited capacity. We started our retreat, but then fate intervened in the form of another pair of hikers, better adapted to the rigors of the trail than we. We pointed out our nemesis.

They took our intelligence calmly. "The slingshot," said the woman. "The slingshot," replied the man extracting said weapon from his backpack. Armed, our party advanced. He chose a few pebbles from the trail, each no larger than a quarter for the most part. His first shot fell short. The second connected. The goat stopped his nibbling and looked about. A second pebble followed. The goat moved on down the mountainside, abandoning the contested stretched of trail.

The goat had abandoned the trail proper, but was still close by, threatening. We advanced. We consolidated our victory with one or two pebbles more. The goat wanted no more of us, and sauntered a few yards farther from the trail. The way was clear! Our victory was the ridge itself, and the view had never been better for having been earned in adversity.

Our nemesis, almost

Ominously nibbling beside the trail


The view

North face and south face

The bonsai garden

Phlox - the scent of victory

A fuzzy picture of a marmot

The marmot in context

The hillside is in bloom.

Bog orchids are in bloom by the roadside. We had to follow our noses.

Keywords: klahane ridge, animals, marmots, flowers, mountain goats

06/03/09 - First Climb To Klahane Ridge For 2009

We made it up to Klahane Ridge today. Thanks to the warm spring weather, most of the snow on the trail has melted, and even we, the Klumsy Kalebergs, managed to make it up the Switchback Trail to the ridge. There was some snow on the trail, but we managed to clamber through it with our trusty Yak Trax. At this rate of melt, if you tried the trail tomorrow, you'd wonder what all our fuss was about.

The trail was lined with furious alpine growth, and there were already some summer flowers, including avalanche lilies, lupines, and wonderfully scented phlox. The views were stupendous, and even as we climbed, we could sense the snow melting. On our way down, we noticed that the band of snow nestled in the corner of Mount Angeles was melting into a series of cascades. The high country is open, and the Switchback Trail is as spectacular as ever.

The trail and the mountains

Phlox in the foreground, Sunrise Point in the mid-ground and the Olympic Mountains in the background

North slope, south slope

More mountains, of all things

Port Angeles and the Strait below

The ridge and the mountains

A mushroom

An avalanche lily


The snow melting - Click to enlarge, and you can see the waterfalls.

The band of snow

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, spring, kale, waterfall

12/01/08 - News Flash - Winter Has Been Postponed

We seem to have been premature with our previous post about the arrival of showshoeing season. The snows have melted, and that meant we yet another chance to climb the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. There was a little snow on the trail, but it was melting rapidly, so we had an easy climb. That is, we had an easy 1,500 foot, 57 minute, hard breathing, muscle wracking ascent. Judging from the Hurricane Ridge web camera, the high country is still snow free, so consider a pre-Christmas climb this coming weekend.

Yes, there is some snow, and the high mountains are exquisite.

That's what is was like up at Klahane Ridge.

You can see the clouds below, some sneaking upland through the valley. It might be cloudy in town, but the high country is often clear.

More scenery

The autumn colors have gone beyond russet.

Keywords: autumn, high country, klahane ridge

11/15/08 - Klahane Ridge

The day before and the day after were sunny, but we climbed to Klahane Ridge on the day in the middle. The day we climbed the skies were gray, and the ridge covered with cloud. A dank combination of mist and drizzle meant poor visibility. Our ascent was brisk, and the trail was good. If nothing else, mud offers better traction than water. Still, we could feel the ice crystals crunching underfoot as we climbed, and once or twice there were slippery patches of ice.

For much of our climb, we were sheltered by trees or by the hillside itself, but here and there the wind broke through. As we approached the ridge itself, we could feel the wind rising. It was quite strong at the top, and wet. We did not linger. Twenty feet down, we were sheltered again.

Klahane Ridge, like much of Olympic National Park, offers different things in different seasons. On clear, sunny days, the views are fantastic with the Olympic Mountains to the south and Vancouver Island and the San Juans to the north. On a day like this one the ridge offers its wildness, its mystery and its local grandeur. That last is something that must be experienced one footstep at a time.

Keywords: klahane ridge

10/25/08 - Last Call For Klahane Ridge: This Time For Sure Rocky

We have had a magnificent year for Klahane Ridge. The late rains meant a great wild flower season, but now autumn is upon us. The shadows have grown longer, and the first snows have appeared. Soon, the trail will be closed for the winter. Still, we hope to be able to take one more climb this year, if only for another look at the fall foliage and the incredible views.

Long shadows and early snow

The mountains are ready for winter

More snow

Fall color

The end of the season

Brilliant fields

No longer lush, but still beautiful

Keywords: autumn, klahane ridge, winter

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