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08/29/16 - Klahane Ridge - Part 2

We spent some time on the ridge. The view to the north was obscured by clouds, but the view to the south was spectacular. We felt a few raindrops as we explored, and as we descended there was a brief drizzle that seemed to clear the air and dampen the trail. We’re hoping the rain, such as it was, dampens the Cox fire as well.

Another view

And yet another

More smoke and mountains

It is late in the flower season, but there were some stragglers.

Drama

Smoke

A chipmunk devouring yarrow

As we descended

Perhaps a bit less smoke

Larkspur

A few more stragglers

Keywords: klahane ridge


08/28/16 - Klahane Ridge - Part 1

It hasn’t been easy getting up to the Hurricane Ridge hikes recently. If nothing else, they have been repaving Hurricane Ridge Road. We started early on a cloudy Sunday and managed to avoid the construction, but at the ridge we could smell the smoke from the Cox, and we could see the smoke settled on the mountains. We decided to try climbing Klahane Ridge anyway figuring that we had an asthma inhaler with us, so if the air was too bad on the way up, we could control its effects and make our way back down.

As it turned out the air started getting a little better as we climbed out of the closed area near the Switchback trailhead. Still, we could see the smoke highlighting the mountain panorama. As we climbed we had a broader vista, but the smoke was a major feature that we could see and smell. We made it to the ridge and headed on to the “kick in the ass” as one hiker we met put it. This is the stretch of the trail to Lake Angeles that climbs and passes through some of the most beautiful alpine gardens.

There were mountain goats about, even a few on the trail. We shouted at them and waved our hiking sticks and that seemed to send them scurrying. We also saw a few marmots as we wandered.


Smoke towards Sunrise Peak

Smokey skies

The panorama

More mountains

More smoke

Mountain goats, a mother and a kid

Another mountain goat

One of the enchanting alpine gardens

A plump marmot

Yet another mountain goat

Mountains as seen from an alpine garden

Keywords: hurricane ridge, klahane ridge, marmots, mountain goats


07/13/16 - The Mountain Goats of Klahane Ridge

We hadn’t planned on climbing Klahane Ridge. We were just going to climb a few hundred feet to convince ourselves that it wasn’t impossible. Instead, we pushed on, repeatedly promising ourselves that if we climbed just another hundred or two hundred feet we could turn around. Of course, by the time we turned at the 1300’ hair pin, we had no choice but to climb the remained 150’ or so.

The sky had been cloudy, and more clouds were moving in as we approached the top. We could tell that there was no view to the north and the view to the south would be closed in soon. Luckily, a band of traveling players was on its way to provide for our entertainment. We were not the only ones on Klahane Ridge, for along with the other humans were at least a dozen mountain goats including a good number of kids.

These animals can be quite dangerous. Check out those horns. Luckily, they seemed to be calm enough, primarily focused on eating, so not all that much different from ourselves. Needless to say, we did not try to get a good pose with their kids. Instead, we started heading down the ridge. To our surprise, the goats joined us. Maybe they recognized kindred souls, for much as we awaited our dinner down below, they considered the larkspur, lupine and other foliage their open buffet.

Since they were more agile than we and less inclined to follow park rules, they would often take a shortcut and settle in for a course on the trail ahead of us. We humans stopped to watch not wanting to hurry their meal. The nannies would move ahead. The kids would bleat in protest, but eventually follow. We would slink by, hoping our desire to continue on the trail would not be mistaken for a desire for roast cabrito.

The goats left us at the trail junction. They decided to follow a group from Seattle, perhaps recognizing the world class food on offer in the big city. We made our way back to the Switchback Trail parking lot, our appetite sharpened by the exertion of the climb and watching all those goats chowing down heartily.


The Olympic Range appears above Sunrise Peak after 1000’ of climbing.

Pretty mountain country, rising clouds

Mountain goats heading down to join us

Nanny and two kids

Clouds coming in

More kids

Following us down the trail

Further down the trail

Even further down

Flowers too, larkspur and turks cap lily

This was not a good year for the lupines, but the larkspur have taken up the challenge.

Keywords: animals, klahane ridge, mountain goats


06/18/15 - Klahane Ridge

We don't believe it either. We made it up the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We were exhausted. We weren't used to the altitude. We kvetched and whined our way up the first thousand feet or so. Don't get us wrong. The scenery was spectacular with the Olympic Mountain range in the distance and fields of larkspur, cow parsnip and paintbrush beside the trail. We just weren't up to climbing all 1450 feet.

Well, we did. At 1000 feet, the Olympic Mountains appear above Sunrise Point which is near the Hurricane Ridge Lodge. We were still dead on our feet, but we pushed onward. At some point, we started feeling a little less awful, and at around 1200 feet we realized that there was a good chance of making it to Klahane RIdge.

Maybe it was just the knowledge that we were almost at the ridge. Maybe it was the golden marmots. We saw three of them. But somehow, we made it. The view to the north was spectacular despite a few clouds in the bowl of mountains below us.

On our way down, it started to rain. At first it was just a gentle misting, but by the time we made it to the junction with the trail to the lodge, it was raining gently. The air was moist and fresh. Everything smells a bit different in the rain, and we could see that the hanging gardens could use some watering. On our entire drive down, we marveled. Somehow, we had climbed Klahane Ridge on our first try.


A view from the ridge

A view of the Olympic Range

A closeup

A golden marmot

Another golden marmot

Gathering clouds

Columbine

This little guy was right next to the trail.

Clouds and stone

Lupine and phlox

This is a great year for larkspur.

Keywords: klahane ridge, marmots


07/15/14 - Klahane Ridge

The theme of our last climb was critters. This week it is flowers. To be honest, we didn't really see many critters this trip. The sky was crystalline, and the day was warm. The marmots, and even the chipmunks, were most likely avoiding the heat of the day. The flowers have no such desire or option, so they were out in full force. We have never seen so much larkspur out on the hillside. The paintbrush was glorious in shades of red and orange. There were shooting stars, turks cap lilies and bog orchids about. Maybe the lupines were a bit disappointing, but the full profusion more than compensated for it.

Crystalline sky and just a bit of snow left, looking north

We really need to get a flower identification book. You'd think someone would write an app.

The view south with even more crystalline sky

Paintbrush

Another mystery plant

Larkspur

Mixing it up

Shooting stars

This one blooms in the understory

Bog orchids

A slender bog orchid - It's a whole other type.

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge


07/01/14 - Klahane Ridge Again

We panted and wheezed, but we made it up to Klahane Ridge again. The phlox and glaicer lilies are passing, but the next round of flowers is just coming out. Our theme this post is critters. It wasn't as busy as Hurricane Hill, but there were four, or perhaps five, mountain goats on the crags above us, and at least one marmot about on the ridge itself. The young stag we saw on our last climb was still enjoying the local vegetation, but the real surprise was the black bear we saw. We only saw it because a fellow climber pointed it out, just a black dot below us on the hillside. This is the kind of luck we plan for, so we had or binoculars and modestly priced ultrazoom point and shoot camera handy.

Mountain goats on a misty ridge

The land is green.

Mist at the ridge

But, great visibility - That's Mount Baker.

Looking down to the north

Our marmot friend

Looking up

The young stag

The violets are brilliant this year.

A black bear at a safe distance

Toad lilies

Keywords: flowers, animals, klahane ridge, mountain goats


06/05/14 - Klahane Ridge Report

We still aren't sure how we did it, but we managed to climb up the Switchback Trail and get all the way up to Klahane Ridge. We were sure that this was as early in the season we had ever managed the climb, but we actually did make it to the ridge on May 29th back in 2005, so it has been a while.

This is always an exhausting hike, but the sense of the mountain and the spectacular views always make it worth the effort. This time that effort included having to clamber over a few remaining mounds of snow. The trail starts among trees in the ghost forest, then emerges onto the lush hill side. Most of the flowers have yet to bloom, though there was plenty of richly scented phlox and a lot of golden glacier lilies.

As we climbed, the distant rocky ridges overhead drew closer, and our view expanded. At around 1000 feet above the parking lot, Sunrise Point no longer blocks the view of glacier covered Mount Olympus and its cousins. The sky is wide and sparkling. Of course, at the ridge, the view is panoramic with the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, and everything else in creation, it seems, distantly visible.

We saw one lone marmot as we approached the ridge, but he or she - a matter primarily of interest to another marmot - dodged under a tree and some rocks. If we want to see marmots, we'll head back to Hurricane Hill. The high country is open. It looks like an early season.


The white stuff in the foreground is phlox. The white stuff in the background is snow.

The view

Mount Angeles

There were fields of richly scented phlox.

Phlox and more view

The view north of the strait

More phlox

The Olympic Mountains

Rocky fingers and lush green slopes

A glacier lily

This is a carnivorous plant growing not far from the parking lot. Click to enlarge the image and you can see the trapped insects.

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge


10/29/13 - Klahane Ridge

This was probably our last climb up to Klahane Ridge for the year. There was a dusting of snow, and we weren't even sure if we could make it all the way to the ridge. Still, as we climbed, the mountain called to us. It was a brilliant day and fantastically beautiful. Even if we didn't think we could climb higher, we didn't want to leave the mountain face. This left us little choice but to push on. Our trusty Yaktrax tooks us safely through the thin accumulation of slush and snow, though to be honest, most of the trails were clear and we had excellent traction. And, we climbed.

At some point it became apparent that we were likely to make it to the ridge. We had a clear view of Mount Olympus over Sunrise Point. It was exhiliarating. Then we made our last switchback and made our way to ridge proper, passing between the rocks. Before us was the sweeping view of the strait, of the islands, of Vancouver Island, of Mount Baker and, it seemed, everything. We approached the overlook, and the wind struck. It had been windy at Hurricane Ridge, imagine that, but our climb had been warm and sunny with the icicles glistening as they melted. Here, we were unsheltered, on a ridge, again. The wind blew hard and cold. It was a winter wind.

In a way it was a winter climb with the snow dusted landscape, the snow packed mountains and the trees adorned with bands of snow and icicles. But it was also a summer climb with the warm sun and the trail beckoning. It was the last of the season.


The hiking trail

The views

Are you thinking of Christmas too?



The view to the north

and the view to the east

More mountains

Rocky crags and sunny trails

Good footing on the descent

A stream through a mountain meadow

Keywords: hurricane ridge, klahane ridge, trails, winter


09/12/13 - Klahane Ridge - Late in the Season

We were up on Klahane Ridge a few days ago. Summer is over. The lupines are long gone. In fact, there were only a handful of flowers left here and there. The hanging gardens are shutting down for the winter. It seems so soon.

View of Port Angeles

The Olympic Mountains

Along the ridge

More mountains

Towards Mount Angeles - Look closely, and you can see some lingering snow.

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge


07/11/13 - Klahane Ridge - To The Top

We made it to the top of Klahane Ridge the other day. As usual, it was a serious hike, but we pushed ourselves onward and made it to the ridge. The view north was cloudy, but the view south was spectacular. We rested a bit, and while we sat, we could watch the clouds to the north getting thicker and thicker. We rested longer, and then the clouds thinned and parted giving us a fairly good view north.

The lower reaches of the trail are lined with lupines, larkspur, paintbrush, turk's cap lilies and a host of others. The upper reaches are scented by patches of phlox. The middle range of the trail has yet to blossom, and the trailsides lined with green. We'll have to climb again and see how the alpine summer progresses.


Imagine our disappointment. This was the view north.

Luckily the south view was fairly good.

Snow patches and lifting clouds

Mount Angeles

Phlox

Fields of phlox scenting the air.

The crags

A very green trail with flowers to come

Snow melting and feeding a stream

Flowers

and more flowers

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, summer, trails


06/16/13 - Klahane Ridge

The Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is a demanding trail, but one of the prettiest in the park. It is a 1500' climb, so the trailhead is usually free of snow well before the ridge itself. This time was no exception. We climbed the first 1000' before running into our first real wall of snow, which means we didn't make it to the top. Still, it was a wonderful climb, and this was probably the earliest in the season we had ever climbed this far.

Usually, by the time we can climb the first 1000' it is late June or early July, and the phlox is in bloom, scenting the air. The lupines will be coming out along with so many other flowers. This time, there was a lot of green, and there were lots of little yellow glacier lilies. We did spot some phlox, some paintbrush and a few other flower, but the hanging gardens are just starting to come into bloom.


The view from about 1000'

Our wall of snow - It extends for some way.

A snowy view from 1000'

Mount Angeles is still snow covered.

Some phlox

Some glacier lilies

The trail

A fritillary

Some paintbrush, just coming out

We aren't sure what this is, but it was pretty.

More flowers

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge


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

Lupines

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

Shadows

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge


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