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08/20/17 - Hurricane Hill as Summer Passes

The summer is passing. More gold and brown are creeping into the colors of the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail again and saw a bit of drama, two young marmots were attacked by a hawk. They were unharmed, but one tends to thing that these things are just staged for nature documentaries. Not true.

We also ran into the team planning to rebuild the trail. The Hurricane Hill Trail is heavily used in season, and it has been showing signs of wear. We're hoping they don't have to close the trail for too long. We've been having a lot of trail and road closures lately.


Summer colors

Still plenty of green

Mountains in late summer

Another view

The view to the north

Clouds add drama.

A silky sky

Late summer flowers

The season

Yet another view

The trail planning team at work

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, marmots, summer


06/27/17 - Hurricane Hill and a Sunbow

Taking a break from Klahane Ridge, we went back to Hurricane Hill. The snow on the trail is almost gone, so it was easy going. We even went down the side spur that leads to the Elwha Ranger Station a bit. We saw a blue grouse and several marmots, but the real treat was a sunbow on our way back to the parking lot.

On our way back, admiring the views of the main mountain chain to the south, we noticed that one of the high cirrus clouds was not quite pure white. It was colored and colored like the rainbow. There was another cirrus cloud not far, and it too was also colored, but more faintly. It took a bit of thinking, but what we were seeing was part of a colored circle, a rainbow around the sun, but only visible where there were ice crystals in the high clouds.

That's called a sunbow. It's not like a rainbow. Rainbows are centered around the anti-solar point, the point farthest away from the sun. A sunbow is centered around the sun. It was a pretty rare sighting. Moonbows, colored rings around the moon are much more common, so we were quite pleased with such a fine view.


A blue grouse

Mountain view

A piece of the sunbow

Another piece, more lightly colored

Together, these were parts of a ring of color around the sun.

Lupines

Lupines and mountain friends

Phlox

Avalanche lilies

More avalanche lilies

One of the many marmots

Keywords: grouse, hurricane hill, atmosphere, science, marmots


06/19/17 - Hurricane Hill - Critters

We've been getting up to Hurricane Hill to watch the snow melt, enjoy the views, gawk at the flowers and do some wildlife spotting. Hurricane Hill is great place for seeing all sorts of animals: marmots, bears, hares, deer and even mountain goats. Well, we didn't see any mountain goats this time, but we saw just about everything else.

The scene

A black bear ...

... from a safe distance

One of the marmots, not Marmot Rock

Melting snow

More snow on the north face

Another marmot

Yet another marmot

A snowshoe hare

Phlox

The lupines are back; we missed them last year.

Keywords: animals, flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


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


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


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


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


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


06/27/12 - 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


09/24/11 - Hurricane Hill Was Crawling With Critters

Hurricane Hill was crawling with critters on our last visit. There were marmots, chipmunks, and blue grouse wandering about. The flowers of summer have passed for the most part, but our big disappointment was the corn lilies on the side spur. We had hoped to, at long last, catch them in bloom, but they don't seem to have blossomed this year. Still, there seem to be a lot more of them.

A golden marmot

Chipmunk alert: watch your shoelaces!

A plump blue grouse

A couple of marmots

The disappointing corn lily crop

Early autumn colors

More golden grasses

and mountains

and more mountains

Keywords: autumn, flowers, grouse, hurricane hill, marmots


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


10/23/10 - Wild Sky at Hurricane Hill

Winter is teasing Hurricane Ridge even now. There's already a touch of snow on the lodge roof and a fair bit more fresh on the distant mountain tops. There's still a lot of autumn color, but now that is starting to fade. We started our latest hike with the mountains shrouded in white cloud and a light sleet, but the clouds parted and swirled. The sky was gray, nearly black, then white, then gray again, then blue. It was quite a show. It made up for the lack of marmots, now sensibly drowsing, we presume. It won't be long before the dominant shade is white, and getting to Hurricane Hill will require skis or snowshoes, so this might be a good time to say goodbye to autumn.

An unprepossessing sky

Autumn colors



Light and mist

Quickly moving shadows

Harvest gold - it looks better here than on one's refrigerator

Early snow

More autumn color

More wild sky

The glow of the sun

Keywords: autumn, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, marmots, winter


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