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10/22/16 - First Snow on Hurricane Hill

Hurricane Hill was windy and cold, and the first snow has fallen. Obstruction Point Road is already closed, and it looks like we are having an early winter. The Hurricane Hill Trail started below the snow line, but we could see a lot more snow on the Olympic Mountains and snow on Mount Angeles early on. As we neared the summit, we saw the first snow by the trail. There wasn’t all that much snow, but this part of the mountain faces south. We could see a lot more snow on the north face, and the little seasonal lake has reformed after having dried out this summer.

The wintry air and clouds played tricks with the light. There were bands of crepuscular light as the sun shone through gaps in the clouds. There was even a bit of a light column glowing brightly with the sunlight reflected and concentrated by ice crystals. There wasn’t much of a view as we made our ascent, but at the summit the clouds blew past, so we had great views on our walk down. We often tell people to take the trail even when visibility is limited as things are likely to change. We were well rewarded for taking our own advice, but by the time we returned to our car, the clouds had started to close in again.


A last bit of color

Mountains and sky

The summit and the first snow

Crepuscular light

Mount Angeles snow

The north face

Snow on the trail - Doesn’t that look like winter?

Almost like autumn again

Autumn color

More shafts of light

A light column

Keywords: hurricane hill, obstruction point, winter


09/30/16 - The Plains of Mars

Winter is coming to the high country. The greens are turning into browns and reds and golds. At Obstruction Point the colors are brilliant, and the fields of bright red foliage remind us of the plains of Mars. Of course, thanks to NASA we now know that Mars looks nothing at all like Lilian Ridge, but the colors still evoke the fantastic Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The high country is always a bit otherworldly, but it is at its most spectacular and alien when the colors start to change.

The mountains of Mars

More mountains with Martian vegetation in the foreground

Red and a shock of gold

Fields of Mars

More Martian landscape

Seasonal color change

Changing colors from a distance

The red land encroaches on a dying sea

Lakes and seas of gold

More plains of Mars

Another Martian view

Keywords: high country, obstruction point


07/29/16 - Obstruction Point

We waited for a sunny day before heading out to Obstruction Point. We really did not want to be caught on the road out in the fog. We were well rewarded with spectacular high country views, alpine flowers and the return of the alpine lakes, even now filling with melting snow. It is always an otherworldly experience, a journey to the top of the world and another clime.

The trail

One of the views - the Olympic range

Another view

A seasonal lake

Glacier lily - It’s still early spring out there.

Some lupines, nice to see

Another seasonal lake

A lake and melting snow

Yet another view of the mountains

Another lake and melting snow

Phlox, a sign of spring

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point


06/12/15 - Top of the World

Obstruction Point Road has been open to the end for some weeks now. We've been recovering from our colds, so we weren't too keen on a big dose of dry, thin air. Then we hiked up Hurricane Hill and realized that this year's flowers are well along. If we hoped to see the blossoms at Obstruction Point, we would be ill served by delay.

So, we drove out from the Hurricane Ridge parking lot and were soon on the top of the world. The Olympic Range was gloriously visible across the valley, there were still a few patches of snow, and there were flowers in bloom. The air was dry and thin, but it was great to see the seasonal lakes, some already vanishing, and enjoy the tapestry of alpine plants and flowers.


Some of the tapestry with some mountains

Lingering snow

A pine cone

A seasonal lake, drying quickly

A last glacier lily

Another seasonal lake, also drying

More mountains

The Olympic Range in the distance

Phlox and wall flowers

Another seasonal lake

Less snow, more lakes

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


09/12/14 - Fall Colors at Obstruction Point

We always like the Lilian Ridge hike out of Obstruction Point in the autumn. In truth, this hike has its charms in every season, but in the fall the wild, high country foliage starts changing color. There are bright yellows, pale silvers, and some amazing brilliant reds. The high country is exotic enough, but sometimes we feel like we are on another world, hiking the bright red plains of Mars.

Bright reds set off by deep summer greens

One of the many crickets about

More brilliant red

Red fields and red stairs

More early autumn color

A few last harebells

Cedums and dried flowers

More alpine flowers

A patch of red

Red grasses

More red fields

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point


07/24/14 - Obstruction Point, Just the Flowers

The glacier lilies and phlox may be passing, and the lupine a bit off their peak, but otherwise, this has been the most amazing year for high country flowers. We won't even bother with captions; we don't even know the names of most of these. They're just beautiful. We'll let the pictures do the talking.











Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point


07/23/14 - Obstruction Point Revisited

Obstruction Point Road opened a bit over a week ago, so we ventured out from Hurricane Ridge. It's a one and a half lane unpaved road, so we drove carefully to the parking lot at the edge of the high wilderness. Most of the snow on the trail had melted, so we made it all the way to where the trail drops off for the descent towards Grand Lake. Here, there was some snow on the trail, but otherwise, it was easy going.

The high country here is wild and austere with dusty trails, cracked rocks and a profusion of wild flowers. There was some phlox and a few glacier lilies left, but there were so many flowers that we'll have to have a separate post just for them. Some years, the alpine lakes in the valleys below are covered with snow, but this year, the snows have melted early, so they are all full of water and almost like distant mirrors.


The view down the staircase

The last few glacier lilies

A last bit of phlox

One of the seasonal lakes

More lakes - the one on the left with icebergs



The mountains

More mountains

Melting snow

The trail

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, 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


09/13/13 - Obstruction Point

Autumn is coming to Obstruction Point. It is always dry at the end of Obstruction Point Road, and the high country is always wild and open here. Already, the foliage has started to turn red, so part of our hike feels like crossing the Plains of Mars.

Another view of the mountains - We will miss them when the hiking season ends.

The Plains of Mars

Striking red foliage

Red fields and mountains

More of the plains

High country, dry country

Still some melting snow

Resin on the pine cones

Mountains and another lake

Harebells

We call these mock dandelions, but we're sure no on else does.

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point


07/31/13 - Obstruction Point

They just opened the road to Obstruction Point, so we drove out to take a short stroll. As it turned out, we hiked all the way to the "rim", the start of the big descent to Grand Lake. There was much less snow on the trail than usual, despite the early road opening. There was still some phlox and lots of lupines, and, if you looked carefully, you could see a few avalanche and glacier lilies about.

The lakes in the valley have already filled, and at least one of the tarns has already dried out. Still, there are patches of snow and a host of late season flowers including pink and red paintbrush, yarrows and hampers of dirty sock plant.

We weren't sure we could make the climb from the parking lot to the plateau, but it turned out we could. We double dog dared each other at the staircase and descended warily, expecting a hard climb back up. Then, how could we not cross the meadows and check out the view of the valley where the melting snow fills seasonal lakes for our entertainment. From there, we were called to climb a bit higher and continue down the trail. We made our way to the rim. Grand Lake beckoned, but enough was enough. We slowly and ever so regretfully made our way back to our car.


Heather and sky

Heidi country

Mountains and valleys

Phlox

Lupines

Melting snow along the ridge

More melting snow

Flowers, lots of these

More melting snow, more mountains

Paintbrush

Lakes, or perhaps tarns

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


09/04/12 - Obstruction Point

Obstruction Point Road has been open for a month now, but we finally made it out there today. The scenery was stunning. We managed to catch the last few lupines, but already the vegetation is drying and the great red fields of Mars are appearing. It's quite a sight. (Our apologies for the date stamp. We were resetting something else on our camera, and it got turned on somehow.)

We even had a great marmot sighting on our climb up the staircase. The first glimpse was of the marmot racing up the stairs and around a bend. We figured he or she would be safely hidden under a rock or bush by the time we labored up the steps, so you can imagine our surprise to find the little guy right on the steps relaxing and enjoying the shade.


Lupines and scenery

More scenery

Red foliage and even more scenery

It can be overwhelming at times.

Last year's snow is still melting.

More lupines

More lakes

The fields of Mars beckon.

The foliage here turns a brilliant red.

A marmot enjoying the shade

The land is dry already.

Keywords: obstruction point


09/04/11 - Obstruction Point

The road to Obstruction Point has been open for a while now. We managed to make our way out and took a little walk, stopping just before the big descent to Grand Lake below. There wasn't very much snow on the trail, but there was lots of snow still melting all about.

The carpet

Some mountains

More mountains with snow melting and scenery in the foreground

One of the smaller lakes

Lupines and more mountains

Yup, more mountains

Melting snow

More melting snow

The melting snow patterns were unusual this year, either that, or the snow has lingered.

Another little lake

And yet another

Keywords: obstruction point


09/03/11 - The Flowers at Obstruction Point

There were so many wonderful alpine flowers at Obstruction Point that we took too many pictures to fit in one post. Think of this as the overflow post.

Phlox

Glacier lilies

Lupines by the path

Stonecrop?

We have no idea.

Harebells

Ghost flower - We made that up.

We really do need to take a course or something.

This isn't mouse on a stick. (We didn't make that one up. There really is a flower called that.)

More pretty

Lupines and dirty sock plant, oh, and some mountains that sort of sneaked in

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point


10/08/10 - Obstruction Point

This may be our last trip to Obstruction Point this season. It's October, so it might snow any day. The signs of autumn are obvious now. Most of the great fields of snow have melted, and most of the flowers are gone. Parts of the trail remind us of Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars with brilliant red foliage at our feet.

Obstruction Point also seems to be chock full of marmots, particularly in the Marmot Meadow perhaps a half mile before the parking area. Interestingly, this seems to be a bad year for the red algae or bacteria, or perhaps archaea, that mottle the melting snow fields. This year they are still almost white.


Scenery

Welcome to Barsoom

Red Planet Earth

More Red Planet

The lakes

Melting snow



This looked rather Christmassy. Everyone seems to be jumping the gun this year.

A reminder of summer

One of our marmot friends

Keywords: autumn, flowers, marmots, obstruction point


08/15/10 - Obstruction Point

We were back at Obstruction Point. The snow is melting rapidly, forming fantastic shapes as it does in the summer mountains. Wild lakes appear in the wakes of melting snow fields, and all around the flowers are in bloom.

Melting snow

The vista

The trail

An emerging lake

Snow saved by shadow

Phlox

More fields

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point, summer, high country


07/29/10 - Obstruction Point

Obstruction Point Road has been open for a bit over a week, and we Kalebergs were not far behind. The road itself is in good shape, though dusty and vertiginous. The scenery, was spectacular. The hiking trail is still partly covered with snow, but the portion we take was not hard going. The snow that there is was soft.

Other hikers had seen marmots, but we didn't see any. We did see lots of wildflowers: phlox, pink paintbrush, lupines, asters, and, of course, the melting snow. Some of the lakes below are stil covered, though some have melted through. Now that Obstruction Point is open, we can say with certainty, the high country is open.


A view from the parking lot

That little lake seen descending the stone staircase

Snow on the trail

The mountains

It's sort of like this.

One of the lakes

The snow ridge

Pink paintbrush

Lupines

We're not sure of what this is, and we're not ashamed to admit it.

Phlox

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, marmots, kale


09/28/09 - Fall Color in the High Country

Autumn is a great time to explore the high country of Olympic National Park. If nothing else, the colors can be spectacular. The alpine flowers peak early in the summer, but then the vegetation dries and withers. In the fall the foliage gets a second chance with its brilliant autumn colors.

We drove out to Obstruction Point to see if this year's dry spell would deprive us of our anticipated reds and golds. As it turned out, we had no reason to worry. The trail crossed quite a few patches of bright red. It was like walking the Field of Mars.

We also had a great marmot sighting. One of the little guys was right by the road. We just had to stop and roll down our window for an amazing close up view. All told, 2009 has been a great year for marmot watching.


One of our local golden marmots

The same guy, on the lookout

Some scenery

More scenery

Lingering snow

Bright red

More autumn color

One of those garden show rock gardens

The trail through the Field of Mars

Keywords: autumn, flowers, high country, marmots, obstruction point


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