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05/19/19 - Again, to the Altair Bridge

We have been turning this into a regular walk, starting at Madison Falls and heading, by way of the detour, to the Altair Bridge over the Elwha. The columbines are gone and the trilliums and dogwood almost past, but the tiarella is now in bloom as are other late spring blossoms.

As usual, we stopped to soak our feet in the river. A bit later, we had to step to the side of the trail to let a mule team get by. The park service people and animals were heading out to do trail work. The mules were new to the area and a bit skittish. We did our best to keep them calm.

The river is still pretty high, so the park service might just be waiting for it to go down, but we're guessing that they won't be setting up the temporary bridges the way they did last year. Despite this, we'll be back in a week or two to follow the spring progression and we'll let you know the latest.


The Elwha as seen from the Altair Bridge

Another view of the Elwha

Yet another view

The river is so high that the river branch that cut the road has flooded. The gap may grow.

The forest detour

Tiarella

Elderberry flower buds

Another tiarella

Stinky bob on an old maple tree

A mushroom

The Elwha from the bank

An entire forest growing on a tree

A fading trillium

Paintbrush

More tiarella

More of the forest trail

Across the river, lupines in bloom

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium


05/16/19 - Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill Trail is open. It is still being rebuilt, so it is only open about half the time. Check the park web page and scroll down to the calendar before you head up expecting to take this hike. Note that the trail is ALWAYS closed on Wednesdays. Also note that the road is closed at the second picnic area, so the trailhead is now an additional ten minute walk from parking.

That said, the view from the trail is as beautiful as ever. Most of the trail is free of snow, and the snow is melting rapidly. The glacier lilies are out as is the phlox, so keep your nose peeled for that latter flower's wonderful scent. There were many marmots about which was a nice treat. We didn't quite make it to the summit, so that's for our next try. We had a long winter this year, so it's great that the high country is finally open again.


The Olympic Mountains

Phlox

A view from the trail

More of the mountains

A late winter scene

One of the many marmots

Another mountain view

Another marmot

A marmot in a field of delicious, to a marmot, spring flowers

The marmot by the trailside

That marmot checking us out

That marmot again offering us a closeup

A bit of snow on a shady stretch of trail

More spring flowers

Some of the trail work, a stone retaining wall where the trail has been widened

More phlox

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies in closeup

Goodbye to the mountains

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, marmots, spring


05/06/19 - To the Altair Bridge

We've been slowly reclaiming the Elwha, hiking farther along now disused section of Olympic Hot Springs Road. This time we made it all the way to the Altair Bridge, sort of a breakthrough for us. The bridge is still there. It's just farther away. It was great seeing the view of the Elwha from the bridge again, and we're hoping to go farther, perhaps to dam site overlook. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the river and the flowers.

Along the detour

Paintbrush

Flowers

An orchid

Mahonia

Trilliums

More flowers

The view of the Elwha from the Altair Bridge

The view in the other direction

Skunk cabbage

One of the Elwha's new branches

A view of the old Elwha campground

Another orchid

Tiarella

More flowers

Forest

Dogwood

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring


04/15/19 - Spring Flowers on the Elwha Detour

We finally followed the Elwha detour from where it leaves Olympic Hot Springs Road about a half mile past Madison Falls to where it rejoins the road past the old Elwha campground. It's a 250 foot or so climb, but it goes through forest, and the forest is full of columbines, trilliums and other spring flowers.

The detour trail heads up past a work area at the end of the service road and then heads higher to a junction with the Cascade Rock trail. There are glimpses of the Elwha along the way as it follows the ridge past the washout. After the junction the trail goes down a bit, then up a bit, then slowly descends behind the old campground. There is a sturdy tributary of the Elwha running between the trail and the collapsed campground pavilion.

The trail lets out a bit past the washout but before the ranger station and work area. It took us about 45 minutes from Madison Falls, so it would be another 15 or 20 minutes to the Altair bridge. We didn't make it that far, at least not this time.


A perfect place for columbines

Columbines

and more

and more

and even more



Other spring flowers

The trail ahead

One of the many trilliums

and a pair, overlapping,

and another

and yet more

Skunk cabbage, a sure sign of spring

The old campground pavilion across the new Elwha channel

More of the trail

We forget what this is called

Mysterious rock overhangs and mysterious caves

A glimpse of the high country

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring, trillium


04/09/19 - First Trillium of the Season

It has been a long hard winter. The signs of spring have been late in coming, but yesterday, while walking down to the Dungeness Spit, we saw our first trillium of the year. It may be coming slowly, but spring is on its way.

Keywords: dungeness spit, spring, trillium


03/29/19 - Cherry Blossoms at UW

Spring is here or at least in Seattle. We made a quick day trip to Seattle to check out the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington. They were in full bloom, and the quad had the air of a festival with hundreds of people out admiring the flowers, taking pictures and celebrating the arrival of spring. We joined in and took lots of pictures.

Cherry blossoms - We're not going to have a lot of captions here.


Califlory - flowers growing out of the tree trunk















A sign of thanks

A magnolia tree joining the fun.

Keywords: flowers, seattle, spring


03/09/19 - Another March Day in Seattle

We spent a second day in Seattle and walked from the UW subway station to Foster Island and on the Arboretum. We are desperate for signs of spring.

The waterway

A long shadow

To Marsh Island by causeway

Coots - There were lots of coots.

On Marsh Island

A sign of spring!

To Foster Island

Another causeway

Back east these would be pyracantha

Witch hazel in bloom

More witch hazel

Keywords: seattle, spring


07/20/18 - Farther Along The Elwha

The park service has put in another pair of temporary bridges along Olympic Hot Springs Road, so we took an easy walk all the way up to the Altair bridge. The road is still closed to cars from Madison Falls on, but accessible by foot or bicycle. We crossed the first temporary bridge at the north end of the old campground and continued. The road had been destroyed by the river, and it is still pretty beaten up. The park service has scraped and smoothed it, but clearly doesn't trust it.

We made our way to the next new tributary of the Elwha, where the river had carved a pair of passages across the roadway. There were now a pair of bridges in place. We continued on and were soon at the ranger station and construction facility across the way. We continued past the turn off for Whiskey Bend Road and on to the bridge right before the old Altair campground.

That was far enough for us. We were just out exploring. It is going to be some time before this area is open to public vehicular traffic. Supposedly, the park service is evaluating an alternate route around the new branch of the Elwha. For now, the temporary bridges let the park service keep up trail maintenance and make it easier for visitors to walk in. Unfortunately, they'll be gone this winter. The Elwha is a wild river now, and no one wants to lose those temporary spans to the winter flood.


Along the road the river has claimed

The new temporary bridge

Still the old wild forest

A view from the Altair bridge

Another view from the Altair bridge

A view from the temporary bridge

A view from the road

Another view from the road

One of our favorite views, and not very far from the parking lot

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, winter


05/27/18 - Hurricane Hill - First Ascent

This time we made it to the top of Hurricane Hill. Most of the snow has melted, except for a long stretch between the bench and the "hamper". All sorts of flowers are starting to bloom: glacier lilies, yarrows, violets and avalanche lilies. The lupines are getting ready. Spring is here. We even saw some marmots.

Phirst phlox

Glacier lilies and others

One of the marmots

Another marmot

One of the views

That lake to the north of the peak

More flowers

Grasses in bloom

Yarrow

An assemblage with phlox

An avalanche lily

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots, spring


05/25/18 - Elwha River Update

We drove out to Madison Falls, the current end of Olympic Hot Springs Road. We took our usual walk along the Elwha, past the relocated mule camp, over the temporary bridge, and down to the latest washout where the Elwha meets the road. The Elwha won, as you can see in the pictures.

The park is making the best of the situation. They can't conjure a road from nowhere. Along with many of our favorite trails, there's a park ranger station and work area cut off by the river. There is a temporary trail around the wash out, and while it isn't suitable for cars, it is apparently human and mule friendly. We saw a group of laden mules taking the route.

The river is as beautiful as ever, but the trails out of Whiskey Bend and to Olympic Hot Springs are still inaccessible. This will probably be the situation for some time.


You can see two branches of the Elwha crossing the road here.

Elwha versus Road; Elwha wins.

The park service mules in action

The Elwha

Another view of the Elwha

An artfully framed view of the Elwha

White water

Madison Falls, worth the two minute walk

Upper Madison Falls

Snow covered mountains

A last look at the Elwha

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, trails


05/20/18 - Hurricane Hill - First Look

Despite the delays on Hurricane Ridge Road, we made our way up to the Hurricane Hill trailhead. There was still a lot of snow, but some of the trail was clear. The sky was blue and the view of the distant mountains was crystalline. Only the bravest plants, or those lucky enough to have an especially warm microclimate, were out and in bloom, but we could see signs of alpine spring.

Stay tuned. We'll be back, road construction or not.


Snow on the trail - still passable

More snow on the trail

Someone getting a head start

Melting snow on the mountain

The Olympic Range in its majesty

Another gorgeous view

Paintbrush getting out in front

Keywords: hurricane hill, spring, flowers


05/17/18 - Sol Duc Falls And Beyond

We braved the construction on Route 101 along Lake Crescent and were pleased to only be delayed perhaps twenty minutes on our way west. Our goal was the Sol Duc Falls trailhead where we made our way first to the falls, in full spring rush, and then onward and upwards to the bridge over Canyon Creek. We almost climbed 1000'. Deer Lake was another 600' or so, but we had climbed all we could.

There was no snow on the trail, though we did see patches of snow in the woods. We did see lots of trilliums and lots of running water in the Sol Duc River, in Canyon Creek and seeping from the rocks and pooling on the trail. It's a beautiful but tiring trail. We returned to the car happy but exhausted. We encountered another twenty minute delay on the way back, but we considered the extra time on the road well worth it.


Sol Duc Falls

A trillium

A curtain of drips

Some unmelted snow

Another trillium, artfully arranged

Canyon Creek

A double header

Canyon Creek again

A minor waterway

The forest

Even more trilliums

Keywords: lake crescent, sol duc, spring, trillium


05/07/18 - Even More Trilliums

This is the time of year we post pictures of trilliums. They are a sure sign of spring, and by this time of year, we are eager for a bit of spring.

A trillium

More trilliums

Yet another trillium

That's right. That's the High Line in New York City.

Definitely the city

Along the Hudson

Another Hudson view

Just a little fishing village, with trilliums

Typical New York City - health advice from a truck

Keywords: spring, trillium, new york city


04/28/18 - Trilliums on the Lake Angeles Trail

Between winter conditions and road repairs, we haven't been hiking the Lake Angeles Trail lately. We finally made our way back, and were pleasantly rewarded. The trail is as beautiful as ever, the trilliums were starting to bloom, and aside from some gravel stretches, the road wasn't much of a problem.

The little stream, one view

A trillium

Another trillium, just getting ready to bloom

Yet another trillium

Another view of the little stream

Keywords: lake angeles, trillium, spring


04/26/18 - Spring Comes to the West Elwha

We took a walk west of the Elwha River and saw definite signs of springs. There were trilliums in bloom and columbines in profusion. Spring is here.

One of the many trilliums

Water crossing the trail

More trilliums

Old forest, signs of moisture

Another trillium

A columbine

More columbines

The boardwalk

More flowers

The Elwha River coming ...

... and going

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium


04/09/18 - Bennington Lake in Walla Walla

It's that time of year again, the Cayuse spring release. It wasn't very spring-like, but we headed out to Walla Walla anyway. Usually, all the fruit trees en route are full of blossoms, but this time only a handful were. It has been a slow spring on both sides of the Cascades.

In Walla Walla, we made a point of walking around Bennington Lake. It is very different country from where we live. There were dry grasses and old seed pods and wide open agricultural land with mountains only in the distance. The Army Corps of Engineers had closed the sluices, so the lake was low and the side stream was dry. We assume they know what they are doing.


Dry grasses

Distant mountains

Very different from the Olympic Peninsula

This is where one fords the feeder stream for Bennington Lake. It was just about dry.

The closed gates

A view with some water

Agricultural land

Dried berries

Dried seed pods

Bare trees

Lovely country

Keywords: spring, walla walla


03/21/18 - Cherry Blossom Special

We had been following the action on the webcam. The buds were starting to open. It was too much to resist. We Kalebergs just had to be in the quad where it happens, so we headed into Seattle, up to the University of Washington and onto the quad where the cherry trees were at peak blossom. These were big old trees, gnarly and dark with a cloud of pale pink flowers about them. The quad was full of people there to enjoy the blossoms and the late start of spring.

Cherry blossoms

More cherry blossoms and admirers

Admirers and cherry blossoms

An old gnarled branch

More CBs

CBs

Dark bark

Another branch

More CBs

Did we mention cherry blossoms?

I guess we did mention cherry blossoms.

Keywords: flowers, seattle, spring


03/17/18 - The Elwha Again

Given what the park service is up against, the lack of an immediate plan to get Olympic Hot Springs Road open again is not surprising. The Elwha River now has a full fledged tributary running through what was once the Elwha Campground. A temporary bridge is possible, but we haven't even seen the spring melt. The older temporary bridge is still in place, but one can imagine a running battle with the park service building temporary bridges and the Elwha River finding clever new ways to branch around them.

Meanwhile, the mule camp is being relocated. If you've ever taken Whiskey Bend Road, you might have noticed the mules in the field near the start of the road. They work for the park service, but the old mule camp is no longer reachable by road. Yes, the mules could walk in, but it's much easier to deploy mule power if you can get all your mules in a truck or two and take them where they are needed. So, their new seasonal home will be the field just past the Madison Falls parking lot. We probably won't be seeing much of that bobcat who hangs around there. Mules have an ornery reputation.


A river still runs through it.

River meets road.

Another view of the river

Fencing for the mule enclosure

Spring flowers - finally

Keywords: elwha, spring


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