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04/22/11 - Along Lake Crescent

Usually, the Spruce Railroad Trail is adorned with trilliums by now, but this year winter has been lingering. Still, there were a few little yellow violets and the first signs of Indian paintbrush. It isn't much, but it's better than nothing.

The first paintbrush of the season

The trail

A rock garden

Keywords: spruce railroad, trillium, spring

03/31/11 - Spruce Railroad Spring Report

At long last, spring is coming to the Spruce Railroad Trail on Lake Crescent. On our most recent hike we were greeted by salamanders, and there was even a bit of wild currant in bloom. It was a typical cloudy day, and the mountains, still covered with snow, loomed mysterious.

Oh yes, the trail is a bit muddy.

"Welcome to the Spruce Railroad Trail."

Snow and clouds in the mountains and valleys

More mystery

Mount Storm King draped in cloud

The rocks are alive.

Some madronas

Some wild currant blossoms

Another salamander

Yet another salamander - There were a lot of them. We stepped carefully.

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spring, spruce railroad, storm king

It's finally, at long last, almost spring.

03/25/11 - Skunk Cabbage

We spotted our first skunk cabbage of the season near the east end of the Spruce Railroad Trail. It's better late than never.

Keywords: spring, spruce railroad

02/18/11 - Changing Weather at Lake Crescent

We went for a walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail. We started in sunlight, but as we made our way west the skies darkened, and mists blew in. By the time we started back the rains had come, and our rain gear was put to the test. We were a bit wet by the time we made it back to the trailhead, but the scenery made it worth it.

One of those big spooky maples not far from the trailhead

The view west with cloudy skies blowing in

Storm King with its pronounced snow line

Our special bonus surprise waterfall, in action

The view east with the last bit of sunny sky visible towards Lake Sutherland

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, waterfall

10/07/10 - Spruce Railroad Trail Paving Update

We attended the park's open forum on the paving of the Spruce Railroad Trail. It was a pretty diverse group attending, with bicyclists, hikers, equestrians, park people, county people, and many we couldn't place by sight. The park is doing an Environmental Assessment. Those words are capitalized because it has a precise legal meaning, but it comes down to figuring out how much asphalt to pour. Right now, the trail is dirt, mud in season. The country proposes eight feet of asphalt and another two to four feet of gravel right along the lake on the little ledge carved out when the railroad was built. That doesn't leave much room for anything else.

We looked and listened to the various proposals the park is considering. These range from no changes to pouring as much asphalt as the ledge will bear, presumably a fair bit since it was designed for a working railroad. We couldn't help thinking of an article in that classic National Lampoon parody of a Sunday newspaper, the Dacron, Ohio Republican Democrat, home of a major asphalt producer.

We love their plan for Quaint Town.

Keywords: spruce railroad, art

09/30/10 - Save The Spruce Railroad Trail

We are leaving this post up here at the top of our site because we want to get the word about the proposed changes out as best we can. Scroll down a bit for our usual updates.

The Spruce Railroad Trail is in danger. The park service and the county are seriously considering a plan to eliminate the existing wilderness trail and replacing it with a twelve foot wide, sturdily paved transportation corridor relegating its traditional users - hikers, joggers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders - to a three foot wide unpaved margin. Basically, they want to turn it into an urban bike path with some accomodation for the rest of us.

If you explore the Spruce Railroad Trail now, you get a true national park experience, with ferns, salal, mosses, and sometimes salamanders lapping at your feet. You can stop by the trail side an picnic or just rest on a rock or log. The trail has a soft surface which makes for easier hiking and jogging. The proposed transportation corridor eliminates all of this. It uses most of the right of way, eliminating a lot of the vegetation and natural diversity. It will be paved, changing the scent and atmosphere, and increasing runoff into Lake Crescent.

The current trail, and one of the wider sections

The proposed "improved" version
If you want to find out more, you can check the park's web site and the section on the proposed transportation corridor.

The plan is still open for public comment, but not for much longer. They've been rather quiet about it given its impact. There was a small notice on the cluttered bulletin board at the trailhead, but little else. You can:

Keywords: lake crescent, port angeles, salamander, spruce railroad

07/06/10 - Wild Roses

This is the season of the wild roses.

Wild roses at Lake Crescent on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, flowers

04/23/10 - Shadow Mountain Telephone Booth

The telephone system seems to enter a time warp out near Lake Crescent. It's easy not to notice, but if you look carefully at one of the many telephone cable warning markers along East Beach Road, you'll see that they have good, old fashioned Bell System logos. There's none of that Qwisp, or Quaker, or Qwest stuff they put on our phone bills these days. The Bell System was a telephone system. Qwest was a breakfast cereal.

There are even a few markers, and some curious equipment, right along the Spruce Railroad Trail. You probably haven't noticed it because there is awful a lot of distracting beautiful scenery. Still, it is time warp country. Check out this telephone booth at Shadow Mountain. That's the store along route 101 that sells gasoline, hot dogs, books of ghost stories, and just about everything else. We suppose that Sasquatch uses it when he comes out of the woods and changes into his civvies. As we said, it's time warp country.

They have just about everything else, so why not a phone booth?

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, science

04/17/10 - Trilliums

Trilliums are a certain sign of spring. They can be surprisingly tricky to find, for it seems that the mind builds a block against seeing them, but once one has been found, others abound. We noticed this on the Spruce Railroad Trail and on the Elwha Trail out of Whiskey Bend. Trilliums like water, so watch for them near streams where they often lurk. We wish you luck in your trillium spotting, but note that success, especially in this endeavor, favors the prepared mind.

Seen on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Seen on the Elwha Trail

The first paintbrush

Keywords: elwha, spring, spruce railroad, flowers, trillium

Yet another salamander

03/16/10 - Seen On The Spruce Railroad Trail

You are probably getting tired of all the pictures of salamanders we have been posting. Sorry, but here's another. We saw five salamanders on the trail, possibly a record.

Keywords: salamander, spruce railroad

02/24/10 - Lake Crescent in Mist and Cloud

The Spruce Railroad Trail is a different trail on cloudy days. We love to watch the clouds hugging the mountains.

Mountains, lake and clouds

If you look carefully, you'll see the OPI boat full of youngsters

One of our amphibian friends

Keywords: spruce railroad, lake crescent

02/21/10 - Sparkling Light at Lake Crescent

It has been sunny and calm lately, so we noticed an amazing light out on Lake Crescent. We were on the Spruce Railroad Trail, and the light reflected from the gentle ripples on the lake reflected onto the trees, sparklling and twinkling. Our camera only captured this so well.

Move your mouse over the image to see the subtle change, or click to watch the movie.

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, art, science

02/13/10 - Lake Crescent: Salamander Alert

We know this has been a mild winter, but we didn't expect to see salamanders out and about in February. There they were, right in the middle of the Spruce Railroad Trail. They can be tricky to see, so it is a wonder we didn't step on one. We spotted two or three of them. (We may have spotted the same salamander twice.) We also noticed that the big logs that had been blocking the trail had been removed, clearly by the hand, and most likely chainsaw, of man. The trail is in great shape, and rain or shine, it is a beautiful trail.

Salamander #1


Salamander #2

More scenery

Salamander #3, or possibly Salamander #1 spotted again on our way back along the trail

Keywords: salamander, spruce railroad, winter

12/09/09 - Return of the Icicles

The icicles along the Spruce Railroad Trail are back. We last noticed them back in March. They are as beautiful as ever, especially with the lake's blue waters behind them.

Keywords: spruce railroad, winter

12/03/09 - Another Tree Down

There's another tree down on the Lake Angeles Trail. This one was quite a piece of lumber. Mind you, this isn't really news. Trees fall in the forest all the time, though quite a few choose late November or early December. There were a few trees down on the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent as well, but both trails are still passable.

Keywords: lake angeles, lake crescent, spruce railroad, trails

12/01/09 - The Last Salamander of the Season

This has to be the last salamander of the season. It was an awfully cold day for salamanders when we spotted him on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

Keywords: salamander, spruce railroad

11/27/09 - Repairs on the Spruce Railroad Trail

The little board bridges near the start of the Spruce Railroad Trail have been repaired and reinforced. We aren't sure who does these things, but thanks for keeping the trail in good shape.

Keywords: spruce railroad

11/22/09 - Wild Waters on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Lake Crescent is as high as we've ever seen it. Despite this, we decided to take the Spruce Railroad Trail out a bit and see how far we could get. It wasn't too bad at first. There was a lot of mud and standing water on the slope up to the first tunnel, but otherwise it was easy going to the Punchbowl. The little bridge was a little flooded, but it was just a giant step over the waters separating the trail from the bridge. On the far side of the bridge, however, the entire trail was flooded for a ways. There were actually breakers there. With a bit of timing, we managed to follow the rocky ledge and leap back onto the trail at the far end.

The trail was dry for a bit, though there were a few trees down. Still, there was nothing we couldn't crawl under, clamber over or slink around, but then we got to the little creek. Usually, we can just step over the little creek, but today was different. To start with, there was a little river running down the trail as a warning. We skirted this and made our way to the creek. It was a torrent with quite a waterfall. It was also fast, deep and wide, filling its channel and overflowing a bit. We puttered around deciding if it was worth fording, for there was no way to leap it, and no visible rocks mid-stream. In the end, we decided that we had had enough water for the day. It was time to turn back.

We'll be keeping our eyes on the Spruce Railroad Trail. The high waters can't last forever, and aside from some muds, logs and high water, it is still quite hikable.

A piece of the trail underwater - That's the bridge down around the corner.

More flooded trail - We hugged the rocks and timed the waves.

The "little" creek

The little creek has overflowed a bit.

A lovely waterfall

Someone put this mushroom up here in a niche in the rocks.

A fish caught high and dry

The bridge - That gap is leapable, even by us.

One of several fallen trees

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, trails, waterfall

11/08/09 - More Snow on the Mountains

Storm King on the south shore of Lake Crescent got its first dusting of snow recently. The sky wasn't sure if it wanted to be blue or gray. That's typical in the autumn. The snow line on the mountain adds to the drama.

Storm King

The trail
The Spruce Railroad Trail itself is covered with leaves, and in places, it is turning into mud. It is as beautiful as ever, but expect muddy shoes and cuffs. That again is typical for this time of year.

Keywords: autumn, lake crescent, spruce railroad, storm king

10/12/09 - Some Autumn Color on the Spruce Railroad Trail

The North Olympic Peninsula is not noted for its spectacular autumn colors, but this year, the trees, notably the maples, are doing their bit. We were on the Spruce Railroad Trail the other day and saw a lot of maples turning bright yellow. It's probably the cold nights. It also might be the brilliant blue of the lake's water. In fact, the maples all over the north peninsula are quite impressive this year.

Some maple color

The blue water

More color, more water

One of the spooky maples getting ready for Halloween

Bright red

Keywords: autumn, spruce railroad, lake crescent

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