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02/16/17 - Marymere Falls in February

It has been a wintry month, and we haven't been getting out as much as we'd like. If nothing else, the Spruce Railroad Trail and all of the Elwha Valley trails are closed for construction and the high country is covered with snow. We did get out to Marymere Falls. It was a short walk from the parking lot, less than an hour round trip, but it was a nice taste of northwestern forest for the season.

The falls

The misty mountain trail

Looking down at Barnes Creek

The trail with a new handrail (on the right)

Barnes Creek again

The side stream from the falls

Another view of Barnes Creek

Keywords: elwha, high country, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails


01/22/17 - Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek

So many trails are closed this winter. Most of the Elwha River trails are closed while the flood damage is repaired, and the Spruce Railroad Trail is closed for the next step in its upgrade. The loop to Marymere Falls is one of the few trails still open, so we've been getting there fairly often. For a while, the trail was covered with snow. The Barnes Valley doesn't get a lot of sun this time of year, but the snows have melted, and the snow melt and recent rains have fed the river and the falls.

Marymere Falls, a healthy roar

The steps from the lower to the upper falls observation points, in National Park Modern

They've been rebuilding the bannisters along the trail

A view of Barnes Creek

The footbridge over Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek

The forest

Another view

and yet another

Keywords: elwha, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails, winter


04/18/16 - Trilliums

We spotted our first trilliums along Piedmont Road. Then we took a short walk along the Spruce Railroad Trail, and there were trilliums galore. It is still early in the trillium season, so we’ll be getting out and keeping our eyes open.

Trilliums

Another trillium

More trilliums

Even more trilliums

Yet another beauty

Paintbrush!

False Solomon’s seal, just coming into bloom

Yet, another trillium

It’s a great year for the trilliums.

A snail

Guess what?

Keywords: spruce railroad, trillium


03/20/16 - Spring on the Spruce Railroad Trail

We were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent recently. We had a great view of Storm King with its upper reaches dusted with snow. There was also a lot of water flowing into the lake on the various little streams the trail crosses. Even better, a sign of spring, our first skunk cabbage of the year.

Storm King

One of the many streams

Another of the many streams

The trail

Our first skunk cabbage of spring

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


02/05/16 - Lake Crescent

It is still winter, but here and there we see signs of spring. There were hints, just hints, on the Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Crescent.

A view across the lake of the Barnes Creek valley

Signs of spring?

A living rock wall

More signs of spring

Another view of the lake

Keywords: spruce railroad, spring, lake crescent


12/27/15 - The Spruce Railroad Trail is Open

This was a real surprise to us. The last time we visited the trailhead a few weeks ago there was a huge pile of dirt instead of a parking area. This time the trail was open, and a lot of people were there for a hike. The trail had been closed since last July, and with so many trails closed this winter having the Spruce Railroad trail open was a real treat.

Of course, the trail is quite different this time. They've turned another half mile or so into a road, cut into the hillside and maybe 16 feet wide at points. The old intimate experience of nature just isn't possible with this kind of road cut, but they did manage to smooth the descent to the lake side. The original rail line probably looked pretty raw in its day, so we're hoping things grow back over the years.

Otherwise, the lake is as beautiful as ever, and it's great to have the trail open again.


The Spruce Railroad Trail is open.

It's pretty wide and looks pretty raw.

There are some nice lake views though, and the descent is easier.

Here the new trail meets the old one.

They haven't gotten rid of the waterfalls yet.

Here's some of the old trail, mud and all.

A view of the lake in the direction of Storm King.

More of the old trail

Twisted growth

Another little waterfall

More ferns and running water

Keywords: spruce railroad, trails, winter


11/04/15 - Return to Whiskey Bend

This has been a bad year for trails in the park. Whiskey Bend Road closed way back during the winter. The east end of the Spruce Railroad Trail closed back in July. Then this fall the whole Elwha area, including the recently reopened Olympic Hot Springs Trail, was closed due to flooding. The good news is that not only have the floods subsided and the hot springs trail reopened, but Whiskey Bend Road is open as well. They had to rebuild 90 feet of the road along one of the latter hairpins, but we drove out to Whiskey Bend the other day and found the road in great shape.

We took the main trail out past Michael's Cabin, then headed down towards the Elwha River. The winter sun was low and bright, but the forest was as pretty as we had remembered it. We made it down past Hume's Ranch to the river overlook. The river channel had moved farther across the flood plain to the far side, and there was a lot more plant life on the flat land. We spoke to a trail repair volunteer, and she told us that campers now had to walk farther to the river to get water. There had been some change in the watershed as well. A lot of the little streams that had run downhill to the river had dried up.

The little waterfall on our way down was running nicely, so the area isn't totally drought stricken. Still, it was sobering to hear about the changes. Now that the road is open again, we'll head out and explore a bit more. We're hoping to head towards Lilian Camp some time in the near future. Here's hoping for a wet and snowy winter, even if it crimps our plans a bit.


The trail was full of bright light and dark shadow.

The Elwha River looking towards Dodger Point in 2015

The Elwha River looking towards Dodger Point in 2013

The Elwha River looking downstream in 2015

The Elwha River looking downstream in 2013

The little waterfall

Light and shadow trail

The Elwha from a trailside lookout in 2015

The Elwha from a trailside lookout in 2013

One of our favorite views

The trail again

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spruce railroad, trails, waterfall


05/24/15 - Late Spring on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Spring is really moving along the Spruce Railroad Trail. The trilliums have already peaked, and the vegetation is getting lush. Summer is less than a month away.

Lush vegetation

Mock Solomon's seal or is it false mock Solomon's seal?

We aren't sure about this. Maybe we missed the "Don't drink and kayak." sign.

Keywords: spring, spruce railroad, summer, trillium


05/08/15 - Sunny Day on the Spruce Railroad Trail

While we are fervently hoping for rain, we are enjoying the sunshine. We were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail enjoying the sparkling views of the lake and all the flowers coming into bloom. So far, it looks like a great summer, albeit an early one.

A classic shot or the bridge at the Devil's Punchbowl

Mount Storm King

Towards the west horn of Lake Crescent

One of the sedums

Lots of paintbrush

One of many trilliums

Another trillium

Keywords: flowers, spring, spruce railroad


03/18/14 - It's that time of year.

It's still too cold and awfully rainy, but spring is upon us. We humans may lack the sensitivity needed to recognize the incoming season, but the salamanders have it. This little guy, sighted on the Spruce Railroad Trail, was out enjoying our wet spring weather.

Keywords: salamander, spring, spruce railroad, weather


02/08/14 - Winter Icicles

We took a walk along the Spruce Railroad trail during one of our recent cold snaps. There was ice on the little waterfalls and icicles on branches low by the water. We were half icicle by the time we finished our walk, but the scenery was really impressive.

Snow on the mountains

Icicles

More icicles

A frozen waterfall

More frozen water

Dangling ice formations, for the want of a thesaurus

An array of icicles

Keywords: spruce railroad, winter, waterfall


10/24/13 - Lake Crescent

We haven't been doing all that much, but we took a short walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

Storm King and its reflection

A fish seen through the clear water of the lake

Madrona berries, a great crop this year

Keywords: spruce railroad


10/08/13 - Lake Crescent

The park may be closed, but Lake Crescent is still there, as is Storm King. We took a short walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail and enjoyed the scenery. We also ran into a late season salamander, so it isn't winter yet.

The lake and soft light

Storm King and its shadow

A late season salamander

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


04/24/13 - The Trilliums of Spring

It really is spring now. We were out on Lake Crescent looking for trilliums, and we found them. They are coming out in force. There are also a lot of other spring flowers.

Trilliums

Little orchids

More trilliums

Indian paintbrush

Skunk cabbage

Along the trail

The high / low on the trail

Keywords: trillium, spruce railroad, spring


02/28/12 - Out By Lake Crescent

We took a short walk along the north shore of Lake Crescent, and the big news was the first skunk cabbage of the season. We also saw a couple of downed trees, which isn't surprising given some of the recent winds.

Some snow on Storm King

Our first skunk cabbage of the year

A view to the west

A fallen tree

Another fallen tree

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad


06/24/11 - Lake Crescent Flowers

The flowers are out on the Spruce Railroad Trail. We particularly noticed the roses. Their rich scent carries. There are also lots of sedums, growing in the friable rock along the trail. Since there are plans to turn the trail into a paved road, they'll probably be getting rid of a lot of the broken rock and the sedums with them, so enjoy them while you can.

The roses

Some sedums by the side of the trail

Paintbrush

Keywords: flowers, spruce railroad


05/17/11 - Seen on the Spruce Railroad Trail

It's definitely getting more spring like.

An abstract painting (Can you spot the salamander and how many didn't we see?)

Actual flowers

Actual mushroom (Sorry, no plural)

Green

Greener

Flowing water

Those spooky old maples

Keywords: flowers, salamander, spring, spruce railroad


05/05/11 - It's Official

The sun took its sweet time crossing the equator this year, but spring seems to have arrived at long last. The flowers on the Spruce Railroad Trail prove it. Just last week we had marveled at a lone trillium by the roadside, but now there were lots of trilliums in bloom right on the trail. There were other flowers as well. Sometimes it just takes a few blossoms to get that sun to move in the sky.

The first on trail trillium of the season at Lake Crescent

Wild currant is still in bloom.

Indian paintbrush has already started its season.

There were little purple orchids.

And there were yellow violets.

Keywords: flowers, lake crescent, spring, spruce railroad, trillium


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


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