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10/29/13 - Klahane Ridge

This was probably our last climb up to Klahane Ridge for the year. There was a dusting of snow, and we weren't even sure if we could make it all the way to the ridge. Still, as we climbed, the mountain called to us. It was a brilliant day and fantastically beautiful. Even if we didn't think we could climb higher, we didn't want to leave the mountain face. This left us little choice but to push on. Our trusty Yaktrax tooks us safely through the thin accumulation of slush and snow, though to be honest, most of the trails were clear and we had excellent traction. And, we climbed.

At some point it became apparent that we were likely to make it to the ridge. We had a clear view of Mount Olympus over Sunrise Point. It was exhiliarating. Then we made our last switchback and made our way to ridge proper, passing between the rocks. Before us was the sweeping view of the strait, of the islands, of Vancouver Island, of Mount Baker and, it seemed, everything. We approached the overlook, and the wind struck. It had been windy at Hurricane Ridge, imagine that, but our climb had been warm and sunny with the icicles glistening as they melted. Here, we were unsheltered, on a ridge, again. The wind blew hard and cold. It was a winter wind.

In a way it was a winter climb with the snow dusted landscape, the snow packed mountains and the trees adorned with bands of snow and icicles. But it was also a summer climb with the warm sun and the trail beckoning. It was the last of the season.


The hiking trail

The views

Are you thinking of Christmas too?



The view to the north

and the view to the east

More mountains

Rocky crags and sunny trails

Good footing on the descent

A stream through a mountain meadow

Keywords: hurricane ridge, klahane ridge, trails, winter


10/20/13 - Olympic National Park Is Open Again - Hurricane Hill

The park is open again, and about time. As soon as we got the word, we were heading up Hurricane Ridge Road, and we weren't alone. There was a short line up at the entry station and a short wait where they are still repairing the tunnels, but it didn't take us long to return to the high country. Hurricane Hill was spectacular. There are a few spots of snow on the ground, but the trails were clear and the air almost crystaline. The grasses are turning golden brown. It was only two weeks, but it was way too long.

The fields are golden brown

More color, more mountains

A spot of snow below

That snow on the north face is there until next summer.

The side spur

The Strait of San Juan de Fuca

A view north

Golden hills

Some autumn color

Fields, snow and mountains

Mount Baker, a distant meringue

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, autumn, trails


10/18/13 - Second Beach

Second Beach was one of the handful of park trails that were open during the government shutdown. The parking lot is on Quileute tribal land, though much of the trail and the beach itself are part of the park. We took the short walk through the rain forest down to the sea. It's not a real long walk, maybe three quarters of a mile, but the trees are wild, green and covered with moss.

The beach itself was easy to reach. First there is a little climb, then the forest walk, and then the twisting descent through the forest to the beach. There are glimpses of the ocean as the trail descends. Then, trail breaks out to the beach, wide, bright and open. It almost feels like going outside, but first there is the driftwood. Some years there is quite a substantial barrier. Some years it is a simple step onto the sand. Right now, most of the driftwood is gone. There is some, but it's more of a simple maze than a challenge course.

We were two hours before low tide, but it was a very low tide, so there was a lot of wet beach, gray and sparkling. The seastacks were as magical as ever. They almost seem impossible, or at least improbable, but there they are, remnants of an eroding shoreline, each with its own watershed and forested topping, an ecological island of fresh water surrounded by salt.

We made our way south, stopping to explore a few tidal pools and checking out the star fish and anemomes. The tide was far out and there was a lot of sand. We walked the still wet sand to the little sea cave and then made our way out towards the headland. In winter, this area is often rocky, but it was still summer here. We explored the coves and the rocks at the base of the far seastacks, then, well before low tide we started home.


A modest driftwood barrier

The sea and sand

A seastack

Another seastack and a tidepool

The rocks

The headland

Exploring

An anemone

and friends

Starfish hideout

and more starfish

Keywords: second beach, trails


07/28/13 - Lake Angeles

We made it up to Lake Angeles again. This time the weather was clear and bright. In fact, it was almost too bright, which is why we chose to take the shady trail up to the lake.

A slightly glary view to the south

Another view

Our favorite island

Logs in the water

A root

A flower

Starbursts

A mysterious pipe

A mysterious mold

Keywords: lake angeles, trails


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


07/11/13 - Klahane Ridge - To The Top

We made it to the top of Klahane Ridge the other day. As usual, it was a serious hike, but we pushed ourselves onward and made it to the ridge. The view north was cloudy, but the view south was spectacular. We rested a bit, and while we sat, we could watch the clouds to the north getting thicker and thicker. We rested longer, and then the clouds thinned and parted giving us a fairly good view north.

The lower reaches of the trail are lined with lupines, larkspur, paintbrush, turk's cap lilies and a host of others. The upper reaches are scented by patches of phlox. The middle range of the trail has yet to blossom, and the trailsides lined with green. We'll have to climb again and see how the alpine summer progresses.


Imagine our disappointment. This was the view north.

Luckily the south view was fairly good.

Snow patches and lifting clouds

Mount Angeles

Phlox

Fields of phlox scenting the air.

The crags

A very green trail with flowers to come

Snow melting and feeding a stream

Flowers

and more flowers

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, summer, trails


08/29/12 - Storm King - A Little Bit Goes A Long Way

We weren't up to much, but we needed to get out and do something, so we planned a hike along Barnes Creek, but wound up climbing nearly 500 feet up Mount Storm King. That's not really that impressive, as it's 1350 feet to the overlook, but it was more than we had intended. We also walked a bit along Barnes Creek, but by this time we were too exhausted from our climb to go far.

It's easy to drive along the south shore of Lake Crescent and do nothing but admire the scenery, but it is well worth pulling into the Barnes Creek parking lot and exploring the area. The lodge is there, if you are planning to spend the night, and there's a boat ramp if you happen to have a boat on hand, but there is also the Barnes Creek trail. Most people take it to see Marymere Falls. We do often, but there are two other trails there. One heads south along Barnes Creek while the other heads up Mount Storm King. The latter is a brutal climb, but well worth it if you have the stamina to climb 1350 feet to the overlook which offers views of Pyramid Peak, the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and Canada beyond.

Well, we didn't have quite the necessary stamina, but we had a great workout, and the scenery was terrific.


This little buck was climbing a log beside the trail.

Madronas in the rain forest

The trail - It is steeper than it looks.



Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek and an argument for HDRI (high dynamic range imagery)

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, storm king, trails, marymere falls


07/28/12 - Cape Alava

We went back to Cape Alava and took a long walk, but we didn't do the full nine mile loop. We had intended to. Cape Alava is a two hour or so drive from Port Angeles, so we always try to spend a full day there, hiking as much as we can. People tend to think that Seattle is on the west coast, but then, you have to drive another three hours west to get to Port Angeles. By the time you've driven another two hours west, you expect to be on the ocean, but at Cape Alava there is another hour's walk.

It's a beautiful walk through forest and meadows. Back until the 1980s, it was a walk through mud. Then the park service put in a boardwalk, but more recently they've been replacing the boardwalk with a gravel aggregate. The trail is lined with salal and ferns and skunk cabbage and every other type of northwest rain forest plant. If you pay attention, you'll see some big old trees that rival any in the Hoh. The meadow is old grassland with the grasses going to seed and a few pacific dogwood blossoms still showing.

The beach itself is at the end of the earth. We made our way down and were pleasantly surprised. The waters of the Pacific were still a fair ways off, but we were on the water's edge following a good path of sand, stones and dried out seaweed. We headed south towards Sand Point, but all too soon the trail dissolved into large rocks and small stones decorated with wet seaweed. It was rough going, and we were more tired than we had thought. We gave up well before the first headland.

So, we stopped and ate our lunch and watched the eagles on the rocks. We explored a bit, but the trail ahead was rough going, more than we could take for the hour or so it would take. We weren't even sure we could make it around the headland. Sometimes you have to accept your limits, so we made our way back to the car for a seven mile hike, rather than the full nine plus. All told, it was a good day's outing, and it was great to see the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava again.


Through the woods

Across the meadows

Still some pacific dogwood in bloom

View from the beach

Half decent footing on the beach at first

But it got rougher

And even rougher

Eagles on a rock

Reflected sea stack

The headland

The Ozette River

Keywords: cape alava, trails, eagle


06/08/12 - It's Going to Take a Lot of Melting

We've started our seasonal Hurricane Ridge watch, waiting for the high country trails to open. There's still a lot of snow up there, and the webcam points at a southern slope, so it doesn't reveal much about how clear the trails are. Another useful resource is the real time Hurricane Ridge weather report which gives the snow level. The park posts its own trail condition reports, and while things are thawing, the cool spring means that much of the high country is still closed. We'll be heading up to the ridge now and then to see what things are like, and we'll post a note when we get our first high country hike of the year.

There was a lot of snow.

These ramparts are lower now, but there's still a lot ot melt.

We walked the road to Hurricane Hill a bit. When we last checked, it wasn't plowed far.

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, spring, trails, weather


04/27/12 - Elwha Open Again

We are building up again after a long slow winter. The trail out of Whiskey Bend is open again, so we pushed ourselves past the cabin and up 400 feet to the first crossing. This is maybe halfway to Lilian Camp, our eventual goal, but one must crawl before one can walk, though in our case it feels as if we walk first, then crawl back.

There were a couple of trees down, but the trails are in great shape. Even better, the trilliums and other spring forest flowers are coming out. Next time, the second crossing, for sure.


Self portrait

Trilliums

The green way

The stream at the first crossing

Spring waterfall

The forest

Another trillium

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring, trails, trillium, waterfall


02/08/12 - Whiskey Bend Road Has Reopened, Kalebergs Return

Whiskey Bend Road was closed for well over a year. With all the dam removal work going on, we were afraid that the park service would forget about it, but it finally reopened, and we finally went back for a visit. The road is definitely smoother than it was, though this is unlikely to last. There are also many signs of repair, including sections that have been almost completely rebuilt and others which are again passable, but are narrower. The dam access is closed off by a chain link fence, but the trail to Lake Mills and the other trails at Whiskey Bend are all open and in good shape.

We had forgotten what a pleasant hike it is from the parking lot to Michael's Ranch. We headed up a short way towards Lilian Camp, but were are a bit out of shape. The sun filtered through the trees, and this part of the river, above Lake Mills, hasn't been affected by the dam work. We could go on describing things, but, as usual in this blog, it is better to let the pictures do the talking.


Sunlight and forest

Translucent red berries

Snow covered peaks

The river below

More river

Our favorite overlook

Some of the trail, near the stream

Some of the little waterfalls at the stream

Green ferns

A tree down on the trail

Another snow covered peak

Keywords: elwha, trails, waterfall


12/24/11 - San Francisco, Monterey and Big Sur

We've just returned from an adventure in San Francisco, Monterey and Big Sur. We got to see the city at its Christmas best and explore the natural wonders of the Pacific coast where the mountains go down to the sea. We also spent some time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is almost our home away from home, except that the feeding time food is for the birds.

For more on our trip:

San Francisco

Monterey and Big Sur

The Filbert Street steps

A San Francisco view

The Golden Gate Bridge

One of the new trails along the Pacific

Union Square at Christmas

Andrew Molera State Park

Another view from Andrew Molera

A ctenaphore at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

A sea dragon - we can watch these all day

Garrapatta State Park - Look for the Invasive Plants sign

Point Lobos State Reserve

Keywords: christmas, san francisco, trails


11/14/11 - Solitary Sol Duc

We drove out to Sol Duc Falls the other day. The resort was closed. The ranger's station was closed. Even sections of the road were closed with automated traffic signals regulating traffic. The parking lot was deserted but for a handful of cars. It was quiet and isolated and almost spooky. Maybe it was the Spanish moss. Maybe it was Halloween's ghost, but it was a touch spooky.

The trails were wet. In some places they were waterways. The falls were as roaring as ever. We made our way up to the canyon bridge. That's not very far, maybe a third of the way up to Deer Lake. It was cold, and there was ice on the bridges and wooden walkways, so we walked carefully.

It was a strange experience returning to the falls to find them deserted. Usually, there are at least a few people around. The bridge was a bit less icy, but still slippery. It was a strange walk, with a strong sense of being far away from people and things.


There were some elk crossing the road.

The forest was lush.

The little falls near the main falls - It's worth crossing the bridge and exploring a bit.

The falls, as ever

The canyon bridge

Snow on the valley walls

A bit of the trail

A fungal friend

These are either chanterelles or brown destroyers. Only our livers know for sure.

A damp bit of trail

A rocky bit of trail

Keywords: deer lake, halloween, sol duc, trails, elk


10/14/11 - Journey to the Land of the Snows

We recently returned from a journey to the land of the snows. We climbed Hurricane Hill, starting in autumn and climbing up into winter. It was something of an adventure.

The short, wet summer kept the hillside vegetation green late into September, but now it had all turned to gold. Here and there we could see the fall colors with browns and golds and here and there brilliant red. Above us loomed the bulk of Hurricane Hill, its summit dusted white above us.

We walked through autumn, but as we ascended, panting and wheezing as is our wont, the season changed on us. First there was first snow by the trailside, then on the trail itself. The golden grasses were covered with a lacework of light snow. It grew colder.

As we neared the summit we were in winter, surrounded by snow, with snow dusting the gnarled trees. At the peak, it was winter. We were in another land, the land of the snows.


The looming snowcap of Hurricane Hill

A hawk of winter

Fall colors below

White lace on the golden fields

Entering winter's frigid domain

More lacework

Towards the summit

The view from the top, in the land of the snows

More winter in the high country

The side spur

Mount Angeles and a deer family

Keywords: autumn, high country, hurricane hill, trails, winter


10/07/11 - Signs of Christmas

While we were hiking on Hurricane Hill, we couldn't help but notice signs of the season. Yes, there was some autumn color, but when we Kalebergs say "season", we mean "Christmas season". So while the stores are still pushing Halloween candy, stage makeup and costumes, we Kalebergs are already leaping ahead to the real thing. We usually don't jump the gun like this, but there were the signs: the first snow and the brilliant red and green of the season.

Snow by the trail

Snow on the trees

Look, Christmas trees

and more Christmas trees

We've really got to start decorating.

There's the red and green.

Deck the trails.

OK, so this is a bit autumnal.

That might make a nice tree blanket.

Keywords: autumn, christmas, hurricane hill, trails, kale


04/30/11 - Lake Angeles Trail Report

The snow on the Lake Angeles Trail seems to come and go, but lately it has been going. We haven't nerved ourselves to cross the little bridge yet, but we've made a few trips that far already, and surely, we'll cross that bridge on our very next trip, or the one after that.

Here are a few pictures, so you can size up the situation for yourself. For a more complete picture, you can check out the park's official trail status page. According to their reports, there are six feet of snow at the lake. That's for folks hardier than we are.


The bridge is clear of snow and ice. It's the trails that are still a bit messy.

The stream was, as usual, beautiful.

Most of the trail below the bridge is like this.

Keywords: trails, lake angeles


07/20/10 - Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill trail is one of our favorite trails. It offers the high country, amazing views and great accessibility. This year, the flowers have been spectacular. The corn lilies are not quite out yet, but they're getting there.

The big excitement this year, was that there is a bear down in one of the valleys visible from the trail. Usually, when we spot a bear in the high country, all we see is a large dark dot moving against the green below. This bear was close enough to positively identify it as such. To be honest, that's about close enough a sighting for us.


Definitely a bear, not a marmot and weird atmospheric effects

The bear is down there.

A snow crescent on the north face.

From the corn lily side spur

Corn lilies

Sometimes it's the grasses.

A floral spectacular

Avalanche lilies

Lupines

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, trails, animals


06/28/10 - Lake Angeles Trail Update

We're doing a lot of updates lately, largely because a lot is happening. Summer means another season of local produce and another sesason of access to the high country of Olympic National Park. The Lake Angeles Trail is one of the first trails we explore, if only because it is open for most of the year, especially if we take our snowshoes. Now, of course, the trail is shoe ready, and from what we have heard, there is only a bit of snow left around the lake. (Yes, we really have to get up there, but we have to get back in shape first.)

For other news, the Pacific dogwood is out, the trilliums are passing, and the park service has removed that big tree that was blocking the start of the boardwalk about 700' above the parking lot. Stay tuned as we Kalebergs start checking things out, or check out the park service's trail reports.


Pacific dogwood

The trail repair team from a few weeks back - note the chain saw at the ready

The cleared trail

The rude bridge

Another flower we really should look up somewhere

A fading trillium, its petals turning pink

Descending into the mists below

Keywords: high country, lake angeles, summer, trails, trillium, kale


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