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10/09/14 - Welcome to Cradle Mountain

It was a four hour drive from Freycinet to Cradle Mountain, half spent leaving the east and half spent driving into the mountains of the west. Not only was the mountain road twisty, but it was menaced by huge maintenance vehicles shoving around small mountains of mud and road debris. On the other hand, as soon as we saw our first wombat, we knew that the drive had been worth it.

We stayed at Cradle Mountain Lodge which is surrounded by trails. Our King Billy room, named for an aborigine leader, was surrounded by wallabees. There was one living below our deck and one outside our front door. There were wombats intensely cropping the grass looking like miniature hairy hippos. There were also crow like birds, currawongs, and one came to check out the new tenants.

The lodge was surrounded by hiking trails, so we took an evening walk down to see a few of the wonderful waterfalls. The air was cool and moist. The trail was easy to follow with good steps and lots of boardwalks through the marshy areas. The waterfalls were in full spate and spectacular. We didn't go very far, but we did manage to see Pencil Pine Falls, Knyvet Falls and a lot of rapid white water.

A more peaceful part of the drive as we approached the mountains

A wombat doing what wombats do

Our deck wallabee

Our porch wallabee - Every room has at least two.

A currawong

The trail along the river

A view from the trail

Knyvet Falls - The brownish water is full of leaves, dirt and tannins

Another view from the trail

One of the waterfalls

Another waterfall - There were so many of them.

Keywords: australia, waterfall

10/09/14 - King Billy and Enchanted Walks

King Billy was an aboriginal elder in this area back in the 19th century. The large pine trees they discovered here were named for him. The King Billy trail starts right at the lodge and passes through some amazing forest with trees that would be at home in the Hoh Rain Forest or the redwood forests of California. If nothing else, this part of Tasmania has lots of water, and that's something big trees need.

There's also a shorter trail along one of the streams here. It's perfect for an after dinner walk. It runs up the stream a ways to a bridge, then back along the other side. It features a waterfall, some rapids and some marvelous scenery.


The falls

More greenscape - It reminded us of home.

A wombat, not eating if you can believe that

This is a rufous wallabee, so it's extra large.

More greenscape

Note the meter wide trail to get a sense of the size of these trees.

A fallen giant

A field of button grass

Keywords: australia, waterfall

09/25/14 - Rocky River to Maupertuis Bay

We took a long walk down the Rocky River from near the Snake Lagoon to Maupertuis Bay. The walk started inland with high shrubs and bushes. Then it opened out with our first view of the Rocky River. We crossed on a wooden bridge and followed the canyon walls across folded rocks.

It was spring, so the flowers were in bloom, but few were familiar. We saw lizards, the blue sky and the blue river as it flowed in broad channels and through rapids. There was some climbing up and down rocks, but it was easy going.

Then we saw our first glimpse of the sea. The river flowed over rocks in channels with little rushing waterfalls and emptied out onto a sandy beach. It was a smuggler's paradise, a lovely beach in the middle of nowhere, perfect to bringing in a small boat loaded with contraband koala skins. Above us in the canyon were the smuggler hideouts, shelters naturally carved from the rock walls.

Maybe we let our imagination get ahead of us, but the mouth of the Rocky River was a wonderful, evocative place to be.

The trailed started closed, a cut through the high native vegetation.

It was spring.

Our first look at the river

More of the river

A lizard

So, why is it called the Rocky River?

Another lizard

Our first glimpse of the sea

More rock formations

The mouth of the river

A smuggler hideout, we're sure.

Keywords: australia, waterfall

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


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

05/08/13 - Elwha - Down to the River

We didn't really get down to the river, but we get down far enough to have a good view of it. The glacial melt is starting, but it's still early in the season. The tiarella are not yet in bloom, so we'll probably have to come down to the woods near Hume's ranch to watch their progress. Meanwhile the trilliums are starting to show their age with many petals turning a subtle pink.

One thing we particularly noticed, as we took this hike on a very sunny day, was that while most of the trail is purely of the Pacific northwest, there are dry stretches where one turns a bend or comes out of the forest, and it feels as if one were hiking in California. The vegetation changes, and the smell of the trail changes. If we didn't know the trail and where we were, we'd imagine we were hundreds of miles south. Then, the trail turns or reenters the forest, and we are back in the Pacific northwest.

Hume's Ranch

The Elwha river

Another view of the river

Tiarella, not yet in bloom

A little waterfall right by the trail

The forest on a very bright spring day

The cathedral of the woods

We never tire of this view of the river.

A trillium, turning pink in passing

Keywords: elwha, spring, waterfall

04/20/13 - Elwha Trail Out of Whiskey Bend and Our First Trilliums

Whiskey Bend Road has been open most of the winter, but we were waiting for a clement, sunny day. Then we turned off the paved road and made our way to the trailhead and were pleasantly surprised. The trail was as green and lush as ever with streamlets and little waterfalls here and there. We headed down after Michael's Cabin, rather than up, but we didn't get all the way to Hume's Ranch. Instead, we turned at the waterfall.

It was on our way back that we were surprised. We saw the first trillium of the year growing by one of the little waterfalls. Somehow, we never seem to see trilliums on our way out on a hike. Maybe we are too intent on our destination. Maybe they all grow on the wrong side of the trail or pointing in wrong direction. But, on the way back, there they are.

One of the little waterfalls

Another view of the little waterfall

The forest (and my thumb)

The forest trail

Michael's Cabin

The view from the trail

More running water


Trilliums, right by the trail side

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

08/12/12 - Klahane Ridge, Hurrah!

This time we made it up to Klahane Ridge. We were horribly slow. We kept having to stop and rest, but then we pushed on. The hanging gardens were lush and green with lupines, turks cap lilies, yarrow, cow parsnip, larkspur, paintbrush and even some phlox in bloom. The usual summer drought has not set in yet, and might not this year.

The view from the top was as spectacular as ever. To the north we could see the Dungeness Spit, the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker rising above the Cascades. To the south were the grand Olympic Mountains clad in their glaciers. Like many things this year, we were late in our return to Klahane Ridge, but we did it.

Mount Angeles and a bit of snow

The view north

The view to the east

A view north

Another view north

The trail through the green


Did we say lupines?

More of the trail

More wildflowers - an amazing season

The little waterfall near the trailhead

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, mount baker, summer, waterfall

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


The green way

The stream at the first crossing

Spring waterfall

The forest

Another trillium

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

04/04/12 - Up Some River, Through a Canyon

Much of the Atacama Desert is extremely dry. Even cacti need moisture, and big cacti need even more. While our trailhead might have looked dry, there were all sorts of large cactus telling us that water was nearby, especially in the canyon itself.

We made our way down the rocks to the canyon floor and walked, clambered and crawled upstream. Now and then we'd leap the stream or scramble over the rocks to bypass a waterfall. It was moist in the canyon, with tall cactus about along with a broad variety of plants, many in flower. There were also big clumps of pampas grass, many six or eight feet tall, and we'd sometimes have to fight our away upstream through thickets of them.

Eventually, the walls of the canyon grew lower and we could see the mountains ahead of us. We emerged from canyon-land to the surface, and the canyon itself was invisible behind us.

Cacti seen from above the canyon

Some of the flowers

More flowers

Cactus flowers

Even more flowers

Pampas grass in the canyon

Waterfall in the canyon

Making our way along

More waterfalls

The view out of the canyon

Between cactus and pampas grass

Keywords: chile, waterfall

04/02/12 - Valle de la Luna - Part 2

The Valley of the Moon has other surprises, including strange pillar like formations carved from small hills by the wind, heat, cold and rain. The loop road was closed by the recent rains. It was covered with salt, not snow, and under the salt, water was on the move.

We could hear the water under the salt before we saw it. If you want a short movie, we have it here. (It's about 2.3MB).

These cliffs look like the walls of Assyria.

Another field of mineral deposits

The Three Marys (or is it Maries?) - carved from hills like the one behind them

The Three Marys and their brother (or perhaps Joseph)

The closed road - It sure looks like snow, but it is salt.

More salt - Imagine shoveling that.

A waterfall under the salt crust

More salt deposits

More water under salt

More fascinating formations

More water under salt

Keywords: chile, waterfall

03/30/12 - Patagonia Medley

We are in Santiago now. These photos are a quick summary of all the hikes we took and adventures we had in the land of guanacos and rainbows.

Guanacos everywhere

Lago Nordenskjold and the mountains behind

More mountains

Rio Pingo

More Rio Pingo

The waterfall (cascada), our goal for the morning

View across the guanaco filled planes near Aonikenk

More mountains and plains

Some petroglyphs

Mountains and a rainbow

Laguna Azul, the blue lagoon

Keywords: chile, waterfall

03/28/12 - Lago Grey - Part 2

Yes, we are milking this.

Here are some more photos from our walk along Lake Grey. There were magnificent waterfalls, great old trees and autumn color, but everywhere there were memories of the recent fire. Everyone we spoke to remembered the shock, the decision to evacuate and all the loss. We are new to the area, so it is all new to us, but we can feel their sense of loss second hand.

We made our way past the viewpoint and followed the shore of the lake, but inland and much sheltered. We had a steep descent along a rocky trail. Near the bottom, we saw a female Magellanic woodpecker. She was a big bird, maybe six feet above us, pounding on a branch. We were in danger of getting hit by wood chips, but she wasn't bothered by us at all.

There was a shelter at the end of our hike, complete with bathrooms and running water. There was even a little store. We ate our lunch and made our way down to the beach. There, our boat was waiting. Cautiously, we made our way down the rocks to the Zodiac launch.

Stay tuned. We said we are milking this.

Lago Gray

Memories of fire

More memories


More survivors

The icebergs below

One of the waterfalls

A female Magellanic woodpecker

Someone looked up this hawk for us, but we forgot what kind it was.

Glaciers above

Our ship

Keywords: chile, 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

03/17/11 - The Bluffs Along the Waterfront Trail

We often take the Olympic Discovery Trail from the parking lot off Four Seasons Road and head east towards Port Angeles. There are nice views and good bird watching along the waterfront parts of the trail, but the winter rains make the high bluffs above unstable. The waterfalls may be lovely this time of year, but it's the water that makes the bluffs crumble. We picked our way through this tumble of trees and mud, though sometimes we just regard it as a sign and turn back. Despite this hazard, it's a great trail for this time of year. When the sky is open enough it matters less that it is gray.

Keywords: morse creek, winter, waterfall

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

01/24/11 - Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls is one of our "too lazy" hikes. It's about 45 minutes round trip, including gawking at the falls. As usual in the winter, the falls were roaring. See the arty pseudo-panorama to the right. Eventually, they'll get cameras for taking pictures of stuff like this, but for now we can be arty.

The top of the falls

The full falls

Middle falls

One of the side waterfalls

The bottom of the falls

Barnes Creek down below

The new bridge over Barnes Creek

Keywords: barnes creek, winter, panoramas, marymere falls, waterfall

01/23/11 - The Special Bonus Surprise Waterfall Is Back

Our special bonus surprise waterfall is back, thanks to all the rain we've been having this winter. It flows down what we call the Cliffs of Neurosis. They're like the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride, but not quite so high. Usually, the area is quite dry, but during the rainy season there is often a bit of a flow. This year there wasn't as much of a stream as some winters, but it's nice to see we're having a properly wet winter.

It's a bit hard to see, but there is a stream flowing down the rock face.

Mount Storm King with a bit of snow

A sunny winter day

Keywords: lake crescent, surprise waterfall, winter, waterfall

05/23/10 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

We drove out to Sol Duc and took a walk up towards Deer Lake. We got nowhere near the lake. We climbed perhaps 500', to the bridge over Canyon Creek, but things look promising. The one mile walk from the trailhead to Sol Duc Falls was in great shape. There's no snow down on the valley floor, but once we started climbing, there was plenty of wet snow, though it was melting rapidly. There were also trilliums and waterfalls, but we'll let our pictures do the talking.

There was a dusting of snow on the higher mountains.

There was no snow down on the valley floor.

There was snow a bit higher up.

That's the bridge over Canyon Creek with its snow as yet untromped.

The Canyon Creek falls.

We could get glimpses of snow covered hills from the trail.

All the little creeks were full.

We saw strange fiddleheads, ferns ready to leaf.

There were trilliums. They were wet.

A view of the Sol Duc.

The main falls were as spectacular as ever.

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trillium, waterfall

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