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11/15/17 - Lake Angeles Trail Rains

The autumn rains have come. We took a rainy day walk up the Lake Angeles Trail. We only made it to the bridge about 700 feet above the parking lot, but, en route, we saw a host of waterfalls, signs of rain and a squirrel.

Water under the bridge

A small cascade

Tree trunk and friends

The trail was a river.

A squirrel

Fresh wood

Signs of rain

Water from the earth

Another view

More water on the trail

Rapids

Keywords: autumn, lake angeles, waterfall


10/25/17 - Sol Duc Fall Color

We heard that the salmon were making their way up the Sol Duc River. We haven't been getting out to Sol Duc all that much lately because they are doing some serious and much needed road work on route 101 along Lake Crescent. We made our way out over the weekend, and there were only a couple of relatively short one lane traffic lights to slow us down.

We stopped at the salmon cascade on the Sol Duc road and spent some time looking into the whirlpools and rushing waters of the river where it passes through a narrow gap. Then we saw the first flash of a salmon leaping. It was in the narrowest, wildest part of the wild waters. We concentrated our attention on that area for a while longer. There was another salmon, this one leaping high enough and long enough to sparkle in a rainbow of color.

We watched for a while longer and saw a few more salmon leaping, some barely more than a gray flash, others more dramatic. Then we headed up to the trailhead at the end of the road and walked through the forest to Sol Duc falls. There were waterfalls and fall color, and then there were the falls proper. There were no salmon leaping here. Instead there was the incessant roar of the river and its mist and spray.

We had come shortly after those torrential rains earlier this month, so the Sol Duc River was running in full spate. Even the little feeder streams roared. The fall leaf color too was in full spate, much more brilliant than in most years. The leaves have yet to fall, and the forest and roadside have been illuminated with leaves of bright yellow and some of orange and red. If you can, time your visit for the weekend and enjoy the Sol Duc River at its autumn peak.


Looking up the Sol Duc River

A little waterfall

The salmon cascade

Another view

Fall color

More fall color

Another waterfall

Sol Duc Falls

Looking downriver

A forest scene

Sol Duc Falls again

Keywords: salmon, sol duc, waterfall


06/10/17 - Barnes Creek and Marymere Falls

The Barnes Creek trail is a little gem starting on the south side of Lake Crescent. The forest is much wilder than one might expect for a place so accessible. We made a quick side trip to Marymere Falls which was running full spate. Then we headed up Barnes Creek a bit. Most people just do the loop to the falls, but the trail along the creek has its rewards. We had some good views of the creek, and we got to see our favorite little waterfall before heading back.

Wild forest

More wild forest

Marymere Falls

Another view of Marymere Falls

Pacific dogwood in bloom

Barnes Creek

Our favorite little waterfall

Keywords: barnes creek, marymere falls, waterfall


04/21/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 2

The last photo in Part 1 is of a mysterious alligator leaf, something we had never noticed before on this trail. On our second trip we solved the mystery. Those are columbine leaves. We have never seen columbines growing in this area before, so we were quite pleased. They've been added to the regional treasure trove along with the trilliums, orchids and yellow violets.

The Elwha River itself is well upstream of the dam, but each year we have seen more brush growing across the river bed. When we first started visiting, over a decade ago, there was some scrub, but now there are substantial bushes. Has the river changed? This part wasn't affected by the dam removal, so this is another mystery.


One of our favorite waterfalls

Another view

The trail

The river

Another view of the river

More of the trail

An orchid

Another orchid

A columbine - the mystery of the alligator leaves solved

Yet another columbine

Even more columbines

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall


04/20/17 - Elwha River Trail - Part 3

The Elwha River Trail out of Whiskey Bend is in pretty good shape, but on our way down to Michael's Ranch we were warned not to linger for a stretch. There were overhead hazards, presumably falling branches. This was the stretch with one of our favorite waterfalls, so we did stop briefly to admire it, but not for long.

This stretch of trail is also being rebuilt a bit. We chatted briefly with two of the trail workers rebuilding a stretch of boardwalk. They were hard at it. Presumably, their work is done, and we'll be spared a bit of mud on our next hike that way.


Warning, warning

Thank you, trail maintainers!

Another view of the boardwalk work

Some forest

A bonus trillium

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall


09/27/16 - Third Beach

There area three beaches near the mouth of the Quillayute River near La Push. Rialto Beach to the north is the most accessible. The road goes right to the water. Second Beach just south of La Push is a 3/4 mile hike from the parking lot and offers a broad expanse of beach to explore. Third Beach, a few miles south of Second Beach, balances coastal forest and beach walking differently with a smaller beach, but a full 1 1/2 mile walk from parking lot to water.

It is a pretty, easy path through forest and fern. There are ups and downs, then a descent to the sea. The beach is guarded by a barrier of driftwood, so be prepared to clamber a bit. You can head north to the headland there or south as we usually do. This means crossing the little stream that runs from the forest and across the sand to the sea. The best hiking is at low tide, below three feet at La Push, but we made our way south towards the high headlands there to see the little waterfall.

We didn’t make it as far as sometimes. The tide was a bit high, and we had left our shoes at the stream. We also had some company. A large cat had crossed the beach not long before us. That was our excuse at least.


The forest trail

The driftwood barrier

The mighty stream

Third beach, looking south

Our feline friend

The headland and seastacks

A hazy closeup of the waterfall

The view north

The forest experience

Green and twisted branch

Forest punctuation

Keywords: beaches, third beach, waterfall


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


01/28/15 - Third Beach

Now that we are getting the good winter tides, we decided to check out Third Beach out near La Push. Our last visit out this way was to Second Beach which features a lovely forest walk from the trailhead near the highway down to a wild crescent of beach adorned with rocks, sea stacks and tide pools. Third Beach is similar, but the forest walk is longer, over a mile before the descent. There are long level stretches where the rain forest forms almost a dry bog, very wet, but all the moisture absorbed by the rampant vegetation. Then there is the 200 plus foot descent to the beach.

The trailhead is near a stream that runs out to the sea here. There are glimpses of the sea stacks and ocean as one approaches. Then comes the wall of driftwood. Usually the wood is bare and aged, but this year we've had storms so there were a few freshly fallen trees in the heap. It was an easy clamber as clambering goes, and in a few minutes we were on the gritty sand. We headed left, to the east - the beach faces south - where we could see a row sea stacks, but first we had to cross the stream. It was deep and the current was fast moving, so we waded across down towards the sea where the flow widened.

From here it was easy going. As we approached the headland, we could see a waterfall splashing down the rocks. We paused to check out the rocks and tide pools and then continued. Despite the region's reputation for grayness, the sun was brilliant. We checked the bluffs for eagles but saw none. The bluffs behind Third Beach aren't as high as those at Second Beach, and there is a headland trail that leads to beaches south for those walking to Oil City, that is, other people, not us.

Walking on sand, even relatively well packed sand is tiring. When we got back to the trailhead, we saved our energy for the climb out rather than exploring the west end of the beach. Third Beach is a bit more of a workout than Second Beach, but just as rewarding.


A glimpse of the sea stacks, artfully framed a la the Northwest School

The driftwood barricade: Take it one log at a time.

The rushing stream: We waded down by the sea.

Rocks and sea stacks

Another view: Look carefully and you might see the waterfall.

Alders on the bluffs

Here you can definitely see the waterfall.

The view west, our return

A last glimpse

A spot of mud with a thoughtfully placed plank

Brilliant rainforest

Keywords: third beach, tides, winter, waterfall, eagle


01/23/15 - The Elwha and Madison Falls

We usually see the Elwha River from one of the hiking trails out of Whiskey Bend, but Whiskey Bend Road was washed out and will most likely be closed until some time this spring. We still wanted to see the river, so we pulled over along the road and walked carefully by the side to get a good look. There is sure a lot of water, and it is running wild. The color of the river has changed since the dam was taken down. Now it looks a lot more like the Hoh.

We also checked out Madison Falls. This is a little waterfall a short, easy walk from the main road. The trail is flat and wide, so you could even do it in a wheel chair. It might not be far, but it is worth stopping for. Madison Falls was one of three waterfalls that a friend of ours suggested for taking visitors to on a rainy day. The other two were Marymere Falls near Barnes Creek and Sol Duc Falls a bit farther away at the end of Sol Duc Road. For the best effect, start with Madison, then stop at Marymere, then at Sol Duc.


The Elwha River now that it runs free

Looking upriver

Another river view

Bend in the river

A view downriver

Lots of water

The old maples near the Madison Falls parking lot

Madison Falls proper, just a short, easy walk

Madison Falls - Click on the image for a slow motion video.

Keywords: elwha, trails, waterfall


01/17/15 - Marymere Falls

We were out at Barnes Creek and checked out Marymere Falls. Often in the winter the falls are surrounded by an array of ice crystals in spectacular patterns, but we've been having a warm winter, so all we saw were the falls. We took a slow motion video with our phone camera. Click on the picture of the falls to play it.

We took the usual Marymere Falls circuit, no climb up to Storm King for us today, but we did wander a bit up Barnes Creek proper and enjoyed the views of the creek and the walk through the forest. We went as far as a little waterfall right along the trail.


A bald eagle perching en route to Barnes Creek

Click the image for a slow motion view of Marymere Falls.

Sunny day

A little waterfall

Water below

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


11/17/14 - The Trail To Olympic Hot Springs Is Open Again

The trail to Olympic Hot Springs is open again after three long years. We had never taken the old trail, so this was a double first for us. Apparently, the road used to end quite close to the hot springs. Now, it's a 2.4 mile walk along a trail which was obviously the old roadbed. It was easy to tell. The trail is as wide as a road, and there were several bridges we crossed that were clearly designed for automobiles, not hikers. It was an easy 300 odd foot ascent from the trailhead to the hot springs, but here and there they cut drainage ditches right across the old roadbed. Some of them were a bit deep, and there was some ice on the trail, so we had to watch our step.

After a ways we came to a rather pretty suspension bridge. This was a sturdy, well designed bridge with iron posts, handy handrails and a comfortably wide walkway. This was obviously new. It wasn't designed for cars. A bit further on we came to a wide area that was obviously the old parking lot. We made our way downhill and across another small bridge. We were tired and almost turned around here, but after some deliberation pressed on. The hot springs were not far. First we saw the steam. Then we saw the wet areas where the hot springs drained across the trail before running down to the creek below.

Exploring more, we found the catchments, collections of log and stone that held back the steaming sulfurous waters and formed inviting looking pools. We stopped to explore several of them, but we were too tired to soak. There was plenty of steam, and the whole area seemed warmer. There was some frost on the trail, but not where the hot springs ran.

There were a fair number of hikers out on the trail, especially considering that it was a weekday in the shoulder season. A lot of them had been to the springs back when they were a short stroll from the parking lot, but that was before our time. Round trip from the new parking lot to the hot springs was about two and a quarter hours. That included the time we spent exploring the hot springs.


The trailhead sign

The partly frozen ground

A small waterfall

The suspension bridge

Another view of the bridge - There was good traction despite its icy appearance.

Water down below

Water up above

Steam rising

A hot pool, one of many

More falling water

A fall crop of mushrooms

Keywords: olympic hot springs, waterfall


10/11/14 - Around Dove Lake

In the morning, it was raining at Cradle Mountain Lodge, but we decided to get going and hike anyway. We took the shuttle bus from the park entry station down to Dove Lake where it was wet and just barely drizzling and began our walk. The lake was gray, misty and glorious. We followed the trail past the Glacier Point lookout and then along the eastern shore of the lake.

The trail turned into a boardwalk built along the lake shore. Across the lake we could see several great waterfalls, but all along we surrounded by exotic vegetation. We could watch the mist rising and reforming. The drizzle stopped and restarted, but we had made a trip to REI right before our trip, so we were prepared.

The trail moved a bit inland and continued. We passed through the impossibly lush Ballroom Forest which lies at the foot of one of the large waterfalls we had seen from across the lake. We headed up and north paralleling the western shore. Looking back to the south we had glimpses of elusive Cradle Mountain itself. It is usually hidden in the mists, but as we watched the winds blew and mists swirled and thinned enough for us to get a glimpse of this icon of the park.

Soon we were at the boathouse. We carefully avoided taking any pictures. Our trip was full of enough cliches as it was.


A view of the lake

Another view with Cradle Mountain hidden in the mist

The boardwalk along the lake and some fascinating plants

A wooden staircase covered with chicken wire for better traction and to deter snakes

More exotic plants

One of the great waterfalls

An actual glimpse of Cradle Mountain

More waterfalls

Yet another waterfall

A better glimpse of Cradle Mountain

Goodbye to the lake

Keywords: australia, waterfall


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.


Greenscape

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

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


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