August 2008September 2008 October 2008

09/29 - The Hoh Sun Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is famous for its cloudy days. After all, it is a rain forest. But the forest also has its sunny aspect, so we got to enjoy the nearly as famous Hoh Sun Forest the other day. For most of our hike up to Five Mile Island and back, the sky was cloudless. The sun was brilliant and the river a glorious milky blue.

We hadn't been up this way for about a year, so we did notice a few changes. In particular, one of our favorite trees was gone, or at least severely damaged. That's the One Arm Tree which is not far from Five Mile Island and served as a landmark for years. There were a number of damaged trees along the trail. We have one or two suspects which might have been the One Arm Tree. In one case, the main branch is doing fine. In the other, the tree has fallen. We suspect the damage was from last November's violent wind storms which damaged so many trees around the peninsula.

The season is changing too. We spotted some autumn leaf color, mainly in the little maples along the river. We could see how the river has changed its flow, shoveling gravel and drift logs this way and that, and biting chunks out of the trail along the banks. For the most part, the trail is the same, but it changes with the years and seasons. That's one of the reasons we go back again and again.

The view from our picnic spot at Five Mile Island

Another view of the river

We fear that the One Arm Tree has lost its arm.

Perhaps this was the arm?

Or perhaps this was?

Late afternoon light on the trail

Hoh River and mountains

The waterfall

More river color

Some autumn color

This elk by the side of the road is probably a young bull, still bulking up.

Keywords: autumn, hoh rain forest, elk, waterfall

09/27 - Above The Clouds To Lake Angeles

One of the things about living at sea level near the high country of the North Olympic Mountains is how different the mountain weather can be from the weather around our house. The weather is often cooler in the mountains, and the winds stronger. They call it Hurricane Ridge for a reason. The low country is subject to ocean mist condensed from the humid air by the cold waters of the strait. Sometimes, low clouds present an ominous sky to those at sea level, but the clouds top out at few thousand feet. That means bright sun in the mountains, and an opportunity for a good hike into sunshine.

We recently hiked up the Lake Angeles Trail on one such cloudy day. The lower part of the trail was gray. The fog thickened around 1000' APL (above parking lot, so that's about 2900' above sea level). We kept on climbing. Around 1800' APL the first shafts of sunlight broke through the trees and formed thick shafts in the fading mist. A bit more climbing and we were above the clouds. Lake Angeles itself (about 2400' APL) was sunny. In fact, it was so sunny, we had trouble getting a good picture as you can see.

Our descent mirrored our ascent. We went from the sunny day of the high country to foggy trail to the cloudy sky of the lowlands. We expect cloudy days out here in the Pacific Northwest, but it is nice to be able to climb our way out of them now and then.

The misty forest

The cliffs around the lake, and lots of sun

Sun on the lake

Keywords: high country, lake angeles, weather

09/26 - The Adventure Trail

We've mentioned the Adventure Trail before. It runs from the start of the Lyre River at Lake Crescent and follows an old railroad grade for much of the way before meeting up with the Olympic Discovery Trail. We finally explored a bit of it, and it looks like a great bicycling trail. We walked, following the Lyre River. The river itself is only visible now and then. The trail runs along the valley wall, at least as far as we went. We didn't get very far, but we do plan a return visit. Maybe we'll get to Piedmont Road.

The trail itself

Rocks and ferns

The clear cut in dramatic light

Keywords: trails, lake crescent

09/25 - Faces On The Elwha Trail

We aren't sure of who has been leaving this leaf faces on the trail, but we found a couple more on the Elwha Trail. They are kind of neat, as is the trail itself.

There is still some snow on the mountains across the river.

It's a wonderful trail.

Keywords: elwha, art

09/21 - Last Paella of the Summer

We've eaten our last paella of the summer. Paella is a Spanish dish, and we make a Catalan version with morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo and a collection of summer vegetables. This was our excuse to use up the last of the green beans, the last of the romano beans and the lone little zucchini that our friends managed to nurture despite the relatively cool spring and summer past. The picture on the right doesn't really do this dish justice, but take our word for it, this paella was delcious.

Here it is, in all its glory.

Keywords: food

09/21 - Hurricane Hill As The Summer Ends

We really appreciate the the Hurricane Ridge webcam. Even when the weather is cloudy and rainy down in town, it is often quite nice up at the ridge. Without the webcam, there is no way to tell, but with the webcam, we often decide to drive a mile up and above the clouds to get some sun in the Olympic Mountains.

Just a few days ago it was cloudy in town, but the webcam showed fairly good weather. We drove up Hurricane Ridge Road which is almost completely repaved now. We pulled into the parking lot on the ridge, and the conditions were nearly whiteout with thick white fog. Despite this, we decided to press on to the Hurricane Hill trail which starts about a mile and a half past the lodge. We made our way, cautiously, to the far end of the big parking lot. The road dropped and the fog lifted.

Hurricane Hill was spectacular. The white fog had returned at the start of the trail, so we couldn't see any mountains until we made our way up to The Hamper, noted for all its dirty sock plant. Then, the views began with high, snow topped mountains rising out of a sea of cloud. Clouds pressed in from the Pacific, spilled through valleys, and washed up against mountain sides. Not everything was perfectly visible, but the views were spectacular none the less.

Some final summer flowers and early autumn color

One of many blue grouses (grice)

Another blue grouse

Autumn color and a sea of clouds

Mount Olympus (we think)

The sea of clouds

Brilliant colors

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill, birds, grouse

The trail on a sunny day

09/16 - The Leaf Faces of the Lake Angeles Trail

The Lake Angeles Trail is a pretty trail through second growth forest. It starts near the entry station on Hurricane Ridge Road and heads up nearly 2400' to Lake Angeles. We didn't it make it all the up to the lake, but we did find something curious on the trail. Well, there were the mushrooms, but there were also a number of these little leaf faces. Paraidolia? Were we just seeing faces? Maybe, but we suspect intelligent design. If nothing else, we were entertained.


A sinister face


More of the trail

Keywords: lake angeles, art

09/16 - The Current Financial Crisis

Why are we thinking of the old Monty Python skit where they're wheeling their wooden cart around New York's financial district shouting, "Bring out your dead."?

Keywords: humor

09/13 - Autumn Comes To Obstruction Point

If you haven't already been out to Obstruction Point this season, you had better hurry. The road often closes in October, and with the Hurricane Ridge Road construction closing off the road, you can only get out there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Meanwhile, the peak summer wild flower season has passed, and the fall color is coming in. Don't expect the brilliant foliage of New England, expect instead the brilliant crimson ground cover of Edgar Rice Burrough's Princess of Mars books. Really, the ground cover is that brilliant.

Hiking Obstruction Point always does feel like something out of science fiction. Mount Olympus looms grandly across the valley. With the clear air, it is hard to believe that it is perhaps 20 miles away. It feels almost like walking through a diorama, except here everything is real. The rocks and plants, the distant cloud of Mount Baker, the alpine lakes and their patterns of surrounding vegetation, they are all fantastic, but very real.

Patches of crimson

A few last lupines

The last pink paintbrush

An amazing trail

A valley view

Crimson fields and Mount Olympus

The blood of Mars

Mountain views

Fields of Mars and trees evergreen

Keywords: hurricane ridge, obstruction point, autumn, mount baker

09/13 - A Raven At Hurricane Ridge

We usually don't get to see ravens this close up, even at Hurricane Ridge. Ravens are impressive birds.

Keywords: birds

09/12 - A Bit Further Along The Trail

We tend to be creatures of habit. Ever since we finally discovered the Dungeness Dyke Trail, we have been taking the lovely walk parallel to the Dungeness River with its splendid views of prime Dungeness dairy country. This time we did something different. We continued south on the trail, leaving the dyke and heading into the woods. The trail continued along a small irrigation channel and then headed uphill into someone's back yard. We stopped well outside their yard, but we had to admit, the shaded part of the trail with the small channel was quite pretty.


09/09 - Seattle Flight

We often fly into Seattle on the local airline Kenmore Air. They fly little nine seat propeller airplanes from Fairchild Airport (CLM) a bit west of Port Angeles to Boeing Field (BFI) a bit south of Seattle. They are awfully convenient, and we often get spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. We took these on a later afternoon flight, heading home.

Keywords: seattle, atmosphere, flying, kenmore

09/09 - Padron Peppers

The sign on the door of The Spanish Table announced that the padron peppers were in. Naturally, we had to buy some and try them. They were, after all, edible.

Padron peppers were originally Galician, named after the town of Padron where the cultivar was developed. You can read more about them at Wikipedia. We aren't sure if ours were grown in Spain or more locally, but according to the guy at the store, they were best simply prepared, fried in olive oil and served with salt.

We took our batch and fried them. We actually used a deep frier, but you could just fry them in a pan. In any event, they weren't much to look at fried, but they were delicious. They had a nutty taste, with a light green pepper note in the back. We could definitely see their appeal. We aren't flying off to Galicia for the annual festival, but we will be keeping our eyes open for them next year.

Keywords: food

09/07 - Timmy Maddox Memorial Service

We attended the memorial service for Timmy Maddox back on Saturday. He wasn't a close friend, but he was one of those people you notice in your life. He and his wife ran Good To Go, the natural food place on Lauridsen Boulevard. We'd drop by now and then to pick up organic produce, peanut butter and the like. Timmy was always there, always helpful, always spreading good cheer. As we said, we weren't close friends or even his best customers, but he was always someone we noticed.

He died rather suddenly, of leukemia. We found out from a friend of ours who also knew Timmy through Good To Go, and it turns out that she's been bicycling to raise money to fight leukemia. If you'd like to contribute you can follow this link to her web page.

The memorial service was held at the Olympic Park Institute which is on Lake Crescent in the Barnes Creek area along with Lake Crescent Lodge. It was a beautiful day with blue water, blue sky and the full glory of a North Olympic summer. Timmy obviously touched a lot of people in his life. Every chair was taken, and it seemed as many people were seated as were settled on the grass. There were children all over the place which is actually a good thing at a memorial service.

We didn't take a lot of pictures. You can see the stage and the banners in the picture to the right. You can also see a bit of the lake. It was a lovely service borrowing from Irish tradition, Jewish tradition, and Buddhist tradition. There was also a lot of Timmy. We may not have been close friends, but we will miss him.

It was a lovely day at OPI.

Keywords: port angeles, barnes creek, good to go

09/02 - Klahane Ridge and The "Kick In The Ass"

There are several ways to get to Klahane Ridge. One way is to start at the Hurricane Ridge Lodge and head along the trail via Sunrise Peak. Another way is to come up from the Heart of the Hills Trailhead, either via Lake Angeles or Heather Park. The way we usually get there is from the Switchback Trail from a crook in Hurricane Ridge Road. You can also die and go to heaven.

This year the Switchback Trail has been open and closed. Sometimes the parking lot is simply closed. Sometimes it is open, but you have to share your parking spot with a big pile of gravel. Other times, such as this Labor Day, it was open. We took the trail up, watching the sea clouds heading up and inland, and hoping that we would reach the ridge before our view was spoiled. We made good time, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of Mount Olympus to the south. To the north, there were clouds, but we could see the bowl of the mountain below us with only a few patches of snow remaining.

The flowers are heading towards autumn, with more asters, yarrows and possibly coreopsis. We wanted more, so we went for what one hiker called the "kick in the ass". We took the trail towards Lake Angeles, which heads up about 150 feet, before it begins its 2000 foot descent. This trail heads along the open ridge face for a ways, then it passes through "the gate", along a magic carpet of what appear to be frosted plants, and then through a second rocky "gate" to the high castle. This area is always slow to thaw and early to freeze, so here, the lupines lingered in masses among the eerie stones.

There are views north and south, and a bit past the "castle" there is an overlook of the bowl of Klahane Ridge. Shortly after here, the trail begins its descent in earnest. We weren't quite that earnest, so we turned back. It was afternoon, and the view was getting cloudier. Mist ran across the trail, hiding trees, and playing games. Then came the sun again, as the mist blew by. By the time we returned to the parking lot, the trail looked sunny and clear again, ready with its spectacular views for another group of hikers.

Lupines were still blooming in the "castle".

A magic carpet

One of many rock gardens

Mount Angeles and some lingering snow

A caterpillar and quite a big one


Keywords: autumn, flowers, klahane ridge, lake angeles

Click to enlarge the chart

09/01 - The Nenana Ice Classic

Every year since 1917 there has been a contest betting on the date the ice melts on the Tanana River in Nenana, Alaska. Since gambling is involved, and the stakes are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, this contest has provided an excellent record of warming in Alaska. People may debate global warming, but gamblers bet their money on it.

If you look at the chart, you can see which day of the year the ice melts. They time it to the nearest minute, and you can see a broad cluster of dates, but a general decline as the river melts earlier in the year than it used to. The equation near the upper left of the chart shows a trend with a slope of -0.0721 which means that the river melts about one hour and 44 minutes earlier each year. The river thaws, on the average six and a half days earlier than it did in 1917.

Needless to say, there is a lot of noise in the melting date. On the other hand, the smart money has been betting on earlier dates than in the past.

Keywords: science, alaska

August 2008September 2008 October 2008