February 2011March 2011 April 2011

03/31 - Spruce Railroad Spring Report

At long last, spring is coming to the Spruce Railroad Trail on Lake Crescent. On our most recent hike we were greeted by salamanders, and there was even a bit of wild currant in bloom. It was a typical cloudy day, and the mountains, still covered with snow, loomed mysterious.

Oh yes, the trail is a bit muddy.

"Welcome to the Spruce Railroad Trail."

Snow and clouds in the mountains and valleys

More mystery

Mount Storm King draped in cloud

The rocks are alive.

Some madronas

Some wild currant blossoms

Another salamander

Yet another salamander - There were a lot of them. We stepped carefully.

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

03/29 - Dungeness Spit

One of the strangest places to hike on the North Olympic Peninsula is the Dungeness Spit. It is a sand spit that juts out for miles into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and on a good day with low tides it can be a spectacular walk, almost like walking out to sea. We had some good weather and some good tides recently, and we can report that the beach sand has been coming back nicely. The hiking was a bit tiring, as hiking on sand always is, but the footing was good and the way generally smooth. The scenery was as magnificent as ever, with the brilliant meringue of Mount Baker in the distance and the nearby Olympic peaks visible to the south. There's no need to say much more. We'll let the pictures do the talking.

Work in Progress The last time we were at the spit, the park service had closed the usual trail from the parking lot to the spit. The trail has been reopened, regraded, and partially rerouted. They always do a good job of hiding the old pieces of trail when they reroute things. Knowing the old trail, we managed to spot the suspicious alignment of trees, but in a few years we'll probably unable to spot even that.

Mount Baker over the driftwood, one of the many magic mountains of the Northwest

The beach and the islands - easy going

Hurricane Ridge and its friends peeking out above the clouds

Another view of the Olympics

The trail back - construction in progress

More construction and repair

This was the old trail from the parking lot to the spit, now expertly camouflaged.

Keywords: dungeness spit, mount baker, tides, weather

It's finally, at long last, almost spring.

03/25 - Skunk Cabbage

We spotted our first skunk cabbage of the season near the east end of the Spruce Railroad Trail. It's better late than never.

Keywords: spring, spruce railroad

03/23 - Country Captain Chicken

There are all sorts of dishes that one hears about but never gets to try. They often have wonderful evocative names like Country Captain Chicken. This is a southern dish that gets its name from those sea captains who took their trading ships to the country of India, most likely because the dish contains curry. We used a recipe from Cold Weather Cooking. It's a three layer recipe:
  • Lightly floured and seasoned (with paprika) fried chicken thighs
  • Curried red and green peppers with bacon, red wine, tomatoes, currants, mango chutney, onions and garlic
  • A topping of coconut, almonds, butter and lime jice
The layers all bake together and get scooped out and served together. We used a really good, spicy curry. The dish was a tad sweet, but quite good. It's sort of a stylized version of a ten boy curry, a perfect casserole dish for the cold season.

Country Captain Chicken in all its glory

Keywords: food, recipe

03/18 - The Lake Angeles Trail - Snow, Water and Green

We drove up to the Heart of the Hills the other day and hiked a bit of the way up the Lake Angeles Trail. The trailhead parking lot was closed with an inch or so of snow, but at that level the trail was free of snow. However, once we crossed the stream and started to climb in earnest we ran into patches of snow. The snow got deeper as we ascended, though the main feeling was one of melt. The trail was damp with puddles here and there, and the snow was soft and slushy. We were hoping to get to the crossing about 700' above the parking lot, but we were blocked by a long, deep black puddle, a true stygian pond. We'll have to wait for the trail to dry out a bit before we try again.

The trail through the forest, covered with snow.

Our nemesis, the flooded trail

Ferns in the snow

A sprinkling

More snow on the trail

Keywords: lake angeles

03/17 - 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

03/16 - A Gathering of Eagles

The trees were full of bald eagles at the Dungeness Dike Trail. There were at least eight, more likely a dozen of them. Was it the season? The river in flood? We had seen a couple in one of the trees along Towne Road, but the spotting was even better along the dike itself.

A Bald Eagle

Another Bald Eagle

There's scenery too (and probably bald eagles in those trees).

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, birds, eagle

03/14 - Hailey's Blue

We recently dropped by Dungeness Valley Creamery to pick up some of their milk. While there we also bought some blue cheese made with their raw Jersey milk. It is Hailey's Blue, and it was delicious, with a good bite backed up by the creaminess of the milk. It's made by Whiskey Hill Goat Dairy in Port Townsend which is turning into a local hotbed of cheesemakers. They opened in 2008, and we haven't tried any of their goat cheeses yet, but now we're curious about their goat based feta and cheddar.

Keywords: creamery, dungeness, port townsend, food

03/09 - Farmers' Market Update

This is just some Port Angeles Farmers' Market gossip:
  • Leela, of Lazy J, will now be working with Westwind Farms. She's sharing stall space with them for now and still has her baby potatoes, but this season she'll be farming with them, and we're looking forward to her new goodies.
  • Christy, of Johnston Farms, is on sabbatical for a few months, so we won't be seeing her for a while. She's hoping to be back some time in June, so if all goes well, she'll be back with the summer harvest.
  • Allan,of Dungeness Seaworks, was off to Sitka. He'll be fishing up in Alaska. That's where the fish are. He isn't sure when he'll be back at the market. Given the vagaries of fish and weather, the best we can do is wish him good luck.
  • Preston, of Wild West Seafood, says he is expecting black cod very soon, and halibut season is opening, so he's hoping to have halibut after that.

Keywords: farmers' market, johnston farm, port angeles, westwind farm, alaska

03/05 - A Soft Winter Day

It's almost spring, but we are still having soft winter days. We've been recovering from colds, so a short stroll on the Dungeness Dike is all we've been up to lately. It was the usual mixture of soft air, recent rain and bright sun and gray clouds. The Spanish moss growing on the trees especially seemed to like it.

Looking towards the mountins

Rain recently fallen on the trail

Spanish moss at play

Keywords: dungeness, winter

03/01 - Trufflestack

We've long been fans of Mount Townsend Creamery's Seastack cheese, and now they've made an even better version, Trufflestack. It's based on their creamy Seastack cheese, but flavored with local black truffles to give it an even richer flavor and a lot of deep truffle scent.

Keywords: mount townsend creamery, food

February 2011March 2011 April 2011