September 2013October 2013 November 2013

10/29 - 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

10/26 - Seattle Fog

We went into Seattle to see Gravity in 3D on an iMax screen. It was a pretty good movie with much better writing and acting than we had expected from a movie where the real stars were 3D and IMAX. The physics, on the other hand, had us laughing, but that's because we played a lot of Spacewar back in the 1970s so we know some orbital mechanics. Still, they avoided a lot of the cliches, and, as noted earlier, it was a very gripping and entertaining movie, as long as we ignored the physics.

It was foggy in Seattle, so we took some nice foggy pictures, and Halloween was on its way, so we took some Halloween-ish pictures too.

Is this a comment on bicycle safety?

Foggy Space Needle

Foggy Seattle

Some Halloween themed art

Did we pass the smell test?

Keywords: halloween, seattle

10/24 - Lake Crescent

We haven't been doing all that much, but we took a short walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail.

Storm King and its reflection

A fish seen through the clear water of the lake

Madrona berries, a great crop this year

Keywords: spruce railroad

10/20 - 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 - 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


An anemone

and friends

Starfish hideout

and more starfish

Keywords: second beach, trails

10/15 - Salmon Homecoming on the Dungeness River

This is the season that the salmon come home to the rivers to spawn and die. It's great news for the fishermen, and for salmon in general, but not so much for the fish themselves. We noticed the scent near the Dungeness Dike parking area on Towne Road. The lot was full of fishermen, or rather, their trucks with their permits in the window. The fishermen themselves were out along the river.

One always hears of the great salmon homecoming adventure with heroic tales and desperate struggles upstream. Indeed, the river was full of fish fighting their way against the current. There were also the predators, mostly gulls, of course, and the above mentioned fishermen. It is most definitely autumn, with the leaves starting to turn and nature itself lush, but preparing for the frost.

A side channel full of fish

A silver salmon

A closeup of salmon fighting upstream

The silver river

An early autumn field

Keywords: autumn, dungeness, salmon

10/11 - Not All The Way Up Storm King

You can tell from our pictures that we didn't make it to the top of Storm King. We didn't even make it to the ledge where one gets a spectacular view of the strait and Vancouver Island. We did climb a bit, but we are already out of shape.

We hadn't taken this trail in some time, partly because it is the most daunting. It is the steepest climb that we have ever taken in the area, steeper than the Lake Angeles Trail and steeper than the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We did get a peek or two at the lake and we greatly enjoyed the rainforest trees, twisting, turning and encased in moss, The madronas, as always, were mysterious.

A peek at the lake


More madronas

Another peek at the lake

The rainforest

Keywords: storm king

10/08 - Lake Crescent

The park may be closed, but Lake Crescent is still there, as is Storm King. We took a short walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail and enjoyed the scenery. We also ran into a late season salamander, so it isn't winter yet.

The lake and soft light

Storm King and its shadow

A late season salamander

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

10/01 - Marymere Falls

We were lazy today, so we took a short hike at Marymere Falls which flows into Barnes Creek not far from the south shore of Lake Crescent. Despite the government shutdown, the Barnes Creek parking lot was open, though the ranger station and bathrooms were closed. The rain forest and the river, however, were in full operation and, with today's peep of sunlight, quite beautiful.

We have never seen Marymere Falls so full and flowing, even at the peak of spring melt. The recent rains have filled the watershed, and the falls put on a real show in consequence. You can even check the video (Play), as seeing is believing.

We saw a bit of snow on the higher peaks over the Barnes Creek valley, but the real snow is in the high country. Hurricane Ridge reports ten inches of snow, most of it fallen in the last day or two. Winter has come early this year, so barring a pineapple express, we may not be up on the ridge until the snowshoe and ski season starts.

Keywords: barnes creek, high country, lake crescent, winter, marymere falls

September 2013October 2013 November 2013