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07/13/10 - Klahane Ridge

It took us a bit of doing, but we managed to climb up the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We had been putting it off for all the usual reasons which generally come down to laziness and possibly cowardice. We hadn't really intended to get all the way up to the ridge. In fact, our goal was the junction with the trail to the lodge, around 630' above the parking lot. Somehow, we pushed on, climbing another 850' or so.

We were well rewarded. The snows have melted, save for a few patches by the side of the trail. The flowers are in serious bloom, and we even managed to catch a few avalanche lilies along with the usual glacier lilies, violets, phlox, indian paintbrush, cow parsnip, and a host of others. But, the big reward was at the ridge itself. No, there wasn't much of a view of Port Angeles. The bowl in the mountains was full of cloud, but right on the trail was a male mountain goat in a clearly mellow mood. He posed for the camera, munched on the foliage, gave himself a dust bath and sauntered on.

There was another reward waiting for us near our trailhead. All along the trail the air was full of phlox, a deep sweet scent, but there was a different scent, a familiar one. The bog orchids in the streams by the parking lot were coming into bloom. All told, it was a most rewarding hike.

P.S. Did we mention the views? Yes, there were spectacular views.

Our ascent into the clouds

The hanging gardens

The view from above

A surprisingly mellow mountain goat

Posing for the camera

He's so cute.

Another view



This is a great year for larkspur.

Bog orchids

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, port angeles, animals

07/12/10 - Elwha Out Of Whiskey Bend

Whiskey Bend has been busy lately, so the winding one and a half lane road leading up there has been a bit more of a driving challenge. Still, we had to go, if only to see how the river was doing. Well, the river is doing just fine. The wild roses are out, as are the turk's cap lilies. The thistles though seem to be dying. If nothing else, they are kind of twisted. Our big treat was seeing two fawns. One was on the trail and scampered into the woods where we couldn't get a good photograph. The other was right on the road. We had to stop, so we took a few pictures while we shared the road.

The forest floor

The field near Hume's Ranch

The Elwha River

Wild roses

A dying thistle

Turk's cap lilies

Mother and baby

Keywords: elwha, flowers, summer, animals

05/06/10 - Elwha Adventure

Our big excitement was a bear we saw along the road to Whiskey Bend. The folks in the car ahead of ours got a better view, but this fellow, poorly photographed, was retreating into the woods as we passed by. It is just as well we were in the car. That's an awful lot of bear. (We'll use this as an excuse to post another couple of pictures from our hike.)

Terrible photo of a bear - or is it Sasquatch?

Mountain view

Yes, we post this shot too often, but it is an Elwha River classic.

Keywords: elwha, animals

07/12/09 - Obstruction Point 2 - Flowers and Animals

The trails leading from Obstruction Point have a lot to offer besides spectacular scenery. If you can take your eyes off the mountains for a moment, you'll notice that you are surrounded by dozens of different kinds of plants, and right now it seems that most of them are in bloom. There are lupines, asters, glacier lilies and paintbrush in red, orange and pink. If you are lucky, you might see one of the local golden marmots, or a blue sage grouse, a chipmunk or deer. So, don't let the drive daunt you. This may be your chance to see Obstruction Point at its most varied best.

These look like miniature lupines with silvery leaves.

Our friend, the marmot

Pink paintbrush

Lupines and friends

This reminds of the silverswords at Haleakala on Maui

More blooms

More paintbrush, but another shade

A young deer

A blue sage grouse taking a sand bath

Keywords: obstruction point, trails, high country, flowers, animals, marmots, grouse

06/24/09 - The Hall of the Mountain Goat

Our most recent journey up the Switchback Trail was more menacing than usual. True, the ridge was no higher than ever, and the trail no steeper. True, the light clouds portended no stormy disaster. It was only the hastily posted mountain goat warning stapled to the trailhead sign that gave us a clue as to what awaited us.

We had further warnings on our ascent. One hiker had turned back in defeat. Tales were told of a jogger who had been followed by the angry beast. Still, our experiences with mountain goats had generally been uneventful, save for the loud clicking and whirring of our digital camera. This time, however, was different.

We met the goat after climbing a full thousand feet. Mount Olympus now loomed over Sunrise Point. The goat was on the trail above us and proved to be a cool customer. He took note of us, nibbled some greens, then made his way down the trail towards us. Nimbly, he took the switchback. Viciously, he nibbled the vegetation. We tried moving forward, then forward again. The goat hissed in warning. We had gone too far.

The goat would not be moved. He, for the goat was a billy, would not let us pass. We retreated and contemplated our failure. Cabrito, we have savored, but this fellow was beyond our limited capacity. We started our retreat, but then fate intervened in the form of another pair of hikers, better adapted to the rigors of the trail than we. We pointed out our nemesis.

They took our intelligence calmly. "The slingshot," said the woman. "The slingshot," replied the man extracting said weapon from his backpack. Armed, our party advanced. He chose a few pebbles from the trail, each no larger than a quarter for the most part. His first shot fell short. The second connected. The goat stopped his nibbling and looked about. A second pebble followed. The goat moved on down the mountainside, abandoning the contested stretched of trail.

The goat had abandoned the trail proper, but was still close by, threatening. We advanced. We consolidated our victory with one or two pebbles more. The goat wanted no more of us, and sauntered a few yards farther from the trail. The way was clear! Our victory was the ridge itself, and the view had never been better for having been earned in adversity.

Our nemesis, almost

Ominously nibbling beside the trail


The view

North face and south face

The bonsai garden

Phlox - the scent of victory

A fuzzy picture of a marmot

The marmot in context

The hillside is in bloom.

Bog orchids are in bloom by the roadside. We had to follow our noses.

Keywords: klahane ridge, animals, marmots, flowers, mountain goats

03/03/09 - First Salamander of the Season

Salamander season has officially stared out at Lake Crescent. We stepped over this little fellow towards the east end of the Spruce Railroad Trail.

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, animals, salamander

10/29/08 - Here Too Are Salamanders

It pays to keep one's eyes on the ground, even on the Dungeness Dike Trail. While enjoying the fall foliage we found this little fellow, an Olympic torrent salamander.

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, animals, salamander

10/11/08 - Some of the Otters

There were some river otters swimming off the Morse Creek Trail today. This isn't a very good picture. They kept diving for fish, so it was hard to get a good shot.

There were five otters off the Morse Creek Trail today.

Keywords: morse creek, animals, otters

03/25/08 - Llamas By The Sea

You never know what you'll see when you are walking along the waterfront trail between downtown Port Angeles and Morse Creek. We happened across a pair of llama powered carts. The riders were from the Port Townsend area and out slumming in Port Angeles, at least according to the Peninsula Daily News.

Lllama power has its advantages, but we also met them on their return trip, and only one rider was riding. Apparently, llama carts can get flat tires, and one can only push a llama so far.

Keywords: animals, morse creek, port angeles

Roll over for a close up

12/10/07 - Green Bean Lizard

We noticed this little feller at one of the produce stands at Pike's Place Market.

Keywords: seattle, animals

Winter skies, wintry beach

10/04/07 - Olympic Salamanders at Dungeness Spit

The winter season is here. There is snow in the mountains. Hurricane Ridge Road has already been closed for the season, though it may reopen. Low tides at the Dungeness Spit are rare and the sand is vanishing from the beach. The spit is still passable, but there are long rocky stretches, so we will have to plan our treks to the lighthouse carefully.

On the more positive side, we saw our first Olympic salamanders on the trail to the spit. There is a half mile trail through the forest from the parking lot to the descent to the spit proper. We've been taking it for years, but this was the first time we saw our familiar little friends from the Spruce Railroad Trail, Olympic salamanders. They really are that rusty orange, and they were obviously out enjoying the wet. We don't expect them to be out much longer with the colder weather coming, but it was neat seeing them skulking about.

One salamander

and then another

Keywords: animals, dungeness spit, salamander, kale

Cute little baby seal

08/01/07 - Dungeness Spit

We were out on Dungeness Spit today. Low tide was around 11:30, so we got an early start. We really didn't intend to walk all the way out to the New Dungeness Light, but the day was so bright, the air so clear and the water so blue that we just kept on going. Still, we didn't make up our minds until the three mile marker, with only a mile and a half to go.

Around the one mile point, we saw a large seal splashing about, breaching like a whale, and otherwise putting on a spectacular show, but the real charmer was the baby seal we saw on the beach on our way back. We also saw a bald eagle perched on a post, and the terns were having one of their raucous sabbaths.

There has been serious erosion out near the lighthouse. In the past, we have approached the lighthouse across the even beach, but today there is a long row of wooden pilings lining the beach, and a steep sand clip up to the lighthouse level. We assume that the posts were part of the ground work done to provide a stable area for building the lighthouse and setting up its grounds. It pays to explore. There is something new every time.

Perfectly parallel waves

The Dungeness palisade

Dungeness Spit scene

The lighthouse and the mountains

Keywords: animals, dungeness, dungeness spit, eagle

05/17/07 - Goslings on Dungeness Spit

This is the season for baby animals, and that includes ducklings and goslings. We were out at Dungeness Spit and nearly stumbled over this charming family scene. It was an hour or two after low tide, and there they were, right along the water, a family of goose, gander and goslings. They were resting on the sand when the waves came in, and they all scrambled.

Keywords: birds, dungeness spit, animals, dungeness

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