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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

04/12/07 - The Beaver Statue in Beaver, WA

It looks as if the Sappho maiden is gone for good. Our closest consolation is the carved wooden beaver statue in Beaver, WA. It's right by the diner. (Tuesday is Taco Night).

Keywords: animals, restaurants, sappho maiden

03/06/07 - First Salamander (and Slug) of Spring

A lot of trails are closed right now. Whiskey Bend Road is more or less wiped out, and the Hoh Rain Forest is inaccessible. This means we are spending a lot of time on the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent. We were out there a few days ago, and it sure smelled of spring. Today, it smelled even more spring-like. The currant and salmonberry blossoms are getting ready to bloom. Then we saw it. The first salamander of spring! We knew that slugs could not be far behind. We were right. A bit down the trail, there it was, a slug, slugging its way through the trail debris.

Eventually other trails will reopen, and even the high country will thaw out and open up, but for now, we are going to watch for spring.

We often have trouble believing how clear Lake Crescent water is. The upper rocks in this picture are under water. The water is radioactive pool blue, even without radioactive waste to make it glow.

Keywords: elwha, spruce railroad, spring, animals, salamander, slugs, high country, hoh rain forest, lake crescent, trails, salmon

07/23/06 - River Otters Off Morse Creek Trail

We often see river otters on the rocks or swimming around off the Olympic Discovery Trail that runs from downtown Port Angeles to Morse Creek. There's a little creek that runs down from the top of the bluff a bit west of the storm bypass, and we've seen the otters crossing the trail from that area down to the water. This time we had our camera with us, so we have proof.

Keywords: animals, morse creek, port angeles, otters

07/09/06 - Mountain Goat Update

There were mountain goats in the news this morning. The local paper, the Peninsula Daily News, had an article about the upcoming aerial goat survey. We Kalebergs decided to check out the situation ourselves, but lacking the requisite light aircraft and helicopters, we took one of our favorite hikes, the Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge. We had spotted one fine specimen back in June, so we had our hopes for this fact finding expedition.

We started the arduous ascent from the parking lot. The bog orchids were in bloom, and their rich scent permeated the waterfall climb near the start of the trail. Hikers descending reported goats on the trail, raising our hopes. Indeed, as we neared the 1000' apl (above parking lot) mark on our altimeter, there they were, two goats, a nanny and a kid, skulking in one of the shady corners of a switchback.

Mountain Kid
An Olympic mountain goat exploring the crags above us

After a suitable pause to take some pictures and share in the mother-child intimacy, we resumed our ascent. Two goats! We had already broken our old record of one mountain goat sighted. The day was auspicious, and our hopes were high.

We did not hope in vain. As we neared the rocky outcrops near the ridge itself, there we saw him, well above us on the bare rock cliffs, the billy goat. Well, that made our day. Three goats! This was quite a successful survey, and we had more to climb and explore.

We pressed onward to the ridge and looked north, at the great fields of rock and snow, now covered with fog and rising cloud, in contrast to the sun and calm to the south through which we had ascended. The snow had been melting rapidly, so we tried for the high alpine gardens, but in this we failed. We were too tired to deal with the big patch of snow at 1600' apl (above parking lot).

As we returned to the trail junction at the ridge, we reaped a new reward for our muscle cracking efforts. (Our muscles crack more easily than most). There they were, an entire nuclear goat family, billy, nanny and kid, taking it easy and enjoying a snack on one of the rocky outcrops. We had to smile.

We must report that the alpine flowers were spectacular, and judging from our goat friends, quite delicious. The avalanche lilies have passed, but the lupines are just coming in, as are the turk's cap lilies and the pink paintbrush. Whether you go for the goat spotting, or just for the alpine flowers or the spectacular scenery, this is a great time for a survey of Klahane Ridge.

Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat Grazing
Mountain Goat

Keywords: animals, high country, klahane ridge, flowers, kale, waterfall, mountain goats

06/24/06 - Mountain Sheep on Klahane Ridge

Yes, they are actually goats, but they're back, and they're traipsing, or is it capering, around the Klahane Ridge Trail. We saw this fellow on the Switchback Trail just a bit below the junction with the Klahane Ridge Trail. We were perhaps six feet await from this guy, but he seemed a lot more interested in his meal than in us.

Keywords: animals, klahane ridge

Olympic Salamander

04/10/06 - Olympic Salamanders Are Back

We consider this one of the great signs of spring. The salamanders are back on the Spruce Railroad Trail. There were also a few slugs, and the wild currant is in bloom, but the salamanders are the true sign of the season. Today there was a veritable infestation of them, perhaps because it started to rain on our return hike. We saw at least a dozen, though we may have seen one or two of them twice.

We think they are Olympic torrent salamanders, which are only found on the Olympic Peninsula. For more info, check out this site or this one for the official park notes on these creatures.

This would be a great time to take a hike along Lake Crescent, but please, watch your step, and you may see some of these little creatures.


Olympic Salamander
Olympic Salamander

Keywords: animals, spruce railroad, salamander, lake crescent, slugs, spring

03/12/06 - Our Winter Wonderland

Right now, we don't get all excited about deer in our yard. There isn't all that much for a deer to eat in our garden at the moment. We're still cutting back the old roses and pruning our fruit trees, at least when there isn't quite this much snow on the ground. So, behold the backyard menace, lurking like a lean Assyrian and waiting for the Kaleberg garden bounty.

Deer enjoying the snow in our yard

Keywords: winter, animals, port angeles, kale


03/01/06 - Hellebore Blogging

We've seen a lot of web sites lately that are into "cat blogging", or even "ferret blogging", but we don't have any cats or ferrets. The animals around here don't like to sit still and get photographed, so instead, we've decided to photograph some of our favorite winter blossoms, hellebores. This is the 2006 batch. We really have to get a nicer bowl for them.

Keywords: flowers, winter, animals

Sea Star at Second Beach

08/15/05 - Sea Stars

We often see starfish at Second Beach, particularly at low tide, but on our last visit we saw several stranded sea stars. You can tell they are echinoderms, related to the starfish and sea urchins, because they have five fold body symmetry. In fact, they look a lot like starfish, except they have 20 legs, rather than just five.

We've updated our tide tables for La Push, which is right near, and has almost the same tide schedule as, Second Beach. You can even download an iCal calendar to set up a trip at low tide so you can explore the tide pools and caves more easily.

Keywords: second beach, animals, fish, tides

Golden Marmot

07/15/05 - Obstruction Point Marmots

They're back. We're back. Obstruction Point Road has been open for a few weeks now, and we finally made our way eight miles down the one and a half lane road to some of the most wonderful alpine high country accessible by car in Olympic National Park. We took our usual walk to the rim of the great descent to Moose Lake and promptly turned around and made our way back to the car. The air was thin, most of the snow had melted and all the flowers were out in bloom.

Also, there were marmots, the Olympic golden marmots, who looked well fed and were quite active. We could hear them whistling from some distance, probably warning the other marmots about us human invaders.

Pink Paintbrush Melting Snow and Lakes in the Mountains Obstruction Point Rock Garden

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

Mountain Goat Grazing At Klahane Ridge

07/02/05 - Mountain Goat at Klahane Ridge

The Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is one of our favorite high country hikes. If nothing else, the trailhead is right off Hurricane Ridge Road a bit shy of the ranger station on Hurricane Ridge, so it is an easy drive. We got an early start today to avoid the Fourth of July crowds, and we fairly tore up the 1450' from the Switchback Trail trailhead to the ridge, but just as we got to the overlook, where one can see Port Angeles, Sequim, Dungeness, the San Juan Islands and Vancouver Island spread out below, we stopped short. There, by the sign post, was a mountain goat, chowing down on the foliage.

There are mountain goats, actually a type of sheep, in Olympic National Park, but they are rarely seen in this part of the park. This one was shaggy, still shedding its winter coat, but more than willing to cooperate with a photographer.
Mountain Goat ClimbingMountain Goat Ambling

Keywords: klahane ridge, animals, high country, dungeness, hurricane ridge, port angeles, winter, mountain goats

Fawn and Doe by the Road

06/16/05 - First Fawns of the Year

We spotted the first fawn of the season along Hurricane Ridge Road on our way up to the flower show along the Hurricane Hill Trail. It was hard to get a better shot since there is no shoulder along the road. Usually, one doesn't see fawns until they are much older. This one was wobbling as it walked, so it must still be pretty new to the world.
Closeup of Fawn

Keywords: animals, high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge

05/13/05 - The White Slug Returns

The flowers are coming out at Lake Crescent. As we noted earlier, the trilliums are definitely out, along with a host of others.

Also back for the year, the white slug. We've been seeing some of the local Olympic salamanders, but none were out for this photo session.

Keywords: flowers, animals, slugs, lake crescent, salamander, trillium

06/24/04 - The Fawns of Cape Alava

Cape Alava is at the far western edge of the North Olympic Peninsula, so it is a bit of a drive. However, it is well worth it. There is a hike from the corner of Lake Ozette, through rainforest and meadow to the Cape, then south along the beaches with their mysterious sea stacks and tide pools to Sandy Point, and then back along a different trail to the ranger station.

To the right, you can see one of the seasonal charms of the area. The deer, even the fawns, are relatively unperturbed by overly excited photographers. We saw two fawns with their mother (presumably), and we saw a river otter on the Hoko-Ozette Road back home. We also saw a little salt water turtle and a large striped frog.

Today, the walk was easy. The tide was low, well below one foot while we were there, so it was easy to go rock hopping around the points. It was also dry, so the boardwalks weren't slippery. Finally, it wasn't too sunny, because the beach can get a bit oppressive with the full sun bouncing off the Pacific.

We have as yet to find the petroglyphs, but we'll keep looking.

For more on the trail, see our web page for Cape Alava.
Fawn at Cape Alava

Keywords: animals, cape alava, beaches, petroglyphs

05/28/04 - Gravel Pit Tales

Olympic SalamanderWe were out on the Spruce Railroad Trail today, and we couldn't help noticing that the mud is back. That and the salamanders. You have to keep your eyes open, or you'll step on one of the unique species of the Olympic Peninsula. These little lizards are a sort of red gold, and as you can see in the photograph, they rather blend in to the background. The rain brings them out and it brings out the slugs, so this is a great time to explore the trails of Olympic National Park.

On our way west to the trailhead, we heard a cautionary tale about feeding wild animals. We picked up some gravel at the quarry a bit off of 101, west of the Elwha. We're retail customers and drive a Honda Civic. Most of the folks here drive umpty ton gravel trucks, or diggers, or grinders. It's sort of a grown up Tonka paradise.

Anyway, we stopped in at the office to be sociable, and pay for our gravel, and we heard the story of cougar.

It had been a hard winter, and the cougar was about as thin as a housecat. The owner of the quarry had never seen a big cat so skinny, and having several hundred pounds of hamburger going stale in the freezer decided to feed the poor thing. Needless to say, he carried his pistol, and he kept his distance, but the cat went for the beef and not for him.

As the season progressed, the cougar put on some weight and and started to flesh out a bit. A few hundred pounds of hamburger will do that to beast, or man. There's a documentary on this that just came out, which says something about restating the obvious. Needless to say, having been fed, the cougar was much more energetic, and the owner of the quarry was figuring it was time for the creature to return to the wild.

Then, one day, the cougar dropped by a neighbor's place and went for the ducks and geese right on the front porch. The neighbor shot it. So, if you do come to the Olympic Peninsula, think twice before feeding the wild animals.

Keywords: animals, spruce railroad, salamander, elwha, slugs, trails, winter

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