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09/26/23 - Mount Rainier - Nerada Falls

We still haven't made it up to the high country of Olympic National Park. Between the destruction of the lodge, the subsequent limits on visitors, the bad air from forest fires, and forest fire and mountain lion attack related closures, we have more or less given up. Now, they are demolishing the ruins of the lodge and the area has been closed for a period, yet again.

So, we visited Mount Rainier back in late August, and returned more recently to explore some more. This time we stayed just outside the park, and this time it rained. Actually, it snowed. We didn't make it all the way up to Paradise. There were too many snow covered cars coming down. The rain was heavy where we were, and we had no desire to drive through wet snow to see the heavy fog that would be blocking any view of the mountain. Instead, we decided to cut our losses and see some of the waterfalls along the way.

We stopped at Nerada Falls and made our way down to the view point. We could hear the falls even from the parking lot. They were in full force and rain fed. We followed the trail down to the falls overlook. It was green forest and gray mists accented with bits of brightly colored fall foliage.

The back yard at our cabin, one of Betsy's

The trail to Nerada Falls

More of the trail

Lots of foliage and running water

Our first glimpse of the falls

More greenery

More of the falls

Plenty of water

Plenty of mist

Another falls view

More mist in the forest

A bit of color

The falls below

Keywords: high country, waterfall, mount rainier

08/06/23 - Mount Rainier - The Skyline Trail - Part 1

With access to our local national park restricted, we decided to make a quick trip to Mount Rainier. We don't live that far from Mount Rainier, so we decided to drive there, spend a night, take a hike in a new high country and then drive home. Mount Rainier is open, but access is tricky. We lucked out and got a room for one night at the Paradise Inn, so we didn't have to worry as much about parking or entry lines.

As it turned out, our plan worked. We rose early and were soon on the Skyline Trail heading up the slope with Mount Rainier and its streams and glaciers looming over us. It was a busy trail but beautiful. The flowers were blooming: lupins, mountain spiraea, bear grass and, inevitably, dirty sock plant. It was wonderful.

The country around Paradise at Mount Rainier is greener and wilder than the high country we are used to in the Olympic National Park. Those glaciers above melt and form rivers that seem to run everywhere, punctuated by dramatic waterfalls. There was less of a sense of exposure to wind and sun, but so much was familiar.

There were lots of hikers. Most were day hikers like us carrying a small pack or a bottle of water. Some were mountaineers with heavy packs and ice axes and clearly on their way to attempt climbing to the peak. There were quiet moments on the trail followed by hiking groups and family get togethers.

All told, our trip was a success. We made it to 1050' or so. Our GPS cut out as it often does and didn't restart until they launch a new satellite or the like. As we climbed, Mount Rainier grew closer and dominated the scene. It was spectacular, and we are already planning a return trip.

Mt. Rainier in the distance with clouds

The clouds constantly shifting

Another look up, now closer

Clouds, glaciers and mountain framed by greenery

Lush high country

One of the many streams

A little waterfall

Dramatic skies

Another dramatic view

A stretch of trail

Lush fields and other, lesser mountains

Those distant peaks

Pasque flowers

Another field of color

Yet closer to the mountain

Gray skies but only a light drizzle


More of Mt. Rainier

Buttermilk sky

There's a waterfall a bit left of the center.

That waterfall

More scenery

A stream down below

Keywords: flowers, high country, mount rainier

08/05/23 - Mount Rainier - The Skyline Trail - Part 2

Here are some more pictures from our hike on the Skyline Trail up Mount Rainier.

More dramatic sky

Pink paintbrush

A small stream

A rocky scene

Just a bit of lupine

More high country

More flowers

More rich green

Another waterfall

Another artistically framed photo

Rocks, rich green and glaciers

Green country

Bear grass among others

A tiny stream doing its bit to keep the high country green

A valley view

More corn lilies

Forest and green

More green

A typical array

Bright flowers

A lone mushroom

More flowers

A field of flowers

Keywords: flowers, high country, mount rainier

07/27/23 - Obstruction Point - Part 1

Ever since the lodge at Hurricane Ridge burned down, only a limited number of cars have been allowed to drive up to the ridge. There is the city bus, but we wanted to get out to Obstruction Point, so we rose early and had only a short wait at the entrance gate.

The drive out to Obstruction Point was its usual spectacular self with tight turns, a narrow road and vertiginous drop offs. There were also amazing views of Mount Olympus, the other snow capped mountains in the Olympic range and the green river valleys below.

We headed out on the trail and slowly got more used to the altitude. Usually, by late July, we're comfortable at 6000', but we haven't been getting up to the high country much. We made our way up to the plateau then down the staircase and across the fields to the ridge with its cirque of winter snow still melting and the lakes forming below. We headed up and on a bit, out to Eagle Rock where we soaked in the view before heading back.

The high country, at last!

Greeting us was a grouse.

The start of the trail

A typical view

Alpine flowers, we missed you.

More along the trail and some distant snow

More trail and clouds

Clouds playing with a mountain ridge

A peek at Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier

The little lake we always check as we descend the staircase was doing well.

A stone garden

Our first few lupines of the year

More along the trail

Not shown, but we found a last bit of phlox with a touch of its wonderful scent lingering..

Another look at Olympus

One of the seasonal lakes

A high ridge


More lupines!

More lakes!


A deer, an unusual sighting up here

Another mountain view

Keywords: high country, hurricane ridge, obstruction point, winter

07/26/23 - Obstruction Point - Part 2

Here are some more photos from our magical journey to Obstruction Point and beyond. Back in 2020, we had worried that COVID would have made the high country off limits. We were wrong. It was a great year for the trails and wildflowers, but this year, 2023, has been different. The fire that destroyed the lodge also destroyed the electrical power system, the water pumps, telecommunications and the septic system. The lodge was going to be closed for renovations, but the park service had made arrangements. The fire changed that. Instead, they have had to limit the number of visitors, so we haven't had much opportunity to explore.

We made it up to Obstruction Point despite this. We were hoping to do some more hiking in the area, but a cougar attack led to the closing of the Lake Angeles Trail, Heather Park and Klahane Ridge. It's a sensible precaution, but this is not going to be a great year for the Kalebergs and the high country.

A view from near Eagle Rock

The lakes below

The hiking trail

Yet another mountain view

Mountain garden

Mountain trail

Paintbrush and snow


More of the garden

The Olympic Mountains

Snow below


Mountain clouds

Another bit of the trail

And yet more

Another peek at the peaks

Lupine leaves

Clouds again

More mountain rock garden

More flowers

A fascinating flower

The staircase

Returning to base

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, trails

06/20/23 - A Shooting Star

We saw this flower at the entry station for the Dungeness Spit. We usually see this up in the high country, but with the lodge fire closing the road, we haven't been climbing mountains lately.

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness spit, high country

08/26/22 - Obstruction Point Road - Part 1

We took what is probably our last hike of the season out from Obstruction Point. The park is closing Obstruction Point Road on the day after Labor Day, and probably not reopening it until 2023. Hurricane Ridge Road is going to be closed a few weeks later as well. According to the park service, Hurricane Ridge Road was collapsing onto Obstruction Point Road below it, and they're hoping to have both roads more or less rebuilt and repaired in the next few months.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed the hike across the high country, down the staircase, then along the ridge with its spectacular views of Mount Olympus. We took the side spur out to Raven Rock and looked down at Moose Lake and Grand Lake way far below. I doubt we'll ever make the thousand foot plus descent. If nothing else, we'd have to climb back up which seems daunting.

We're past the peak flower season. Colors are already starting to change. We did see a blue grouse and her chicks scrabbling about in the dry grass not far from the trail. They are so well camouflaged that seeing them was just a matter of good fortune. We may get another chance to get up to the high country this season, but it we don't, this was a great way to say goodbye to it.

Top of the world

The high country trail

A bit of the staircase

Mountains across the valley

Our first peek at the plains of Mars

Foliage just starting to turn red

Still some lingering snow

Another bit of trail

Two lakes below

Another seasonal lake

Mountains and sky

Friable rock

Another spectacular view

Way down below

Early autumn colors

Fading fields

We'll miss the trail.

Blue mountains beyond

More on the hiking theme

Some more fall color and great scenery

More trail, color, snow and sky

Mount Olympus

Yet more of the trail

Keywords: high country, hurricane ridge, obstruction point

08/25/22 - Obstruction Point Road - Part 2

This is a continuation of our post on our last visit of the season to Obstruction Point Road with a bit more focus on details.

Some late lupines

Some flowers

Harebells and others




We're not sure what this is, but it's a great composition.

More flowers

And more flowers

Some fall flowering phlox


Another bouquet

And another

A blue grouse

One of her chicks


More grousing

There were three or four grouse chicks.

Another chick, or perhaps the same one again

Bright flowers


Amongst the rocks


Keywords: high country, grouse, flowers, obstruction point

06/16/22 - Hurricane Hill - First Time

We made it up to Hurricane Hill for the first time this year. We've been watching the webcam and following the park road announcements. The road from the lodge opened maybe a week ago, so we got a moderately early start and headed up the hill. There are now two booths at the entry station, a result of last year's construction, which should help somewhat this summer. The road was busy, but we have seen it busier. The parking lot where the Hurricane Hill trail starts was full, and the lot at the closer picnic area was almost full. No one wanted to park in a huge puddle, almost an inland sea, that spanned three spaces, so we parked offshore. That's what hiking boots are for.

The hike itself was wonderful. The views of the mountains and glaciers were magnificent. There were glacier lilies out but no phlox yet. Most of the trail was clear, but the shady patch was still covered with snow. Once again, that's what hiking boots are for. The high country was beautiful with melting snow and fresh green. The marmots were out, still plump and eagerly chowing down on the greenery. It was good to see them after most of a year. The high country is open. Here's to a good hiking season.

Mountains and melting snow

The first segment of the trail, out in the sun

Those mountains again - Are they really that far away?

Weathered rock

The first marmot sentinel

Another marmot

That guy again on young grass

Another marmot on a hill

Yet another marmot

Almost summer, but the ground not yet green

A glacier lily

Another view

Mountains and clouds

The same mountains, a different sky

More glacier lilies and friends

A grayer sky

Another view

Yet another

The view north

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, marmots, summer

06/23/21 - Hurricane Hill

We've been getting an early start on the hiking trail and heading out along the Hurricane Hill Trail. The snow along the trail has melted, but the climb is as steep as ever. The rewards are the wildflowers, the marmots and the amazing views.

The view of the mountains, as spectacular as ever

Morning clouds over the Elwha

One of the marmots

Another marmot

Yet another golden marmot

Melting snow

The start of the little lake

Pask flowers

Other flowers

Across the high country

Another mountain view

Glacier lilies

Avalanche lilies

Mountains and mountains

Western wallflower

More glacier lilies

More avalanche lilies

Lots of larkspur

Early lupines

Keywords: elwha, flowers, high country, hurricane hill, marmots

05/16/19 - Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill Trail is open. It is still being rebuilt, so it is only open about half the time. Check the park web page and scroll down to the calendar before you head up expecting to take this hike. Note that the trail is ALWAYS closed on Wednesdays. Also note that the road is closed at the second picnic area, so the trailhead is now an additional ten minute walk from parking.

That said, the view from the trail is as beautiful as ever. Most of the trail is free of snow, and the snow is melting rapidly. The glacier lilies are out as is the phlox, so keep your nose peeled for that latter flower's wonderful scent. There were many marmots about which was a nice treat. We didn't quite make it to the summit, so that's for our next try. We had a long winter this year, so it's great that the high country is finally open again.

The Olympic Mountains


A view from the trail

More of the mountains

A late winter scene

One of the many marmots

Another mountain view

Another marmot

A marmot in a field of delicious, to a marmot, spring flowers

The marmot by the trailside

That marmot checking us out

That marmot again offering us a closeup

A bit of snow on a shady stretch of trail

More spring flowers

Some of the trail work, a stone retaining wall where the trail has been widened

More phlox

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies in closeup

Goodbye to the mountains

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, marmots, spring

07/07/18 - Klahane Ridge

We made it up to Klahane Ridge via the Switchback Trail. As usual, it was hard work and breathtakingly beautiful. The hillside snow has melted, and the flowers are coming into bloom. It was an amazing hike with amazing views. Despite the road work, we've been getting up to the high country.

At 1000 feet above the trailhead the mountains are level with Sunrise Point.

A view from the ridge

Snow on the north face, not where we hiked

Clouds pouring into the bowl below

More clouds

Rocky outcrops

Lush green along the trail

Another dramatic view

Another piece of the trail

The stream below, quite full

A view up to the ridge

Keywords: high country, klahane ridge

10/12/17 - Fall Colors on Hurricane Hill

The rainy season starts in the fall. That means autumn color and the start of the rainy season. The brilliant, almost crystalline summer sky is replaced by a sky of clouds and mists. Rivers of cloud snake their way through the river valleys and drape the mountain sides. The snows many come at any time and close the roads to the high country, so we try to get up as often as we can while we can.

Mountains and autumn haze

Some color

Mount Baker from afar

Port Angeles from above

Another mountain view

Snow on the north face

The season of the misty mountains and golden grasses

More golden fields

More grasses

Keywords: autumn, high country, hurricane hill

08/20/17 - Hurricane Hill as Summer Passes

The summer is passing. More gold and brown are creeping into the colors of the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail again and saw a bit of drama, two young marmots were attacked by a hawk. They were unharmed, but one tends to thing that these things are just staged for nature documentaries. Not true.

We also ran into the team planning to rebuild the trail. The Hurricane Hill Trail is heavily used in season, and it has been showing signs of wear. We're hoping they don't have to close the trail for too long. We've been having a lot of trail and road closures lately.

Summer colors

Still plenty of green

Mountains in late summer

Another view

The view to the north

Clouds add drama.

A silky sky

Late summer flowers

The season

Yet another view

The trail planning team at work

Keywords: flowers, high country, hurricane hill, marmots, summer

07/20/17 - Klahane Ridge Again

Our three favorite high country trails are the Hurricane Hill Trail, the Lilian Ridge Trail out of Obstruction Point and the Klahane Ridge Trail via the Switchback Trail. This season, the last of those of three keeps calling us back. We've been watching the flowers, with more and more lupines appearing as the phlox starts to fade. We've been watching the mountain goats, carefully, as there seem to be a lot of them. There were over a dozen on our descent. We didn't stop for photos. We wanted to keep an eye on them and be ready to react.

We made it up past the ridge overlook and followed the trail leading to Lake Angeles. The "rooms", areas carpeted with alpine flowers and divided by crags, were a trip back to early in the season. Only a few flowers had blossomed, though we expect more when we answer the call of Klahane Ridge again.

A view from the ascent

As we approached the ridge

A mountain goat and her kid

Another view of them

A view of the Olympic Mountains

One of the alpine "rooms"

The end of our hike, lingering snow

Phlox, probably at its peak - It's a pity there isn't HTML to capture the scent.

Lupines, a great year

Blood wort

Bog orchid

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, mountain goats, trails

02/16/17 - Marymere Falls in February

It has been a wintry month, and we haven't been getting out as much as we'd like. If nothing else, the Spruce Railroad Trail and all of the Elwha Valley trails are closed for construction and the high country is covered with snow. We did get out to Marymere Falls. It was a short walk from the parking lot, less than an hour round trip, but it was a nice taste of northwestern forest for the season.

The falls

The misty mountain trail

Looking down at Barnes Creek

The trail with a new handrail (on the right)

Barnes Creek again

The side stream from the falls

Another view of Barnes Creek

Keywords: elwha, high country, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails

09/30/16 - The Plains of Mars

Winter is coming to the high country. The greens are turning into browns and reds and golds. At Obstruction Point the colors are brilliant, and the fields of bright red foliage remind us of the plains of Mars. Of course, thanks to NASA we now know that Mars looks nothing at all like Lilian Ridge, but the colors still evoke the fantastic Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The high country is always a bit otherworldly, but it is at its most spectacular and alien when the colors start to change.

The mountains of Mars

More mountains with Martian vegetation in the foreground

Red and a shock of gold

Fields of Mars

More Martian landscape

Seasonal color change

Changing colors from a distance

The red land encroaches on a dying sea

Lakes and seas of gold

More plains of Mars

Another Martian view

Keywords: high country, obstruction point

09/18/16 - Smoke in the High Country

The Cox Valley fire is still smoldering in the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill trail and could see the smoke filled valleys to the south. We also saw a number of blue grouse. The grasses on the hill sides have been turning golden, but it was the spectacular blue of the smoke and sky that caught our attention.

Autumn colors and smoke

More valley smoke

Smoke and clouds

Golden grasses and forest fire smoke

One of the grice or perhaps one of the grouses

More distant smoke

Smoke, sky and trail

Dried flowers

Even more smoke

A close up …

… and another one

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill

09/07/16 - Hurricane Hill in the Mist

The weather in the high country is as changeable as ever. That means packing a light raincoat and making the most of whatever the mountains and clouds offer. We didn’t expect much from Hurricane Hill on a cloudy day, but the round trip walk takes over an hour and a half. That gave the clouds plenty of time to shift and change. At times we were wrapped in fog, but we still managed to discern a blue grouse and a marmot. We also had some spectacular scenery and a beautiful walk.

Mixed skies

Autumn colors


One of the views

A blue grouse

Autumn colors and autumn mist

The flooded foot path

A marmot in the mist

A closeup of that marmot

Some teasing blue sky

Another view

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill, weather

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