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09/12/14 - Fall Colors at Obstruction Point

We always like the Lilian Ridge hike out of Obstruction Point in the autumn. In truth, this hike has its charms in every season, but in the fall the wild, high country foliage starts changing color. There are bright yellows, pale silvers, and some amazing brilliant reds. The high country is exotic enough, but sometimes we feel like we are on another world, hiking the bright red plains of Mars.

Bright reds set off by deep summer greens

One of the many crickets about

More brilliant red

Red fields and red stairs

More early autumn color

A few last harebells

Cedums and dried flowers

More alpine flowers

A patch of red

Red grasses

More red fields

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point

07/24/14 - Obstruction Point, Just the Flowers

The glacier lilies and phlox may be passing, and the lupine a bit off their peak, but otherwise, this has been the most amazing year for high country flowers. We won't even bother with captions; we don't even know the names of most of these. They're just beautiful. We'll let the pictures do the talking.

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point

07/23/14 - Obstruction Point Revisited

Obstruction Point Road opened a bit over a week ago, so we ventured out from Hurricane Ridge. It's a one and a half lane unpaved road, so we drove carefully to the parking lot at the edge of the high wilderness. Most of the snow on the trail had melted, so we made it all the way to where the trail drops off for the descent towards Grand Lake. Here, there was some snow on the trail, but otherwise, it was easy going.

The high country here is wild and austere with dusty trails, cracked rocks and a profusion of wild flowers. There was some phlox and a few glacier lilies left, but there were so many flowers that we'll have to have a separate post just for them. Some years, the alpine lakes in the valleys below are covered with snow, but this year, the snows have melted early, so they are all full of water and almost like distant mirrors.

The view down the staircase

The last few glacier lilies

A last bit of phlox

One of the seasonal lakes

More lakes - the one on the left with icebergs

The mountains

More mountains

Melting snow

The trail

Keywords: flowers, high country, obstruction point, trails

09/25/13 - Hurricane Hill - After the Equinox

Obstruction Point Road has already closed and the weather has been changeable. Instead of the usual September sun, our skies seem to be visitors from October. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail on a quiet day and watched Mount Olympus fuss with its wreath of clouds before vanishing. The marmots were out, but turning darker and browner for winter. Only their hindquarters were golden. We saw only a handful of flowers, dried yarrow, a few harebells, and the like. Instead we saw fall foliage with the grasses turning golden and leaves turning red and brown.

Golden fields and misty mountains

One of five marmots we saw

Another marmot in closeup - not very golden

A view

A misty view and changing colors

Mount Angeles

To the north, a touch of blue

The first bit of snow, near the summit

A band of gold

A mushroom

Last of the flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots, obstruction point, weather, winter

09/13/13 - Obstruction Point

Autumn is coming to Obstruction Point. It is always dry at the end of Obstruction Point Road, and the high country is always wild and open here. Already, the foliage has started to turn red, so part of our hike feels like crossing the Plains of Mars.

Another view of the mountains - We will miss them when the hiking season ends.

The Plains of Mars

Striking red foliage

Red fields and mountains

More of the plains

High country, dry country

Still some melting snow

Resin on the pine cones

Mountains and another lake


We call these mock dandelions, but we're sure no on else does.

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point

07/31/13 - Obstruction Point

They just opened the road to Obstruction Point, so we drove out to take a short stroll. As it turned out, we hiked all the way to the "rim", the start of the big descent to Grand Lake. There was much less snow on the trail than usual, despite the early road opening. There was still some phlox and lots of lupines, and, if you looked carefully, you could see a few avalanche and glacier lilies about.

The lakes in the valley have already filled, and at least one of the tarns has already dried out. Still, there are patches of snow and a host of late season flowers including pink and red paintbrush, yarrows and hampers of dirty sock plant.

We weren't sure we could make the climb from the parking lot to the plateau, but it turned out we could. We double dog dared each other at the staircase and descended warily, expecting a hard climb back up. Then, how could we not cross the meadows and check out the view of the valley where the melting snow fills seasonal lakes for our entertainment. From there, we were called to climb a bit higher and continue down the trail. We made our way to the rim. Grand Lake beckoned, but enough was enough. We slowly and ever so regretfully made our way back to our car.

Heather and sky

Heidi country

Mountains and valleys



Melting snow along the ridge

More melting snow

Flowers, lots of these

More melting snow, more mountains


Lakes, or perhaps tarns

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point

09/04/12 - Obstruction Point

Obstruction Point Road has been open for a month now, but we finally made it out there today. The scenery was stunning. We managed to catch the last few lupines, but already the vegetation is drying and the great red fields of Mars are appearing. It's quite a sight. (Our apologies for the date stamp. We were resetting something else on our camera, and it got turned on somehow.)

We even had a great marmot sighting on our climb up the staircase. The first glimpse was of the marmot racing up the stairs and around a bend. We figured he or she would be safely hidden under a rock or bush by the time we labored up the steps, so you can imagine our surprise to find the little guy right on the steps relaxing and enjoying the shade.

Lupines and scenery

More scenery

Red foliage and even more scenery

It can be overwhelming at times.

Last year's snow is still melting.

More lupines

More lakes

The fields of Mars beckon.

The foliage here turns a brilliant red.

A marmot enjoying the shade

The land is dry already.

Keywords: obstruction point

09/04/11 - Obstruction Point

The road to Obstruction Point has been open for a while now. We managed to make our way out and took a little walk, stopping just before the big descent to Grand Lake below. There wasn't very much snow on the trail, but there was lots of snow still melting all about.

The carpet

Some mountains

More mountains with snow melting and scenery in the foreground

One of the smaller lakes

Lupines and more mountains

Yup, more mountains

Melting snow

More melting snow

The melting snow patterns were unusual this year, either that, or the snow has lingered.

Another little lake

And yet another

Keywords: obstruction point

09/03/11 - The Flowers at Obstruction Point

There were so many wonderful alpine flowers at Obstruction Point that we took too many pictures to fit in one post. Think of this as the overflow post.


Glacier lilies

Lupines by the path


We have no idea.


Ghost flower - We made that up.

We really do need to take a course or something.

This isn't mouse on a stick. (We didn't make that one up. There really is a flower called that.)

More pretty

Lupines and dirty sock plant, oh, and some mountains that sort of sneaked in

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point

10/08/10 - Obstruction Point

This may be our last trip to Obstruction Point this season. It's October, so it might snow any day. The signs of autumn are obvious now. Most of the great fields of snow have melted, and most of the flowers are gone. Parts of the trail remind us of Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars with brilliant red foliage at our feet.

Obstruction Point also seems to be chock full of marmots, particularly in the Marmot Meadow perhaps a half mile before the parking area. Interestingly, this seems to be a bad year for the red algae or bacteria, or perhaps archaea, that mottle the melting snow fields. This year they are still almost white.


Welcome to Barsoom

Red Planet Earth

More Red Planet

The lakes

Melting snow

This looked rather Christmassy. Everyone seems to be jumping the gun this year.

A reminder of summer

One of our marmot friends

Keywords: autumn, flowers, marmots, obstruction point

08/15/10 - Obstruction Point

We were back at Obstruction Point. The snow is melting rapidly, forming fantastic shapes as it does in the summer mountains. Wild lakes appear in the wakes of melting snow fields, and all around the flowers are in bloom.

Melting snow

The vista

The trail

An emerging lake

Snow saved by shadow


More fields

Keywords: flowers, obstruction point, summer, high country

07/29/10 - Obstruction Point

Obstruction Point Road has been open for a bit over a week, and we Kalebergs were not far behind. The road itself is in good shape, though dusty and vertiginous. The scenery, was spectacular. The hiking trail is still partly covered with snow, but the portion we take was not hard going. The snow that there is was soft.

Other hikers had seen marmots, but we didn't see any. We did see lots of wildflowers: phlox, pink paintbrush, lupines, asters, and, of course, the melting snow. Some of the lakes below are stil covered, though some have melted through. Now that Obstruction Point is open, we can say with certainty, the high country is open.

A view from the parking lot

That little lake seen descending the stone staircase

Snow on the trail

The mountains

It's sort of like this.

One of the lakes

The snow ridge

Pink paintbrush


We're not sure of what this is, and we're not ashamed to admit it.


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

09/28/09 - Fall Color in the High Country

Autumn is a great time to explore the high country of Olympic National Park. If nothing else, the colors can be spectacular. The alpine flowers peak early in the summer, but then the vegetation dries and withers. In the fall the foliage gets a second chance with its brilliant autumn colors.

We drove out to Obstruction Point to see if this year's dry spell would deprive us of our anticipated reds and golds. As it turned out, we had no reason to worry. The trail crossed quite a few patches of bright red. It was like walking the Field of Mars.

We also had a great marmot sighting. One of the little guys was right by the road. We just had to stop and roll down our window for an amazing close up view. All told, 2009 has been a great year for marmot watching.

One of our local golden marmots

The same guy, on the lookout

Some scenery

More scenery

Lingering snow

Bright red

More autumn color

One of those garden show rock gardens

The trail through the Field of Mars

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

08/25/09 - Obstruction Point: Late Summer

Summer is brief in the high country. Spring comes in a rush with the melting snows, and then there is a brief time when the land is lush with alpine blooms. Then the warmth and dry air of summer do their work and make ready for autumn. It isn't autumn yet, but the landscape is sere. Still, there is the awesome beauty of the high country and the more subtle blossoms of late summer.

Just another view

More scenery - Are we jaded yet?

The trail on top of the world

Mountain lakes and lingering snow


Some succulent we were too lazy to look up

Late lupines - Hurry if you want your lupine fix.

The kind of stuff they try for at garden shows

The fields


and more flowers

Keywords: obstruction point, autumn, flowers, high country, summer

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

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