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05/12/09 - Hazy Day On Dungeness Spit

There were some good tides at Dungeness Spit, so we decided to make the most of them. The day was sunny inland, but there was a sea haze out on the spit. There were also salamanders on the trail down. The beach itself was broad, but surprisingly rough going with lots of rocks and soft sand. We didn't get as far as we had hoped, but we did enjoy our visit.

If you want to explore the spit yourself, check the tides on our tide pages, or just follow the column to the left of this article. Down towards the bottom is a list of the next good tides at Dungeness, La Push and Cape Alava.

One salamander ...

The descent to the spit

... and another

The beach ...

... and just some of the rocks

Keywords: dungeness spit, salamander, tides

05/04/09 - The Spruce Railroad Trail - Watch Your Step

Watch your step on the Spruce Railroad Trail. We've been spotting our share of salamanders, snakes and slugs. That's the three S's. Then again, it's always worth keeping one's eyes open on the trail.




Spooky maple trees

Some flowers

Keywords: salamander, slugs, spruce railroad

03/26/09 - Another Sign of Spring, We Hope

We'll admit it. We're getting pretty hard up for signs of spring around here, so this salamander picture taken on the Spruce Railroad Trail is going to have to do. Yes, we know that we post an awful lot of pictures of these little fellows, but they are only found on the Olympic Peninsula and they are pretty neat. Watch out, we might get a salamander-cam and offer live coverage. Or, better yet, spring might come.

Keywords: salamander, spring, spruce railroad

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

04/25/08 - Triliums

Each time we have visited the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent we have kept our eyes open for signs of spring. Spring has been late in coming. The skunk cabbage didn't even appear until April, but then we saw the first Indian paintbrush and the first few salamanders. This time the trilliums were out. There aren't many leaves on the alders, but we are finally seeing some signs of spring.

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spring, spruce railroad, trillium

04/14/08 - Signs Of Spring - Hope (For Spring) Springs Eternal

We have been rather desperate for signs of spring. Even in mid-April the temperature still drops into the 30s nightly, and there is fresh snow on the mountains. The landscape at Lake Crescent was barren, but we did see two local salamanders, undersized, but healthy as they basked on the muddy trail. To our surprise, there was some Indian paintbrush blooming on the descent just east of the bridge at the Devil's Punchbowl.

This is rather pathetic for this time of year, but we will take what we can get. Two salamanders and a few feeble flowers aren't much. The thaw has barely started, and the lake water is low. Still, there are some signs of progress.

Keywords: flowers, lake crescent, salamander, spring

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

A late season salamander

08/14/07 - Late Season Salamanders

We often see Olympic torrent salamanders on the Spruce Railroad Trail on Lake Crescent, but we usually see them in the spring. Here's proof that we are having a wetter summer than usual. We saw a late season salamander out on the trail just the other day.

Keywords: lake crescent, salamander, spring, spruce railroad, kale

08/10/07 - The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center: A True Northwestern Rain Forest Gallery

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center is an unusual art gallery. Most of the exhibits are shown in a natural Northwestern temperate rain forest. If you are tired of finding mushrooms, mountain beaver, trilliums and salamanders on your rain forest walks, come here and enjoy the sense of light and play in this unusual outdoor museum.

Welcome to the labyrinth

Keywords: art, port angeles, salamander, trillium

05/11/07 - Great Year For Triliums at Lake Crescent

Last year there seemed to be an awful lot of trilliums along the Lake Angeles trail. This year, there seem to be an awful lot of triliums along the Spruce Railroad trail at Lake Crescent. Keep your eyes open. A lot of them are along the slow ascent at the eastern end of the trail, and it is easy to miss them with all the ferns and shrubs. Also, keep your eyes open for salamanders. They are out there, especially on wetter days.

Keywords: flowers, spruce railroad, lake angeles, lake crescent, salamander, trillium, kale

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

First trillium of 2006 at Lake Crescent

04/17/06 - Spring Flower Report

Last week the salamanders were back at Lake Crescent; this week the are returning as well. Not only are the trilliums back and in bloom, we saw the first Indian paintbrush and a toad lily. The park service has been cleaning up the dead fall, and there was a lot of that this year, so the trail is easy going. If you are a trillium fan, or want to look for other signs of spring, the Spruce Railroad Trail is ready for the season.


Olympic Salamander

Keywords: flowers, spruce railroad, lake crescent, salamander, spring, trillium

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

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

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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