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04/20/13 - Elwha Trail Out of Whiskey Bend and Our First Trilliums

Whiskey Bend Road has been open most of the winter, but we were waiting for a clement, sunny day. Then we turned off the paved road and made our way to the trailhead and were pleasantly surprised. The trail was as green and lush as ever with streamlets and little waterfalls here and there. We headed down after Michael's Cabin, rather than up, but we didn't get all the way to Hume's Ranch. Instead, we turned at the waterfall.

It was on our way back that we were surprised. We saw the first trillium of the year growing by one of the little waterfalls. Somehow, we never seem to see trilliums on our way out on a hike. Maybe we are too intent on our destination. Maybe they all grow on the wrong side of the trail or pointing in wrong direction. But, on the way back, there they are.

One of the little waterfalls

Another view of the little waterfall

The forest (and my thumb)

The forest trail

Michael's Cabin

The view from the trail

More running water


Trilliums, right by the trail side

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

08/12/12 - Klahane Ridge, Hurrah!

This time we made it up to Klahane Ridge. We were horribly slow. We kept having to stop and rest, but then we pushed on. The hanging gardens were lush and green with lupines, turks cap lilies, yarrow, cow parsnip, larkspur, paintbrush and even some phlox in bloom. The usual summer drought has not set in yet, and might not this year.

The view from the top was as spectacular as ever. To the north we could see the Dungeness Spit, the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker rising above the Cascades. To the south were the grand Olympic Mountains clad in their glaciers. Like many things this year, we were late in our return to Klahane Ridge, but we did it.

Mount Angeles and a bit of snow

The view north

The view to the east

A view north

Another view north

The trail through the green


Did we say lupines?

More of the trail

More wildflowers - an amazing season

The little waterfall near the trailhead

Keywords: flowers, klahane ridge, mount baker, summer, waterfall

04/27/12 - Elwha Open Again

We are building up again after a long slow winter. The trail out of Whiskey Bend is open again, so we pushed ourselves past the cabin and up 400 feet to the first crossing. This is maybe halfway to Lilian Camp, our eventual goal, but one must crawl before one can walk, though in our case it feels as if we walk first, then crawl back.

There were a couple of trees down, but the trails are in great shape. Even better, the trilliums and other spring forest flowers are coming out. Next time, the second crossing, for sure.

Self portrait


The green way

The stream at the first crossing

Spring waterfall

The forest

Another trillium

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring, trails, trillium, waterfall

04/04/12 - Up Some River, Through a Canyon

Much of the Atacama Desert is extremely dry. Even cacti need moisture, and big cacti need even more. While our trailhead might have looked dry, there were all sorts of large cactus telling us that water was nearby, especially in the canyon itself.

We made our way down the rocks to the canyon floor and walked, clambered and crawled upstream. Now and then we'd leap the stream or scramble over the rocks to bypass a waterfall. It was moist in the canyon, with tall cactus about along with a broad variety of plants, many in flower. There were also big clumps of pampas grass, many six or eight feet tall, and we'd sometimes have to fight our away upstream through thickets of them.

Eventually, the walls of the canyon grew lower and we could see the mountains ahead of us. We emerged from canyon-land to the surface, and the canyon itself was invisible behind us.

Cacti seen from above the canyon

Some of the flowers

More flowers

Cactus flowers

Even more flowers

Pampas grass in the canyon

Waterfall in the canyon

Making our way along

More waterfalls

The view out of the canyon

Between cactus and pampas grass

Keywords: chile, waterfall

04/02/12 - Valle de la Luna - Part 2

The Valley of the Moon has other surprises, including strange pillar like formations carved from small hills by the wind, heat, cold and rain. The loop road was closed by the recent rains. It was covered with salt, not snow, and under the salt, water was on the move.

We could hear the water under the salt before we saw it. If you want a short movie, we have it here. (It's about 2.3MB).

These cliffs look like the walls of Assyria.

Another field of mineral deposits

The Three Marys (or is it Maries?) - carved from hills like the one behind them

The Three Marys and their brother (or perhaps Joseph)

The closed road - It sure looks like snow, but it is salt.

More salt - Imagine shoveling that.

A waterfall under the salt crust

More salt deposits

More water under salt

More fascinating formations

More water under salt

Keywords: chile, waterfall

03/30/12 - Patagonia Medley

We are in Santiago now. These photos are a quick summary of all the hikes we took and adventures we had in the land of guanacos and rainbows.

Guanacos everywhere

Lago Nordenskjold and the mountains behind

More mountains

Rio Pingo

More Rio Pingo

The waterfall (cascada), our goal for the morning

View across the guanaco filled planes near Aonikenk

More mountains and plains

Some petroglyphs

Mountains and a rainbow

Laguna Azul, the blue lagoon

Keywords: chile, waterfall

03/28/12 - Lago Grey - Part 2

Yes, we are milking this.

Here are some more photos from our walk along Lake Grey. There were magnificent waterfalls, great old trees and autumn color, but everywhere there were memories of the recent fire. Everyone we spoke to remembered the shock, the decision to evacuate and all the loss. We are new to the area, so it is all new to us, but we can feel their sense of loss second hand.

We made our way past the viewpoint and followed the shore of the lake, but inland and much sheltered. We had a steep descent along a rocky trail. Near the bottom, we saw a female Magellanic woodpecker. She was a big bird, maybe six feet above us, pounding on a branch. We were in danger of getting hit by wood chips, but she wasn't bothered by us at all.

There was a shelter at the end of our hike, complete with bathrooms and running water. There was even a little store. We ate our lunch and made our way down to the beach. There, our boat was waiting. Cautiously, we made our way down the rocks to the Zodiac launch.

Stay tuned. We said we are milking this.

Lago Gray

Memories of fire

More memories


More survivors

The icebergs below

One of the waterfalls

A female Magellanic woodpecker

Someone looked up this hawk for us, but we forgot what kind it was.

Glaciers above

Our ship

Keywords: chile, waterfall

02/08/12 - Whiskey Bend Road Has Reopened, Kalebergs Return

Whiskey Bend Road was closed for well over a year. With all the dam removal work going on, we were afraid that the park service would forget about it, but it finally reopened, and we finally went back for a visit. The road is definitely smoother than it was, though this is unlikely to last. There are also many signs of repair, including sections that have been almost completely rebuilt and others which are again passable, but are narrower. The dam access is closed off by a chain link fence, but the trail to Lake Mills and the other trails at Whiskey Bend are all open and in good shape.

We had forgotten what a pleasant hike it is from the parking lot to Michael's Ranch. We headed up a short way towards Lilian Camp, but were are a bit out of shape. The sun filtered through the trees, and this part of the river, above Lake Mills, hasn't been affected by the dam work. We could go on describing things, but, as usual in this blog, it is better to let the pictures do the talking.

Sunlight and forest

Translucent red berries

Snow covered peaks

The river below

More river

Our favorite overlook

Some of the trail, near the stream

Some of the little waterfalls at the stream

Green ferns

A tree down on the trail

Another snow covered peak

Keywords: elwha, trails, waterfall

03/17/11 - The Bluffs Along the Waterfront Trail

We often take the Olympic Discovery Trail from the parking lot off Four Seasons Road and head east towards Port Angeles. There are nice views and good bird watching along the waterfront parts of the trail, but the winter rains make the high bluffs above unstable. The waterfalls may be lovely this time of year, but it's the water that makes the bluffs crumble. We picked our way through this tumble of trees and mud, though sometimes we just regard it as a sign and turn back. Despite this hazard, it's a great trail for this time of year. When the sky is open enough it matters less that it is gray.

Keywords: morse creek, winter, waterfall

02/18/11 - Changing Weather at Lake Crescent

We went for a walk on the Spruce Railroad Trail. We started in sunlight, but as we made our way west the skies darkened, and mists blew in. By the time we started back the rains had come, and our rain gear was put to the test. We were a bit wet by the time we made it back to the trailhead, but the scenery made it worth it.

One of those big spooky maples not far from the trailhead

The view west with cloudy skies blowing in

Storm King with its pronounced snow line

Our special bonus surprise waterfall, in action

The view east with the last bit of sunny sky visible towards Lake Sutherland

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, waterfall

01/24/11 - Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls is one of our "too lazy" hikes. It's about 45 minutes round trip, including gawking at the falls. As usual in the winter, the falls were roaring. See the arty pseudo-panorama to the right. Eventually, they'll get cameras for taking pictures of stuff like this, but for now we can be arty.

The top of the falls

The full falls

Middle falls

One of the side waterfalls

The bottom of the falls

Barnes Creek down below

The new bridge over Barnes Creek

Keywords: barnes creek, winter, panoramas, marymere falls, waterfall

01/23/11 - The Special Bonus Surprise Waterfall Is Back

Our special bonus surprise waterfall is back, thanks to all the rain we've been having this winter. It flows down what we call the Cliffs of Neurosis. They're like the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride, but not quite so high. Usually, the area is quite dry, but during the rainy season there is often a bit of a flow. This year there wasn't as much of a stream as some winters, but it's nice to see we're having a properly wet winter.

It's a bit hard to see, but there is a stream flowing down the rock face.

Mount Storm King with a bit of snow

A sunny winter day

Keywords: lake crescent, surprise waterfall, winter, waterfall

05/23/10 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

We drove out to Sol Duc and took a walk up towards Deer Lake. We got nowhere near the lake. We climbed perhaps 500', to the bridge over Canyon Creek, but things look promising. The one mile walk from the trailhead to Sol Duc Falls was in great shape. There's no snow down on the valley floor, but once we started climbing, there was plenty of wet snow, though it was melting rapidly. There were also trilliums and waterfalls, but we'll let our pictures do the talking.

There was a dusting of snow on the higher mountains.

There was no snow down on the valley floor.

There was snow a bit higher up.

That's the bridge over Canyon Creek with its snow as yet untromped.

The Canyon Creek falls.

We could get glimpses of snow covered hills from the trail.

All the little creeks were full.

We saw strange fiddleheads, ferns ready to leaf.

There were trilliums. They were wet.

A view of the Sol Duc.

The main falls were as spectacular as ever.

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trillium, waterfall

11/24/09 - Wild Weather on the Morse Creek Trail

The Morse Creek Trail is that section of the Olympic Discovery Trail that runs from Morse Creek west to the town of Port Angeles. It should be a relatively mild trail. It is paved, and it runs through Port Angeles proper and the unincorporated area to the east. In fact, it is a surprisingly wild and open trail since it runs along the Strait of San Juan de Fuca at the base of the bluffs, and there is little access to the trail between where it meets the strait and Hollywood Beach in town.

The recent rains that left much of Clallam County without power for the better part of a week, and claimed the life of one of the brave folks trying to repair things, left their mark on the Morse Creek Trail as well. To start, the creek was swollen and high on its banks. There were twigs and branches all over the trail. More seriously, parts of the bluffs had collapsed sending mud across the trail. There were trees down across the trail in places, and the trail had officially been marked as closed,

Morse Creek - That L shaped branch on the left is covered with water. usually the creek flows well under that branch.

One of the little waterfalls at the top of the bluffs

The trail blocked

The ominous trail

More trees on the trail

Wild waves and great views

An expedition ship searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Keywords: morse creek, port angeles, waterfall

11/22/09 - Wild Waters on the Spruce Railroad Trail

Lake Crescent is as high as we've ever seen it. Despite this, we decided to take the Spruce Railroad Trail out a bit and see how far we could get. It wasn't too bad at first. There was a lot of mud and standing water on the slope up to the first tunnel, but otherwise it was easy going to the Punchbowl. The little bridge was a little flooded, but it was just a giant step over the waters separating the trail from the bridge. On the far side of the bridge, however, the entire trail was flooded for a ways. There were actually breakers there. With a bit of timing, we managed to follow the rocky ledge and leap back onto the trail at the far end.

The trail was dry for a bit, though there were a few trees down. Still, there was nothing we couldn't crawl under, clamber over or slink around, but then we got to the little creek. Usually, we can just step over the little creek, but today was different. To start with, there was a little river running down the trail as a warning. We skirted this and made our way to the creek. It was a torrent with quite a waterfall. It was also fast, deep and wide, filling its channel and overflowing a bit. We puttered around deciding if it was worth fording, for there was no way to leap it, and no visible rocks mid-stream. In the end, we decided that we had had enough water for the day. It was time to turn back.

We'll be keeping our eyes on the Spruce Railroad Trail. The high waters can't last forever, and aside from some muds, logs and high water, it is still quite hikable.

A piece of the trail underwater - That's the bridge down around the corner.

More flooded trail - We hugged the rocks and timed the waves.

The "little" creek

The little creek has overflowed a bit.

A lovely waterfall

Someone put this mushroom up here in a niche in the rocks.

A fish caught high and dry

The bridge - That gap is leapable, even by us.

One of several fallen trees

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, trails, waterfall, little river

06/03/09 - First Climb To Klahane Ridge For 2009

We made it up to Klahane Ridge today. Thanks to the warm spring weather, most of the snow on the trail has melted, and even we, the Klumsy Kalebergs, managed to make it up the Switchback Trail to the ridge. There was some snow on the trail, but we managed to clamber through it with our trusty Yak Trax. At this rate of melt, if you tried the trail tomorrow, you'd wonder what all our fuss was about.

The trail was lined with furious alpine growth, and there were already some summer flowers, including avalanche lilies, lupines, and wonderfully scented phlox. The views were stupendous, and even as we climbed, we could sense the snow melting. On our way down, we noticed that the band of snow nestled in the corner of Mount Angeles was melting into a series of cascades. The high country is open, and the Switchback Trail is as spectacular as ever.

The trail and the mountains

Phlox in the foreground, Sunrise Point in the mid-ground and the Olympic Mountains in the background

North slope, south slope

More mountains, of all things

Port Angeles and the Strait below

The ridge and the mountains

A mushroom

An avalanche lily


The snow melting - Click to enlarge, and you can see the waterfalls.

The band of snow

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, spring, kale, waterfall

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