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10/28/18 - Autumn on the Sol Duc

The Sol Duc Resort and hot springs just closed for the season, but the falls are still there as is the Sol Duc River. We dropped by to check out the salmon. The ranger at the entry station warned us that we had missed the migration, but we might see a straggler or two. We stopped by the cascade and watched for a while. We did see one straggler make a mighty leap. Then we lost sight of him or her in the foam.

The cascade

Sol Duc Falls

A pretty, most likely poisonous, mushroom

Downstream from the falls

The forest

Keywords: salmon, sol duc, autumn


10/10/18 - Japanese Garden in Seattle

The fall is our favorite time to visit the Japanese Garden in the Seattle Arboretum. The trees have been chosen for their autumn color, and the landscaping sets off the color beautifully. There was plenty of brilliant leaf color when we were there, though we were before the peak.

View from a stone bridge

Some color

More color

Across the pond

Another pond view

One of many turtles

Even more color

Colors and pods

Another view with stepping stones

The pond again

Even more color

Keywords: autumn, seattle


09/26/18 - Dungeness Spit to the Lighthouse

We are getting into the autumn tides which make it hard to get out to the Dungeness Spit. The walk takes from three to four hours, and when the tide is above three feet, it can be rough going. We managed to catch a good tide in late September and, much to our surprise, made it all the way out to the lighthouse for a ten mile round trip walk.

As usual, the spit was hypnotic. It's a long narrow strip of beach that just heads out to sea. On one side of the path is Strait of San Juan de Fuca and on the other side there is a low rise decorated with driftwood and beach shrubs. The best walking is down towards the water. Above there is sand, rocks and pebbles.


An overview of Dungeness Spit

A hypnotic walk

More of the spit

Beach life

The bay protected by the spit

The lighthouse in the distance

The lighthouse as we approached

The spit on our return walk

Ribsy - one of our landmarks, about a mile out

Keywords: autumn, dungeness spit, tides


11/19/17 - Elwha River and Madison Falls

Olympic Hot Springs Road along the Elwha has been closed at Madison Falls again. This time because of flooding. We took a walk up along the road. Indeed, there was a stretch of it under water. We made the most of our wandering and got some nice views of the river. We also checked out Madison Falls. This has been a wet autumn.





Keywords: autumn, elwha, olympic hot springs


11/15/17 - Lake Angeles Trail Rains

The autumn rains have come. We took a rainy day walk up the Lake Angeles Trail. We only made it to the bridge about 700 feet above the parking lot, but, en route, we saw a host of waterfalls, signs of rain and a squirrel.

Water under the bridge

A small cascade

Tree trunk and friends

The trail was a river.

A squirrel

Fresh wood

Signs of rain

Water from the earth

Another view

More water on the trail

Rapids

Keywords: autumn, lake angeles, waterfall


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


10/01/17 - Marmots on Hurricane Hill

We've been watching autumn end and winter arrive on the Hurricane Hill trail. It has been hard not to notice all the new snow on Mount Olympus and the other great mountains for the Olympics. The grasses have turned golden and the marmots are out taking advantage of the late harvest to fatten up for winter.

A mountain view

More snow already

The fields below

Golden marmots ...

... in golden grasses

Autumn colors

Another marmot

Yet another marmot

It was like a marmot conference.

Another mountain view

A last harebell

Keywords: autumn, hurricane hill, marmots, winter


01/17/17 - Dungeness Spit - The New Year

The Dungeness Spit is a five mile long sand spit that juts out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It's basically a beach without anything inland. Unlike the littoral beaches of the east coast that parallel the mainland, the spit heads away from land and then turns east. Hiking the spit is always an otherworldly experience. There is salt water on either side and just a long, wild beach littered with driftwood that runs for miles. There are spectacular views of the the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Mountains and often the Cascades. Otherwise, it is sky and salt water.

The spit varies greatly with the tide. The gap between low tide and high tide is often six feet of water. At low tide the beach can be broad and easy going. At high tide it is narrow, just a bit of sand and lots of driftwood to clamber over. In the autumn, the tides make hiking the spit difficult. There are some nice low tides, but only at night, but as winter sets in, the low tides cycle into daylight. By early February there are long low tides, under three feet, right in the middle of the day, so we expect to visit the spit more often as the season progresses.


A winter sky

More winter sky and driftwood

Definitely driftwood

The Olympic Mountains as seen from the sea

Another sand and sky picture

Rocks and driftwood

The spit from the climb out

Keywords: autumn, beaches, dungeness spit, winter


10/05/16 - Late Season Hurricane Hill

The Hurricane Hill trail may only be open for another few weeks, so we’ve been heading up there to enjoy the autumn colors. They aren’t as spectacular as the brilliant red of the Fields of Mars out at Obstruction Point, but they nicely mark the season.

The last rose

More snow in the mountains

Fading colors

The side spur

Fields of gold

Another late fall view

Yet another field

Still some red below

Autumn colors

Where the red and orange come from

Late season yarrow

Keywords: autumn, hurricane hill


10/23/15 - Autumn Phlox at Hurricane Hill

This has been a strange year. We hiked up to Hurricane Hill the other day and couldn't help noticing that there was phlox blooming by the trailside. Phlox are usually one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, not long after the snows have melted, so seeing it in the autumn was a surprise. There was enough of it to scent the air here and there. As we said, this has been a strange year.

Phlox in bloom

A real surprise

Also, a dramatic mushroom

The scenery is getting paler.

The view

A bit of frost in the shade

Still some color here

More snow in the distant mountains

A last harebell

More phlox

Pine cones

Keywords: autumn, flowers, hurricane hill, spring, trails


11/06/14 - Whiskey Bend and the Elwha

We took a short walk from Whiskey Bend down to the Elwha River. Despite the recent rains, the river is far from flooded, but the trail was pretty. The foliage color is nothing like the glory of a New England autumn, but we could see definite signs of fall. We also saw the new viewing station for the river where the old dam used to be.

A bit of autumn color

A bit more autumn color - still kind of subtle

Trees and late season light

The Elwha

A bit of snow on the foothills

Whiskey Bend Road - It's not that scary.

The new viewing area where the old dam was

Keywords: autumn, elwha


09/15/14 - To The Lighthouse

The walk out to the the Dungeness Light is one of the amazing hikes of the North Olympic Peninsula. It's not completely obvious from the pictures, but it's a walk out to sea along a narrow strip of land. There is salt water on either side, but one walks for miles along the outer beach as it curves away from the mountains and out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

We've been watching the tides at Dungeness Spit. There is usually a period from mid-autumn into mid-winter when the tides are just too high during the day to hike all the way out to the lighthouse without pulling oneself across soft sand and clambering over driftwood. Worse, during the winter, the sand washes away leaving a rocky beach behind. We decided to take advantage of this prime hiking time for our hike.

As you can see in the photos, we made it to the light. We did the full ten mile round trip in excellent time, well under four hours, thanks to a sandy beach and beautiful weather. We kept an eye on the sea and saw seals, seagulls, plovers, and sea ducks. The sky really was as blue as in the photos. Our next chance is not until February, and then only if the spit has some sand. Otherwise, it might not be until next summer.


The Dungeness Light

The curving spit

Our first view of the light

Beach flowers

A common flower

On the way back, mountains

A plover

More mountains and sea

Driftwood fashioned into a shelter

Keywords: autumn, ducks, dungeness spit, flowers, tides


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


01/10/14 - Dungeness Spit

The autumn tides at Dungeness Spit are terrible for hikers. The day time low tides are often as high as the high tides which leaves just a narrow strip of rocky, gritty beach for walking. Winter, however, is different. Already, we are getting real low tides during daylight hours, and unlike some winters where most of the sand gets washed out to sea, this year there is a fair bit of sand which makes for good footing. We haven't made it all the way out to the lighthouse yet, but anything is possible in the new year.

A very clear view of Mount Baker

The tide was out and the beach was walkable

An even better view of the mountain

The Cascades to the north, beyond the San Juans

The view south, the Olympic Mountains

Keywords: autumn, dungeness spit, tides, winter


10/20/13 - Olympic National Park Is Open Again - Hurricane Hill

The park is open again, and about time. As soon as we got the word, we were heading up Hurricane Ridge Road, and we weren't alone. There was a short line up at the entry station and a short wait where they are still repairing the tunnels, but it didn't take us long to return to the high country. Hurricane Hill was spectacular. There are a few spots of snow on the ground, but the trails were clear and the air almost crystaline. The grasses are turning golden brown. It was only two weeks, but it was way too long.

The fields are golden brown

More color, more mountains

A spot of snow below

That snow on the north face is there until next summer.

The side spur

The Strait of San Juan de Fuca

A view north

Golden hills

Some autumn color

Fields, snow and mountains

Mount Baker, a distant meringue

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, autumn, trails


10/15/13 - Salmon Homecoming on the Dungeness River

This is the season that the salmon come home to the rivers to spawn and die. It's great news for the fishermen, and for salmon in general, but not so much for the fish themselves. We noticed the scent near the Dungeness Dike parking area on Towne Road. The lot was full of fishermen, or rather, their trucks with their permits in the window. The fishermen themselves were out along the river.

One always hears of the great salmon homecoming adventure with heroic tales and desperate struggles upstream. Indeed, the river was full of fish fighting their way against the current. There were also the predators, mostly gulls, of course, and the above mentioned fishermen. It is most definitely autumn, with the leaves starting to turn and nature itself lush, but preparing for the frost.


A side channel full of fish

A silver salmon

A closeup of salmon fighting upstream

The silver river

An early autumn field

Keywords: autumn, dungeness, salmon


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