01/30/15 - The Sappho Elk Herd

There is a field a bit west of the junction in Sappho where we often see a herd of elk. This was one of those times.

The herd of elk

Keywords: elk

06/12/12 - Mount St. Helens from the Johnston Ridge Observatory

The eruption of Mount St. Helens was front page news way back when, but it is hard to grasp the sheer scale of a mountain exploding from photographs or even video coverage. We drove a fair ways from the interstate through flat lands and hills and forest to the Johnston Ridge Observatory to get a better sense of things.

We saw glimpses of the volcano from along the road, but what impressed us even more was the land between us and the mountain. It was hard not to see that the topography had been recently altered by volcanic floes and ash, and that material had been carved by rivers and was only recently being recolonized by grasses, shrubs and trees. This was not a long settled landscape, but a new one.

We climbed the final hillside to the observatory proper and enjoyed the exhibit, but we were drawn again and again to the view. The building had great glass windows, but we had to go outside with the wind and rain and snow. (Just flurries, but snow nonetheless.) We explored the landscape of burned tree stumps and fallen trunks and gazed in awe at the fresh land in the river valley between us and the volcano. We were never really that close, and the clouds hid the upper reaches for most of our visit, but now and then the winds would blow, cold and hard, and we could see a bit more of the mountain that had blasted and charred the trees on Johnston Ridge and reformed the land.

One of our better views of Mt. St. Helens

The Toutle River and the new land below

More valley

Another glimpse of the mountain

Mountain and valley

Johnston Ridge, today

A story is told here.

A canyon carved in volcanic ash

A herd of elk

The flowers are coming back, but only the hardy ones.

Another view of the mountain and valley

Keywords: flowers, washington state, elk

11/14/11 - Solitary Sol Duc

We drove out to Sol Duc Falls the other day. The resort was closed. The ranger's station was closed. Even sections of the road were closed with automated traffic signals regulating traffic. The parking lot was deserted but for a handful of cars. It was quiet and isolated and almost spooky. Maybe it was the Spanish moss. Maybe it was Halloween's ghost, but it was a touch spooky.

The trails were wet. In some places they were waterways. The falls were as roaring as ever. We made our way up to the canyon bridge. That's not very far, maybe a third of the way up to Deer Lake. It was cold, and there was ice on the bridges and wooden walkways, so we walked carefully.

It was a strange experience returning to the falls to find them deserted. Usually, there are at least a few people around. The bridge was a bit less icy, but still slippery. It was a strange walk, with a strong sense of being far away from people and things.

There were some elk crossing the road.

The forest was lush.

The little falls near the main falls - It's worth crossing the bridge and exploring a bit.

The falls, as ever

The canyon bridge

Snow on the valley walls

A bit of the trail

A fungal friend

These are either chanterelles or brown destroyers. Only our livers know for sure.

A damp bit of trail

A rocky bit of trail

Keywords: deer lake, halloween, sol duc, trails, elk

09/29/08 - The Hoh Sun Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is famous for its cloudy days. After all, it is a rain forest. But the forest also has its sunny aspect, so we got to enjoy the nearly as famous Hoh Sun Forest the other day. For most of our hike up to Five Mile Island and back, the sky was cloudless. The sun was brilliant and the river a glorious milky blue.

We hadn't been up this way for about a year, so we did notice a few changes. In particular, one of our favorite trees was gone, or at least severely damaged. That's the One Arm Tree which is not far from Five Mile Island and served as a landmark for years. There were a number of damaged trees along the trail. We have one or two suspects which might have been the One Arm Tree. In one case, the main branch is doing fine. In the other, the tree has fallen. We suspect the damage was from last November's violent wind storms which damaged so many trees around the peninsula.

The season is changing too. We spotted some autumn leaf color, mainly in the little maples along the river. We could see how the river has changed its flow, shoveling gravel and drift logs this way and that, and biting chunks out of the trail along the banks. For the most part, the trail is the same, but it changes with the years and seasons. That's one of the reasons we go back again and again.

The view from our picnic spot at Five Mile Island

Another view of the river

We fear that the One Arm Tree has lost its arm.

Perhaps this was the arm?

Or perhaps this was?

Late afternoon light on the trail

Hoh River and mountains

The waterfall

More river color

Some autumn color

This elk by the side of the road is probably a young bull, still bulking up.

Keywords: autumn, hoh rain forest, elk, waterfall

09/27/07 - Elk Season at the Hoh Rainforest

We walked out along the Hoh River to Five Mile Island. Despite all the jokes about the Hoh being a temperate rain forest, we had a bright sunny day and a wide blue sky.

It takes a bit under two hours to get from the ranger station and the interpretive trails to Five Mile Island, and along the way is all rain forest with ferns, moss, gnarled maples, giant trees, fallen nurse logs, rocky streams, waterfalls, and glimpses of the stony flat of the Hoh River's bed. There was even a bit of autumn color among the deciduous trees set off against the magnificent green of the evergreens.

At Five Mile Island we wandered out on the water rounded stones and walked over to the nearest channel of the Hoh. The river moves around from season to season, sometimes running hard against the north shore, but lately the main channel has been drifting south, so we settled on a log alongside one of the smaller channels and ate our lunch. (That was chicken sandwiches with bacon, tomatoes, and avocado on sourdough).

We have never seen the trail or the river so beautiful. The light was perfect with the sun high and from the south. We were amazingly pleased when we got back to the car, but there was a lagniappe ahead. As we left the parking lot, alongside the little pond, there was a herd of elk in the trees.

We, and a good number of others, stopped and emerged. There was one great bull elk and a cow with a fawn among others in the woods. The light wasn't very good, but we did manage to take a few pictures. All told, it was a wonderful day.

This is one of those glimpses of the river from along the trail

The forest is alive

The river bed flats at Five Mile Island

The herd of elk

A bad enlargement of the great bull elk - Those are his antlers, not a tree behind him.

It really does look like a Tarzan movie

The elk herd again

Keywords: trails, hoh, elk, waterfall

Hoh Rain Forest View From Five Mile Island

03/21/06 - Hoh Rain Forest : Winter Damage Report 2006

We were out at the Hoh Rain Forest yesterday, and the views of the snow covered mountains were spectacular as you can see from in the picture on the left. We have never been that far up the river this early in the season, at least not when the mountains were still snow covered.

The trail was passable to Five Mile Island, but there was a lot of wind damage. Some pretty big trees were down, some blocking the trail. Bushwhacking wasn't that hard, but we had to do some clambering and thrashing.

For more pictures of downed trees, the snow covered mountains and the elk herd we saw, see our special photo report.

Keywords: hoh rain forest, elk

01/05/05 - Udjat Beads

We were shopping for some Christmas presents in Port Angeles and dropped into the old Bead Tree store in the newly restored Elks building. The Elks buildings is sort of our local skyscraper and has recently recovered from damage from a fire a year ago. The camera store was back along with a new Internet cafe. There was also the bead store, but not the bead store we remembered.

The old bead store was a bit austere, for a bead store, that is. The new place was lush, with bins and strands and boxes and tubes of beads of all shapes, sizes, colors and levels of specular reflection. Udjat has two rooms full of everything you might ever need for stringing beads.

They also have a variety of belly dancing accessories. Belly dancing has been getting quite fashionable, both as dance and as exercise. If nothing else, it builds up the abdominal muscles, and you can work up a sweat. We didn't investigate their belly dancing products in detail, but they don't stock the DVDs. They do stock the decorative scarves and some shawls, and you can design your own accessories with their full line of beads.

Udjah Beads and Belly Dancing

Keywords: shopping, port angeles, christmas, elk