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11/16/22 - Sunny Day Elwha

We weren't up to much, so we took a short walk from the Madison Falls parking lot along the Elwha to where the road washed out and admired the fall foliage, the rushing river and the brilliant day. The mules were gone for the season. Then, we took the little trail to Madison Falls.

Olympic Hot Springs Road past Madison Falls

Across the Elwha

Late fall foliage

The Elwha

The gap where the road was cut

Another view across the river

And another

Yet another

The tree of gold

The road again

Madison Falls

Almost bare trees near Madison Falls

More of such

Keywords: elwha


10/24/22 - Elwha to Altair - After the Rain

At long last, it has rained. We had a long dry stretch, all of September and most of October. Hurricane Ridge Road was closed for repairs, but they promised to re-open it on the 21st. Naturally, we expected the rains to come on that date and the road to the Ridge to be closed due to snow. Our forecast was accurate. On the 21st, the rains came. It snowed on the Ridge. Hurricane Ridge Road did not reopen, but we, down near sea level, had lots of long awaited rain.

We decided to head out from Madison Falls and check out the Elwha River as far as the Altair Bridge. There were wonderful puddles, wet dirt and wet pavement. We weren't the only ones enjoying the puddles. We spotted a frog beside one. Even the park service mules looked happier, though we can't be sure. The river looked a lot less tired. It seemed like the foliage was waiting for the rains to change to its autumn colors, and now that the rain had come there were browns and reds and golds. The colors were muted by the drought, but they were there.


At the start of the trail

Autumn color

A glimpse of the river

A proper view of the Elwha

Wet pavement never looked this good.

Still plenty of green

Park service buildings

The Elwha from the Altair Bridge

Another view from the bridge

A log caught below the Altair Bridge

More of Olympic Hot Springs Road

Another view of the river

Autumn color and misty mountains

Autumn fields

Mist and color

More of the wet road

The green forest thinning

A bit of trail

A dramatic bit of trail

That frog by the puddle

Another view, same frog

Mules in the field

The river at the parking lot

Keywords: autumn, elwha, hurricane ridge


09/09/22 - Salmon in the Elwha

The salmon are heading upriver to spawn. We took a walk along the Elwha starting at Madison Falls and kept an eye on the river when we could. Once again, we spotted some fish in a quiet stretch. This is great since one of the big goals of taking down the old dam was to encourage fish, particularly salmon, to return to the river. We also checked out the elderberries and said hello to the mules.

The Elwha River

Elderberries

Elderberries up close

Found on the trail

The Elwha seen from the Altair Bridge

A sunny field

Some salmon

A closer look

And another

Back on the trail

Saying hello to the mules

Keywords: elwha, salmon


08/03/22 - Elwha to Altair

We hadn't hiked along the Elwha River for a few weeks, so we parked near Madison Falls and made our way up the road, past the mule camp, around behind the old campground via the detour, then along the old road past the ranger station to the Altair Bridge. That was far enough for us.

The scenery was summery. The spring flowers were gone. Now was the time of leafy green trees, berries and drying grasses. The river is still running briskly. We may or may not have seen fish in the water from the bridge, but we definitely had a wonderful view. We tasted a few thimbleberries, checked out the elderberry blossoms and said hello to the mules.


The Elwha River near the old campground

The summer trail

Summer forest

The trail in the summer

Trail through summer foliage

A forest bird

Enhanced and enlarged

That bird again

A better bird image

An elderberry tree

Some elderberry flowers

The blue Elwha

The Elwha downstream from the bridge

Thimbleberry bushes

Thimbleberries

The summer road

Dry grass - The green stuff is horestail.

More summer forest

More summer forest trail

The forest again, and some trees

The Elwha near Madison Falls

Keywords: elwha, summer


04/02/22 - Elwha to Altair - Spring Is Here

We were absolutely exhausted but really wanted to take another good hike before the rainy days come, so we headed out from the Madison Falls parking lot and followed the trail. It's a good winter trail, but it's an even better spring trail. We hadn't gone very far before our first trillium, and then came the columbines. Trilliums like sloping ground, usually near water, so they'll grow on hillsides above streams. Columbines like a sunny spot on crumbling rocky soil, and there are only a few places like that on this trail. That's where we found them.

We headed on past other signs of spring. Skunk cabbage filled the boggy fields further up towards the bridge. There were currant blossoms, and there were a lot of new leaves and leaf buds. Even the larger trees were showing touches of green. Columbine season is short, so we'll have to come back soon, but we'll be back again and again as the season progresses. It's a pretty good summer trail too.


Our first trillium on the trail

Yellow violets

More yellow violets

One of the columbines

Another columbine

Another trillium

Some little white flowers that we see every year and never bother to look up in the wildflower book

The Elwha

Another view of the Elwha

Fern forest

The skunk cabbage bog

The Elwha from the Altair bridge

Wild currant

A touch of green in the trees

Most of the snow melted

Yet another trillium

Yet another columbine

A columbine in its place

The mules are back!

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium


03/19/22 - Elwha to Altair Again

We took another hike up to the Altair Bridge. It is getting even more spring-like. This time, there was serious skunk cabbage and a few currants were in bloom. It's a slow spring, but it's starting.

The Elwha River

Another view of the Elwha

More Elwha

Overgrown logs

This used to be an easy way to get down to the river, but those logs washed ashore.

The trail

The road

A maple

View of the river

Skunk cabbage

and more skunk cabbage

Snow lingers on the mountains

Snow again

Currant blossoms

Even more skunk cabbage

Keywords: elwha, spring


02/18/22 - Elwha to Altair - Signs of Spring

We took a walk from the Elwha parking lot at Madison Falls and kept our eyes open for signs of spring. As it turned out, it wasn't our eyes that noticed the first hint, it was our nose. Between the ranger station and the Altair bridge, we picked up a faint whiff of sulfur like a leaky sewage pipe. In March, that could only mean one thing, skunk cabbage! (To be honest, it could have been a leaky sewage pipe, but come on.)

The forest

More green woods

A cluster of logs washed ashore and now blocking our usual path down to the river

The Elwha

More green

The Elwha from the Altair bridge

Skunk cabbage

and more skunk cabbage

Snowdrops, also a sign of spring

Keywords: elwha, spring


10/12/21 - A Side Trip to Madison Falls

After heading up to the Elwha Gap, we took the short side spur to Madison Falls. It's a short, easy, paved path to a pleasant little waterfall just minutes from the parking area. There was plenty of autumn color too.

Along the trail

A first peek at the waterfall

Madison Falls

Some autumn color

More color

That color again

Misty skies and mountains

Keywords: autumn, elwha, waterfall


10/11/21 - A Short Autumn Walk to the Elwha Gap

We took a short walk along the Elwha River starting at Madison Falls where the road ends. The mountains were misty and topped with early season snow. The autumn foliage was near its peak. We walked past the mule camp and around the bend for some good views of the river recently nourished by the seasonal rain. We stopped at the gap in the road cut by a hearty new Elwha tributary.

Misty, snowy mountains

Some fall foliage

Foliage hidden in the forest

Bright yellow and bright green

The river

Another view of the river

More color change

Autumn is here.

Further up the river

The might Elwha

The gap

Downriver at the gap

Upriver at the gap

A vertical view, even more dramatic

The road showing its age

Bright red

Bright yellow

The mules - We always say hello.

The Elwha from the parking area

Keywords: autumn, elwha


06/23/21 - Hurricane Hill

We've been getting an early start on the hiking trail and heading out along the Hurricane Hill Trail. The snow along the trail has melted, but the climb is as steep as ever. The rewards are the wildflowers, the marmots and the amazing views.

The view of the mountains, as spectacular as ever

Morning clouds over the Elwha

One of the marmots

Another marmot

Yet another golden marmot

Melting snow

The start of the little lake

Pask flowers

Other flowers

Across the high country

Another mountain view

Glacier lilies

Avalanche lilies

Mountains and mountains

Western wallflower

More glacier lilies

More avalanche lilies

Lots of larkspur

Early lupines

Keywords: elwha, flowers, high country, hurricane hill, marmots


06/16/21 - Summer Along the Elwha

It's summer along the Elwha River. The river is milky with snow melt and the water is running high. The foliage just about everywhere is green and thick, and we even saw a young fawn. We took our usual walk starting at Madison Falls and heading along the closed portion of Olympic Hot Springs Road. We took the detour around the old campground through the high ground and forest and emerged again on the road to the Altair bridge.

As usual, we went a bit beyond the road gate and looked for the waterfall across the river. We saw it, but, as usual this time of year, this meant a glimpse now and then revealed through the foliage. Eventually, we'll head on and check out the old dam overlook, but it's a two hour hike for us just to cross the bridge. Next time maybe.


The Elwha now running through the old campground

The Elwha as seen from the Altair bridge

Roses in bloom near the bridge

A doe and fawn, still speckled

The green wall

Elderberry buds

Milky blue water

Another look at the Elwha

And another

Green trail on the detour

A turk's cap lily

Keywords: elwha, summer, waterfall


04/13/21 - Up The Elwha To Altair

We've been getting out more thanks to the warming weather and our COVID vaccinations. We've been wandering up Olympic Hot Springs Road along the Elwha starting at Madison Falls where the road closes to traffic and up to the Altair Bridge. There's a detour through the hills behind the old Elwha Campground which was washed out along with the road. All along the way we've been spotting signs of spring.

Already, the columbines and trilliums are coming out, and the skunk cabbage is nearing its peak. The river is still calm before the spring melt, but with ten plus feet of snow at Hurricane Ridge, we expect an impressive flow when the melting begins in earnest. We'll keep coming back to see how things progress.


A columbine bud

A columbine flower

Another columbine

Trilliums

Another trillium

The Elwha

Fiddleheads

Ferns, also known as grown up fiddleheads

Skunk cabbage

The view from the Altair Bridge

A swamp marigold blossom

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium, weather


02/05/20 - To The Altair Bridge and Beyond

We took advantage of a relatively sunny day to head up along the Elwha, starting at Madison Falls and past the Altair Bridge. The Elwha was the big attraction. With the recent rains, it was in full flood. We took the detour, climbing up past the water tank. As we approached the river, we could see it had overflowed its banks. Trees were standing in rushing water. A part of the trail was flooded, so we took the little wooden foot bridge for a dry passage.

As we approached the road again, we could see water rushing by. The side channel that destroyed the old Elwha campground was borrowing a bit of the road. The detour took us out dry shod, and we continued along the road towards the bridge. There were signs of wind damage with twigs and branches on the ground, all the little streams were full of racing water, and here and there, in shady places, there were patches of snow and ice.

We crossed the bridge and walked a few minutes farther along the road, past the gate, for a view of our favorite little waterfall across the river. It was easy to spot even with the trees along the road blocking it. We headed back with our eyes open and were rewarded with the first skunk cabbage shoots of the year. It was not a particularly spring-like walk. It was a winter walk, but we could tell spring would be coming sooner or later.


A fallen branch

Olympic Hot Springs Road

A view of the Elwha

The little waterfall

A close up of the waterfall

The Elwha seen from the bridge

The view downstream

Another downstream view with snowy mountains

Snowy mountain closeup

Snow and frost - still winter

The mossy forest

Skunk cabbage

The flooded road near the old campground

The little foot bridge

An old log

Flooded river

Trees standing in running water

Water over a tree trunk

Another view of the flooded river

Keywords: elwha, waterfall, winter


01/08/20 - Olympic Hot Springs Road Still Closed

We went out to take a look at the Elwha River. We walked up past the mule camp, now closed for the season. We walked all the way up to where the road is completely washed out. Yes, the road is still closed. Still, it was pretty in a northwestern wintry sort of way.

Olympic Hot Springs Road is still closed.

The Elwha River

Another view of the river

Snow on the mountains

Mist and a mountain

Mist and more mountains

Yet another view of the Elwha

And still another

More on the same theme

The forest

The river near the Madison Falls parking lot

Keywords: elwha


01/08/20 - Olympic Hot Springs Road Still Closed

We went out to take a look at the Elwha River. We walked up past the mule camp, now closed for the season. We walked all the way up to where the road is completely washed out. Yes, the road is still closed. Still, it was pretty in a northwestern wintry sort of way.

Olympic Hot Springs Road is still closed.

The Elwha River

Another view of the river

Snow on the mountains

Mist and a mountain

Mist and more mountains

Yet another view of the Elwha

And still another

More on the same theme

The forest

The river near the Madison Falls parking lot

Keywords: elwha


06/28/19 - To the Altair Bridge Again

We took another walk along the Elwha from Madison Falls south to the Altair Bridge. We actually went a bit past the bridge to take a look at the waterfall across the river. The roses are all gone, but the summer flowers have been coming in.

If you make it past the Altair bridge, watch for this little waterfall across the river. It is visible just a bit past the gate.

A waterfall closeup

Another closeup

Olympic Hot Springs Road where we turned around

Olympic Hot Springs Road towards the new branch of the Elwha

The Elwha below

Another Elwha view

Elderberries

Elderberry closeup

Fern forest

More fern forest

One of the summer flowers

Ocean spray

The detour

Tiger lilies

A butterfly

That butterfly again

That persistent butterfly

A bellflower

Keywords: elwha, flowers, summer, waterfall


06/06/19 - To The Elwha Dam Overlook

We've been taking the scenic detour and making our way farther and farther along Olympic Hot Springs Road. We finally made it all the way to the dam overlook. It was a long walk, especially with the detour, but it was a cool sunny day and easy going.

Olympic Hot Springs Road and green forest

Maple pods, bright red in the sun

Maple pods in the shade

One of the many, many roses that scented the trail

A peek at a peak

The waterfall into the Elwha

Another view of that waterfall, worth stopping for

The dam site

The Elwha upstream, formerly Lake Mills

A view downstream

Another view upstream

Green forest and bright sunlight

Another study in contrast

The Elwha River from the Altair Bridge

Foxglove

A duck to look up

A butterfly in the sun

Keywords: elwha, spring


05/19/19 - Again, to the Altair Bridge

We have been turning this into a regular walk, starting at Madison Falls and heading, by way of the detour, to the Altair Bridge over the Elwha. The columbines are gone and the trilliums and dogwood almost past, but the tiarella is now in bloom as are other late spring blossoms.

As usual, we stopped to soak our feet in the river. A bit later, we had to step to the side of the trail to let a mule team get by. The park service people and animals were heading out to do trail work. The mules were new to the area and a bit skittish. We did our best to keep them calm.

The river is still pretty high, so the park service might just be waiting for it to go down, but we're guessing that they won't be setting up the temporary bridges the way they did last year. Despite this, we'll be back in a week or two to follow the spring progression and we'll let you know the latest.


The Elwha as seen from the Altair Bridge

Another view of the Elwha

Yet another view

The river is so high that the river branch that cut the road has flooded. The gap may grow.

The forest detour

Tiarella

Elderberry flower buds

Another tiarella

Stinky bob on an old maple tree

A mushroom

The Elwha from the bank

An entire forest growing on a tree

A fading trillium

Paintbrush

More tiarella

More of the forest trail

Across the river, lupines in bloom

Keywords: elwha, spring, trillium


05/06/19 - To the Altair Bridge

We've been slowly reclaiming the Elwha, hiking farther along now disused section of Olympic Hot Springs Road. This time we made it all the way to the Altair Bridge, sort of a breakthrough for us. The bridge is still there. It's just farther away. It was great seeing the view of the Elwha from the bridge again, and we're hoping to go farther, perhaps to dam site overlook. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the river and the flowers.

Along the detour

Paintbrush

Flowers

An orchid

Mahonia

Trilliums

More flowers

The view of the Elwha from the Altair Bridge

The view in the other direction

Skunk cabbage

One of the Elwha's new branches

A view of the old Elwha campground

Another orchid

Tiarella

More flowers

Forest

Dogwood

Keywords: elwha, flowers, spring


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