For more on the Hurricane Hill Trail, visit our Hurricane Hill website.
   Older Entries

05/27/18 - Hurricane Hill - First Ascent

This time we made it to the top of Hurricane Hill. Most of the snow has melted, except for a long stretch between the bench and the "hamper". All sorts of flowers are starting to bloom: glacier lilies, yarrows, violets and avalanche lilies. The lupines are getting ready. Spring is here. We even saw some marmots.

Phirst phlox

Glacier lilies and others

One of the marmots

Another marmot

One of the views

That lake to the north of the peak

More flowers

Grasses in bloom

Yarrow

An assemblage with phlox

An avalanche lily

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots, spring


05/20/18 - Hurricane Hill - First Look

Despite the delays on Hurricane Ridge Road, we made our way up to the Hurricane Hill trailhead. There was still a lot of snow, but some of the trail was clear. The sky was blue and the view of the distant mountains was crystalline. Only the bravest plants, or those lucky enough to have an especially warm microclimate, were out and in bloom, but we could see signs of alpine spring.

Stay tuned. We'll be back, road construction or not.


Snow on the trail - still passable

More snow on the trail

Someone getting a head start

Melting snow on the mountain

The Olympic Range in its majesty

Another gorgeous view

Paintbrush getting out in front

Keywords: hurricane hill, spring, flowers


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


08/20/17 - Hurricane Hill as Summer Passes

The summer is passing. More gold and brown are creeping into the colors of the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail again and saw a bit of drama, two young marmots were attacked by a hawk. They were unharmed, but one tends to thing that these things are just staged for nature documentaries. Not true.

We also ran into the team planning to rebuild the trail. The Hurricane Hill Trail is heavily used in season, and it has been showing signs of wear. We're hoping they don't have to close the trail for too long. We've been having a lot of trail and road closures lately.


Summer colors

Still plenty of green

Mountains in late summer

Another view

The view to the north

Clouds add drama.

A silky sky

Late summer flowers

The season

Yet another view

The trail planning team at work

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


06/27/17 - Hurricane Hill and a Sunbow

Taking a break from Klahane Ridge, we went back to Hurricane Hill. The snow on the trail is almost gone, so it was easy going. We even went down the side spur that leads to the Elwha Ranger Station a bit. We saw a blue grouse and several marmots, but the real treat was a sunbow on our way back to the parking lot.

On our way back, admiring the views of the main mountain chain to the south, we noticed that one of the high cirrus clouds was not quite pure white. It was colored and colored like the rainbow. There was another cirrus cloud not far, and it too was also colored, but more faintly. It took a bit of thinking, but what we were seeing was part of a colored circle, a rainbow around the sun, but only visible where there were ice crystals in the high clouds.

That's called a sunbow. It's not like a rainbow. Rainbows are centered around the anti-solar point, the point farthest away from the sun. A sunbow is centered around the sun. It was a pretty rare sighting. Moonbows, colored rings around the moon are much more common, so we were quite pleased with such a fine view.


A blue grouse

Mountain view

A piece of the sunbow

Another piece, more lightly colored

Together, these were parts of a ring of color around the sun.

Lupines

Lupines and mountain friends

Phlox

Avalanche lilies

More avalanche lilies

One of the many marmots

Keywords: grouse, hurricane hill, atmosphere, science, marmots


06/19/17 - Hurricane Hill - Critters

We've been getting up to Hurricane Hill to watch the snow melt, enjoy the views, gawk at the flowers and do some wildlife spotting. Hurricane Hill is great place for seeing all sorts of animals: marmots, bears, hares, deer and even mountain goats. Well, we didn't see any mountain goats this time, but we saw just about everything else.

The scene

A black bear ...

... from a safe distance

One of the marmots, not Marmot Rock

Melting snow

More snow on the north face

Another marmot

Yet another marmot

A snowshoe hare

Phlox

The lupines are back; we missed them last year.

Keywords: animals, flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


10/22/16 - First Snow on Hurricane Hill

Hurricane Hill was windy and cold, and the first snow has fallen. Obstruction Point Road is already closed, and it looks like we are having an early winter. The Hurricane Hill Trail started below the snow line, but we could see a lot more snow on the Olympic Mountains and snow on Mount Angeles early on. As we neared the summit, we saw the first snow by the trail. There wasn’t all that much snow, but this part of the mountain faces south. We could see a lot more snow on the north face, and the little seasonal lake has reformed after having dried out this summer.

The wintry air and clouds played tricks with the light. There were bands of crepuscular light as the sun shone through gaps in the clouds. There was even a bit of a light column glowing brightly with the sunlight reflected and concentrated by ice crystals. There wasn’t much of a view as we made our ascent, but at the summit the clouds blew past, so we had great views on our walk down. We often tell people to take the trail even when visibility is limited as things are likely to change. We were well rewarded for taking our own advice, but by the time we returned to our car, the clouds had started to close in again.


A last bit of color

Mountains and sky

The summit and the first snow

Crepuscular light

Mount Angeles snow

The north face

Snow on the trail - Doesn’t that look like winter?

Almost like autumn again

Autumn color

More shafts of light

A light column

Keywords: hurricane hill, obstruction point, 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


09/18/16 - Smoke in the High Country

The Cox Valley fire is still smoldering in the high country. We hiked the Hurricane Hill trail and could see the smoke filled valleys to the south. We also saw a number of blue grouse. The grasses on the hill sides have been turning golden, but it was the spectacular blue of the smoke and sky that caught our attention.

Autumn colors and smoke

More valley smoke

Smoke and clouds

Golden grasses and forest fire smoke

One of the grice or perhaps one of the grouses

More distant smoke

Smoke, sky and trail

Dried flowers

Even more smoke

A close up …

… and another one

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill


09/07/16 - Hurricane Hill in the Mist

The weather in the high country is as changeable as ever. That means packing a light raincoat and making the most of whatever the mountains and clouds offer. We didn’t expect much from Hurricane Hill on a cloudy day, but the round trip walk takes over an hour and a half. That gave the clouds plenty of time to shift and change. At times we were wrapped in fog, but we still managed to discern a blue grouse and a marmot. We also had some spectacular scenery and a beautiful walk.

Mixed skies

Autumn colors

Mist

One of the views

A blue grouse

Autumn colors and autumn mist

The flooded foot path

A marmot in the mist

A closeup of that marmot

Some teasing blue sky

Another view

Keywords: grouse, high country, hurricane hill, weather


07/19/16 - Hurricane Hill - Fog and Goats

We recently climbed Hurricane Hill on a cloudy, changeable day. At one moment there was sun, blue sky and a fantastic view of the distant mountains, at another one was walking in a cloud barely able to see a few hundred feet. If nothing else, there was variety. There were also mountain goats. We saw them from the summit. They were along the north face of the ridge, at least ten including a number of kids.

This may or may not have been the same group of goats we encountered on Klahane Ridge. Apparently, the goat population has been growing, and the ranger we talked to noted that there was a goat census in progress. She also asked if we had thrown any rocks at them. We hadn’t, but we’ll carry a sling shot in the case of any problems in the future.


A sunny view

An odd flower season

Fog rolling in, or perhaps out, or even both

Mountain goats

A close up - Ultra-zoom is great!

Fog and goats, as promised in this post’s title

Fogs, goats and bonus snow

Two kids tussling

More rolling fog

Another cloudy view

Bright flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, mountain goats


07/05/16 - Hurricane Hill - The Fifth of July

We took advantage of the cloudy weather to hike up to Hurricane Hill. The distant mountains at times were obscure and at others clear, so the view changed as we walked. Now and then a bright ray of sun would illuminate a field of snow on a mountain top, then the clouds would move and hide the entire range from us.

This has been a magnificent year for larkspur. It loves the rocky mountain soil, but this year seems to have been perfect for it. The wall flowers and phlox are passing, but there were roses blooming, dirty sock plant, paintbrush and a host of other flowers. After last year’s drought left the lupines shrunken, we feared the worst this year. There were lupines out, but it looks like it is still early in their season. The corn lilies on our favorite side spur have grown larger, but are not yet in bloom.

Not everyone likes the trail in gray weather. There is always the risk of fog and rain, and the view can be limited. There is nothing like the crystalline view of the distant Olympics on a bright sunny day, but the clouds add depth and give a greater sense of the sheer majesty of the view.


A view of the mountains

A seasonal lake

Corn lilies

A misty field

Lupines

Last bit of phlox

Paintbrush

Witch’s hair

Hair of the mountain goat

Larkspur

Roses

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, weather


05/20/16 - Hurricane Hill Flowers, Marmots and a Bear

The wildflower season progresses up at Hurricane Hill. The hillsides are covered with phlox. The wallflowers are out, and the glacier lilies are blooming. The marmots are out as well. We saw at least four of them including two younger ones sparring. On our way back down from the summit we saw a black bear eating ferociously along the hillside below. It was close enough for us to see its black mane, but far enough for comfort. They say black bears are the little ones, but they are not that little.

One of the amazing views

A golden marmot amidst the phlox

Another marmot

Snow still covers the north face.

The hills are alive.

A wallflower and friends

More flowers

Another marmot reminding us to stay off his or her lawn

Two young marmots sparring

The black bear at the limit of our telephoto lens

More flowers

Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill, marmots


05/12/16 - Hurricane Hill Road Is Open

Hurricane Hill Road opened on Sunday, the 8th of May. This is earlier than usual. There was a lot of snow up on Hurricane Ridge this winter, but it has been melting quickly. We took advantage of this early opening and went out to hike one of our favorite trails in the high country. The sky was blue. The snow covered mountains were crystalline in the distance.

It was still early in the season, though. There were only a few glacier lilies, but a lot richly scented phlox. In places it covered the hillsides, and its aroma covered the trail. We made it all the way up to the summit, about a 650 foot climb. The only snow on the trail was where the trail was protected on both sides by pine trees, the section running from the bench, about 200 feet, to the open switchbacks above, about 350 feet.

The high country is open. We should note, there is only one open restroom at the Hurricane Ridge lodge during the week, but the picnic area restrooms down Hurricane Hill Road are open, even during the week.


The snow capped Olympic Mountains

The one long snowy stretch of trail

A spectacular place to hike

A glacier lily

More scenery

The mountains again

… and again

Phlox

A view from the summit

A north facing hillside

More phlox

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, trails


10/30/15 - Mountain Mystery

The clouds may have blocked our view somewhat, but they also made everything wonderfully mysterious. While the grand view is one of the big attractions of the Hurricane Hill Trail, it has its charms even on a cloudy day.

One of the better views

Valley clouds

Golden grass and misty mountains

The fog rolling in

Golden grass and mist

A mysterious view

More mystery

Clouds in the mountains

More clouds and mountains

More clouds and mountains - What did you expect?

Some left over phlox

Keywords: 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


   Older Entries