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01/31/12 - Very High Tides at Dungeness Spit

The winter storms a few weeks back led to very high tides at the Dungeness Spit. We looked at our tide table and saw a seven foot tide, falling, so we imagined a narrow beach, but a passable one. When we got down to the beach we saw something else, no beach at all. The stormy weather had brought in an extra foot or two of water.

So, instead of a hike along the spit, we walked along the bluffs, and things were different here as well. We had noticed some serious erosion on our last visit, but it appears that an entire chunk of the old trail has collapsed into the strait, and a new trail has been routed inland.

So, on one nature walk, we were reminded of both the beauty and the power of nature.

The view back south

The view out on the spit - You can see how little beach there was.

Another view out

Another view of the spit, or what's left of it

The eagles don't seem to be bothered.

Some frost on the ground.

The new trail a safe distance back from the crumbling bluffs

A view of the mountains from the bluffs

They have a fence closing off the old trail, and it's just as well.

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, weather, winter, eagle

01/05/12 - Dungeness Spit

No, we didn't see any snowy owls either, but there were lots of people out looking for them on the Dungeness Spit. We did take advantage of the relatively good tides, and there are better tides to come later this month. You can check out our tide pages or just look at the fine print in the left margin of our home page. We also took advantage of the good weather. It's the Northwest, so we live for sunbreaks. It was wonderfully sunny and bright for most of our walk, but it was raining by the time we returned to the parking lot. That's typical.

It was a great way to start the new hiking year, 2012.

The tide was high, but going out, which made for good walking.

The view back of the mountains

Some kelp

The ridge of the spit

Amazing light and clouds and cloud shadows and reflections

Keywords: dungeness spit, tides, weather

11/13/11 - Port Angeles Farmers Market Report

The autumn market is here. There are potatoes, in red, brown and blue, squashes, pumpkins, celery, lacinato kale, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, baby turnips, bok choy, savoy cabbage and all of our fall favorites. The four stalwarts, Nash Huber, Westwind Farm, Johnston Farm and the Korean garlic lady are all there along with a number of other sellers.

It isn't just vegetables either. You can also buy beef, pork, lamb, cheese, salmon, halibut, steelhead, oysters, bread, and an array of seasonal mushrooms. If you search a bit, you can find a last few tomatoes, arugula, coriander and a few other hold outs, but the cold weather is coming.

Don't miss out on the prime of the harvest. Drop by the Port Angeles Farmers' Market this coming Saturday.

Keywords: autumn, farmers' market, johnston farm, nash huber, oysters, port angeles, salmon, weather, westwind farm, garlic lady, kale

11/07/11 - Frost On Hurricane Hill

This was a hard post to compose. There were so many amazing photographs of the gray skies, majestic mountains and frost covered trees and grasses that we just gave up and chose eleven pictures when we could have chosen dozens. Judging from the webcams and weather reports, the ice seems to have melted on Hurricane Hill, so we are glad we managed to capture our amazing walk in the sky.

The summit

A view down

Frost on the grass

Mountain sky and frosty trees

A field of ice

More mountain sky


Grasses and sky

Another view down

Did we mention the sky?

It's almost Christmas.

Keywords: christmas, hurricane hill, weather, winter

10/01/11 - First Snow on Klahane Ridge

This has been a short season for the high country. Already, there is snow on Klahane Ridge. Granted, it was just a sprinkling and seems to have melted in all but the shadiest areas, but it was snow none the less. The recent rains and snow made climbing much easier. The trail was turning into soft sand as it does late in the season, but this time the footing was good.

We saw three bucks chowing down for the winter, trying to put on some weight. They largely ignored us, shuffling a few steps away as we passed. Their attention was on the vegetation, and we weren't vegetation.

We're hoping for one more visit to the ridge, but a lot depends on our oomph. That and the weather.

These towers of stone are always inspiring.

A peephole view

Enjoying the buffet

It's still very green. The grasses and the like never turned golden brown.

Mountains and clouds

A bit of snow by the trail

Old snow and new snow on the north face

A bit more snow

The last fields of flowers

More inspiration

A few late harebells

Keywords: flowers, high country, klahane ridge, weather, winter

05/20/11 - Hurricane Ridge, Hurrah!

They say on the west coast, one drives to the weather one wants, unlike the east coast, where the weather comes to you, wanted or not. Well, this year we took our first drive up to winter at Hurricane Ridge. Granted, it is late May, maybe a month from the start of summer at sea level, but at Hurricane Ridge, winter holds sway.

There snow is well over ten feet deep, so we broke out our snowshoes. We didn't get far. There is a gap in those ramparts that kept us from the Hurricane Hill Trail. Besides, we were a bit out of shape for the steep climb back. Instead, we made our way over to the avalanche danger signs for a view of Port Angeles, the Strait and points north. The view to the south was pretty impressive too.

So, if you just haven't had enough winter, and are hoping, perhaps, for a bit more skiing, sledding or just trudging through the snow, take a drive up Hurricane Ridge Road for a little taste of winter. Then drive back down again.

The view to the south - mountains and valleys and snow

The ramparts

Still plenty of snow for trekking around on

Mount Angeles and the north

The ski patrol is still at the ready.

Keywords: hurricane ridge, weather, winter

04/16/11 - The First Trillium of the Year

Spring has been slow in coming this year. Salmonberry usually blooms in February, but this year it waited until mid-March. The weather has been unseasonably cool, probably because of the same reason that there is still 160 inches of snow at the stake on Hurricane Ridge. We are often seeing trilliums in bloom by now, especially at lower elevations, but this year it took until mid-April. We finally saw our first trillium blossom, but it wasn't along a trail. It was right along Piedmont Road in the recently logged area towards Joyce. The area doesn't look like much, but it was nice to see this sign of spring.

There it is - proof!

Keywords: spring, trillium, weather, salmon

03/29/11 - Dungeness Spit

One of the strangest places to hike on the North Olympic Peninsula is the Dungeness Spit. It is a sand spit that juts out for miles into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and on a good day with low tides it can be a spectacular walk, almost like walking out to sea. We had some good weather and some good tides recently, and we can report that the beach sand has been coming back nicely. The hiking was a bit tiring, as hiking on sand always is, but the footing was good and the way generally smooth. The scenery was as magnificent as ever, with the brilliant meringue of Mount Baker in the distance and the nearby Olympic peaks visible to the south. There's no need to say much more. We'll let the pictures do the talking.

Work in Progress The last time we were at the spit, the park service had closed the usual trail from the parking lot to the spit. The trail has been reopened, regraded, and partially rerouted. They always do a good job of hiding the old pieces of trail when they reroute things. Knowing the old trail, we managed to spot the suspicious alignment of trees, but in a few years we'll probably unable to spot even that.

Mount Baker over the driftwood, one of the many magic mountains of the Northwest

The beach and the islands - easy going

Hurricane Ridge and its friends peeking out above the clouds

Another view of the Olympics

The trail back - construction in progress

More construction and repair

This was the old trail from the parking lot to the spit, now expertly camouflaged.

Keywords: dungeness spit, mount baker, tides, weather

02/19/11 - Climbing to the Snow

The nice thing about living on the west coast is that you go to the weather you want. On the east coast, the weather comes to you, wanted or unwanted. We wanted some snow, so we climbed the Lake Angeles trail. There was a bit of frost here and there near the trailhead, but as we approached the little footbridge, the snow was several inches deep, and we were in a winter wonderland. We even crossed the footbridge, snowy crust and all, thanks to the miracle of Yak Trax.

Of course, it was a great comfort to know that when we had had enough snow, all we had to do was head back down the trail and drive home.

The rushing stream

Trees and snow

The causeway

A fallen giant

The snow crusted footbridge

Another view of the stream

A glimpse of the hillside

Keywords: lake angeles, weather, winter

10/26/10 - Speaking of Winter

We were just talking about winter on Hurricane Ridge, and its seems the snows have followed. The webcam at the ridge has been a bit hard to decipher lately with rain drops and white outs, but now things have settled enough to make out the fallen snow. There's quite a bit. The Hurricane Ridge weather station says that there's been about 20 inches which looks about right.

The first snow on Hurricane Ridge

Keywords: hurricane ridge, weather, winter

05/20/10 - Hurricane Ridge Update

The snow melts apace up at Hurricane Ridge, but there is still lots to go. We're still getting a fresh fall now and then. The webcam has been down lately, but you can watch the snow melt thanks to the snow sensor.

Right now, the little shop at the lodge is open on weekends, but it will be open all week starting on May 29th.

A wall of snow in the Hurricane Ridge parking lot - that looks like more than 78"

Keywords: hurricane ridge, weather

05/04/10 - Second Beach

We'll start by apologizing for some of these photos not being quite level. The wind was just too fierce to hold the camera steady. That said, the scenery was pretty spectacular at Second Beach the other day. Even at low tide, the waters were wild, and the wind had the sea foam flying. We didn't even walk all that far down the beach. The winds from the south were just too much for us.

On the plus side, the big pile of driftwood seems to be shrinking. The clamber out to the beach was much easier than we had expected, and several of the really big logs seemed to have drifted back out to sea.

Fewer logs than last time

Low tide

Wild weather

The arch

A starfish

Wild water

Gray skies

Keywords: second beach, weather

03/06/10 - Snowshoeing Again

Now that the road is open again, we went up to Hurricane Ridge for some snowshoeing. The temperature was in the mid-40s, and the sun was shining brightly. The snow was a bit crunchy, but that's more a problem for skiers than snowshoers.

Of course, the parking lot was pretty full when we arrived before noon, but there were still a lot of spots. The little kids were all over the little sledding area at the west end of the lot, and the ski slope was full of skiers. It was great seeing so many people out and trudging around on the trail. We should add our thanks to the team that managed to get the road reopened before the snow melted. (That includes all you taxpayers out there.)

We weren't the only ones.

The mountains were as amazing as ever.

You can see the snow melt.

Keywords: hurricane ridge, snowshoeing, weather

01/15/10 - If The Creek Don't Rise ...

With the recent rain and warm weather it looks as if the creek has risen.

At Morse Creek, we use that almost horizontal branch on the left as our benchmark. The waters are usually a foot or so below its bottom, but with the recent rise it is well over the top.

On the Lake Angeles Trail, the little rivulets, often dry, that cross the path are full of water. Ennis Creek, the stream under the log bridge, was roaring.

The Dungeness River was in full fettle. The little side channel visible from the Dungeness Dike Trail, which is often empty in the summer, is a veritable torrent.

That's the view downstream from the railroad bridge.

There's lots of water under the bridge on the Lake Angeles Trail.

The Dungeness River is roaring as well.

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, lake angeles, morse creek, weather

11/13/09 - Second Beach and Winter

We took advantage of a brief break in the clouds and a good afternoon tide to visit Second Beach, one of our favorite West End beaches and well under a 90 minute drive from Port Angeles. We made our muddy way through the woods and encountered our first surprise at the beach. We had been expecting the usual clamber from the trail access to the beach proper, but all but a few of the logs were gone. Just as they had been mysteriously washed ashore some years back, they had been washed out to sea some time since our last visit in July.

We arrived to mixed cloudy skies and a falling tide, but to the west we could see the clouds and pillars of rain closing. We sat on a log and ate our tuna salad sandwiches from Good To Go. A fellow visitor warned us the weather was changing. Then we headed south along the beach. The sky grew grayer and darker. The water was a bit high to make it to the sea cave and the wind was rising from the south. We turned about and headed back. The drizzle started, then turned to rain. At least we didn't have a monkey playground of wet logs to clamber over. We dodged to the muddy safety of the woods and made our way home.

A real weather sky

You can see the rain showers coming in.

The sky was mixed when we arrived.

The sky turned gray as we explored.

More gray skies.

How the trail access looks now - just a few logs

How it looked before - lots of logs

Keywords: beaches, good to go, second beach, weather

06/29/09 - First Rose On Hurricane Hill

The flower season is progressing in the high country. We spotted the first rose, along with more marmots, on the Hurricane Hill trail. The alpine flower season is nearing its peak. Take advantage of some of the wonderful weather and see for yourself.

The first rose

Keywords: high country, hurricane hill, marmots, weather

02/26/09 - Weather Radar Is Back

We out a brief email outage which was made all the more mysterious by a simultaneous weather radar outage. Instead of the usual green and yellow spatters of precipitation set against a gray and blue map of our area, we saw only a large overlay explaining that our local station, KATX, was out of service. We clicked the little legend for an update:
  • KATX will be down until further notice due to a mechanical failure of the radar.
  • Radar will be down until at least Thursday afternoon, Feb 26th, for repair. The mechanical failure for the radar is more extensive than previously thought ... and more parts are on order.
  • Radar will be down until Friday morning. New part has been installed. Radar needs to be calibrated during the daylight hours.
Our email recovered a bit before the radar came back on line. We assume that there was something going around.

Keywords: weather, science

01/10/09 - Tree Down Dungeness Dike

There was a tree down across the Dungeness Dike Trail. It is a bit of a mess, but you can scramble through. A couple we met claimed to have heard the tree crack during a wind storm a day or two ago. It was probably quite a noise given that a trunk two or three feet in diameter simply cracked through. It's easy to underestimate the power of a wind storm and overestimate the strength of an old tree.

Keywords: dungeness, dungeness dike trail, weather

01/08/09 - Great Weather For Ducks

With all the rain and melt lately we have to admit it has been great weather for ducks. Here is a photo of some ducks enjoying the weather.

Some happy ducks

Keywords: birds, lake crescent, weather

09/27/08 - Above The Clouds To Lake Angeles

One of the things about living at sea level near the high country of the North Olympic Mountains is how different the mountain weather can be from the weather around our house. The weather is often cooler in the mountains, and the winds stronger. They call it Hurricane Ridge for a reason. The low country is subject to ocean mist condensed from the humid air by the cold waters of the strait. Sometimes, low clouds present an ominous sky to those at sea level, but the clouds top out at few thousand feet. That means bright sun in the mountains, and an opportunity for a good hike into sunshine.

We recently hiked up the Lake Angeles Trail on one such cloudy day. The lower part of the trail was gray. The fog thickened around 1000' APL (above parking lot, so that's about 2900' above sea level). We kept on climbing. Around 1800' APL the first shafts of sunlight broke through the trees and formed thick shafts in the fading mist. A bit more climbing and we were above the clouds. Lake Angeles itself (about 2400' APL) was sunny. In fact, it was so sunny, we had trouble getting a good picture as you can see.

Our descent mirrored our ascent. We went from the sunny day of the high country to foggy trail to the cloudy sky of the lowlands. We expect cloudy days out here in the Pacific Northwest, but it is nice to be able to climb our way out of them now and then.

The misty forest

The cliffs around the lake, and lots of sun

Sun on the lake

Keywords: high country, lake angeles, weather

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