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10/20/18 - End of the Season

While Olympic Hot Springs Road has been closed to general motor traffic at Madison Falls for a while now, the road was open for hikers, bikers and park vehicles thanks to a pair of temporary bridges. Those bridges are now gone for the season. The detour hiking route is still open, but it is longer and not good for bicycles.

The mules are vanishing too. They're probably off to their winter homes. The area is closing down for the season. It isn't going to close completely. There is a trail, but the wide easy road is closed.


Click and you'll see a log across the road.

The road looks like someone has been chewing on it.

No more bridges

The leaves are vanishing too.

It's still pretty.

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, winter


07/20/18 - Farther Along The Elwha

The park service has put in another pair of temporary bridges along Olympic Hot Springs Road, so we took an easy walk all the way up to the Altair bridge. The road is still closed to cars from Madison Falls on, but accessible by foot or bicycle. We crossed the first temporary bridge at the north end of the old campground and continued. The road had been destroyed by the river, and it is still pretty beaten up. The park service has scraped and smoothed it, but clearly doesn't trust it.

We made our way to the next new tributary of the Elwha, where the river had carved a pair of passages across the roadway. There were now a pair of bridges in place. We continued on and were soon at the ranger station and construction facility across the way. We continued past the turn off for Whiskey Bend Road and on to the bridge right before the old Altair campground.

That was far enough for us. We were just out exploring. It is going to be some time before this area is open to public vehicular traffic. Supposedly, the park service is evaluating an alternate route around the new branch of the Elwha. For now, the temporary bridges let the park service keep up trail maintenance and make it easier for visitors to walk in. Unfortunately, they'll be gone this winter. The Elwha is a wild river now, and no one wants to lose those temporary spans to the winter flood.


Along the road the river has claimed

The new temporary bridge

Still the old wild forest

A view from the Altair bridge

Another view from the Altair bridge

A view from the temporary bridge

A view from the road

Another view from the road

One of our favorite views, and not very far from the parking lot

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, winter


03/02/18 - A Bobcat and the Elwha

We often head out to check up on the Elwha River. We park at Madison Falls and walk along the closed road, across the temporary bridge to where the most recent branch of the river cuts across the road. It's a short walk, but it offers some nice views of the river. Sometimes we see a bobcat. The bobcat lives not far from Madison Falls, and we usually see him or her in the broad field just south of the road closure. The bobcat was there on our last visit, and we managed to take a picture or two.

The bobcat is there.

Here's a closer view.

A better view

Zoomed in

Zoomed in again - like a house cat, but bigger

A bridge across one of the Elwha's new branches - not suitable for cars or clumsy people

The river

Misty mountains this long winter

Another view of the river

Keywords: elwha, winter


02/26/18 - Winter Garden at the Seattle Arboretum

We've been having a bit of winter weather. Even in Seattle, there was snow on the ground, and the temperature seemed to be stuck on much too cold. So, we dropped by the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden in the Arboretum. Here, there was snow on the ground, but there were also flowers in bloom. There were all sorts of witch hazel, some scentless, some spicy, some sweet, and there were hellebores and a few hardy cherry blossoms. We're sure that spring is out lurking somewhere, but until winter ends, we'll make the best of it.

Cherry blossoms

A rhododendron

A snowy scene



WItch hazel

Another witch hazel

Brightly colored grasses

Cyclamen in the snow

Azaleas

At least the pond wasn't frozen.

Keywords: flowers, seattle, spring, weather, winter


02/10/18 - Along Lake Crescent

With so many trails closed this time of year, we often get back to the Spruce Railroad Trail. It's more of a country road now, but it still has its charms. One in particular is the special, bonus surprise waterfall about an hour's walk west, just before the second railroad tunnel. With all the winter rain, it was running. To be honest, it was trickling, but it was still a pleasant surprise.

We stopped a bit shy of our usual goal. There had been a rock fall, and while the trail was passable, we didn't want to bother with the bad footing. This is a great time to get out to Lake Crescent, even when the skies are gray.


The special, bonus surprise waterfall

More of a trickle actually

Fallen rocks on the trail

The trail

A fallen log leads into the lake

More of the trail

Even more, with mossy rocks

The lake again - Barnes Valley

The footbridge

More of a country road

Another little waterfall

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, surprise waterfall, trails, waterfall, winter


01/04/18 - Winter at Marymere Falls

Now that construction on 101 along Lake Crescent has stopped for the winter, we went out to Marymere Falls. There was a bit of snow on the ground, and the forest was in its wintry colors. Barnes Creek was silver blue and running freshly. It wasn't a long walk. The loop to the falls takes less than an hour, but it was nice getting out to an old favorite hike.

Marymere Falls

Looking down at snow and Barnes Creek

Winter water

The footbridge, free of ice

Another look at the winter creek

Just a bit of snow

Walking through the woods

Keywords: barnes creek, lake crescent, marymere falls, winter


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


03/01/17 - Snow in Seattle

We took a quick trip to Seattle. It was the day I-5 was blocked by an overturned propane truck. This made Seattle traffic challenging enough. There was also a lightning storm and a bit of snow. We gave up getting a ride and worked for our dinner on Capital Hill with a brisk climb in the snow.

The view from our ride

Another view

You'd hardly know that I-5 had been backed up for hours.

A bit more snow ...

... and even a bit more.

Keywords: seattle, winter


01/22/17 - Some Birds of the Season

Despite the cold winter, or perhaps because of it, we've been seeing a number of interesting birds as we make our usual rounds.

A hummingbird on a rose hip in our backyard

An eagle at the Dungeness Dike

Some Dungeness Dike scenery

Another eagle

We've been seeing a lot of these guys

The Dungeness River

Dungeness skies

Swans dropping by, interspersed with ducks

The swans just love this field

We haven't looked this guy up yet. Note the orange cheek patches.

Across the way, the Elwha River

Keywords: birds, winter


01/22/17 - Marymere Falls and Barnes Creek

So many trails are closed this winter. Most of the Elwha River trails are closed while the flood damage is repaired, and the Spruce Railroad Trail is closed for the next step in its upgrade. The loop to Marymere Falls is one of the few trails still open, so we've been getting there fairly often. For a while, the trail was covered with snow. The Barnes Valley doesn't get a lot of sun this time of year, but the snows have melted, and the snow melt and recent rains have fed the river and the falls.

Marymere Falls, a healthy roar

The steps from the lower to the upper falls observation points, in National Park Modern

They've been rebuilding the bannisters along the trail

A view of Barnes Creek

The footbridge over Barnes Creek

Another view of Barnes Creek

The forest

Another view

and yet another

Keywords: elwha, marymere falls, spruce railroad, trails, 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


01/01/17 - The Elwha in the Snow

We took a walk along the closed part of Olympic Hot Springs again. This time it had snowed, so the trees were frosted and the river almost black. We only walked out for a half an hour, but we're contemplating heading farther next time, perhaps to the bridge over the river near Altair. It has been a cold snowy winter, so we'll get out when we can.

Olympic Hot Springs Road

The frosted forest

More frost, more forest

The river

Another view of the river

Snow covered driftwood

The view upriver

Yet another view of the river ...

... and another view of the forest

Keywords: elwha, winter


12/26/16 - The Elwha River and a Bobcat

Like many, we have been waiting for Olympic Hot Springs Road to reopen so we can return to the trails out of Whiskey Bend and revisit the hot springs themselves. To see how things were going, we parked at the Madison Falls parking lot and walked along the road, now closed to motorized traffic. The river was winter beautiful with snow on the hills and a cold gray light. The new temporary one lane bridge is in place and a fair bit of work has been done on the road.

We had some wonderful views of the river itself, but then, on our way back, we saw something else, a bobcat in the open field not far from the parking lot. We had seen a bobcat here before, but only briefly as it bounded away in the distance. This bobcat was closer and calmer. We were barely 50 feet away, close enough for an excellent view. It was a real treat in the face of a snowy winter and with so many trails closed in the park.


The Elwha River

Another view of the river

The river and snowy mountains

Across the river

The new bridge

Yet another view of the Elwha

Across the bridge

Through the woods

The bobcat

A closer view

And an even closer view

Keywords: elwha, olympic hot springs, spring, trails, winter


12/22/16 - Rialto Beach Monochrome

We took a short journey out to Rialto Beach on a gray drizzly day. The winter light was fantastic, almost unreal. The sea was wild and open. The sky was full of clouds. We didn't get all that far in the wind and spray, but it was a wonderful walk.

Driftwood and seastacks

Gray water

More driftwood

Another view of the water

Sea stacks

A view south

The Pacific Ocean, not very pacific

Another almost monochrome view

Water into the ocean

Another view south

Driftwood

Keywords: rialto beach, winter


12/12/16 - Swans on Towne Road

The swans were back on Towne Road, or rather, on one of the fields next to Towne Road in Sequim. We had to stop and take a good look. They are one of the great pleasures of the winter season.

From a distance

Closer

A veritable plethora of them

It's sort of a rest stop for them.

More swans

Keywords: birds, winter


12/10/16 - Lake Angeles Trail in the Snow

We took advantage of the early snow to check out our snowshoes on the Lake Angeles Trail. We only climbed about 500' or so, but others had made it to the lake. They just wore hiking shoes. No snowshoes for them. It may be a while before we make it back up to the lake again, but as far as we are concerned, the trail is a winter wonderland.

Snow and forest

Winter forest

More winter forest

Another bit of winter

Salal

Winter wonderland

More magical winter forest

Keywords: lake angeles, winter


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


02/13/16 - Good Sand and Good Tides

A few posts back we noted that the good winter tides have returned at Dungeness Spit. Now the good sand is coming back. There are still a few rocky stretches but a lot more sand has been deposited which makes the spit a lot easier for walking. There are some good mid-day tides coming up on the 25th, 26th and 27th, so if you’ve been meaning to get out to the lighthouse, this may be good time to start planning.

The view out on a wintry day

The view back - Click for a better view of the mountains.

The view from above on the walkway down to the spit

Some driftwood

An eagle perched

Keywords: dungeness spit, eagle, tides, winter


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