Olympic National Park – Hoh Rainforest Spruce Trail

Hiked On: September 2, 2007
Weather Conditions: Approximately 60°F-65°F, cloudy skies
Elevation: Unknown
Distance from Seattle: Just over 100 miles, including a ferry trip
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest

After we finished our hike at Hurricane Ridge, we headed over to the Hoh Rainforest to check out the visitor center and do a quick hike.

The Hoh Visitor Center was pretty packed, and we decided to do the Spruce Trail.  It was less of a hike and more of a gentle walk.  It was a 1.25 mile loop that took you through different portions of the Hoh Rainforest and along the Hoh River.  The river is apparently pretty dynamic where it flows, and a lot of our hike went through old parts of where the river actually flowed. 

Rocks at the Hoh The trail dropped us along the riverbed, and we sat there for a bit taking in the sounds of a fast flowing river and admiring the rocks that abounded in the area when the rain started.  We headed back into the dense rainforest, and not a drop of rain hit us thanks to the thick canopy overhead.

The sights were amazing.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I can’t believe that making a 3-hour drive can get you from a desert-like climate to a temperate rainforest.  Amazing.

Total distance: 1.25 miles, total elevation gain: 0′ (loop hike).

Olympic National Park – Hurricane Hill

Hiked On: September 2, 2007
Weather Conditions: Approximately 55°F-65°F, partly sunny skies
Elevation: 5000-5757′
Distance from Seattle: Just over 100 miles, including a ferry trip
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Olympic National Park

Diann & I did this hike in the Olympic National Park as part of our Labor Day 2007 roadtrip.

Hurricane Hill is a 1.6 mile hike that starts just beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.  I never really understood why it was called Hurricane Ridge, but standing up there made me realize it quickly — the wind truly whips over the ridge, and gusts are routinely measured up there in excess of 75mph.

The Hurricane Hill trail goes fairly flat for the first mile or so, through some stands of trees.  On our way back down through these trees, we saw a mother/fawn set of deer which were slowly grazing their way through underbrush, and they didn’t seem to mind our watching and photographing them.  After the first mile, the switchbacks and climb to Hurricane Hill begins in earnest.  From the top of Hurricane Hill, you can see most of the Olympic Mountains (well, the ones that aren’t shrouded in clouds), as well as north to Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island to the north.  We were presented with great weather (clouds around 7000′ that shrouded Mount Olympus from view) and awesome visibility.  Seeing Canada was no problem, and we sat down to eat a lunch from up high.

While climbing the Hill, I made use of Diann’s new digital camera to take a quick video of the surroundings.  Not the greatest quality video (more my fault than the camera’s), but you get the idea.  This is a pan of about a 180-degree view of our surroundings.

Total distance hiked: 3.2 miles (around 2 hours), total elevation gain: 700′, total accumulated elevation: unknown (altimeter watch battery still dead… really need to replace that).

Labor Day Weekend Roadtrip

Rather than firing up the Big Green Egg this Labor Day weekend, Diann and I decided to take a bit of a roadtrip to the western part of Washington – the Olympic Peninsula.

New Dungeness Lighthouse Our weekend roadtrip started at 6:30AM on Saturday to head to Edmonds, Washington, to catch the 7:50AM ferry to Kingston.  From Kingston, we headed out towards Highway 101 and then drove to Sequim (that’s pronounced "skwim" for you non-northwesterners).  Sequim is in the Olympic Mountain range rainshadow, and actually gets less than 15" a year of rain.  This isn’t really what most people think of when they’re thinking of western Washington.  Just past Sequim lies the unincorporated community of Dungeness, home to the Dungeness Spit.  I decided that we should make the jaunt out to the lighthouse at the end of the Dungeness Spit, which is a 5.5-mile walk.  Each way.

I didn’t really appreciate just how long an 11-mile walk is.  Heading out to the lighthouse took around 3 hours as we were frequently stopping to take pictures of the wildlife and various scenery.  We got to the lighthouse, made the climb to the top (73 steps, beautiful views), and then started heading back.  It’s about this time that my calf muscles started burning.  Walking 5+ miles in sand and rock really takes its toll.  I was quite miserable and cranky when we finished the walk, and I’m surprised Diann put up with me the whole time.

After we wrapped up at the Spit, we drove into Port Angeles and set up our camp site for the weekend.  Since both of our legs were a bit sore, we drove into the Sol Doc Hot Springs area in the Olympic National Park, and soaked in the hot springs for an hour or two.

Hurricane Ridge The next day, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  We did a brief hike (I’ll post more details about the hike later) at Hurricane Hill.

After this hike, we made the three hour drive down to the other end of Olympic National Park to the Hoh Rain Forest.  It’s amazing to me that within the span of a 3-hour drive you can go from near desert conditions (in Sequim) to a temperate rain forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest gets up to 200" per year of rain, compared to Sequim’s 15".  We did some brief walks around the visitor center, and I’ll post more on those later.  After touring the Hoh, we drove back to our campsite and threw together a little campfire for the night.

Monday morning arrived, and we packed up our campsite.  We drove east towards Kingston, but took a brief detour to check out Port Townsend.  Port Townsend was a really quaint town with a great little downtown area.  We did some shopping, checked out some art galleries, and had some great pizza and locally-brewed beer.  Time had come to head home, and we drove to Kingston to make the hour-long wait for a ferry.  Ferry traffic can be a beast at the end of a holiday weekend, so I’m glad we got to the terminal around 2:00PM, before the traffic got really bad.

Mt. Rainier – Mount Fremont Lookout

Hiked On: July 28, 2007′
Weather Conditions: Approximately 65°F-75°F, mostly sunny skies
Elevation: 6400-7181′
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: [Here](http://www.marius.org/gallery/v/living/seattle/hikes/rainier/fremont/)
National Park Service: Mt. Rainier National Park

Well, after a long hiatus from hiking in general, and Mt. Rainier specifically, Diann and I made the 2 hour drive to Sunrise for a hike. We hadn’t been to Rainier in a long time because of the devastation that was caused there during [November 2006](http://www.nps.gov/mora/parknews/november-2006-flooding.htm).

Saturday we had beautiful weather, so we headed up to the Sunrise visitor center and struck out. Last year, we hit the [Dege Peak](http://www.marius.org/2005/08/08/mt_rainier_-_de.php) hike, which heads to the right from Sunrise – this year, we did Mount Fremont, which heads … Left.

Great hike, a little over a mile to Frozen Lake, which is the domestic drinking water supply for the Sunrise visitor center. A right turn from there brought us up another 500′ of elevation and 1.3 miles of trail up to the Mount Fremont lookout. Amazing talus slopes, great views to the north, and not many people on the trail. The lookout itself was heavily damaged in a recent windstorm, and there’s two NPS fellows up there rebuilding it. They camp out there at night, and build during the day. We did see a few extension cords, so presumably there’s some power available up there — or they had a generator. Either way, talk about a workshop with a view.

On the way back down, we debated heading up to the Burroughs Ridge trail, but our rumbling stomaches made us go back to the car and our sandwiches. Note to selves: bring sandwiches with us next time.

Total distance hiked: 5.8 miles (3 hours, 20 minutes), total elevation gain: 800', total accumulated elevation: unknown (altimeter watch battery dead).

Boundary Trail, Mt. St. Helens

Hiked On: May 29, 2006
Weather Conditions: Approximately 50°F and overcast, climbing to 65°F and party cloudy
Elevation: 4255'
Distance from Seattle: 160 miles
Pictures: Here
US Forest Service: Mt. St. Helens

As part of our Memorial Day Roadtrip this year (more on that coming soon), we spent a few hours at Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (now that's a mouthful). The first few hours we were there were spent driving up to Johnston Ridge Observatory (JRO) and visiting the other visitors centers and learning centers that are along the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway.

Once we got to JRO, we hiked west on the Boundary Trail which gave us amazing views of the cloud-capped volcano only 5 miles away. Oddly, we were driving up the road that morning when a 3.1 magnitude earthquake shook the area, causing a 20,000' ash plume to come out of Mt. St. Helens. Unfortunately, it was overcast so we didn't get to see that, but later in the day we did see the results of the rockslide in the mountain's crater. We were also able to see the 1985-1986 lava dome, but this year's lava dome never made it out of the clouds for us to see.

Fittingly, as we got home that evening around 9pm, I looked at the VolcanoCam and was quite upset to see that it was clear without a cloud around the mountain. Grrr.

All in all, it was a great hike – good company, lots of people out enjoying the Memorial Day holiday, and an awe-inspiring glance into nature's rebuilding after the area was leveled in 1980. Diann & I will definitely be going back to MSH in the near future for more hikes.

Total distance hiked: 4 miles

Anti-Aircraft Peak

(catching up on hikes…)

Hiked On: May 20, 2006
Weather Conditions: Approximately 65°F, overcast
Elevation: 2200-2430’
Distance from Seattle: Just over 45 miles
Pictures: None
King County Park System: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park

This hike was fairly straightforward and easy, yet the temperature and the recent rainfall (coupled with the fact that we were walking near a marsh!) made for a very humid hiking day.

In terms of awe-inspiring scenery, there really wasn't that much to our hike. We started off at Radar Park, and hiked up the Anti-Aircraft Ridge and up to the Clay Pit Road. We ran into a few fellow hikers with kids of varying ages on the trail, and were amazed by the population of snails and slugs we encountered on different pieces of the trail. Also of interest were the many different types of ferns and fungi we ran into – we should pick up a book to start identifying these things.

Total distance hiked: ~3 miles.

Lake Elizabeth

Hiked On: December 31, 2005
Weather Conditions: Approximately 30°F-34°F, overcast, some snow
Elevation: 2150-2750'
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: None
US Forest Service: Lake Elizabeth, Trail 1071

Even though the USFS page says this one is easy, it wasn't. We couldn't drive all the way to the trailhead (snow), so had to park it a good ways down at 2150', with the lake actually being at 2900'. We don't know how far we hiked, because of this. The hike was walking along a USFS road primarily, uphill. The first mile or so was occasional snow, and after that, we had to throw on the snowshoes for the rest of the hike. We did this hike after relaxing with Jeff and Misty at a cabin up in Skykomish. We got a bit of a late start (it sure is nice to sleep in every once in a while), and didn't have much information about the trail beforehand. We had no idea what elevation the lake was at, or how far it was! Never again… 🙂

Once the afternoon moved on, we decided to turn around so we could get back down before the sun set. After sitting here doing some research, it seems we were only about 150' vertical away from our goal.

Side note: snowshoe hiking is hard work!

Total distance hiked: Unknown, total elevation gain: 600' (400' of which were in snowshoes).

New Pictures!

After a long hiatus of posting pictures in the gallery, I've spent a large chunk of this morning and afternoon processing and uploading pictures. In no particular order:

  • Fishermen's Terminal – Pictures taken by Diann while she was at a weeklong training course at Fishermen's Terminal
  • North Cascades Highway Loop – On Diann's birthday, we drove the 431 mile North Cascades Highway Loop. Didn't even have to refill the Prius once, and still made it home with a 1/4 tank left!
  • A few new pictures of Pixel and Bryn
  • Magnusson Park – A park in Seattle alongside Lake Washington that is formerly a military base. There are fins from decommissioned nuclear submarines along a walkway at Magnusson.
  • Montlake Crewing Races & Opening Day of Yachting Season – Crewing is a huge sport up here in Seattle, and then after the races the rich folks cruise by in their mammoth yachts.
  • Deception Pass, which I previously wrote about here
  • Forbidden Gardens in Texas, where we were for Memorial Day.
  • Lower Skyline Loop at Mt. Rainier – we did this hike before the snow had melted enough to conclude it, and had to turn back at 6000' when the snow hid the trail and it also started raining/hailing.
  • Golden Gardens Park at low tide – an awesome couple of mornings with an extremely low tide which uncovered a plethora of sealife: anemone, sea cucumbers, starfish, clams, and — of course — seagulls.
  • Guemes Island – A trip up to Guemes Island, with Jeff & Misty and Dylan & Micha
  • The Museum of Flight – A trip to the Museum of Flight with Rick & Rosanne in town

In other photography news, I have my D70 back in hand. After suffering the Green Blinking LED of Death (GBLOD) much talked about on the DPReview forums, I sent it in to Nikon service. Much kudos to Nikon for taking care of the problem gratis even though my camera was out of warranty!

Mt. Rainier – Dege Peak

Hiked On: August 6, 2005
Weather Conditions: Approximately 70°F-80°F, clear and sunny skies
Elevation: 6400-7016'
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Mt. Rainier National Park

Another sunny weekend, and another trip up to Rainier. Micah was up in the PNW this weekend for work, and he came up to Seattle to spend the weekend visiting. We made him pay for it with a hike at elevation! After spending the last few weeks at Paradise, we decided to visit the trails that Sunrise offered. To get an early start, we rented a cabin just outside of the park and were driving through the gates at about 9:30am as opposed to our usual 11:15am arrival time. The hike is detailed in the book Day Hike! Mount Rainier , ISBN 1570613141). We started at the Sunrise Visitor's center, at 6400'. We hiked up the Sourdough Ridge trail to Dege Peak where we had a really good view of Rainier and Mt. Adams to the south, and Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, and the Cascade range to the north. The hike up to Dege Peak was pretty calm, with around a mile of flat ridge running at 6800'. The last 0.3 miles was a quick shot up to 7016' at Dege Peak.

Total distance hiked: 4.4 miles, total elevation gain: 616', total accumulated elevation: unknown (pesky watch said 3500', but I'm thinking that's way off – it was far closer to around 1000' by my estimate).

Mt. Rainier – Alta Vista

Hiked On: July 24, 2005
Weather Conditions: Approximately 70°F, partly-clear skies
Elevation: 5480-5950' at Paradise, 6400' at Sunrise
Distance from Seattle: Just over 90 miles
Pictures: Here
National Park Service: Mt. Rainier National Park

When it's sunny in Seattle in the summertime, you head to Mt. Rainier. We had a new batch of folks start at work this week, and some of them aren't from western Washington, so I invited them to Rainier for a day of easy hiking. One of them actually took me up on the offer, while the others carried on with apartment hunting, etc. We decided to take a quick jaunt down to Paradise and hit up the Alta Vista trail. The hike is detailed in the book Day Hike! Mount Rainier , ISBN 1570613141). We started at the Paradise Visitor's center, at 5480'. We hiked up the (really steep!) Alta Vista trail to the Alta Vista summit where we had a really good view of Rainier and Mt. Adams to the south.

We hiked down the backside of Alta Vista trail and intersected with a portion of the Skyline Loop that we hadn't hit yet. The flowers were still out, but we could tell that they are already fading this year – far fewer wildflowers out this week than there were when we hiked last week.

On the way down, we were able to spot a little bit of wildlife – two fawns (I think they were mule deer) munching on wildflowers. Nice to see. Total distance hiked: 1.6 miles, total elevation gain: 670'.

After having a quick lunch, we hopped in the car and drove around to the Grove of the Patriarchs, an easy 1 mile loop (at 2200' elevation) into an old growth forest, where we were met by huge Western Red Cedars that were easily 20' in diameter. According to the signage on the trail, some of these trees were over 1,000 years old. If trees could talk, they would make good history teachers.

Our last journey took us around to the other side of the park to Sunrise, where we mostly enjoyed the view from 6,400' at the parking lot and visitor center.