“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
— John Muir

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

My niece is visiting from Israel, and her top sightseeing priorities are some of the American national parks.  So we took a two-day, 500-mile road trip circumnavigating Olympic National Park in Washington State.  You can get to different parts of the park from inroads along Hwy 101, and our destinations offered extraordinary natural diversity, from mountains, to rain forests, to ocean beaches.

Our first stop was Hurricane Ridge high in the Olympic Mountains.  But first we crossed the Sound in a ferry, and then drove through some pretty amazing scenery just to get to the winding road that would take us from sea level to nearly a mile in elevation at Hurricane Ridge.

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

"I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy's/lucious hours."  -- John Clare, from "Summer Images"

“I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy’s/luscious hours.” — John Clare, from “Summer Images”

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The view from Hurricane Ridge is awesome, with majestic, snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see.  We ate a picnic breakfast amidst some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, joined by a curious (and smart, crumb-seeking) bird.  The meadows at the top were beginning to emerge from snowfields, and they were covered with tiny yellow flowers.

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Mountain view

Mountain view

Picnic breakfast

Picnic breakfast

Avian friend

Avian friend

Snow-capped peaks

Snow-capped peaks

Melting snow

Melting snow

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeking motocyclists)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeing motorcyclists)

My next post will be a continuation of our road trip. . . stay tuned!

Hiking trail up to the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

When I have company from out-of-town, I like to take them to Ebey’s Landing, one of my favorite hikes on Whidbey Island.  This loop trail provides a perfect slice of Pacific Northwest life — a ferry ride to get there, expansive views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, bucolic rural scenery, and a beach walk.  It’s not too strenuous, and a breeze keeps you cool even on a hot, sunny summer day.

We experienced a special treat on this most recent hike — a plein air artist was working on a landscape in oil pastels.  I always love to see artists at work.

Easel and trays of oil pastels at Ebey’s Landing

Steven R. Hill, plein air artist

An artist’s hands

Plein air art at Ebey’s Landing

View from Ebey’s Landing: a rural landscape with Mount Baker on the horizon

View out over Puget Sound

Looking down at the lagoon from the bluff at Ebey’s Landing

View of Olympic Mountains from across Puget Sound

The Olympic Mountains viewed from Phinney Ridge in Seattle

Olympic peaks emerging in the morning light

Betty MacDonald, in The Egg and I, gives some of the best descriptions of the Olympic Mountains, which frame our view to the West:

“These Olympics have none of the soft curves and girlish plumpness of Eastern mountains.  They are goddesses, full-breasted, broad-hipped, towering and untouchable.  They are also complacent in the knowledge that they look just as mountains should.”

“I’d rush outdoors just as the first little rivulets of pale pink began creeping shyly over the mountains.  These became bolder and brighter until the colors were leaping and cascading down the mountains and pouring into the pond at the foot of the orchard.  Faster and faster they came until there was a terrific explosion of color and the sun stood on top of the mountains laughing at us.  The mountains, embarrassed at having been caught in their night dresses rosy with sleep, would settle back with more than their accustomed hauteur, profiles cold and white against the blue horizon.”



“I have never found a city without its walkers’ rewards.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot”

Common sight on urban walks, waiting for the walking sign

I so enjoyed my first long urban hike across the I-90 floating bridge (see yesterday’s post), that I’ve planned several more.

I set out on my second long walk, a journey of 8-1/2 miles, from my home to the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.  I hiked 3-1/2 hours, including stops for photos and coffee and a picnic breakfast, along a route with scenic trails.  Here are some highlights:

6:00 a.m. on the path at Green Lake: notice my long shadow in the early morning light

Summer morning at Green Lake

First stop: the Woodland Park Rose Garden at 50th & Fremont Ave N (unfortunately, the gates did not open until 7 a.m.)

I could still enjoy the roses viewed through my zoom lens!

Tree-lined walk down Fremont Avenue N

Waiting for the Interurban sculpture at Fremont & N 34th Streets. It's a Seattle tradition to decorate these statues.

Trees line the Ship Canal between the locks and Lake Union. My walk took me along the Ship Canal Trail.

Rowers on the Ship Canal

I crossed over the train tracks on W Dravus Street after stopping for coffee at Starbucks.

Mount Rainier seen from the Elliott Bay Trail

I took a short detour off the trail to check out the Amgen Helix Bridge.

The Amgen Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.

Looking across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains from the Elliott Bay Trail

Totem pole along the Elliott Bay Trail

Small rose garden along the trail, with Spaceneedle in the background

Lovely yellow roses

The trail runs along the Olympic Sculpture Park.

I walked along Seattle's waterfront to the Hill Climb to the Pike Place Market.

Flower vendor at the Pike Place Market

Truck at the Pike Place Market

Rural scene near Sequim -- barn with Olympic Mountains

Sequim is one of my favorite destinations on the Olympic Peninsula.  It lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, so the weather is often sunnier than in Seattle.  I love driving along the country roads surrounding the town.  It’s still peaceful and rural. Later in summer, the lavender fields will be in bloom.  I was there on a Saturday, when the local outdoor market opened for the season.

Weathered ruin just off Hwy 101 near Sequim

Empty windows softened by moss and blossoms

Meadow with Olympic Mountains on the horizon

Dandelion-filled meadow

Old Dungeness Schoolhouse near Sequim

Barbed wire on the side of a barn

Opening day festivities (free cake!) at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Bread stall at the Sequim Market

Tempting pastries at another bakery stall

Handmade crocheted items, Sequim Market

Breakfast at the Bay Cafe

December 30, 2010

Early morning at the Bay Cafe in Ballard

One of my husband’s and my favorite breakfast places in Seattle is the Bay Cafe in Fishermen’s Terminal.  We both woke up early this morning and decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.  The crescent moon shown brightly in the clear dawn.  The Olympic Mountains glowed white on the horizon.  Few people were stirring.  Our table at the Bay Cafe overlooked the moorage full of commercial fishing boats.  It’s always fun to be by the water.

Crescent moon in the dawn sky

The Bay Cafe ready for the breakfast rush

Seafood omelette and hash browns

The moorage at Fishermen's Terminal

Coiled nets

Water line

Weathered flag

Memorial for fishermen most at sea

Memorial for fishermen lost at sea

Olympic Mountains from Shilshole Bay Marina, Ballard

Seagulls at Golden Gardens, Ballard

View of the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle with Olympic Mountains in distance

Yesterday was one of those clear, sunny, cold winter days that make me appreciate living in Seattle.  All of the heavy rains of recent days meant lots of snow in the mountains, and their snowy white peaks were finally visible in all their glory.  Looking to the east, we see the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade range.  Looking west, we see the Olympic mountains.  Unbeatable scenery.

I took advantage of the sun to walk through my neighborhood.  Here are some photos of the mid-December landscape.  I can’t identify all of the plants, unfortunately.

Dried seed pod

Red and green ground cover

Christmas-y looking reds and greens

Dried hydrangea flower

Lacecap hydrangea

Hanging seed pods

Moss-covered public phone outside the Visitor's Center in the Hoh Rain Forest

On my day-off work this week, my husband and I took a road trip to the Olympic Peninsula to visit the Hoh Rain Forest, a temperate rain forest in our state that averages over 12 feet of rain per year!  We caught the Edmonds-Kingston ferry across Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula.  It hadn’t started raining yet.

On the ferry crossing to the Olympic Peninsula

One of the Olympic Mountain peaks

As we drove Hwy 101 north and west, we left any sun breaks and saw low-lying clouds caught in the trees on the mountain slopes.  By the time we reached Lake Crescent, it was raining.  From then on, our windshield wipers got a real workout.

Clouds caught on the mountain slopes near Hwy 101

It was still raining when we arrived at the Hoh Rainforest.  We hiked the Hall of Mosses trail, a 3/4 mile easy loop, where we were surrounded by immense trees, ferns, mosses and lichens.

Hall of Mosses trail

Ferns growing out of mosses on the side of a tree

Mosses and ferns

This fallen tree was 190-feet long!

Even the river was full of green plant life.

Some of the prettiest scenery on our drive was the section of Hwy 101 along Lake Crescent.  This was a trip where the journey was as satisfying as the destination.

Magnificent tree on the western shore of Lake Crescent

Low clouds over Lake Crescent

Hiking at Ebey’s Landing

August 19, 2010

My daughter hiking at Ebey's Landing, July 1996

One of my favorite places to hike is Ebey’s Landing on Whidbey Island.  I try to go at least once a year.  It’s a lovely hike on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.  I walk back to the trail head along the driftwood-strewn beach.

Trail up to the top of the bluff at Ebey's Landing

View from the top of the bluff back toward the trail head

Dandelion along the trail

A family of hikers from Paris far ahead on the bluff trail

View from the bluff across Admiralty Inlet on Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains

Shades of blue, Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound

Bald Eagle near Ebey's Landing

When Gray Is Enough

February 8, 2010

Beige slat of sun nearing sunset over Puget Sound

Otherwise, clouds. . .

Mind Wanting More
by Holly Hughes

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down.  Otherwise,
clouds.  Sea rippled here and
there.  Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch the sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music:  a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.

This poem really speaks to me, especially during these gray days of winter when the doldrums lurk.  My husband and I met at Olympic Sculpture Park on Saturday evening for the 5:19 p.m. sunset.  We didn’t witness any brilliant pinks, oranges, or purples, but the soft slat of golden sky between the clouds was enough.