Lake Crescent

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Stream exiting Lake Crescent.

We spent time exploring the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula.  We somewhat lost track of where we were and wound up bumping in Lake Crescent.  I’ve been to the lake several times, but never approached it from this side.  The lake is beautiful and very clear.  We stopped the car in the middle of a one lane bridge so I could take a picture and wouldn’t you know it, another vehicle showed up.  There are very few of them out here.

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Plant life and boulders on the shore of Lake Crescent.
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Lake Crescent on an overcast day.

You can tell it rains a lot west of Port Angeles because there is so much moss everywhere and all over the trees.  There is plant life growing out of every nook and cranny.  If no vehicles passed on the roads, I’m sure all that plant life would just grow right over it.

Today we’re off to Port Townsend to participate in the Ruckus that takes place the day before the Race to Alaska begins.

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Road sign on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Otter

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Otter in Puget Sound.

We’ve spent the last several days on Bainbridge Island which is a ferry ride to Seattle.  We only got to Seattle once, but we’ll be back later.  The campground is on the water, so we got to see the amazing cloud formations as the weather changes.  We experienced sunshine, overcast, rain, and hail during our stay.

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View from Bainbridge Island.

This morning was the coolest because we saw an otter in the water.  It stayed around for awhile and was very interesting to watch.  It seemed to be curious about the people watching it.  Neither Regis or I got a good picture, but we’ll share what we have.

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Otter in Puget Sound
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Otter in Puget Sound
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Otter in Puget Sound

We are now in Port Angeles for a couple days before we head to Port Townsend for a couple weeks.  My son and his friend and Coco will join us in Port Townsend while we watch the kick off to the Race 2 Alaska.  It’s a very cool race.

Morning at the Lake

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Geese on Lake Cushman

On our last day at Lake Cushman, we spent part of the morning at the lake watching the birds, looking at the flowers, and listening to the buzzing of insects.  Lots of blueberry bushes and other flowers are in bloom throughout the forest, and the bees are happy.  I watched swallows catching insects over the water.  I tried hard to get pictures, but they are small and fast.  I could only catch them when they landed briefly on a post or sign.  When I loaded the pictures on the computer, I was able to get my first good look at them.  They are a new bird for me.  They were Violet-green Swallows.

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Back of Violet-green Swallow at Lake Cushman.
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Front of a Violet-green Swallow.
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Bee making sure there will be lots of blueberries this year.

We are camping on the water on Bainbridge Island with a view across Puget sound to the Cascades.  The Cascades spend most of their time hidden behind clouds and, today, rain.  Nevertheless, it’s beautiful.  Seattle is a across the sound and a ferry ride from here.

I went to local grocery store in Poulsbo after we set up camp.  Words cannot describe how I felt entering this grocery store.  Just the oyster/clam section is larger than the whole seafood section in most grocery stores.  I was in sensory overload and couldn’t even make a decision what to get for dinner.  The prepared food section is one of the largest I have seen.  There were so many options, it was hard to make a choice.  I’m buying food one day at a time so I don’t wind up buying more than we can eat.

I had a doctor’s appointment the next day in Seattle, so Regis dropped me off at the ferry and I took it to Seattle and walked to the doctor’s appointment.  Then, I walked to the camera store and found out they were having a photo fest this week-end.  What great timing!  Then, I walked back to the ferry to catch up with Regis and Dart when they arrived by car.  I hung around where the cars disembark from the ferry and there are a couple policemen directing traffic when that happens.  Since I hung around on the corner for about an hour waiting for the Bainbridge Ferry, I think the guys were suspicious of me.  I spent a half hour talking to my mom on the phone and then sat on the curb and starting reading a book.  I noticed they kept looking over at me.  I think they were relieved when I disappeared.

We met our son and his friend for dinner.  We haven’t seen them in a year and a half.  It was also great to see my favorite Bedlington Terrier, Coco!  The weather was beautiful, so we got to sit outside at the local brew pub.  We went for a nice walk afterwards and got some great views of Bellevue and Seattle.

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View of Seattle from our evening stroll on Beacon Hill.

 

Rhododendrons

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Rhododendron bloom on Mount Walker.

June 5

We spent the day exploring the west edge of the Hood Canal. We set out in search of Eagles and found some. Mostly, the Eagles were soaring over the side of the mountain but one adult sat in a tree nearby and one Juvenile did a fly by.

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Immature Bald Eagle.

We drive to the top of Mount Walker and there were lots of rhododendrons in bloom. When we got to the top and had to walk a short way from the car to the viewpoint, Regis had to point out that he saw more rhododendrons in bloom in that short space than our entire 3 mile walk the other day. The blooms are beautiful. There are foxgloves blooming and some yellow flowers beginning to burst into bloom everywhere. Spring is a lovely time to be here.

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View south from Mount Walker.

From the south viewpoint, we could see Seattle in the distance. From the north viewpoint, we could see Port Townsend, Whidbey Island, and Mount Baker. It was pretty cool to get a view from above of the places we will soon be visiting.

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View of Seattle from Mount Walker.
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View of Mount Baker from Mount Walker.

While Dart and I were walking today, we found an injured mouse. The mouse’s leg was broken. I called my friend Melody who knows how to rehabilitate wildlife and she told me how to help the little mouse. Regis and I were going to have to perform surgery, but we had the tools to do it. We never got that far. I tried to give it water but it was so weak by then, it couldn’t drink it. Sadly, the little mouse didn’t live long. The mouse may have had internal injuries. I’m guessing it was hit by a car.

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Rhododendron bloom on Mount Walker.

Lena Lake

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Mushroom in Olympic National Forest

June 4

Today we went to a steel bridge over the Skokomish River. After driving over Forest Service Roads several miles, we drove right over it. It used to be an old railroad bridge. Regis did not believe it was the bridge so he kept going. Eventually, he conceded and we went back and walked the bridge and took pictures. It was a long way down. The bridge is 420 feet above the south fork of the Skokomish River. (Mom, you could not do this with your issue with heights)

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View downriver from steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.
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View upriver from the steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.
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View from on top the steel bridge over the south fork of the Skokomish River.

Then, we went on a 6 mile round trip hike to Lena Lake in the Olympic National Forest. It was a lovely walk through the forest. I really enjoyed all the plant life and huge trees. It was twice the distance as our last hike but half the elevation change (1200 feet in 3 miles). It seemed so much easier but it was very rocky. Good hiking shoes are required on this hike. Dart got to walk off leash and was very friendly to all the other hikers. (My neighbors back home wouldn’t recognize him.)

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We found several of these leaves along the Lena Lake trail. Perhaps they are modern day bread crumbs.
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Lena Lake trail.

Fortunately, the walk was up hill first. I prefer to go uphill on the outward portion of the hike and return downhill. Once we got to the lake we sat and enjoyed. Then, an immature bald eagle flew above. What could be better than that?

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Lena Lake in Olympic National Forest.

The gender ratio of hikers we passed were probably 3 women to every man. Regis couldn’t believe it. There were lots of young women hiking and quite a few of them alone. There were few men. What’s up with that? (I’m envious because when I was young I couldn’t find any women to hike with me. Maybe that’s why Regis and I got married because he was the best hiking and camping partner.)

The reason we went on this hike is because the rhododendrons were in bloom. There were probably 10 plants in bloom and I didn’t see any not in bloom. It was pretty, but after hiking in the spring in the Smoky Mountains, I was disappointed. You should never compare, but the Smokey Mountains are astonishing when the laurels and rhododendrons are in bloom. When we got back we looked up the trail description again and it said the rhododendrons were in bloom on the trail to the upper lake which we could not do because it enters the National Park and dogs are not allowed in the National Park. Oh well, it was a beautiful hike anyway.

We keep driving along the Hood Canal and seeing immature and adult Bald Eagles. It’s really hard to stop on that road because it is a major road. Nevertheless, I convinced Regis to cooperate with me in trying to get a picture of some immature Bald Eagles and this is the best I got. I am on a mission tomorrow to see if we can do better. We’ve seen the Bald Eagles several times in the same general area and will see if we can get lucky from the local State Park.

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Immature Bald Eagle along the Hood Canal in Washington.

Dart’s Favorite Hike

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Dart resting in the snow during a hike.

We hiked on the Mt. Ellinor Trail #812 today. We went to the upper trailhead to get us closer to the top of the mountain before starting out. There is a summer route and a winter route. The Forest Service information kiosk said hikers should take the summer route but there is snow. This hike is 1.6 miles to the top with a 2,444 foot change in elevation. As we started, a young couple passed us carrying ice axes. I was concerned.

Dart was able to walk off leash. In this National Forest, your dog does not have to be on a leash as long as they are under your control. Dart does much better off leash. He is not anxious and is very friendly. He handles people and other dogs very well when he is not on a leash. He doesn’t chase animals and easily sticks to the trail. When we are all trail walking together, Regis is usually in front and I lag behind. Dart feels his job is to keep us together. He likes to hang out with Regis in the front but gets concerned when I lag too far behind and stops and waits for me. I’m sure he wishes I would keep up. Part of my problem is that I’m not as fast as Regis, but the other problem is that I stop to look at interesting plants and other things along the way.

There was snow at the higher elevations and I think some folks were still taking the winter route which required some climbing gear. We had good boots on so we attempted to make some progress through the snow. As soon as we got to the snow, Dart went nuts. He ran around, jumped up and down, and barked. He was ecstatic. It’s been years since he’s been in the snow and Regis and I can’t remember him acting this way. I guess he misses snow. I got a short video below.

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Dart and Regis taking the summer route on the Mt. Ellinor Trail in the Olympic National Forest.

We made it to a beautiful lookout and stopped to rest. Dart was very happy. He laid in the snow and took in the view before concentrating on the trail and looking for other hikers. The temperature was in the 50’s which was very comfortable for Dart. Regis and I were happy with it also.

We could see Mount Ranier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens in the distance. We saw the Hood Canal and Puget Sound. It was a little hazy, so the mountains in the distance were barely visible. The view was astonishing.

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The highest point we reached on the Mt. Ellinor Trail. Regis is getting Dart a bowl of water but he preferred to eat the snow where he was resting.

We decided not to go further up the mountain because it was mostly snow and we didn’t have walking sticks or ski poles to help keep us from slipping. Dart had no trouble. It was harder going down. A sled would have come in handy. Dart kept going down so fast that he would crash into Regis.

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View of Mt. Ranier in the distance from Mt. Ellinor.

When we got back to the campground, the temperature was in the upper 60’s so we decided to go kayaking on the lake. We left Dart in the RV to sleep. When we got back, Dart could hardly move he was so stiff. I know what that feels like. Once he got moving though, he was okay.

But, what comes with melting snow is mud. Dart got very muddy. And, he just had a nice bath a few days ago and he looked so good. I stuck him in our tiny shower and washed his feet and underside. Tomorrow, I plan to trim some of that beautiful hair so we don’t have to bring so much of the mountain back with us to camp when we hike on muddy trails.

Cannon Beach

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Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

(This post was written Friday June 1 but couldn’t be posted until we drove to town today to get internet access.)

We accomplished everything we set out to do while in Portland. I wound up buying 14 books when I went to Powell’s so I had to leave before I got out of the first room or I would have had to take out a loan to get out of the store. After purchasing too many books, I went to pick up the donuts and the line was amazing. Nevertheless, I hung in there and got Buttermilk, Horchata, Creme Brulee, Meyer’s Lemon and Key Lime, and Sugar and Cinnamon. I didn’t want Regis to fight with me over the Horchata, so I gobbled it up before he could see it was an option. Yum!

We took a side trip to Cannon Beach on the Pacific Coast. It was lovely and I tried to take pictures of the birds on Haystock Rock. Just as I got started, ALL (probably several thousand) the Common Murre’s on the rock decided to depart at the same time. It was amazing to watch. We had know idea there so many birds up there. I’ve included a picture below showing a closeup of the rock and then I enlarged a small section just so you can see how densely packed the Murres were.

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Birds on Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon
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Common Murres close-up from the middle right of the picture above.
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Common Murres leaving Haystack Rock to head out over the Pacific Ocean.

After the trek on the beach, we had lunch at an amazing restaurant at an inn. The food was incredible. We visited Cannon Beach many years ago and all I can remember is the food. This is why. Cannon Beach has the best food.

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What Regis had for lunch at Cannon Beach.

We stayed on an island in the Columbia River that was part of Portland. I never heard a bird. I heard planes, trains, and toots from boats. It was a busy place. It was ok for a few days but I prefer to listen to the birds instead of the planes, etc.

We are now on the eastern side of the Olympic Mountains but west of the Hood Canal. It’s more remote than I expected. We arrived on Thursday to a mostly empty campground nestled in the woods next to Lake Cushman. We have no cell phone service at the campground. Lot’s of the land west of us is wilderness area.

It’s in the 50’s during the day. We can launch kayaks from the campground but I’m still not ready to kayak in cold weather. I have a wet suit, so we’ll likely do it before we leave. Regis says he has no intention of getting wet, so he doesn’t need a wet suit. I want to make sure we go out on a calm lake to minimize our chance of getting into trouble.

The other thing that is intimidating is the mountain that is right across the lake from the campground. Although the picture below has it almost hidden in clouds, you can still see the snow.

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Snow capped mountain by Lake Cushman on the Olympic Peninsula.

I heard owls last night, not planes!!! And, today is Friday and the campground appears to be filling up for the week-end. The ranger went around putting reservation signs up and they are on almost all the sites.

I’ve already come up with a longer list of things to do than the days we’ll be here. We picked out a hike to the top of a mountain that is supposed to have meadows, forests, and nice views. Plus, we can take Dart since it is in the National Forest, not the National Park. We think it is either next to that snow covered mountain or is that snow covered mountain. There is a winter route and a summer route. I think because of the time of year, we’re in the middle of the two. If we can’t take the summer route, we’ll likely not go the whole way. The weather status at the ranger station included an avalanche warning, so the winter route is out.

We’ve walked Dart through the campground several times and with so few campers, it has been a breeze. Dart has the placed scoped, so now any changes will bother him. I tried to take him for a walk this afternoon after some new campers showed up and he was not happy they were there. He barked and growled. They weren’t there last time so they do not belong as far as he’s concerned. Jeez! With all these reservations showing the new folks coming in, tomorrow morning is going to be a disaster.