August 18, 2010

The Olympic Coast - Third Beach

On Sunday, we headed out to perhaps our favorite place along the Olympic Coast, Third Beach. It is a 1.4 mile hike through a coastal forest of Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock to get to the beach. Luckily, unlike the 90's of Saturday, a fog layer had rolled in keeping temperatures in the 70's.

Fog drifting between the trees

Hilina loves examining shelf fungi, looking for banana slugs, and generally exploring the forest

Upon arrival at the beach, we just relaxed along the sandy banks and let Hilina play. The tide was rolling in, so we did look at a few creatures on the last exposed rocks before those were eventually covered by water.

The last rock

We did a couple of laps of the mile-long beach from headland to headland. After a while the fog began to lift, creating some interesting looks at the headlands.

Hilina building cities in the sand with feathers

Eventually, even the waterfall at Taylor Point became visible. As the fog lifted, the temperature rose...But, luckily is remained in the upper 70's to low 80's. That and the shade of the forest made the hike back pretty tolerable.

August 17, 2010

The Olympic Coast - Rialto Beach

So, you may have been wondering where we've been lately...Or maybe not. Anyways, with the thermometer forecasted to hit 95 in Sequim, we took a little trip to the coast to try and escape the heat.

We drove to the Mora campground near La Push where we spent 3 nights. The first afternoon after arrival, we simply went to Rialto Beach to relax and let Hilina play in the sand. The weather was delightful. It was high tide, so we just relaxed amongst the driftwood and sand.

I did do a little hike over to the mouth of the Quileute River to check out James Island

The next morning, we returned to Rialto Beach and hiked out to Hole-in-the-Wall for low tide to check out the tide pools. It was reasonably cool in the morning and we had a great time checking out the tide pools.

Hilina loves catching the sculpins and gunnels living in the kelp, touching the sea anemones, and checking out the sea stars.

But, the heat really got going by early afternoon and that 1.3 mile hike back in the direct sun was a killer. By the time we returned to the truck it was 87 degrees. We then drove to Forks so I could check email for work and get ice cream and it was at least 93 there! Bet the vampires didn't realize it could get over 90 in Forks!

August 13, 2010

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Massaschusetts

The Boston Harbor Islands are a series of islands operated by a combination of the National Park Service and Massachusetts State Parks. These islands represent an easy way to get away from the hubub of the urban core to the quiet relaxing environment just off shore.

One day, while Linda was taking a DODEA course at Tuft's University, I took the ferry from downtown Boston to the Boston Harbor Islands.

Inner Harbor

The ferry travels under the flightline of Logan Airport on its way out.
The ferry first arrived at Georges Island, which contains the 19th century Fort Warren. It was built to protect the harbor from invasion following the War of 1812.

From there, I jumped on a tiny little boat to head over to Peddocks Island

On the way out there, I saw the Outer Brewster Islands that protect the mouth of the harbor.

On Peddocks Island, I basically had enough time to do a hike around the small island before the boat would head back to Georges Island. Thus, I took off on the cross-island trail. The route starts off in a forested area before emerging along a beach.

The island is full of poison ivy. In fact, they had closed several of the islands that day, because a small fire on one of the outer islands was burning poison ivy, making for a toxic smoke.

Old Beach Houses

Some are so old, the forest is beginning to reclaim them

Then, you walk out onto a very narrow tombolo onto another wider section. A Tombolo is a narrow strip of sand that connects two islands (or an island and the mainland) together.

From there it is a nice beach walk

The vegetation on the island consists of forests in some places, but lots of grassy sumac filled meadows, such as this one.

Near the salt marsh on the far end of the island, beautiful rose bushes mix with Atlantic white cedar and salt grasses.

Salt Marshes

On the boat back to Georges Island, there was a nice view of Boston beyond another island.

August 4, 2010

Red Top Mountain, Teanaway Valley, WA

One of the best viewpoints of the entire watershed comes at the top of Red Top Mountain. At 5,300 feet, it offers panoramic views that extend across the Cle Elum Valley and all the way to Mount Rainier. You can even see Mount Adams poking above the Goat Rocks Wilderness on a clear day.

In addition, there is a spectacular view across to the Stuart Range, including its 9,400 foot namesake, Mount Stuart. If it is clear, you can also see down into the deserts of eastern Washington towards Ellensburg.

To get to Red Top Mountain, you can access it 17 miles up from North Fork Teanaway road (the road up to the Esmeralda Basin) or from Highway 97 as you approach Blewitt Pass. At the parking area, there is a fairly steep 1/2 mile hike to the old fire lookout at the summit of the mountain.

The parking area starts in the trees, but shortly thereafter enters a rocky alpine zone of beautiful wildflowers.

Bitter Root Blossoms

A thunderstorm was building that day and there was a fire in the distance producing hazy smoke to the northeast, so the views were limited. But, nonetheless, it was a beautiful place to take in the panorama of the Teanaway Valley and beyond.

The entire Teanaway watershed is visible below. You can actually see the North Fork, Middle Fork, and West Fork valleys. Cle Elum Ridge separates the Teanaway valley from the Cle Elum valley. I-90 is in the valley behind Cle Elum Ridge. Mount Rainier can be seen in the distance. The dead and dying trees you see below are the result of a major spruce budworm outbreak. These moths feed on the new growth of grand fir and Douglas fir in water-stressed regions, such as on the drier eastern slopes.