Posts Tagged With: glaciers


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Glaciers still survive on Mount Olympus, but fast melting has certainly affected the area.

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Normally at this time of year, this vast ridge is snow-covered. We enjoyed the scenery and the beautiful drive up to Hurricane Ridge even so.  Olympic National Park has a fantastic film about the flora and fauna, the rainforest aspects, the water shed and natures balance. Once neglected, “…nuthin’ up there but stunted trees…” made it possible to save species known to exist only  here, the marmot is one.  Unfortunately, people have introduced invasive species, the natural predator, the wolf is gone, black bears are gone and deer have to be thinned. Maybe someday, the predators can be reintroduced.

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Two major paved trails, Hurricane Hill and The Meadow were available. We chose the Hurricane Hill trail, from which you can see Vancouver and the entire sound. We got to within an hour and a half of the top before it got too steep for us. There are many trails, unpaved, off the two main ones for avid hikers and back packers. And, many deer. We met this one on the trail walking toward us, quite unafraid.

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She simply walked around us…DSC09588 (Copy)

…and returned to the path behind us.

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As we hiked, the mountain to our right as we climbed, is a mountain that gets less rain on its western slope.

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I spotted a Christmas tree.  It looked as though someone took the time to add silvery glitter to the top of the tree. It sparkled in the sun. Could it be ice? Or…?

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A close up reveals the source. It is sap. We noticed this sap on several trees after this one.

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As we hiked in a strong breeze, we noticed the wind sculptured trees. We warmed and I peeled my hooded sweatshirt off and wrapped it around my waist.

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This lone alpine blue bell was on its last bright show.

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It was a beautiful day to visit. We enjoyed a little over four hours at the park. If you go, bring plenty of water and a picnic lunch.

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As we drove away, we saw another herd of deer along the road. Several are out of sight in the bushes.  If you want to see all of my pictures, click on the link below.

2014-9-8-Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge


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Friday was chosen as the day to visit Mount Baker, because the crowds and traffic are considerably less than weekends during the summer. Winter, too, for that matter since Mount Baker is a ski area.

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The drive up presented some beautiful scenery and tantalizing glimpses of the mountain. Mt. Baker is over 10,000 feet in elevation, but the road brings you to just over 5,000 feet.DSC07858 (Copy)

We stopped at a little alpine lake and took pictures of the crystal clear water reflecting the backdrop of trees and mountain behind it.

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The roadside was flush with wild flowers everywhere as we drove up.

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A prolific mountain plant, this pink blooming flower stands in tall clusters.

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Beneath the higher bushes, plain red clover produces huge blossoms in Washington.

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The road is curvy, hairpins and I got a glimpse of what is to come.

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Suddenly, you are in the parking lot, with a huge cloud misted mountain in clear view.

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Trails beckon, and the weather was perfect for a hike. A bit overcast, best for picture taking, and cool. The air unbelievably fresh.

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We kept climbing and watched as the now more stunted alpine flowers and trees put on their show.

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Low to the ground, l would expect their name to be tiny pink alpine bells.

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And every time you look up and pause, you can’t resist taking another picture of the mountain as you drink in its beauty, the cloud cover changes, the terrain changes.

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To the right of this peak was a beautiful valley opening up.

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The mountain side was colorful with bright green growth.

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We finally reached what we called “the top of the world”, with our mountain still visible,  even more beautiful. It was about here that a friendly hiker, an older and wiser man then we, said, or what I heard was “… ole’ shookshank is really clear today.”  Professional pictures I’ve seen of Mt. Baker show it as a perfect snowy, sharp peak. Of course, this isn’t Mt. Baker, but it is part of the Mt. Baker range in the cascades.

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As we hiked out, and I stood  oohing and ahhing about this gorgeous view another hiker asked me if I wanted my picture taken in front of Mt. Baker. I agreed.

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And, I took another picture of it, and, if you notice that sharp sharks tooth peak?

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Here is a close up of it.  It is a part of Mt. Baker, the peak is nearly always hidden behind that dark cloud and you don’t actually get to see Mt. Baker, unless you are in an airplane. In fact the pilot pointed it out to us as we passed over it but I wasn’t in a window seat and took no pictures from the plane. So, I actually did see Mt. Baker on my way here.

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Were we disappointed?  Not a bit. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful mountain,  and I’ll post more pictures tomorrow. Jim’s eyes are bothering him enough that he tries to stay in areas he knows well. We don’t venture out as much. His cataract surgery isn’t until sometime in October.


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Here we are at creek level, surrounded by beauty. I wanted to see the Meany Glacier because grizzly and moose sightings are common there. It is an eight-hour trip with stops for pictures.  Jim was reluctant to drive it.  We stopped for a brochure about guided tours. And while we talk to the desk person, she doesn’t say, the last bus up is at 9:00. We take it back to the car to study the various trips and times. We were 9 miles from the transit station. We missed the last bus by 15 minutes. My advice, plan ahead. The bus is the best way to go. They provide a box lunch and restroom stops for $55 a person. Kids are less.

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Glacial streams are many. The green water is from glacial “dust”,  just ground up rock.

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It sculpts beautiful bowls as it rushes and swirls by rock impediments. I’d love to soak in it on a hot summer day.

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Our first major stop was the Cedar Loop Trail, an easy one mile walk, over creeks and ravines on board walks to minimize damage to tree roots and for access. These three trunks reminded me of the hotel supports from yesterday.

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An idea of how big the trunks get.

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A lightning strike has broken off a high branch that is as big in circumference as a lodge pole pine.

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Though this is mainly a cedar forest, the complimentary trees that grow with it are also huge. This is a hemlock, the rough, deep bark is particularly attractive. Black cottonwood grows here as well,  with even denser, deeper bark.

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In this heavily shaded old growth forest, the rocks beside this stream grow moss and lichens. In one spot, huge boulders as big as a house were completely covered with moss.

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We met some people who were having their pictures taken in front of this upturned tree root. They offered to take ours with our cameras, so we posed.

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We begin to climb and we get our first glimpse of Heavenly Peak. It has a small glacier.

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As we climb, the road narrows and we have to admire the work it took to build it in the early 1900’s.

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And, we admire the tenacity of the trees that grow in any little crevice of sheer rock faces.

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An unusual sight where one river flows on the left and another flows on the right of this huge dome.

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Looking into the sun, this is a lousy picture, but it shows the U shape at the top where the glacier moved through and gouged this valley.

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A view of that same valley from the side as we make our way around it headed for Logon Pass.DSC00639 (Copy)

The roads are narrow and harrowing if you don’t like driving on this type of terrain, but the views are spectacular.

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The top of the pass is now visible. The mountain is cloud covered,  and resembles a spouting volcano.DSC00668 (Copy)

We make it to the top, get out at the visitors center, and find out they have restrooms, but nothing to eat. Luckily we have emergency rations, a bag of peanuts and raisins in the Bronco. A pretty lite lunch, but it works. This is the point of the Continental Divide, where waters on the left of this peak flow to the Atlantic and waters to the right flow to the Pacific.DSC00673 (Copy)

People like to hike up to the glacier. You can see them in the foreground. You might have to click on the picture and enlarge it.

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Glaciers are melting at an accelerated rate and we wonder how long these small glaciers will last.DSC00682 (Copy)

Tall poles mark the walking paths to guide the snow blowers or snow plows. The snow pack  here measures 80 feet deep at times.DSC00684 (Copy)

Water, water everywhere, still, and it is mid September. The pass will be closed to tourists in a couple of weeks. If you have the window open, your camera could get sprayed.

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Another roadside water fall. And the uneven peaks in the distance remind us that the Rockies are a young mountain compared to the Appalachians with their rounded tops.

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Here we see the beginnings of Medicine Woman Falls.

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It falls a distance of 492 feet and is routed under to hairpin roadways before it reaches a stream. In the spring it is a major gusher.

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Going down the 6,642 feet is exciting, and beautiful.

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A last look.  It is easy to see why the Native Americans could assign spiritual qualities to such beauty and majesty.


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As you leave Browning traveling West, the Blackfeet Reservation has a Buffalo Preserve within  a mile or two of town.  After seeing so many stuffed buffalo heads it was reassuring to see a healthy herd of the beasts on the range.

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The Plains change dramatically as you enter  foothills of the Rocky Mountains, their peaks rising in front of you.

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The eagle eye perch of an old homestead kind of reminds us of what life used to be like in this wild country.DSC00398 (Copy)

Glacial rivers, so clear and clean, they reflect their surroundings.

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We camp at Camp Apgar, the west entrance to the park. The Going To The Sun Road Jim drove many years ago with his smallish motor home, is no longer accessible to Motor Homes. It takes you up over the Continental Divide and into Calgary, Canada if you choose to visit that part of the park. This is the beautiful and rustic MacDonald Lodge that sits next to MacDonald Lake. We set up camp, had lunch, and visited the lodge.

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I believe it was built in 1911, all of it from local materials.

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Each corner is held up by three giant cedar logs. The park has a trail where one can see some of these 500-year-old cedars.DSC00411 (Copy)

Lodge patrons enjoyed the pleasant heat from the giant fireplace.

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The Lodge has a totem but the plains tribes, the Native Americans that once lived and danced here, did not build totems.

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Directly behind the lodge is the boat ramp on Lake MacDonald. Blue, blue clean, clear water reflects the peaks.

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We bought tickets at $16.32 cents at the boat ramp. If it weren’t a National Park, that price would be double. Such a bargain. You can order your tickets and reserve ahead of time, as well. We moved away leaving a road-like water con trail on the still surface of the lake.  It made interesting abstracts on the water.DSC00437 (Copy)

A close-up of our wake.DSC00441 (Copy)

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Rivers erode in a V shape. The U shape tells you a glacier once sat here. There are only two glaciers left in the park.

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The boat carries us West toward the old  town of Apgar. Two horrible fires hit the park. The worst was in 2003 when the “new” fire wisdom was to let the fire burn out. It consumed 43,000 acres and nearly took the town of Apgar. DSC00462 (Copy)

At one time, all the burned trees would have been cut down. Now, scientists know the trees provide insect homes, draw birds and provide ground shade. Recovery is better and natural.

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Its kind of fun to concentrate on the ever-changing surface of reflective water, helped by an overcast sky.

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On the opposite side of the burn, high up on the peak, a crevice is eroding as water cascades down this slope during spring melt. The peak is also home to Dahl sheep and grizzleys.

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We head back to the dock.

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The light changes.

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The glacier cradle darkens.

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The burn regenerates.  Not all trees die in a burn. A few remain and help the recovery and some trees fall on their own.

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We return to the dock after a very pleasant hour on the lake the natives named, “Best Place For Dancing.”  The guide couldn’t say the Indian name, just the meaning.

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I DID see wildlife. This little ground squirrel popped up on our way back to the parking lot.

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The narrow canyon above is just past the Devils Spine and is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain Crossing on Highway 34.
From Evans, Colorado to Steamboat Springs on Highway 34 and 36 West is a reasonable day’s drive. I drove about 13 miles and I could see Jim was getting nervous so I pulled over short of Estes Park, another 22 miles up the road.  Jim reasoned that the highest road in America, at 12,183 foot elevation,  was not the place for a beginner. And, he was right. I drove the last hour to give him some rest. We stopped short of our goal, both of us tired, at the small town of Kremmling, Colorado.

Estes Park is a tourist destination, a skiing mecca in winter, it attracts backpackers,  mountain stream anglers and bikers. Many rustic and fancy cabins entice people to get-away to the fresh air and fragrant woods. It sits on the edge of the Eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

We have a destination with ‘miles to go before we sleep’ so most of my pictures were taken from the motor home window. This rock formation was beautiful whether the pictures give it credit or not.

The pines have suffered from bark beetle infestation. In fact the park campground on the western slope is completely treeless because all of the trees died and had to be removed. Here you see the many dying, still standing trees. The grey ones are completely dead, the brown ones are on the way.

As you climb higher, the trees become smaller, stunted. In the visitor center it showed trees 100 years old bent and twisted by winds; small from barely sufficient nutrition. They were only two feet tall.

Suddenly you realize you are above tree level, looking down into moonscape canyons. The narrow roads and twists and turns made for some tense driving with a motor home pulling a 4,000 pound “toad”.

This vertical cut right through the rock gave our motors passage and has a beauty of its own.

The park is one of two places in the U.S. that has tuffa.

The road just traveled high on the right. The road we will travel in the center, without the twists as we seem to sit on top of the world.

Now we encounter pockets of snow that do not melt during the summer. We learned from the visitors center those pockets are filled with pure ice and are therefore  mini-glaciers.

Valleys like this, full of color and beauty provide forage and water for wildlife. Antelope, a smaller growing moose than the Canadian and Alaskan herds, deer, weasels, fox, big horned sheep, marmots, chickerees, and other small animals and birds make their home here. Plenty of signs show where to view antelope, but we didn’t see any wildlife as we drove by.

This spot marks the Continental Divide where river water now flows toward the west. It is significant, but, not that you could tell from this spot.

On the way down the Western slope, we had several miles of gravel road and roadwork. Signs promised no wait would exceed 60 minutes.

And, none did. But we sat in this parking lot and another for a lengthy time; enough time to turn off the engine and get out and walk around. Thus, I got pictures of some flora and fauna from the roadside woods. No one seemed upset. The air was fresh, the place restful and beautiful. But, at one point we were so close to a huge paving machine we slid by it within a few inches. I had my head out the window as we crawled by with my window beads clinging to my face, laughing all the way.

Don’t know what these plants are called.

The aspens are just turning color.

Its a beautiful drive. As usual, I took many pictures. If you would like to see them, click the link:

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