Wednesday, September 15, 2010 Partly sunny in the morning, 58 degrees; at Hurricane Ridge, blowing rain and 43 degrees
As we drove west on US 101, fog hovered eerily over Hood Canal and Dabob Bay. Houses, motels, and restaurants sandwiched between the road and the waterfront are reminiscent of Woodville on the south end of Canandaigua Lake. A quaint setting.
After viewing a film about Olympic NP at the Visitor Center in Port Angeles, we began the 17 mile drive to Hurricane Ridge. As we looked to the northeast at the first overlook, we could see Mt. Baker (at 10,781') poking through a cloud bank, brightly illuminated by the sun. A stunning sight, one we had hoped to witness on Sunday.
Continuing on, light sprinkles began striking the windshield and soon turned into a rainshower. In the Visitor Center we were trying to decide what hikes would be appropriate in the rain when a ranger-guided walk was announced. Seven of us joined Janis as she described how the plants and animals adapt to the severe environment of the Olympic mountains. All assume the same strategy: store up food, lay as low as possible, and be frugal with food and water. For example, the marmot fattens up over the four months of summer before he curls up tightly with his family in their burrow. Their heart rate drops from 120 to four beats per minute, and their body temperature drops from 102 degrees to the ambient temperature of their burrow or about 40 degrees. As we were standing in a 16 mph wind with blowing the rain in our faces, we recognized just how remarkable this adaptation is.
With fog wafting in and out obscuring views in every direction, and being chilled to the bone, we headed back to Port Angeles. On the way we saw a small herd of black-tailed deer feeding in a meadow, and at one pull-out we saw a sign that read "Beware of Aggressive Goat." Apparently he isn't too fond of strangers invading his territory.
While we were disappointed not to have seen and done more today, we recognize that is to be expected any time anyone ventures into the mountains.
TODAY'S ROUTE: From Lacey, I 5S to US 101W to Port Angeles, and then into Olympic NP as far as Hurricane Ridge