Wildlife, Too

I don’t think that I could justify the Enchanted Valley hike just on the basis of the wildlife we observed, but I did enjoy the wildlife and saw one bird I’d never seen before. Perhaps the most surprising discovery was the high number of Robins and Song Sparrows

Song Sparrow

we saw there. I have a hard time imagining a Robin outside a backyard.

I missed a beautiful shot of a Red-Breasted Sapsucker that Dawn spotted at close range, but I did manage to get a shot of this female Blue Grouse that Santi spotted,

female Blue Grouse

the first time I’ve ever managed to get a shot of one, and perhaps the first time I’ve ever seen one.

The most common butterfly was the elusive Tiger Swallowtail, but this small white and black moth/butterfly is one I’ve never seen before (and can’t find in my Insects of the Pacific Northwest):

Black and White Butterfly/Moth

We never did see the much-sought-after black bear, but we did see two small herds of elk. This shot of the mother and baby (with older brother following closely behind?) was undoubtably my favorite wildlife shot of the trip.

Elk

Enchanted Valley

Originally, Dawn had reserved sites higher in the mountain for our five-day hike, but Park Rangers recommended we not try it since there was still six feet of snow in places. Still, Enchanted Valley is part of Olympic National Park, so mountains are definitely an important part of the hiking experience.

This chalet, now used as a ranger station and emergency shelter, guards the entrance to the valley

Chalet

with clouded cliffs and waterfalls serving as a backdrop.

Even though we didn’t see a bit of rain in our five days there, at times it seemed like we were living in the clouds,

 Cliffs in Clouds

which certainly explains why everything is so green.

Though lined with forests, it’s obvious that the Quinault River is still a major player here,

Riverbed

fed by unseen mountains and melting snow fields even now.

Waterfall

We day hiked another 6 miles up the valley, knowing our way was ultimately blocked by distant, snow-covered mountains fading into the clouds.

Distant Olympic Mountains

Although we were going to try to walk to a damaged footbridge, Pahtah (that’s me) decided after running into one too many washouts that he had better save some energy for the two days it would take to walk out.

Olympic Flowers

The beautiful flowers found on the trail to Enchanted Valley helped to alleviate the fatigue that invariably accompanies carrying a 40 pound pack uphill for 13 miles.

These beautiful Mountain Daisies

Mountain Daisy

were found from the lowest elevation to the highest.

Huge bushes full of Tilling’s Monkeyflower

Tiling's Monkeyflower

crowded river gravel at our first Campground and at several places where we stopped beside the river to rest.

Several varieties of wild roses

Wild Rose

were also found at our campground and along the trail.

I loved this striking white flower that we saw several times in dark shade, making it difficult to get as sharp of image as I’d like to get.

White Flower

Though I found several similar flowers in Mountain Flowers of the Cascades and Olympics, I couldn’t really pin it down exactly.

Luckily, I got several chances to capture this picture of a Columbine,

 Columbine

another favorite that I haven’t seen much since I moved away from the Columbia Gorge area.

The Quinault River

I’m recovering from a five day backpack into Enchanted Valley, so I’ve spent most of the day installing Apple’s Lion and polishing up photos taken on my new Powershot SX230HS. The trip was my Christmas present from Dawn and her family, as I’ve said I’d love to do at least one more backpacking trip with my grandkids before I have to give it up for car camping. Luckily we had lots of people to share the weight because I found trudging 13 miles generally uphill for two days with a 40-pound pack, day hiking another 5 miles and returning the last two days as challenging as I’d like.

Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry my usual cameras with all the other things needed to survive comfortably so I purchased a small camera to take as good of pictures as I could. Since it was new I didn’t take full advantage of its capabilities, but enough of the pictures turned out that I’m pleased with the results and glad I made the purchase. Who knows, since I survived this trip I might even manage a few more in the next year or two — the awesome views inspired me that much.

Although the trip is often referred to as the Enchanted Valley hike, the Quinault River and its tributaries dominate the hike from the very first crossing.

Gorge

So much so, that it brought back fond memories of long-ago hikes in the Columbia Gorge’s moss and fern covered banks.

Fern-Covered Cliffs

As we walked up the valley we constantly crossed small streams that fed the river, losing

Stream

and gaining elevation

Bend in the River

even at our highest point in the hike.

Crosssing the Creek

Despite forecasts of rain, the five days were rain-free even though it sometimes seemed that we were living in the clouds. Several nights awoke to the sound of rain, only to realize it was really the sound of the omnipresent waterfalls.