Olympic National Park
|JULY 3, 2009 The Klahane Ridge trail from Sunrise Point
at Hurricane Ridge has been on my "wish list" of hikes for the last few
years, but I never seemed able to fit it in until now. When my
original backpacking plans to the Goat Rocks Wilderness didn't pan out
due to low snow levels, my first thought was to head east to
Leavenworth or the Teanaway, but at the last
minute I decided on this hike in the Olympic Mountains instead.
And I'm glad I did--it exceeded all of my expectations.
The early ferry sailed out of Edmonds under softly colored skies, and traffic was light on the drive through Sequim and Port Angeles. The weather was perfect when I arrived at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center--a cool but sunny 64º with bright blue skies and a light breeze. There was a disappointing lack of wildflowers in the meadows, but it didn't really matter--I had my sights set on a long ridge hike on a fine day. The trail stays close to the top of one ridge or another almost the entire hike, dropping about 300' to meadows below Mount Angeles. Here were armies of avalanche lilies, an unexpected explosion of white carpeting the fields as far as I could see. I don't know if this year has been particularly good for wildflowers, or if it's just serendipitous that I have found the wildflowers at their peak on so many trails this year. The trail continues to traverse along the south side of Mt. Angeles, dipping in and out of the woods, then reaching the junction of the steep switchback trail. The views are stunning at every step, and wildflowers grow thick along the way. Just when I was thinking that it couldn't get any better--it did. With one switchback left to reach the ridge, I encountered three mountain goats hiking down the trail I was hiking up. The largest goat left the trail and began munching its way down the side of the mountain, while the baby stopped and contemplated me for a long time before following suit. The third goat walked right up to me and I yielded the trail out of respect for its horns, but it, too, changed course and grazed its way down the hillside.
It's no secret that I love the ridges, and after stopping for lunch at the saddle with stunning views of the peaks of the Olympic Mountains on one side and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the other, I headed another mile up the trail to a knoll at 6046'. I could have spent hours on the ridge and I was sorely tempted to hike the Heather Park trail, but with a long drive and another ferry ride in front of me, I saved that adventure for another day. This hike had a little bit of everything I love--fair weather, ridges, wildflowers, generous views, and best of all: mountain goats.
10 miles roundtrip