The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

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Striped Peak Hike – Salt Creek Rec. Area

Haven’t been hiking much being rather distracted by domestic crafting (sewing) bliss. Throw in all the sunny, warm days promoting yard and gardening work and hiking is taking a back burner to it all.

Managed to venture to a new place about 90 minutes away from home, Salt Creek Recreational Area, with a new friend named Carrie. Carrie works for the Jefferson Land Trust and has a wealth of plant knowledge.  She taught me lots on this hike.

Striped Peak reaches 1,000′ above the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Logged a bit, fortunately  some huge Douglas firs, hundreds of years old, were spared. Clallam County manages this park which includes a campground and former Army post site.  Hit the tides right (which we did not) and some of the best local tidepools can be enjoyed. Friends have even spotted octopus there.

Washington Trails Association has a great write up on the hike. Most of the hike is easy with a short push to the top.  The hike follows a thin ridge, the sea to the left and a drop to a creek on your right.  Carrie kept her pup Dosi on a leash at the parts with a steep drop off to the water. This would not be a safe hike for small kids in danger of impulsively running off.



Moss blanketed over stumps. Stand still long enough and you’ll grow a layer.



I spent some time looking at nurse logs and the wee micro-environments they support.  There are mini-forests living on these fallen trees.  It’s fascinating to look down at this small a scale.

Here’s  a wee cedar:


Moss drapes gracefully.








Check out this tree rooted to the top of a boulder.





A secluded cove side-trip beckoned. The tide not being in our favor we skipped it.


There are some huge trees enroute. Lacking scale, the ones below are easily 4-6 feet in diameter, not as large as old growth giants but still impressive and awe-inspiring.


Several fungi caught our eyes.


Have you strolled though the thick woods of the Pacific Northwest?  It’s calming. Soothing.


Once up top, thick fog obscured what could have been views to the mountains on Vancouver island.  Regardless, it was pretty neat being above the trees.  We sat and had a snack.


Once back down we visited a sliver of the shoreline as the tide was too high to venture out.  It’s a beautiful spot. I can’t wait to return on a clear day.




These raised marks must be from some sort of large, boring, ancient worm.


Mussels and barnacles:



A fine place to explore.  Crescent beach lies down the coast a short bit. Wide and sandy, it’s on my must-see list soon.

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Wintery Walk

It doesn’t snow much here.  Saturday after Thanksgiving we woke to a couple inches of light, wispy fluff.  Compared to growing up buried in MN snow, it was just a smidge.

The neighbor kids were playing in it when I drew open the blinds first thing in the AM.  Coffee in hand, we thoroughly enjoyed watching them flop around in it.  One made his way over to the front yard.  “Can I use your snow for a snowman?” He timidly asked. Too cute!  Soon, tracks of non-sticking snow webbed across the yard.

The pics below are from a walk through the neighboring woods the day after.





A maze of trails lace through the woods around the neighborhood.  We’ve been enjoying new explorations.  This day was something special with snow covering surfaces. Sure…it’s not a lot, but it was still pretty!



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Winter Walking – Pre-Snow – In Fort Worden

A friend from way-back visited over Thanksgiving.  The bone-chilling cold and snow thankfully arrived the day of his departure and not earlier.  A walk on the beach and in the trees was on his request list.  A trip to local Fort Worden State Park we took.

Starting on the beach we wound around Point Wilson and its sea-wall, past the lighthouse.



That might be Mount Constitution on Orcas Island in the middle of the photo below, behind the red buoy.  Not sure.  I’m guessing. Thick clouds gave way to a sliver of light on the horizon. It was beautiful.



The tide was too high for my usual full loop down to North Beach, up over the bluff and back.



I’ve noticed gray days make an excellent foil for bright colors such as these rose hips.



It rained buckets that AM, nixing our plans to visit the high mountains.  The clouds held off and allowed us a precip-free walk.




Up top, the old forts’ buildings spread out below.  The point in front is Hudson Point. Around its corner is Port Townsend Bay and the town itself.  Mystery Bay is the the bay straight ahead separating Indian Island and Marrowstone Island.



So many lovely hiking trails so close to home.

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Grand Ridge Hike – Olympic National Park

Hey folks.  I’ve been saving up plenty of pics and info to share.   I’ll try to catch up.

Today I enjoyed a hike in Olympic National Park with a couple of folks from a local hiking group.  The day started out blue-bird blue.  Some fluffy clouds came in later.  Temp was around 75 but a cool breeze kept it comfy.


The Grand Ridge Trail leaves from the end of Obstruction Point Rd., an 8 mile dirt road that carries one away from the bustling Hurricane Ridge Rd.  I’ve shown you this place before.  Starting at 6,000′ it’s one of the highest maintained trails in the park.  It was pretty mellow, only 600′ elevation gain in 2.5 miles.  One can walk it through to the Deer Park entrance to the park. We did an out and back of 5 miles.

The trail skirts along Elk Mountain (to the left, out of the picture) Badger Valley is below:



I noticed a pattern of rocky rivulets down the hillsides.  Where the terrain flattens, the rocks are distributed evenly.




Three weeks ago I hiked on Hurricane Ridge and the flowers were in full splendor. I have oodles of photos to share of that hike.  Two weeks ago the flowers on the same trail were nearing completion.  Fortunately, some still graced our walk today.

I believe this is some sort of Saxifrage.  The bees were all over it.


Thyme Buckwheat. The color varied from pale peach to raspberry.


A Gentian of some sort:


Mountain Owl’s Clover.  I have a thing for this one.


I think this is a sort of Monkeyflower. It’s sticky and shaped as such.  The stripes on the flower caught my eye.




This striking, black lichen thickly blanketed the rocks of a whole hillside.


Shale is abundant up there.  I find it fascinating how it flakes apart in sheets.  Here, it looks like pages of a discarded and charred book:


Well know Paintbrush, this specimen was fiery red.  Not in focus, just had to share the color.


At times it feels like you’re walking along a knife-edge into nowhere.


See the snowy peak in the background? That’s Mt. Olympus. There are glaciers up there.


Pictures just don’t show the splendor.

Soon snow will fall up here.  Today was a reminder that I’d like to make more trips up before winter.

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Anderson Lake – A Local Hike – More Flora

Peter and I checked out a local state park the other day, Anderson Lake.  It is a state park.  The park’s web page does not tell you  the lake is completely closed to fishing, swimming and non-motorized boat use due to a blue-green algae containing toxic cyanobacteria.   Called Anatoxin-a and a neuro-toxin, it’s linked to the deaths of humans and pets.  The level in Anderson lake was almost 1,000 times higher than recreational criteria allows.

The day was grey and a bit muggy.  The lake is 70 acres large and is surrounded by 410 wooded and wetland acres.  It’s a pretty spot. Five acres of trails lace through the park.  We walked around four+ I figure.





This post is about the flora. New to the PNW, I’m hungry for knowledge of my surroundings.  Snapping pics while out and about, I frequently look up plants and such once home.  Mind you, my info is gleaned from several reference books I have at home.  It’s not guaranteed correct. Please don’t go eating large quantities of something or using it for an unverified purpose without doing your homework.  Just have to throw that out there.

My favorite book is called Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackkinnon.  I find it divided into sections that are easy to navigate. Much info about plants’ cultural significance and practical uses are included.  This interests me.

Pond Lilies:  Most all parts of the plants were used for medicinal purposes by native Americans and First Peoples (of Canada):



The trails varied from well worn paths through thinned forest (the area’s been logged) to tunnels through thick foliage to open and grassy meadows.





Spotted mountain bike obstacles:


On one end of the lake we passed through thickets of blackberries.  Oh they are tasty! BTW, differentiate blackberries from raspberries this way:  If you pull off a berry and there is a divot into the center of the berry it’s a raspberry. If the berry end is flat, it is a blackberry.



I believe this is Nettle (didn’t touch it to find out) tucked into Horsetail.



Robert Geranium” – Sorry…a bit fuzzy.


Here’s a plant I’ve been noting but took awhile to look up.  Oceanspray  is also called Creambush.  They favor dry, open sites such as logged land, thickets, ravine edges and coastal bluffs.  Also know as Ironwood, the wood was once used for harpoon shafts, fishing hooks, and bows and arrows by numerous coastal groups.  The wood was heated to make it even stronger.  Sometimes the wood served as nails.  Come winter, the flowers will turn brown and remain on the plants through the season.



Hardhack (AKA Steeplebush) surprised me. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then again, being new to the PNW means I’ve many of these encounters of wonder.  These plants like damp spots next to lakes, streams, swamps and wet meadows.  It’s in the Spirea family.


Salmonberries:  Color varies from yellow to red.  I’ve noted their flavor to be mild.  Native peoples ate the berries as well as young stem sprouts (peeled and eaten raw or steamed). Quite watery, (almost mushy, I think) the berries weren’t dried but often mixed with other foods such as salmon spawn and grease.  I think the collar-like frill around the berry looks like  a crown. You can really see that on the red berry pic below.



Red Elderberry – Here’s another common sight I finally looked up. The berries are brilliant against the green foliage.  These like steam banks, moist forest clearings and swampy thickets. I note them on road sides a bunch.  An important food source for coastal Natives, the berries must be cooked before consumption or nausea can occur.  The leaves and woody parts of the plant contain cyanide and are toxic.


Nootka Rose:  Pete showed me how to turn the hips into tea once they are ready to be harvested. I’d like to try it.  These (thankfully) grow everywhere up here, especially in disturbed areas.  I just love the pretty pink flowers (these are darker pink than I’ve seen) in masses and grab a nose-full of scent when I can.


Indian Pipe: I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted this one.  This plant is fascinating.  It prefers shady, humus-rich soil in mature forests.  Having no chlorophyll means this plant  cannot make its own food.  Instead, the roots of this plant connect to tree roots via fungi.  Nutrients are taken from the tree.    Other names include Ice Plant, Ghost Flower and Corpse Plant.  Fascinating.  The plant blackens as it ages.


I don’t know mushrooms.  Yet.


Red Huckleberries:  It’s important to note there are other varietiwa of huckleberries.  I’ve come across Evergreen huckleberries on Vancouver Island.  I find the delicate, thin branches, pale green leaves and dainty red berries delightful.  Looking up through the bunch with sun filtering through is even more sweet.  Berries are edible though reportedly sour.  I haven’t tried any.  They like forests, especially ones rich with decaying wood.



Have you noted a trend?  “They like forests” I seem to tap out frequently.  How I’m loving learning about this ecosystem new to me.


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Spring Walking – Today’s Amble Through Town

Like a cat batting at a mouse, Mother Nature toys with us. Must’ve been over 50 today. A long walk through town I took under a clear, blue, sun-drenched sky.


Weather report (and the friendly guy walking past me on the bike path with a small, rambunctious terrier) predict cold, windy,rainy weather moving in later this week.

One thing I’ve learned, being new to the PNW, is to run with these blue-bird days because they may not return for awhile.  This winter’s been abnormally warm and clear.

Today, I met a friend for a walk to the library. After catching up, we parted ways and I continued up to the Uptown portion of town to my favorite bakery (Pan D’Amore) for coffee and a cinnamon roll.

Signs of spring abound.

Ornamental rhododendrons are blooming, the wild ones are not.






I think this is a camellia:




Cherry blossoms give a heady scent to the air. I’m a total sucker for them.




Here you can see some on the hillside above the lagoon.  The plume in the center is the paper mill.  The Olympic Mountains line the horizon.




The clock tower on the Jefferson County Courthouse is still the tallest structure visible on Port Townsend’s skyline.





Such a beautiful building.  When I went in for my plates and registration there was NO one waiting.  Real people answer the phone.  Can you imagine?  I was floored.



Walked past one of the marinas on the way home.  My phone died.  I wasn’t able to snap pics of the boatyard and its smallest of sailboats to giant commercial fishing boats being repaired.

I also couldn’t photograph the blackbirds in the marsh, the busted up boat that’s entertained beach-playing kids for a year or the two eagles chattering and soaring above.  There’s a whole lot to take in during these walks.

I’ll continue to share my new backyard with you.  I’m rather fond of it.



Getting to Know the Elwha – Yep that’s water on my lens.

This weekend I enjoyed the company of my friend Olivia.  A co-worker back in CA noted my knitting on break and suggested I meet her.  The friendship was meant to be.   Olivia has a quiet and  calm presence.  We enjoyed much time knitting on the couch.  Her homemade soup, pie and company warmed me more than the cozy fire in the stove.

On her last day here we went to Olympic Nat’l Park (ONP) and hiked up the Elwha River and down to Goblin’s Gate, a rock stricture in the river that makes it roil and quicken.   I’ve been in ONP to see the Hoh Rainforest Hall of Mosses and hiked out by Hurricane Ridge on my first trip up here.

This was my first trip into the park since moving in November.

Something big’s happened in ONP.  The Elwha Dam is removed.  A second dam is nearly removed.  The waters of the Elwha now run freely from their source to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  A lack of fish ladders prevented 10 species of anadromous fish from spawning.  Sediment and silt built up and erosion changed the landscape.

The salmon, denied access for so long, are returning already.

This is an NPS PDF that gives  info on restoration related to the dam’s removal.

You can also watch a video chronicling a year of the removal process through time lapse photography:

It brings me great joy to see the needs of nature supported in this way.

We began at the Whiskey Bend trailhead.  A PDF map from the NPS is handy.

High above the river, fog and clouds blanketed the river and hid the hills across the way.  Occasionally, I caught glimpses of the other side.


The hike wasn’t long, maybe 4 miles total.  After walking out the mostly flat Elwha River trail we headed down to the river on the spur labeled “Rica Canyon.”   This is a STEEP half-mile  to Goblins Gate.  Even with poles, my knees crunched.


It’s apparent the topography here consists of steep hillsides diving down to rivers.  This trail had few switchbacks.


Olivia knows plants well. She could survive in the woods with all her knowledge of hunting and plant gathering. This is DULL OREGON GRAPE.  The blue berries it produces are edible but very sour.  My plant book actually suggests combining the grapes with salal berries for a jelly.  It had medicinal use (one apparently for shellfish poisoning) and the inner bark made a yellow dye.  It’s flowers are yellow. It’s an evergreen.

BTW, I know little about plants and their medicinal uses/whether they are edible.  I’m gleaning basic facts from reference sources.

The book Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar and Mackinnon,  is a great resource if you can find a copy.


This is VANILLA LEAF or DEER FOOT.  Growing from rhizomes, they can form thick forest floor carpets. Having no petals, a single spike of stamens only sits atop one leaf per plant.  When dry, like this lacy specimen, it smells of vanilla.  Native Americans used the ground up plant as an insect repellent.

Moss is boss in ONP.  The moss below the Vanilla Leaf is called FERN MOSS.  Up close, it looks like miniature ferns.


Viewed as a whole, a lush carpet of green.


Pretty sure this is a Douglas Fir.  Being so huge,  I couldn’t see any needles.


Anticipation made me antsy to get to the river.  Here she is!  Like usual, the photo doesn’t share the true picture.  That’s still inside my mind.

This bend in the river had a meadow on the other side.  Steep hillsides stretched up in the background. Layers of clouds, the rain make a moody setting.  I’ve mentioned before how my eyes rest here in the PNW.  Lines and colors are softened unlike in CA where light defines more sharply.   I took a video but I can’t figure out how to get if from my Mac to here.


Yes there is water on my lens. It only got worse!


The gates:  Arms of rock defy the water, funneling it through a narrow passage.



Just above the fallen wood before the Gates we noted 5 Roosevelt Elk (who live west of the Cascades) grazing away.  Rocky Mountain Elk live in the Cascades.


This was a teaser of a hike.  Having ONP at my back door is a treat.  There are alpine, rainforest and coastal places to explore.  Can’t wait to return!


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