September – wildfires and smoke

September began with a heat wave, too hot for hiking. I went on my usual walks through the neighborhood, noting the late summer flowers and early signs of fall.

And I finished sewing my summer kimono robe.

We were planning some adventures after the Labor Day weekend, when the trails would be quieter. Instead, quite literally, all hell broke loose. In my last post, I expressed my “hope for a late summer without a local fire season.” I could never have predicted the late summer snowstorm in the Rockies that created an ‘unprecedented’ giant windstorm that swept westward across the continent, fanning the flames of wildfires in every combustible forest on the west coast of North America. We were safe at home, watching in horror, as the news kept getting worse.

Satellite photos from September 11th show the smoke being pulled far out to sea:

After the winds died down, the heavy smoke settled in, limiting visibility, and making breathing painful. We learned how to use the AirNow app to monitor our air quality, constantly refreshing the page, hoping for better results.

For six days I did not go out of doors at all – grateful to have a safe home to harbor in, knowing there were so many families evacuated, and many with their homes burned. Many have still not been able to return; meanwhile the firefighters, Red Cross, and all the social support services have stepped up to aid those in need. I have only gone out once, so far, to pick up a prescription and some groceries. Nobody is walking our neighborhood streets – the air has been too bad. Today it finally shows signs of improvement, and we may be able to step out in the next day or two.

September 16th – our first glimpse of the sun in more than a week.

Knitting

Once again, knitting to the rescue. I have had time to finish a few projects:

And make progress on other projects:

Awake and say
“What time is it?
What day is it? What season?”
No sun,
but not dark,
so…
daytime…

End of summer in a strange year
when all the cues are gone,
and now gone again.
Most things closed down again.
Wildfire smoke blankets our part of the planet.
Fall approaches, but is it the fall of our civilization? Or autumn?
Invisible viruses still pervade the air.
Not quite invisible smoke particles dim our sight, harm our lungs.

A metaphor for the insidious gloom covering our entire nation in an unprecedented election year, the outcome to determine how we will breathe going forward.

9/12/2020

Eleven Lakes and a bear in Indian Heaven Wilderness, and more pandemic knitting

We took two hikes in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a beautiful patch of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Mt St Helens in southern Washington. A few small volcanic peaks rise above the rolling forested landscape that is also spotted with dozens of lakes, and covered with ripe huckleberry bushes in August.

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August 20, 2020 – Indian Racetrack Lake and Red Mountain

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Trailhead into the forest

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Racetrack Lake – the only lake on this hike

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Looking Across Racetrack Meadow to Red Mountain

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View of Mt Adams on the way up to Red Mountain

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Closer view of Mt Adams,

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And closer.

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Nearing the top of Red Mountain

Views from the top:
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Mt Hood beyond Red Mountain Lookout

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We climbed up to the viewing platform on the lookout.

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Some other hikers pointed out a bear cub down on the other side of the mountain, eating huckleberries.

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Looking back east at Mt Adams – clouds now covering the top

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Mt St Helens to the north

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And starting down again, we can see our trail dropping into the woods, and beyond we see the spine of Indian Heaven Wilderness: Berry Mountain, Gifford Peak, burned East Crater, and Lemei Rock.

Some details along the trail:
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Lily pads and grass, Racetrack Lake

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Falls Creek

Hike #57, 6.8 miles, 1500 feet

August 28, 2020 – Thomas Lake trailhead to Junction Lake

The other ten lakes were seen on this hike.

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Once again we enter the forested wilderness…

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Thomas Lake

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Heather Lake

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Dee Lake

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Eunice Lake

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Nuha Lake

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Rock Lakes

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Unnamed lake beyond Rock Lakes

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View of burnt East Crater from the Old Cascade Crest trail segment

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A glimpse of Mt St Helens as we cross the shoulder of East Crater

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Unnamed lake near the trail junction

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Junction Lake, our turnaround point

Some details along the trail:
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Reflections in the lakes…

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Huckleberry bushes turning red

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Mountain ash berries

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Hellebore

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Most likely the last beargrass bloom of summer

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And another view of Mt St Helens above Eunice Lake on the descent.

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Hike #58, 6.8 miles, 630 feet.

Meanwhile, we are floating along through more days of pandemia – some days we see no one at all, only virtual connections to the outside world. Our neighbors leave us tomatoes. We leave them apples and plums and wave across the rose bushes. Downtown is still burning up with civil unrest while I go on placidly through the days of late summer, of pandemia, of this administration… I virtually hold my breath, knock on wood, pray, cast spells, wish for a begin to a return to ‘normalcy’; hope for a late summer without a local fire season, hope for a scientifically tested efficacious vaccine, and hope for a fair election that will allow us to emerge from impending climate change, covid and facism. And I knit…

Knitting –

I cast on a hat and some socks…

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Rafa by Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo, Blue green

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Sock, Berroco Sox yarn

Neighborhood sights:

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fern shadows

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Poetry Post

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yard sign

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neighborly tomatoes

And nationally…

My daughter attended the 57th March on Washington,

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The march

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Lincoln Memorial

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The Mall

-and this artwork crossed my social media feed:

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I am still struggling a bit with the new WordPress format….

Another couple of pandemic weeks with a birthday, two hikes on Mt Hood, and knitting…

8/17/2020 – I’ve had a birthday, which we celebrated with a hike and a socially distanced takeout Thai dinner with our two sons. Despite the palpable pandemic/political chaos tension in the world I have much to be grateful for. Although I am missing having our usual summer get togethers with extended family, so is everyone in the world right now. I am especially grateful that we saw almost every relation last year, between two weddings and a graduation trip to the east coast. My latest acromegaly lab tests all look good, and, we are eating homegrown tomatoes and basil almost every day.

Birthday cake, flowers from my daughter,
and a few lovely presents.

I have been knitting, knitting, knitting away on a few projects, fingers keeping the anxiety away.

My neighborhood walks continue to reveal signs of encouragement and solidarity.

Also in the neighborhood, late summer flowers, shadow play, interesting architectural elements, and tinges of the autumn ahead….

Two hikes on opposite sides of Mt Hood  –

Burnt Lake August 5, 2020

My birthday hike on the west side of Mt Hood was mostly through shady forest, on a hot day, with a few stream crossings, and late season flowers. The other time we hiked here the mountain was under a cloud, so today we were very glad to see the beautiful reflections of Mt Hood in the lake. Hike #55, 8.5 miles, 1500 feet.

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The shady forest

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Tree scorched in the early 1900’s.

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Mt Hood, Burnt Lake

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Mountain close up

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Reflection

Notable flowers and plants:

Newton Creek to Timberline Trail,  August 10, 2020

We started from the Elk Meadows trailhead, then walked uphill along the Newton Creek Trail, stopping for lunch near the Timberline Trail junction where we enjoyed lovely views of Mt Hood and Gnarl Ridge. We then walked south on the Timberline Trail toward Mt Hood Meadows for a short distance before turning back. Hike #56, 7.7 miles, 1600 feet.

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Moon over Clark Creek

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Newton Creek trail

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Ghost tree in the forest

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Gnarl Ridge beyond Newton Creek

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Upstream

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Downstream, fireweed

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Mt Hood ahead

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Lunch view of Gnarl Ridge

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Gnarl Ridge closeup

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We saw a few tiny hikers crossing Newton Creek on the Timberline Trail.

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Glacier closeup

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The peak

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Backside of pea gravel ridge, which we walked along as far as the descent into Clark Creek.

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Return hike down Newton Creek.

Editing note – This is my first post with the New WordPress Editor, so there are lots of formatting inconsistencies. Not loving it, but I suppose I will get used to it as I continue hurling forward into the future, keeping my synapses sharp by constant novelty….

NZ2020: Days 7 and 8, Queenstown

January 31, 2020

After our morning hike near Lake Wanaka, and then our drive over the Crown Range Road, our guide dropped us off at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Queenstown, at about 3 pm. We were directly across from the waterfront, in a walking friendly area of restaurants, shops, and booking agents for any amazing outdoor activities one could wish. My husband was able to schedule a quick dental appointment for a tooth that was acting up. We did our laundry, had a delicious dinner at Bombay Palace, and walked around the harbor area.

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Queenstown Harbor and the Remarkable Mountains from our hotel lobby.

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Choose your adventure here!

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Lots of people enjoying buskers along the waterfront.

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Pier walk.

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The Wakatipu Vessel by Virginia King depicts a waka (Maori canoe). This is just across the street from our hotel.

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February 1, 2020

The next day we wandered around, and explored this beautiful setting. We were surrounded by views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkable Mountains, and Ben Lomand. Dan was able to get a haircut, and we did a little shopping in a craft fair that was set up in the park.

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The poem Waipounamu by David Eggleton is inscribed in a long ribbon along the harbor wall.

 

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Each phrase evokes an image or a moment in history of this place.

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Local geology is highlighted in this plaza.

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Kiwi imagery.

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A giant Kiwi sculpture.

After lunch we  walked through the arboretum.

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Fern sculpture.

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Lily pond

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Carved support for a huge tree.

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Another view…

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We looked back to see the Skyline Gondola going up Bob’s Peak, gateway to the Ben Lomand Trail, which was on our agenda for later in the week.

My google map showed me a “Bench with a beautiful view” at the far end of the peninsula. That seemed a worthy goal for our wanderings.

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It was a bit windy, but felt good to sit for a bit.

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Looking east from the bench.

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Looking west from the bench.

Later, we ate dinner at a Thai restaurant with a window overlooking the harbor and mountains, and then took an evening stroll westward along the shore of Lake Wakatipu.  It had been a relaxing day filled with beautiful views and about 5 miles of walking.

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The TSS Earnslaw, a 1912 coal powered steamship.

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Double Cone Peak, Remarkables.

We carefully repacked our luggage. Tomorrow, the first day of the rest of our guided tour, would include an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound.

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The Remarkables beyond The Wakatipu Vessel in evening light.

Posting from my peaceful Portland neighborhood –

A trifecta of crises descends on my town –

I have been distracted from posting by current events. All I have been able to think about is how my community has been attacked by our own government. Federal gestapo-like forces have invaded Portland’s mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations, and created a war zone in the four downtown blocks around the federal building. Click-bait and spot news entertainment have focused on the four square blocks of federally-incited violence that occurs after most demonstrators have gone home. The leadership void in DC is trying to distract from inept pandemic management and interrupt local progress toward ending white supremacy. The ‘stormtroopers’ sent by a failed president are causing the violence. Today there is an announcement of an agreement to withdraw the troops. Our state and city have serious antiracist/police reform legislation proposals underway. I am cautiously optimistic.

I am speaking from a condition of white, middle class privilege. I myself have not been downtown, although I know people who have. I am of an age and health situation that I  think the best thing I can do to help is to stay home, not contribute to spreading Covid-19. I stay aware of what is going on, donate money, and hope that the trifecta of political, economic, and public health crises our country is experiencing will begin to resolve after November elections.

I honor the Black Lives Matter protesters. I appreciate the wall of moms, the dads with leaf (teargas) blowers, the wall of vets, the volunteer medics, street cleaners, and cooks, all the folks who have put themselves on the line to keep the conversation about systemic racism and police reform going.

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Meanwhile, in my neighborhood…

The quiet and calm in my neighborhood are uninterrupted. I see signs of support and blooming flowers on my walks.

We have been eating sungold tomatoes and basil from our garden, and we’ve celebrated another family birthday.

I seem to be obsessed with knitting dishcloths and have also cast on a new sweater.

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We have been out hiking in the past two weeks to places we have been before.

Lookout Mountain, July 22, 2020

Wildflower meadows and views of nine Cascade volcanoes, from Mt Rainier to Broken Top. Hike #53, 3.5 miles, 650 feet.

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Mt Adams beyond the wildflower meadows of High Prairie.

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Mt Hood from the volcanic spire overlook.

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Glacier close up.

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Mt Adams from the summit approach trail.

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Mt Hood from the summit approach trail.

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Washington Cascades from the summit.

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Oregon Cascades from the summit.

Notable wildflowers:

 

Salmon River, July 28, 2020

A mostly shaded trail on a hot day along the Wild and Scenic Salmon River through old growth forest on the slopes of Mt Hood. Hike #54, 4.5 miles, 300 feet.

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Peaceful lunch spot along the river…

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arnica

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monkey flower

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Notable flowers…

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Ghost pipe

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Clarkia and blue gillia on a sunny cliff

Finding some peace in the old growth forest…

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Two trails on Mt Hood –

7/6/2020 – Cloud Cap/Timberline Trail high point –

A favorite hike on the Timberline Trail along the high east edge of the mountain.

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Washington Cascades from the crest of the East Eliot Moraine.

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Eliot Glacier, Mt Hood under clouds.

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Cloud Cap shelter.

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 The clouds lifted while we walked south on the Timberline Trail.

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Crossing snow fields –

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with a view of the mountains.

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Timberline trail high point – 7350 feet.

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Hiking back north on the Timberline Trail along the edge of the sky.

We met this bird along the way:

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And lots of alpine flowers:

(Hike #51, 6 miles, 1650 feet)

7/10/2020 – Barlow Pass to Timberline on the PCT

A new trail for us on the south side of Mt Hood. The first three miles ascend steadily through lovely shaded forest on the gently graded Pacific Crest Trail. As we reached the junction with the Timberline Trail, blooming beargrass with Mt Hood beyond gave us a  breath taking trail moment – both stunning and unexpected! (Hike #52 for 2020!, 11 miles, 1750 feet)

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Barlow Pass Trailhead

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A new Wilderness Area for me.

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Beargrass in the forest.

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Beargrass in the upper meadows.

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Beargrass, and Mt Hood!

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Mt Jefferson and a faint glimpse of the Three Sisters to the south.

Zooming in on Mt Hood:

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Timberline Ski area on the left.

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Top of the mountain.

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Glaciers and crevasses.

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Tiny people walking around up there!

We walked along the Timberline Trail to where we could see Timberline Lodge from an overlook above the Salmon River.

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On our way back, we noticed a waterfall in the White River drainage.

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Knitting

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I finished a Rafa Hat to be gifted (Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo Piedras).

Quilting!

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I actually pieced a quilt block, for a Local Quilt Shop raffle quilt.

Garden

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My husband finished making a table for the yard so he can eat breakfast in the garden.

4th of July moonrise

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From Camas, Washington – Columbia River, and alpenglow on Mt Hood.

 

Sisters hiking interlude…

June 28 to July 1, 2020 –

We escaped to Sisters, Oregon, about a three hour drive from home, for a few days of hiking. Our motel room was self contained, we brought all of our own food, and chose uncrowded trails during the week to satisfy pandemic safety concerns for ourselves and others. The trip was successful! It was wonderful to get out of our neighborhood and into the mountains we love so dearly, to see so many wildflowers and mountain views, and to hike both new and familiar trails.

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Cone Peak Meadows June 29, 2020

Famous for wildflowers! We hiked in the fog most of the day – few views, lots of flowers, including some new to me. We didn’t go up to the Iron Mountain Lookout because of the fog, but did hike the entire loop for the first time. (Hike #48, 6.6 mile, 1300 feet)

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Trail map

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Rocky outcrops above the forest slopes were covered with blooming larkspur, Oregon sunshine and blue gillia.

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Lower Cone Peak meadows in the fog.

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Lunch view.

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Fog rising, Cone Peak almost visible.

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Upper Cone Peak Meadows – death camus, larkspur, paintbrush and more.

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Crossing the upper meadows.

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Forested section just north of Iron Mountain.

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Foggy glimpse of Iron Mountain, which we decided not to climb.

Prolific wildflowers in the meadows and forests!

Tam McArthur Rim, June 30, 2020

A favorite hike, often very crowded, was pleasantly unpeopled today. Also, not as windy as expected, and the views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top were stunning from our endpoint – the 7950′ red cinder ridge that leads to Broken Top. We lost the trail briefly in some of the snow patches, but the wide open volcanic landscape made it hard to actually get lost.  Hike #49, 8 miles, 1500 feet.

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Ascending above Three Creeks Lake. That sharp prow on the left  is the overlook.

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Enjoying our lunch view of Broken Top and the Three Sisters from the overlook, while not feeding the chipmunk.

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All the chipmunk got were some close up photos.

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Three Creek Lakes from the overlook.

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We hiked on across the high plateau to the ridge, crossing a few snow patches along the way.

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View from the saddle of the red cinder ridge.

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Our endpoint – the top of the red cinder ridge. Broken Hand and Broken top seem just a few steps further…

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Broken Top and South Sister.

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Three Sisters

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Middle and North Sisters, and the clouds sitting on the Cascade peaks to the north.

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Our trail across the high plateau, back to the lookout.

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We stopped again at the lookout before heading down.

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Western pasque flowers and heather near the lookout.

McKenzie Pass and Clear Lake, July 1, 2020

We drove up to the Dee Wright Observatory at McKenzie Pass, one of my favorite places on the planet, to look at the volcanic landscape and hope for some views. The clouds wafted away from some of the peaks briefly, though the bitter wind was not hospitable to hanging around.

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Black Crater from the observatory.

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The Belknap Craters

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North and Middle Sisters appeared briefly.

We also stopped at Clear Lake, hoping to see the submerged fossil forest under the turquoise clear waters we have heard so much about. We could not see it from the trail. We did find the Great Spring, from which the McKenzie River is born, and a few new flower sightings. We will have to come back and rent a boat to see the underwater forest. (Hike #50, 5 miles, 200 feet).

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Turquoise blue Clear Lake from the trail

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The ripples near the bank are where the water emerges as a spring from under the lava flows.

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Another view of the Great Spring.

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My first time seeing candystick, one of the more unusual flowers in the western Cascades forests.

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Candystick

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Twinflower

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Pink pyrola

Knitting

I brought my latest traveling socks on the trip, and they are finished!

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Hermione’s Everyday Socks, pattern by Erica Lueder, made from Red Heart – Heart and Sole yarn in the Bayou colorway.

Everything that is happening right now-

I keep hearing this expression on the airwaves, to describe the intersection of pandemic, political chaos and antiracist activism. I have been reading the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, journaling about the prompts, and discussing the ideas with my family. I feel not exactly guilty, but impatient, with myself and the world for having accepted a racist society as status quo for so long.

Wildflower Rainbows along the trails during Pride month; some knitting, and neighborhood views –

Friday, June 19, 2020, Grassy Knoll, Washington

Wildflower meadows filled the open slopes near the trailhead.

White dogwood, lilies and anemones led us through the shady forest up the steep trail to the ridge crest.

More flowers all the way to the top of Grassy Knoll, and beyond.

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Pink cliff penstemons along the rocky ridge, Mt Adams beyond.

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Grassy Knoll looks green from here,

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but the green slopes are full of flowers!

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Summit view toward Mt Hood.

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Summit view toward Mt Adams.

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Continuing up the ridge, Mt Hood, the Columbia River, and more wildflower meadows.

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And more blooming meadows near our turnaround point.

Every color of wildflower was in bloom today!

It was a great day in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. (Hike #46, 6.2 miles, 1350 feet.)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Chinidere Mountain, Oregon

We saw many of the same flowers that we saw at Grassy Knoll, though we were a thousand feet higher in altitude, so earlier in the bloom season. (Hike #47, 7.5 miles, 1450 feet.)

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Wahtum Lake, near the trailhead.

A few early season flowers still in bloom here:

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Ascending into the rainbow meadows on Chinidere Mountain.

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Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams from the summit.

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Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson from the summit.

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Wahtum Lake and Mt Hood.

A highlight was walking north of Chinidere Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail, into the upper margin of the 2017 burn zone. Beargrass blooms sparkled in the recovering forest.

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Wahtum ‘Express’ back to the parking area.

Knitting

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Finished mitts.

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A nearly finished Meris cardigan – still have to sew on the buttons.

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Sock progress.

Around the neighborhood:

Black Lives Matter signs blooming everywhere, along with summer flowers.

And more action nationally…

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NZ2020: Day 7, Lake Wanaka

Friday, January 31, 2020 –

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Sunrise in Makarora

We left Makarora after an early breakfast, for a drive inland and our first look at some of the enormous glacial lakes that line the landward side of the Southern Alps.

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The first of these was Lake Wanaka, whose shores we drove by for a while. To the east we could see Mt Aspiring in the Southern Alps.

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Lake Wanaka

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Mt Aspiring

The highway crosses over to the shore of Lake Hawea, another vast body of water, beyond what I was expecting. The lakes look huge on the map, but driving along them for many miles gives a true sense of their vastness.

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea

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Cabbage Tree near Lake Hawea

We arrived in the town of Wanaka, at the south end of the lake, for a short stop.

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Curious attraction outside Wanaka…

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Lake Wanaka waterfront, Southern Alps view.

We then drove up the west side of the lake to our hike of the day – the Diamond Track up Rocky Mountain.

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Rocky Mountain

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It was windy, and in some areas the trail was very steep, with ladders up the cliffs.

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Trail up the glaciated schist cliffs.

Views from the Diamond Lake overlook:

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We continued upward through strong wind to the very top of the mountain, where the golden grass of late summer lay nearly flat in the wind.

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Almost to the top…

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Panorama from the summit.

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Windy view of Lake Wanaka

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Southern Alps

After taking a few quick pictures from the top, we descended a short way down the return trail to a sheltered spot where we could eat lunch and enjoy the view back toward Wanaka.

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Coming down out of the wind…

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Lunch view of Lake Wanaka from Rocky Mountain.

This was our hardest and steepest hike so far, and a good warm up/conditioning hike for a couple of more challenging hikes ahead.  (Hike #8, 5 miles, 1400 feet.)

We made another short stop in Wanaka.

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The Southern Alps again, from Lake Wanaka waterfront.

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Tourists and sea gulls

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Geese

Next, we drove south over the high Crown Range Road with amazing views in all directions.

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Looking east – we are on the dry side of the mountains now – no rainforest in sight.

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Queenstown ahead, from the Crown Range Road.

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From the pass, the road descends two thousand feet into Queenstown, situated on lovely Lake Wakatipu. Our guide dropped us at our hotel, and we now had the next day off from the tour to explore Queenstown on our own. That will be in the next NZ2020 post.

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The well named Remarkables on the far skyline are the backdrop to beautiful Queenstown.

First Columbia River Gorge hike in a while, another hike on the Wildwood Trail, some knitting, and neighborhood views

June 2, 2020 – Phlox Point, Beacon Rock State Park, WA

A quiet Tuesday. We met only a few other hikers on trails that are mostly wide equestrian trails until they switchback up Hardy Ridge. Lower slopes are shady forest, with shady forest blooms. We passed a few sunny open areas before reaching the rocky ridge crest with the wide angle view of the Columbia River Gorge that we have been missing these last few months of pandemic-closed trails. A mile north along the ridge are the rocky ledges of Phlox Point. I was very tired by the return, but happy to be able to hike here again. Hike #44, 8.5 miles, 2200 feet.

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The wide angle view – Mt Adams, Table Mountain, Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville Dam, Hamilton Mountain, Mt Hood.

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Hardy Ridge Crest intersection

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Lunch view of a raven and Mt Hood.

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Heading north along the ridge to Phlox Point.

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Phlox, paintbrush, and parsley on the way up Phlox Point.

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Hamilton Mountain, Mt Hood

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Mt Adams

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Northern Phlox Point ridges and view.

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Some of the wildflowers:

June 10, Wildwood Trail again…

Today we hiked from the Springville/Trillium Trailhead on the Wildwood Trail, east to the detour at the Cleator Trail, and then back. We will have to skip the next mile of Wildwood Trail that is closed for repair. We have now completed approximately half of the 30 mile trail on our five pandemic Wildwood hikes. – Hike #45, 7.6 miles, 615 feet.

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On the Wildwood Trail…

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Salmon berries getting ripe…

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A bridge

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Green!

Knitting

Mitts and a new sock:

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Neighborhood

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Another tethered horse.

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Interesting concrete

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Low light

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A colorful garden

A Black Lives Matter march appeared in our neighborhood. We were able to catch the tail end and join for a short distance, masked and separated, of course.

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