Hiking in February 2021

Despite the mid-month ice storm, we managed three hikes in February – all in the eastern Columbia River Gorge of Washington.

Lyle Cherry Orchard / Lower Catherine Creek – Feb. 2nd

We were hoping for good weather east of the mountains, but were foiled by a squall.

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Starting up the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail, we could see nothing but blue sky from the Convict Road…

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But there are clouds over the Columbia River to the east,

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and west.

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We saw our first Columbia Desert Parsley of the season,

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and scattered grass widows.

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As we continued up the tiers of basalt,

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we noticed more ominous clouds to the west.

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We continued up,

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to about this point, when we encountered wind and driving rain on the unsheltered slope

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We sheltered briefly under one of the oak trees, then headed down. 

By the time we reached the car, the skies were blue again, so we decided to stop at Catherine Creek before going home.

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We walked the Lower Loop, with views of the waterfall,

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and of our Ponderosa guide tree, up on the slopes above the Labyrinth.

We saw a few early wildflowers, and finished just in time for another squall to blow through.

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Blue jay

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Bitterroot foliage

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Rain in a vernal pool.

We saw rainbows in our rear view mirror as we drove back to rainy Portland.

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Coyote Wall – Labyrinth Loop – Feb. 9th

We started cold and overcast, but hiked into a bluer, warmer day.

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Looking up at the wall from the trailhead – we would soon be looking down from there….

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View to the east from the lower slopes.

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Ice on the trail.

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First yellow parsley of the season,

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and first prairie stars, with salt and pepper.

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A bald eagle below us, watching the river.

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Continuing up the Little Moab trail to the edge of the cliff…

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Heralded by this raven the whole way.

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Looking down at the trailhead,

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and up the edge of Coyote Wall toward our lunch stop.

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Trail continuing up the slope…

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to the rocky edge where we took our lunch break.

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The clouds began to part after lunch.

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We headed east toward the Labyrinth across the upper slopes,

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into a bluer sky.

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Icicles in the upper Hidden Creek crossing.

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Eastward view from our Ponderosa guide tree viewpoint on the Upper Labyrinth Trail.

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Continuing down, we could see Mt Hood on the skyline peeking out from the clouds.

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Through my favorite oak grove,

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Past the columnar basalt buttes,

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Following the waterfalls of Hidden Creek down the Labyrinth,

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beneath the blue sky.

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These falls were nearly dry in November,

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now the pool is overflowing.

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Goodbye to the ghost tree.

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And back to the trailhead beneath the wall. A successful day!

Dalles Mountain Ranch – Vista Loop – Feb. 24

After two weeks of snow and ice storms, we were finally able to find a blue sky day at Columbia Hills State Park, an hour and a half east of Portland. A beautiful day, edged by snow on the skyline. Take a peek here if you want to see this trail in full spring bloom!

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View south and west from Dalles Mountain Ranch trailhead – Mt Hood in Oregon, far across the Columbia River. We are heading downhill toward the river.

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Looking back to the ranch as we hike down Eight Mile Creek.

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Creek crossing.

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Our lunch stop along the Missoula Floods scoured lower bench. Mt Hood, Columbia River, The Dalles and Horsethief Butte. Lots of purple grass widows in the foreground.

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Eastward lower viewpoint.

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Salt and pepper, grass widows.

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Yellow bells

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Gold stars

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Another desert parsley

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Looking back up to the ranch on the return hike.

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One tree to rule them all.

February 2021 ice storm; knitting

We did get the ice storm. Sunday morning, February 14th, the outside world was coated with ice; icicles hanging from the eaves and power lines; drifts of snow were frozen hard as cement and nearly impossible to shovel. We only lost power for about 12 hours – not long enough for lasting harm.

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Sunday afternoon the thaw began. Icy chunks and spears crashed down for a couple of hours until the winter glaze was gone, leaving a foot of snow to melt away over the next few days. The crocuses made it, though they seem a little wilted.

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Knitting:

I finished and blocked my beautiful Habitation Throw. The pattern is by Helen Stewart, the 24 different mini skeins from my  knitting group advent calendar. I enjoyed the knitting, and I’m already planning another one.

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Habitation Throw

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I took an online class about Knitting Marls with Cecelia Campochiaro. We learned about color theory and sequence knitting. I knitted my swatches from six colors of Malabrigo Lace yarn, and now just have to decide which swatches I will use in my class cowl project.

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Six colors of Malabrigo Lace.

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Marl swatches

Happy Valentines Day!

I was cheered on our icy Valentine’s Day by this lovely card and key chain from my sister who is also a Jane Austenophile.

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Skiing in Portland, February 2021

February 14th – When it snows in Portland, our city mostly shuts down. This only happens every few years. We don’t have enough plows to keep side streets clear, and often get sheets and layers of ice with the snow, so best to stay in if possible. This year, we were ready, having practiced pandemic life for eleven months. We have apocalyptic quantities of nonperishable food in our pantry, and can resupply for a week or more with each grocery shop. So no panic, just sit and watch the winter wonderland form, and hope the power stays on.

I took my usual walks around the neighborhood on cross country skis for three days. The streets are flat, with very few cars out. Traffic is mainly dog walkers, families going to the park with sledding accoutrement, other skiers and fat tire bikers. A few skate skiers whizz by, but I am happy to kick glide along, probably slower than I walk, enjoying the novelty of skiing through my snowy neighborhood.

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Traffic on Tillamook Street

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I always notice these opposing statues on Thompson Street:

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Dogs staring at Lions.

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Lions staring at dogs.

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Tonite the ice storm cometh. So far we still have power, but parts of the city have had outages. Eventually we will thaw and the slush will melt away, and I will be back to walking, but I have enjoyed a few days of skiing. Today was a bit icier on the road, unlike the first day when the surface was fluffy. Today I had to focus, keep my weight over my knees, and stay aware of icy tire tracks diverting my ski path. I was reminded of myself, in my early 30’s, when I attended an annual party at a park with a high dive on the swimming pool. Every year I would make my way to the platform and leap off, feet first, trusting the water to break my fall, just to see if I could still bring myself to do it. Today I trusted my knees and balance to keep me upright on an icy road, sliding along on my 30 year old skis. Check.

Crafting:

Sewing: I finally collected 200 pennies! No one uses pennies anymore, yet they are the perfect filling for a set of pattern weights, pattern from an old Elizabeth Hartman blog post. I used some of my Jane Austen fabric. 

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A side

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B side

Knitting: I finished my Artists Garden Socks. I have made a goal to knit at least one item per month for the Puddletown Knitting Guild project to supply a woman’s shelter with warm items next winter. I obtained a pile of donated yarn from the guild, and have finished two hats so far, and started a cowl.

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Artists Garden Socks

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Quick Ombre Hat

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Barley Light Hat

Blooming:

Meanwhile, around the yard and neighborhood, before the snow, I saw crocuses, one daffodil, and a cherry tree. Hopefully they will all survive the freeze we are in now.

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NZ2020: Days 9 and 10, Deluge in Doubtful Sound

February 2nd and 3rd, 2020: Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, NZ

After our day off in Queenstown, we began the second part of our tour by meeting three new tour members, and an additional tour guide, in our hotel restaurant. We drove south and west, from Queenstown to Manapouri, in a steady rain, with two stops along the way.

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Our first break was in the town of Garston – a small inland village with a speciality in honey production. We sampled some honey, then resumed our journey. Mountains, clouds, green fields full of sheep, elk and deer whizzed by, through the rain.

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We next took a short leg stretching break at a wilderness reserve that demonstrated the native plant communities that are typical of this cold, mountainous inland area before European settling and agriculture. We took in what we could, but the rain and clouds obscured mountain views and much exploring.

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View to the Southern Alps.

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Closer view of some of the plants.

Off we went again, this time to our final tour bus destination – Pearl Harbor in Manapouri, where we began our overnight in Doubtful Sound adventure. We said goodbye to one of our guides for the moment, as he was staying with the bus. To get to Doubtful Sound, deep in the mountains of the Southern Alps, one must take a ferry boat across Lake Manapouri, to the far shore.

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Crossing Lake Manapouri by ferry.

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Next we boarded a bus that took us over the steep, 13 mile long Wilmot Pass Road, then down to Deep Cove Dock at Doubtful Sound. There, we boarded the Fiordland Navigator, our home for the next 24 hours.

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Fiordland Navigator, from the bus window, in the pouring rain.

The Navigator was a very comfortable ship with an experienced, multitasking crew that choreographed our time on board with a well crafted schedule. The 42 passengers were shown into the main cabin/dining salon. We received our safety briefings, and were assigned our sleeping accommodations – for us, a private cabin, but for most, four bed bunk rooms.

Then we were free to explore and wander, and hopefully see all the views, while the naturalist pointed out various features of interest. Steep glaciated gneiss walls rose up on both sides of the fiord, draped in brilliant green foliage, and streaked with tumbling white waterfalls in every direction. Our naturalist told us that they usually see a lot of waterfalls, but because of the steady downpour, we were seeing more than usual, and more volume than usual. We could see fairly well from the large windows in the dining salon and forward viewing cabin, and even from under covered walkways on the lower deck. How lovely it would have been to stand or sit on the upper deck as we passed through the fiord, but the drenching rain made that uncomfortable. We did go out for short forays, and longer moments during rain breaks, but really, it did rain most of the time this first day. We made the best of it, constantly, not always successfully, trying to keep water off camera lenses. We assumed that this much rain was typical. Later, we learned that this was a particularly wet stretch of weather – more so than usual, and that it would affect the next few days of our tour. Our intrepid naturalist spent most of her time out on the deck, narrating the landscape, seemingly unphased by the drenching.

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Waterfall after waterfall…

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Our intrepid naturalist…

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A rain pause as we continue west toward the Tasman Sea.

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We travelled all the way to the entrance of the fiord with the Tasman Sea. We stopped to watch fur seals basking on the rocky islands in the sound entrance – also unphased by the constant rain. But of course, they are creatures of water and cold.

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Fur seals on rocky islands near the mouth of Doubtful Sound.

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We turned back inland, still watching the waterfall-striped walls of the fiord go by. We reached the “activities” location and weighed anchor for a while. Here, most of the crew switched to guide mode. Most of the passengers, despite the rain, opted to go out in kayaks or rafts, to get a closer view of the walls and waters of the fiord. I might have joined in better weather, but it was still rainy and cold. I felt that just being where I was, in the middle of a fiord in the wilderness was a fairly extreme adventure for me. We watched the kayakers and boaters from the deck.

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After they all returned safely, the crew changed roles again, and became ushers/servers for a delicious, many options, buffet dinner. It was all run like clockwork, yet not pressured or uncomfortable. Our little group sat in a booth with windows and enjoyed getting to know each better as the beautiful landscape drifted past. Later, we retired to our tiny stateroom and slept very comfortably in crisp white sheets. I peeked out our window occasionally, to see rain and dark and gray.

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Dining salon.

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Sleeping cabin.

The next morning, breakfast was run again in buffet fashion, extremely efficiently, and we packed up, ready to enjoy another morning of viewing in Doubtful Sound.

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Morning waterfall viewing.

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We traveled into the Hall Arm of the Sound, where we experienced a quiet moment – engine off, passengers in a preselected spot, five minutes of complete silence, during a break in the continuous rain.

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Afterward, the boat motored up again, dipped its snout into a flowing waterfall, and we eventually made our way back to Deep Cove.

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Return to Deep Cove.

During both journeys across Wilmot Pass by bus, the drivers expressed concern about the river ford being washed out. Both times we made it across, but there was plenty of heavy equipment at the crossing keeping the road clear. We reboarded the ferry to Manapouri, ready for our next adventure.

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Waterfall from the bus windows on Wilmot Pass.

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Wilmot Pass river crossing, from the bus.

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Pearl Harbor – return to Manapouri.

Our next stop was supposed to be Milford Sound – a place we really wanted to see. We were supposed to drive to Milford Sound via Hwy 94, with a hike up Key Summit on the Routeburn Track enroute, and a short cruise on Milford Sound the next morning. Over the past 24 hours there had been over a half meter of rain in the area and more than a meter of rain during the four day deluge. All roads to Milford Sound were flooded. People there were stranded and moving to higher ground – no one could get in or out by land. It was several days before they were finally able to open the roads. Meanwhile, our guides and tour company had formulated a new plan for our tour. They found lodging in nearby Te Anau, accommodations that were open because the people with those reservations were trapped in Milford Sound, or because so many of the usual tourists from Asia this time of year were beginning to cancel travel due to a spreading coronavirus in that part of the world.  (I am finally writing this account about a year later, after almost a year of global pandemic. That was one of the early signs of it, though we didn’t really think too much of it in the moment.) Meanwhile, we had a new agenda for our tour, starting with a rainy walk on the Kepler Track near Te Anau.

We loved our Doubtful Sound experience. I might have liked it more had we had sun, but we had soo many waterfalls – I don’t imagine I will ever see more in such a short time. We got to experience an extreme rain event – a different sort of bucket list item, I guess. I am very glad we were with an experienced tour company for this time, because they very swiftly arranged new plans. I had been expecting a more rustic experience on the boat, but it was actually fairly luxurious – delicious hot meals, a dry viewing cabin, extremely comfortable bed with privacy, and amazing scenery. It was a beautiful immersive adventure!

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Begin anew! January 2021

January 20, 2021 –  So far 2021 has not brought much change to our daily life, but the relief of having a new president casts a hopeful light on our future! We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this month, with homemade Indian food and leftover Christmas chocolate. We continue in pandemic lockdown mode, staying home unless doing essential shopping, going on neighborhood walks, or weekly out of neighborhood hikes. Vaccines are seeping into the community, mostly to health care professionals and long term care facilities. My husband has temporarily unretired and will be helping with vaccinations. Thus he was able to celebrate inauguration day doubly, as he got his first dose today.

Hiking: We have been on three hiking adventures so far. The first, on January 7th, was our annual trek to see the bald eagle nesting area along the Klickitat River near Lyle, Washington. We saw at least thirty birds, many of them juveniles that still have brown plumage. 

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Bald eagles flying across the Balfour-Klickitat pond.

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One eagle stayed perched in a tree nearby.

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Closer view.

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Many more eagles in the trees across the pond.

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Zooming in, even more eagles can be seen disguised in the foliage.

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Another dozen eagles were out on the sand bar where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia River.

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Two adults, one juvenile bald eagle on the sand bar.

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Osage oranges along the trail here.

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They are a curious fruit.

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We walked a couple of miles along the Klickitat River trail.

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Downy woodpeckers were in the bushes nearby.

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This is a converted rail trail with a nice even tread.

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We turned around at the Fisher Hill Trestle.

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View down the Klickitat River from the trestle.

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A side stream cascading into the Klickitat River.

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On our return walk we saw a congregation of a couple of dozen eagles circling overhead.

On January 14th, we walked around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland. The blue sky was reflected beautifully in the water, and we saw cormorants, herons, and a barred owl near the trailhead.

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Blue sky.

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Reflections in the marsh.

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Winter foliage.

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Muraled Mausoleum across the marsh.

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Oaks Park on winter/Covid hiatus.

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Cormorants and herons, Downtown Portland.

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Cormorants.

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Barred owl.

Back out at Catherine Creek, near Lyle, Washington, on January 19th, we found the first grass widow of spring, then hiked a long loop up Atwood Road, across the top of Sunflower Hill, then down the Desert Parsley Trail back to Rowland Wall, thus completing some of the gaps in our map there. It was a beautiful day – chilly, but conducive to hiking up hill at a steady pace to see the eastern gorge spread below magnificently.

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First grass widow of spring!

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Catherine Creek waterfall set in the winter landscape.

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Mt Hood to the west.

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The arch from Atwood Road.

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An old stove near Atwood Road.

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Lunch view from the top of Sunflower Hill.

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Oak tree, Mt Hood, noonday sun.

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Looking up at our guide Ponderosa from The Desert Parsley Trail.

Knitting: So far this year I have finished knitting a sweater and a gnome, I’ve started a blanket and a new pair of socks:

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Farallon Cardigan

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Here We Gnome Again

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Habitation Throw, using my “advent” yarns exchanged with my knitting group

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Artists Garden Socks

Quilting: I finished my Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt, a companion piece to my Plaid Applecore Charm quilt.

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Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt

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Companion quilts.

A New Day! After a long, satisfying hike yesterday, I got up way too early (for me) to watch the inauguration celebration. I felt some trepidation, due to the recent insurrection. I am very relieved to report that all proceeded beautifully. The participants were diverse, eloquent, hopeful, forward looking! I cried as I witnessed the swearing in of our first female vice president! The singing, the president’s speech, and the prayers were relevant, meaningful, beautifully delivered.  I adored the young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and the firefighter who signed as well as spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. The outgoing vice president was gracious in the transition. The colorful wool coats of the ladies brightened a blue sky day, when the Capitol, unfortunately, had to be surrounded by military lockdown, as the previous occupant never really conceded to his violent, deluded followers. I am disappointed that my daughter, sitting in her apartment about a mile away from the proceedings, could not witness the day. She assured me they remained safely within, while the din of helicopters continued above. Perhaps, going forward, the domestic terrorists will withdraw and think about the bill of goods they were sold, the lies told, the violence fomented by a greedy, disappointed narcissist who was only ever out for personal profit and aggrandizement, with no concern for the common good, no interest in public service. Good riddance! Meanwhile, executive orders and initiatives are already putting to right some of the damage, and asserting to the world that we want to participate in finding solutions for global problems.  

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2020 Review / 2021 Preview

Well, that was a year! When I reread my New Year’s post from last year, I wince and remember the saying about someone laughing when you make plans. I know that everyone in the world can relate – we did not forsee a global pandemic shutting everything down. We still don’t know what life will look like on the other side of the pandemic when we all have been vaccinated.  Nevertheless, I managed to accomplish about half of the things on my list of intentions. 

Travel: The  high point of the year was our month in New Zealand before everything shut down. Our plans to go to Washington DC and Italy were cancelled. We were able to take four midweek trips to hiking destinations within a few hours drive of our home – to Sisters, Yachats, and Prineville in Oregon, and Packwood in Washington (following all Covid-19 precautions). 

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Hiking: I hiked almost 400 miles last year, almost 63000 feet of elevation gained, on 76 different adventures, 26 of which were in New Zealand. The hikes up Ben Lomond near Queenstown, and to the Sealy Tarns in Mt Aoraki National Park were my favorites there. Back home, we found a way to continue hiking in pandemic mode. At first we took several long urban hikes through Portland neighborhoods to high points or parks. We have hiked about half of the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, and we have gone to farther flung, less popular trails, midweek. I feel lucky we can still get into nature.

Reading: I met my goal to read 64 books last year.

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Knitting: I knit over 5000 yards of yarn into 20 different projects: 2 shawls, 1 scarf, 5 pairs of socks, 3 hats, 2 pairs of mitts, 2 sets of wash cloths, 4 gnomes, 2 acorn ornaments, and a toy dog sweater. 14 of the projects were gift or charity knitting.  Knitting was a main source of anxiety relief to get me through the chaos and unpredictability of this year. My knitting group has continued to meet on line, pulling each other through. I am so grateful I found this group in 2019, as it has been a great source of comfort for me this year.

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2020 was a difficult year which tested resilience. I know I am privileged to have made it through in good health in a safe and comfortable home. I miss my family and friends. The worst part of the year was losing a brother-in-law to a noncovid illness in May, and not being able to travel to grieve with family. That loss haunts me every day, however correct the decision is/was for safety reasons. 

 2021 – The political upheaval and tension have been excruciating. The good news that we will have our new president, vice president and senate majority does not discount how hard it will be to undo all the harm caused by the lies, selfishness, and evil intent of the outgoing president. But it gives us reason for hope.  I hope for healing through an honest truth and reconciliation process. I hope it becomes widely accepted that racist agendas going back to the founding of our country have been used to convince the less advantaged to hate amongst themselves rather than to support government that is fair to all of the people. 

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At some point, we will be vaccinated and be able to travel again. I hope to be able to see my farther located family members and friends. Meanwhile, I will keep on knitting, reading, quilting, hiking, and blogging. My blog has been evolving since I started it in 2017, as a way to document my life and my quilts – mostly as a scrapbook for personal use. I wrote my 200th post last year. I still have more than a dozen unfinished posts from our New Zealand trip, and a number of quilt story posts to finish. Those are my modest goals for the New Year. I hope when I look back next year, I will have had some new wonderful adventures in a calmer world.

The rest of December, 2020

Holidays in Pandemia: We were able to enjoy the holidays, though one day seemed like every other, by modifying our traditions. We had Christmas tamales on Christmas Eve, with our sons, in our  backyard, socially distanced. Our daughter and her partner in DC joined us via Facetime. We celebrated together, and avoided the pouring rain of Christmas Day. We very much missed our elaborate traditional Christmas dinner we have shared with good friends for at least the past ten years. We contacted other family and friends via internet. We sent New Years cards, and received many in return. We got through the season, if not with the usual festivities, with enough of a connection to feel and share hope for a better 2021.

Holiday decor: 

Christmas trees:

Knitting:

More holiday cheer:

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Our traditional anise, ginger, and chocolate cookies.

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New reading, writing and listening.

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Our holiday card photo.

Good omens for the New Year:

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We could just see the astronomical event of the season one night – the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter.

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A closer view.

Vaccines are coming!

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And January 20th!

Hiking in December, 2020

Another gathering of late reports…

Friday, December 4th, Tracy Hill, WA

The fog never lifted, and was sometimes frozen, as we hiked past the Catherine Creek Arch, all the way up Tracy Hill, and then down again. (Hike #72, 5 miles, 1100 feet)

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Looking toward our destination from the Hood River Bridge.

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Passing the Arch on the way up,

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and into the fog.

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The frozen grasses and seed heads are pretty.

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Lunch stop with no view, near the top of Tracy Hill.

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On our way down – eventually below the fog again.

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Frozen vernal pond.

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Hiking above the Arch on the return.

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Our first time crossing the new trail bridge over Catherine Creek – we used to walk back along the highway.

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We always see something new here – this time, frozen grasses and a new trail bridge.

Wednesday, December 9th, Hardy Ridge and Nancy Russell Overlook, WA

The rain was supposed to stop midmorning but didn’t, so we turned back about half way. We stopped for a quick view from Nancy Russell Overlook on the way home. (Hike #73, 6.2 miles, 1200 feet)

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Soggy trail to Hardy Ridge.

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Soggy lichen

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Nancy Russell Overlook

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Columbia River Gorge, looking east.

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Puddles in the trail.

Monday, December 14th, Catherine Creek, WA

We finally found the path through the inside out switchbacks on the Shoestring Trail beneath Rowland Wall, as we hiked through fog, snow, and then a surreal landscape between fog and sun. (Hike #74, 4 miles, 850 feet)

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Fog ahead – we began with hopes that the fog would lift.

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Looking to the east – it is sunny out there.

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By the time we reached the pylons, we were in the fog.

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When we dropped over Rowland Wall, we were walking through oak groves with patchy snow along our trail.

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I saw a ruby crowned kinglet in the bushes.

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The snow helped define the place in the path where we have lost the trail on previous occasions. Also, by hiking down instead of up, I thought we could make the connection, and we did!

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Our GPS track for the day: the red circle is the place of the inside out switchbacks, developed by mountain bikers, where we have lost the trail in the past.

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After lunch, we continued down, and looked behind us to see blue sky!

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Continuing down toward Rowland Wall, below the fog.

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We emerged out onto the grassy slopes, fog above, sun somewhere shining on the Columbia River.

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Heading toward Rowland Wall.

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The leaning tree and the Pinnacle.

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Our path back up the wall.

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Once above Rowland Wall, we could see more blue sky to the east.

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Vernal pool near the trail head.

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Catherine Creek Arch in the low sun.

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Foliage of the bitterroot flowers of April!

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Looking back up to where we have been.

Wednesday, December 23rd, Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA

Swans from a distance, and an excellent view of moonrise. (Hike #75, 2.7 miles, 100 feet)

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The best view of the swans in Carty Lake was from the entry bridge.

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Upside down trees out in their full glory.

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Moon rising…

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Moon, photobombed by airplane, as we approach the bridge at the end of our hike.

Monday, December 28th, 2020, Powell Butte, Portland, OR

Cold and windy, with clear views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains. (Hike #76, 4.3 miles, 500 feet)

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Mt Hood from the top of Powell Butte

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Mt Jefferson

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Mt Adams

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Mt St Helens

Hiking in November, 2020

A gathering of late reports….

Monday, November 2nd, The Labyrinth

My favorite, often visited, eastern Gorge trail on a windless day with beautiful low autumn light. (Hike #69 for 2020, 4.4 miles, 1000 feet)

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Trailhead, Rowland Lake, perfectly calm and reflective. Our destination is the tall Ponderosa Pine, left of center.

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The Old Hwy 8 waterfall is completely dry.

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Mt Hood on view to the west across the Columbia River.

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The labyrinth waterfall is almost dry…

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A few drips in the mossy wall,

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and some still pools below in the streambed.

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We wind around columnar basalts surrounded by golden grass,

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Through the oak grove.

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Mt Hood still on view in the glare, as the sun moves west

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We pass a favorite trailside oak tree,

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Almost to our destination Ponderosa…

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The eastern Gorge beyond

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Rowland Wall and the Catherine Creek area slopes.

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Zoom in on Lyle and Memaloose Island

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Tom McCall Point and the orchards of Mosier on the descent.

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The haunted oak tree bids us farewell.

Monday November 9th, Dry Creek Falls

We spotted the winter swans in Mirror Lake at the base of Crown Point as we made our way through The Gorge to Cascade Locks.

DSC04798DSC04797Dry Creek Falls, which we have hiked many times, is one of the closest waterfall hikes, most of the trails still being closed since the 2017 fire. Today we walked through falling Big Leaf Maple leaves lighting up the partially burned forest. (Hike #70, 4.9 miles, 1050 feet)

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Bridge over Dry Creek on the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Dry Creek Falls

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Monday, November 16th, Finley Wildlife Refuge

Our first visit to this refuge, on a day when the Willamette Valley to the south was the only partly dry place within a two hour drive from home. Recovered farm land is a winter sanctuary for migratory birds. (Hike #71, 2.5 miles, 150 feet)

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Our first stop, the Prairie Overlook:

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Miles of Willamette Valley grasslands.

From there, we walked the Homer Campbell Boardwalk through a wetter terrain.

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Canadian Geese near the trailhead

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The boardwalk…

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Marshy forests

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A bird blind at the end of the winter trail.

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Back through the mossy and lichen covered trees.

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Another hiker told us we would see swans in the McFadden Marsh, so we headed there for our lunch stop.

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Swans, geese and other water fowl.

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The weather had cleared a bit, so we hiked the Woodpecker Loop trail to stretch our legs a bit more.

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Along the Woodpecker Loop trail.

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High point – a shelter, and view of some of the high Cascade Mountain peaks to the east.

As we began our drive home, we found the best view of the Cascades was from a road pullout above some of the historic farm buildings.

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Mt Jefferson

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North, Middle and South Sisters.

We enjoyed our day at Finley Wildlife Refuge – anything to get out of the house for a few hours and walk in nature. I would like to visit in other seasons, but we usually have destinations closer to home…

Ramona, Henry, and Ribsy celebrate the winter solstice

December 21st, 2020:

Just about noon, during a sun break between storms, in Grant Park, Northeast Portland, Oregon.

After a long walk up to Alameda Ridge, and along Klickitat Street, I passed through the park on my way home.

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And to think that I saw it on Klickitat Street:

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Low winter sun lighting up trees against the dark clouds.

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Rose hips

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Lemons

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Christmas tree in the clouds.

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These are the droids, and pig, you are looking for.