19. Vista Ridge again, Fireweed this time

Vista Ridge, Mt. Hood, Oregon   8/25/2017   (#43)

Looking for another trip to subalpine elevations, we walked up the Vista Ridge trail on the north side of Mt. Hood, as we had in late June.  This time, instead of millions of avalanche lilies, we were treated to the late summer swath of pink fireweed through the burn zone, with readily picked huckleberries along the way.  We could see the dried seedheads of the earlier lilies.  Other blooming plants in the burn zone were pearly everlasting and goldenrod, and plenty of Sitka Mountain Ash with ripening clusters of red berries provided additional color.


Fireweed and pearly everlasting understory in the burn zone


Mt Hood from the switchback viewpoint


Dried avalanche lily seedheads


Golden rod and fireweed

We reached the timberline trail, and rested in a shaded pocket at the edge of Wy’East basin, as lovely an alpine meadow as one could hope for – though the flowers are fading in the open areas. We continued walking east toward Elk Cove, hopping over the small strands of Clear Branch Creek that trickle down through Wy’east basin. Pink monkey flower, yellow groundsel, purple aster and lupine, and magenta paintbrush were the main riparian blooms.

We admired the view of the three Washington peaks from various angles, and turned the corner toward Elk Cove, with the rocky cliff of Barrett Spur to our right, and the looming peak of Mt Hood and its glistening Coe Glacier to the south.


Mts St Helens, Rainier and Adams


Turning the corner of Barrett Spur toward Elk Cove, with Mt Hood looming above


Close ups of the Coe Glacier


We continued about half way down to Elk Cove, far enough to see the hanging meadow of pasque flowers, and the long drawn out ridge of Barrett Spur. That was our turn around point for the day.


Mt Hood and Barrett Spur


Pasque flower seed heads

Heading back toward Wy’East basin, we located the trail that leads up to Dollar Lake.  It is really more of a puddle.


Dollar Lake


Barret Spur and Mt Hood from the ridge above Dollar Lake

Back on the Timberline Trail, we meandered up the side trail to the upper part of WyEast basin to take in the slightly wider view of the horizon to the north.

From there, we retraced our steps back down the Vista Ridge trail, admiring the intense coral/red violet color of the fireweed, and greeting my favorite ghost trees on the way down.

Our total for the day was 9 miles/ 1500 feet.

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GPS track


I perused my photos from our previous hikes up Vista Ridge.  Our trip in August of  2014 had more blooming flowers in the upper meadows.


August 5, 2014


March 29, 2015


August 25, 2017

The photo from August of 2013, taken only two years after the 2011 Dollar Creek Fire, shows a mostly blackened environment.  The contrast with the with the avalanche lily / fireweed lined trail of this year is striking, and shows how fast the vegetation is restarting. I didn’t get a picture of the abundant low huckleberry bushes along some parts of the trail – I was too busy eating the ripe berries.

Knitting and other home front activity:

18. Late Summer on Mt Adams, Stagman Ridge Trail

Stagman Ridge, Mt. Adams, Washington      8/20/2017     (#42)


Looking for a hike that avoided wildfire smoke and eclipse traffic, we headed to the west side of Mt. Adams, north of Trout Lake, WA.  This was our first time hiking this trail. We like to hike in Bird Creek Meadows this time of year, but that area is closed due to the massive Cougar Creek Fire of 2015. The area around Stagman Ridge was also recently burned, by the Cascade Creek Fire of 2012. The trail traverses through burned forest, with occasional forays into unburned terrain. The silver lining is mountain views through the ghost trees.


In many burned places the underlayer is green, topped by a pink swath of fireweed. Pearly everlasting and golden rod are abundant at lower elevations.

Higher up, the last of the asters, lupine and licorice root were hanging on in shady areas.

The open meadow at about mile 3 was green but past bloom – most likely thanks to the intense two week heat wave of early August.  I would like to return when this meadow is in full bloom – with the open view of Mt Adams to the east – it is a lovely spot.



Glacier close up

We continued on past the meadow to the Graveyard trail junction, then crossed the small creek and headed west toward Lookingglass Lake. Riparian flowers lined the creek crossings.

We decided the crossing of Cascade Creek looked difficult so we turned back after a rest at the water with great views of the mountain.


On the way down, we noticed the distance views of Mt St Helens, Mt Hood and west toward Indian Heaven.



Mt St Helens



Mt Hood


There were plenty of huckleberries for the picking.  Berries, flower seedheads and tints of red foliage in the huckleberry and vine maple foreshadow the coming of fall.

A few other items of interest along the way:


lichen and roots


ghost tree


My first time seeing pine drops

Our hike was approximately 9 miles with 1500 feet elevation gain, and the flower count was 34, with 5 berries.

Mementos from my Peruvian travelers:




two more tortillas for the collection

And of course, the Eclipse, which I watched at 99% in my front yard:


17. Oswald West/Cape Falcon

Beach Day  7/8/2017 (#41)

Portland has been HOT (95 to 105) and SMOKY from the BC and other Cascade wildfires.  My visiting sister, my son and I decided to head west to the coast for some relief.  Our initial plan was to climb Neahkanie Mountain, an easy hike with great views, but the peak was fogged in.  We opted instead for the five mile round trip hike to Cape Falcon from the Oswald West State Park parking area.  The beach is a popular surfing spot, and the trail took us down to the beach where many were riding the waves and enjoying the 60 degree air temperatures.


Cape Falcon (our goal) is the far ridge beyond Smuggler Cove


Short Sand Beach

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We went from the trailhead to the cape and back via the beach trail

We followed the well worn trail past a small waterfall and out to the Cape where we watched the fog roll in and out, obscuring views and keeping us cool.  We found a shady perch to eat lunch, then hiked back to the trail head, tripping over some of the many exposed roots on the trail – it could use some work, to be perfectly honest, but the cool temperatures and beautiful views make it hard to complain.


Looking down on Short Sand Beach from the trail


Small waterfall above Blumenthal Falls


Daisies and hemlock on the Cape


View to south from the Cape


View to north from the cape


Cape Falcon

We drove back north on HWY 101, and stopped for a while at Hug Point State Park.  The receding tide was still high, so we could not quite make it on to Hug Point, but we sat for a while in the late afternoon near the waterfall, dipped our toes into the Pacific Ocean and enjoyed the peace, and the cool temperatures. I was able to get one iPhone photo of the waterfall without other beach goers in it.


Castle Rock from near the Hug Pt Waterfall


Hug Pt Waterfall

And because I have been really enjoying the LOOKBACK aspect of writing this blog, despite, or maybe because of, the rabbit hole nature of digging through my photos, here are two comparison photos of the Hug Point waterfall, and the view south  toward Castle Rock from Hug Point, taken May 8th, 2016, when we were there for a super low tide.


Hug Point waterfall, May 8, 2016


View south to Castle Rock from Hug Point, May 8, 2016

We stopped in Cannon Beach for a typical post beach day meal at the Pelican Brewery (clam chowder, fish tacos, fish and chips), then returned eastward on Hwy 26, back over the coast range to Portland and home, where the hazy smoky air and hot temperatures absorbed us into their gloom.  Next weekend is predicted to be in the 80s; perhaps the wildfires will calm down and the smoke will dissipate.  One can only hope, as it is rather tedious to complain about the weather.

Meanwhile, back in Portland:

By the weekend, the heat spell finally broke.  I pulled open the living room shades for the first time in two weeks, and there were plums on our plum tree, raindrops on roses, and cherry tomatoes for my birthday eclipse bowl.

And, somewhere in Peru…

They made it to Machu Picchu!



16. Visiting in Eugene; Hiking in Silver Falls State Park


Family time in Eugene, Oregon

A sister visiting from California created an opportunity for us to spend part of the week in Eugene visiting other family members while my husband and daughter are off on an adventure to Machu Picchu, Peru.  We found a house to rent for a few days near the University,

and were able to spend some lovely down time relaxing, celebrating my birthday, and trying to stay cool in the unreasonable hot temperatures and smoky hazy air that have settled in the Willamette Valley for an overlong period this year. There was lots of color around town and at the Saturday Market,

the UO Art Museum,

and a couple of family yards that were blooming with lovely flowers.

Silver Falls State Park  8/6/2017 (#40)

We drove home via Silver Falls State Park, arriving about 4 pm and unrealistically hoping for slightly cooler temperatures.  We completed the short loop (about 3 miles and 300 feet) around the Upper and Lower South Falls.

It was a little hot for hiking, and the water levels were low enough that we were not at all misted when we passed behind the falls on the trail, another hope that was dashed.  This contrasts markedly with the last time I was there in February, when we had to practically run those trail segments to avoid being soaked.  Still, my sister enjoyed the scenery and the greenery, as she lives in a completely different landscape.

Lookback photos:  February and August, 2017

Upper South Falls:

Upper South Falls from the footbridge:

Behind Upper South Falls:

Lower South Falls:

Another view of Lower South Falls:

A bit of Knitting:


Genius Wash Cloth

Meanwhile, in Peru,

Dan and Emily made it over 15000′ Salcantay Pass!