37. White Christmas in PDX

Holiday   12/25/2017

Right on schedule we received a thin layer of ice and snow on Christmas Eve. We played Settlers of Catan, finished decorating the tree, and baked some cookies in our newly repaired oven. A cozy Christmas; no hikes this week.


I made a few Jane Austen themed ornaments and finished the flannel pajama pants that Brian started but never finished – he will find them under the tree.  I continued to knit the green shawl for Emily, which she will find under the tree, needles attached, to be finished soon.


36. Labyrinth Hiking

The Labyrinth Trail, WA            12/16/2017         (#58)

East out of the Portland mist, through the frosted central gorge to the open dry eastern gorge, this time to the Labyrinth, trailhead at the Hwy 14/Old Hwy 8 intersection at Rowland Lake.


Waterfall along Old Hwy 8

The aptly named trail winds gently upward between columnar basalt buttes and a cascading stream.




Bare trees, gold grasses, dried flower seed heads, lichen splotched talus piles, higher and higher, rising to views to the south of the Columbia River, the orchards, fields and cliffs around Mosier, Oregon.


To the east the open skies of the Columbia Plateau beckon; to the west, the lowering clouds of western Oregon gloam, this whole area scoured by the Missoula floods. We explore some of the side trails around the waterfall,


at the base of a columnar basalt butte,

and to our lunchstop viewpoint.

Then on up a bit more,

past the cliff that is covered with purple desert parsley in spring,


View toward Coyote Wall


past the oak tree on the trail’s edge,


to the next high point.


Wind rising, we agree to turn around. Down we go, light changing, shoulders of Hood briefly exposed, back to the old highway then home.


During our first hike here in June of 2012, I was enchanted, just exploring the bones of the landscape, the windings between rock exposures then covered with halos of pinkish grass.


May 2012

We attained a high viewpoint back down to Rowland Lake and the river and began to realize the potential. Future trips saw the cliffs and mounds adorned with yellows and purples of spring wildflowers,


Mt Hood from Old Hwy 8 approach trail, May 2012


Balsam root near Hwy 8, April 2014


April 2014


Grass Widows, March 2017


Gold stars, March 2017


Buttercups in oak woodland, March 2016


Columbia Desert Parsley, April 2014

the white snows of winter,


December 2015


December 2015

and actual rainbows.


December 2016

Some comparisons: the waterfall –


May 2012


March 2017


December 2015

the oak tree –


May 2012


December 2015

We also brought back poison oak and left behind one contact lens.  We have explored a few of the side trails – there are many more to look forward to.


Knitting the green shawl: finished another tortilla and the Sonic Six hat.

Decorating the tree – Diamond Log Cabin Christmas Tree Skirt (Quilt In A Day pattern) made in the early 2000’s.  I have learned a lot about color and fabric choices since then, but It still fits our decor and I like it well enough to continue to use it. The rest of the tree decorating is waiting for one child to be home from college.

35. Dreaming of White River, 12/11/2017

A little under the weather, so I missed the hike with Dan and a friend to White River on Mt Hood. He sent me this photo from our usual lunch stop:



This is a favorite adventure because the grade is gentle and the mountain is in view almost all the way up to a spectacular lunch spot. A few photos from previous years:


March 2012 – Close up of the peak of Mt Hood


February 2013


January 2014


March 2016


March 2017


A little of each- knitting, plying, stitching the leftover clams for the back of Atmospheric River, and what fun! deciding to use Fossil Fern as the focus fabric for my long planned hue shift quilt.


Flyaway Twist: begin the brioche, with lifelines


Panel of leftover clams for the otherwise light blue backing for the Atmospheric River quilt


Color wheel of fabrics for a new quilt


Other adventures:  Mostly a waiting week – I tried one new med, and also contracted a common cold from my son, so snowshoeing did not seem like fun.

34. Lyle Cherry Orchard and Other Adventures

Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail, Washington   12/3/2017   (#57)

What joy to step with boots on the trail again today, – a bright blue sky, bitter wind, December-low-angle light sparkling on the water day -in the eastern Columbia River Gorge.  Trail of dirt and stone and oak leaf duff winding up alternately through golden grasslands and black cliffs of the Missoula flood scoured columnar Columbia Plateau basalts.  White caps on the river, bare oak branches, luminous grey clouds to the west raining on the Cascade crest, with only the eastern flank of Mt Hood visible in the clouds if you know where to look. Sounds of wind and ravens and the occasional train. Deep memories of where the yellow bells, purple grass widows, golden stars (and poison oak!) will be come spring….


Approach trail

Views from the Convict Road:


East view


West view

Views from the lower plateau:

Along the trail to the upper tier:

Views from our high point:


The way down:


And looking back up from the Convict Road to where we were:


Some details:

We hiked about 3.5 miles, 1000 feet today. We turned back at the cliff high point where the trail heads inland then farther east toward the remnants of the old cherry orchard.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 9.57.56 PM

We saw a beautiful interplay of sun and clouds while driving back west.


West view from the Hood River bridge into the gorge


Spring wildflowers:


Yellow Bells on the lower trail, March 2017


Gold stars along the upper switchbacks, March 2017


Grass widows at the upper viewpoint, March 2017

Fall colors:


Poison Oak, October 2016


Orange oak leaves, October 2016


I distracted myself this week by sewing all the clamshells together on my Atmospheric River quilt.


Each clamshell is 17.5″wide; quilt is 87.5″ square.

I began knitting on Emily’s green scarf.


Other Adventures this week were less pleasant, including a horizontal trip in an MRI machine, several blood draws and waiting rooms, as well as scheduling a surgery date in January to remove something that a doctor discovered by chance while looking for something else.  What luck, really – if all goes as planned the long term prognosis is great and there will be no lasting harm.  Still it is an unexpected and unasked for journey. So after the emotional trauma of this week, it was with great joy that I ventured on to a dirt and stone trail today in the blue sky, bitter wind, golden hills, and black cliffs of the eastern gorge.