Two hikes as our trails reopen…

Boundary Trail, Mt St Helens, Washington –

May 27, 2020 – Trails and parks in Oregon and Washington are slowly reopening for careful, “social distance” hiking. We chose a sunny Wednesday to hike at Mt St Helens. The road to the Visitor Center is still closed, so we began our hike on the Hummocks Trail, and continued on to the Boundary Trail. (Hike #42, 8 miles, 1625 feet)


Red marks our route.

The trail crosses through the hummocks, which are debris avalanche and landslide deposits from the violent May 18, 1980 eruption. Though once a barren moonscape, the hummocks are now lush and green, covered with plants and shady alder groves, and surrounded by ponds and wetlands.


Alder groves and ponds near the trailhead.


The trail comes out into open landscape at the junction with the Boundary Trail, then heads off into lowlands along the Toutle River, before climbing steeply up the flanks of Johnston Ridge. From here on we almost always had a full on view of the mountain.


Boundary Trail Junction


Zooming in…


Crossing the Toutle River lowlands.


Heading up, Indian paintbrush and Mt St Helens.

Once high enough, we can see north to the west end of Coldwater Lake, and back to the ponds in the hummocks, our starting point.



Closer view of Coldwater Lake.


Lovely view from our lunch stop.


Red current in bloom as we continue eastward.

We reached our farthest view point, not quite to the Loowit Turnout on the road.



Coldwater Peak


Mt Adams and a glimpse of Spirit Lake


Mt St Helens

I felt a bit out of shape on this hike, so we only went as far as a viewpoint where Mt  Adams comes into view, before we reached the Loowit Viewpoint. It was fairly hot, and once out of the hummock zone, there is no shade. What is amazing is how much shade there is in the hummocks area, because everything in sight has regrown since the eruption 40 years ago.

A last look back at the mountain on our return hike:


40 year old stumps, with younger trees in the foreground.


Sheep sorrel, Toutle River

Wildflowers are beginning to bloom – in a couple of weeks it will be very colorful here.

We stopped at the Castle Lake Viewpoint on our drive home for a last look today, with plans to return in the not too distant future.


Castle Lake Viewpoint

Wildwood Trail Hike 4

Friday, May 29, 2020 – In continuation of a pandemic goal to hike all of the 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we walked another section, from Springville Road to the Wildwood Trail, to the Trillium Trail and back to our trailhead on Fire Road 7. This section of the Wildwood Trail is cut into the sides of steep forested slopes. It was dry and warm today, but well shaded. We saw a few flowers, a few birds, a lot of trail runners, and a few hiking groups. Most of the hikers pulled masks up when passing. Trail runners mostly did not. We did our best to give them a wide space. We all need the fresh air! (Hike #43, 5.2 miles, 460 feet)




Springville Road


The first wild roses I have seen this year.


Fern shadows





Our return trail is all uphill!


I am getting ready to start new projects, so I have been hand winding yarn, knitting a gauge swatch, and spending lots of time searching the glorious Ravelry pattern library, which in my opinion is the very best place in all of the internet. I also cast on a gift knit – fingerless mitts.


A note on the times we are living in  I support the Black Lives Matter protests going on this weekend. It may be a long time before the “all are created equal” spirit of our nation is realized, but I try to live my life in support of it. On a more positive note, I was happy to see the successful SpaceX launch this weekend, furthering work my father participated in as rocket scientist.

Knitting finish! and another Forest Park hike –

May 22, 2020

For the third week in a row we went to Forest Park on Portland’s west side to hike. We chose the segment of the Wildwood Trail from Germantown Road to Springville Road, looping back to where we started via Leif Erickson Drive and the Cannon Trail (5.6 miles, 500 feet, hike #41 for 2020.) There was a 20% chance of rain for the day – I think we got all of it during our hike. The last time I hiked in this much rain I was in a rainforest in New Zealand! 


We began our hike in the rain.


A cedar dripping with rain and moss.


There were some sun breaks.


Returning down the wide, social distance friendly, Leif Erickson Drive.


Robins were hopping along the trail.



Honeysuckle blooming along the Cannon Trail.


Thoughts of New Zealand!

Knitting Finish!

The Which Came First? shawl by designer Cheri Clark used three full skeins (1260 yards) of Malabrigo Mechita in the Piedras color way! I will be mailing this to my daughter, who chose the yarn when I saw her in January.



From bottom to top, eggs (eyelets), chicken feet, chicken wire.


Remains of the three skeins of yarn.

Garden and neighborhood:


Penstemon blooming in our front yard.

Two kinds of poppies in the neighborhood:


California poppies


Oriental poppies

More words of encouragement on a local Poetry Post:


Forest Park again…

May 15, 2020 – Wildwood Trail: Newberry Road/BPA Road Loop

We returned to the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park on the west side of Portland for another pandemic hike. It had been raining off and on all week, and the forest was a little drippy. Clouds blocked the view of mountains we saw from the BPA Road last week, but there were lots of new wildflowers this week. (Hike #40, 6.5 miles, 1250 feet)


Newberry Road trailhead


Fern-lined trail




Powerline cut – no mountains this week.

In other good news, nearby forests and state parks are gradually reopening, so we will soon have a wider geography available.



A finish!  Patons Kroy Celestial Purple traveling socks.

Neighborhood walks-






Porch parade


Porch pig


Tethered horse


More words of encouragement!

Addendum – Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, May 5, 2020

When Washington State reopened some public lands, we went to the driving loop at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The wintering birds – swans, geese, and sandhill cranes – had flown on. Today we saw turtles, redwing blackbirds, egrets and herons. This was our first foray out of our neighborhood in two months, and it was great just to see some wide open spaces from the safe space of our car!


Egret in the distance.





Red wing blackbirds in the meadows.


NZ2020: Day 6, Franz Josef Glacier

January 30, 2020 –

After our rainy drive yesterday, we were delighted to see the mountains above Franz Josef this morning.


Blue sky and snow capped peaks, Franz Josef, New Zealand.

Franz Josef Glacier hike

We had an early start for our walk to the Franz Josef Glacier viewpoint. I remember thinking, as we walked up the Waiho Valley, that this was our best hike so far!


Waiho River Valley


The glacier is filling the valley on the left.


The trail emerges from the forest at an overlook that marks the advanced position of the glacier in 1908.



We still have a bit of a walk to get closer to the glacier.


Zooming in on the glacier from the 1908 overlook.

We continued walking up the glaciated Franz Valley on sediment eroded from the mountains above.



Haast Schists – beautiful metamorphic rocks!


We reached the river crossing, and continued walking up the valley.



A huge waterfall is gushing out of rocks below the glacier on the right – we can see the mist cloud from here.



Jagged glacier surface

We passed waterfalls and beautiful, glacially polished schists in the valley walls.



The last viewpoint is ahead, on the low hummocks.

We reached the end of the trail, the closest viewpoint, due to safety concerns.



From here we can see the waterfall mist cloud, but not the waterfall. Helicopter tours were landing in front of the dark rocky area on the left side – they looked like ants from here.

The bare scraped rocks and talus piles were covered in colorful lichens and mosses.



Turbulent water full of glacial dust in the outflow stream.


View down the Waiho Valley from the upper endpoint of the trail.


Last look back at the Franz Josef Glacier from the valley trail.

We continued walking on the local trail network to a couple of other viewpoints, first to Sentinal Rock.


Franz Josef Glacier from Sentinal Rock.


Winding Waiho River.

We continued on a short distance to Peter’s Pool.


Reflections in Peter’s Pool

By the time we were leaving the area, the clouds had moved in again among the peaks. I’m glad we got an early start to our day! (Hike#6, 5 miles, 400 feet)


Car park view: I love that this tour bus has kiwi-shaped grill openings.

Alpine Fault geology interlude. I loved learning about New Zealand geology on this trip. I didn’t research much before our travels. As the landscape unfurled before me, I enjoyed looking, learning and speculating. Now I am investigating in more detail as I process my photos and thoughts. I learned in Franz Josef that the giant, active Alpine Fault runs right through the center of town. The Alpine Fault is a major transcurrent fault and tectonic plate boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates. The Southern Alps are constantly rising along the fault zone that connects subduction zones to the north and south. The metamorphic rocks I saw along the Waiho River were deformed along the plate boundary.

On with our tour:

After our hike we continued south on Hwy 6, with much beautiful scenery ahead for the day. Our guide spotted and pointed out many recent land slips in the mountains, and we had several road repair delays. There had already been flooding this year, with more to come! But we didn’t know that yet.

Image 3-22-20 at 11.33 PM

Lake Matheson

We stopped for a walk around Lake Matheson.


Hike #7, 3 miles, 200 feet.


New Zealand pigeon (kereru) posing near the trailhead.



At this viewpoint, the Southern Alps may be seen reflected in the lake.


We were not so lucky today – the clouds had moved in.



It was a lovely hike, with beautiful lunchtime views of the lake, and interesting foliage to admire.


Kidney ferns



Knights Point

Farther south on Hwy 6, we stopped at this clifftop viewpoint over the Tasman Sea.



Treeferns, lancewood and flax covered the coastal cliffs to the north.


To the south we could see to a headland. When I zoomed in, I could see that some of the ‘rocks’ were actually Elephant seals.


Elephant seals


Ship Creek

The highway descended back to sea level. Our stop at Ship Creek was our last chance to walk on a West Coast beach before we turned east to cross the mountains at Haast Pass. We climbed up the Observation Tower for a wide view, then spent a little time on the beach.



View of the beach from the Observation Tower.


View inland from the tower.


Sand dunes


Beach boardwalk, going north.


Pebbly shingled beach – great skipping stones!

Onward! Our views were diminished by clouds as we headed east into the mountains.


Driving view as we cross over the Haast River on the longest one lane bridge in New Zealand .



In Haast Pass, where rivers change direction.

We made a brief stop in Mt Aspiring National Park to see Thunder Creek Falls.


Thunder Creek Falls

Our overnight destination was a lodge at Makarora.


Evening sky above Makarora.

We would be headed to Lake Wanaka tomorrow.

Note: The most difficult thing about these posts is paring down the photos. I love to remember every view!


Forest Park

Friday May 8, 2020 Wildwood Trail

We hiked out and back, from the Germantown Road trailhead to a little ways up the BPA Road. It was wonderful to be able to hike a good distance on an actual trail. The forest was beautiful, wildflowers were blooming, and we got an unexpected view of two mountains at our turnaround point.




Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens on view from the power line road


We decided to hike with masks and careful distance mode, in Forest Park, a huge city park in the hills west of Portland. We don’t often hike here because it is across town, and we usually drive a little farther to go to the Columbia River Gorge. It is one of the few trails close to us that is open, and friends reported that they felt safe on their hike there. The Wildwood Trail is 30 miles long. I hope to complete all the segments over time. Hike #39, 6.4 miles, 1060 feet.

Flowers in the neighborhood


native iris


red clover





One of the sleeves cooperated and the other did not. Maybe next week…

A sad week. We lost a family member to a long standing illness (not Covid). He lives far enough away, that given the pandemic circumstances, we can’t go and be with his family. The key people that need to be together are together, but it is difficult to participate from afar. I will be thinking of him when we go for our next forest walk, because he was a man of the forest.

Pandemic Week 8 – a strange family birthday.

Another week. I continue strategies of sheltering in place, and keeping my distance from too much news – there is too much cognitive dissonance of what is reported, what is predicted, what to expect. We are well trained scientists in this house, so our decisions are logical. But having never chosen to live in Antarctica, or on a submarine, or a space station, I miss living my life in the world among other people. I watch from my window. On my moderately quiet street with bike lanes and good sidewalks I see plenty of bikers and walkers, but the interaction is passive. On we go, though, knowing it may be like this for a while.

On a positive note, people in my neighborhood have been creating flower hearts for all the walkers:

Hike of the week: laps on the dirt path at Wilshire park-

April 28, 2020 – I continue my neighborhood walks, but the cement is hard on my feet. I walked extra laps on the bark chip paths at Wilshire Park to get in a longer distance “hike” that was easier on my feet. And there were a few wildflowers blooming in the native plant garden! Hike #38, 4.5 miles, 180 feet.


fringe cup



A double birthday cut in half-

My husband and son share a birthday, 39 years apart. We would normally celebrate together, but our son lives across town in a flat with four flatmates, and is not in our isolation pod. I baked the traditional family chocolate birthday cake and cut it in half. We delivered the half cake and gifts to his front porch, then had a brief conversation from the sidewalk.  My husband said it was his strangest birthday ever, and is grateful to have had a big party last year. Both had plenty of well wishes delivered by various electronic means.


Sad half birthday cakes, but they tasted good!

I am still knitting…

on the same projects (sock, sweater, shawl). I have made a fair amount of progress, and am clinging to my knit group google hangouts for connection. I might have a finish next week.