November 2022 hiking, and a visit to the Maryhill Museum of Art

We went on three familiar hikes, and to the Maryhill Museum of Art.

11/3  Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge, WA

This used to be our reliable close-in flat walk, for partly rainy days, where we could go to see upside down trees reflected in the lake, and often, many waterfowl. For the past couple of years, the site has undergone major reconstruction. The berm that separates these lowlands from flooding by the Columbia River has been breached in order to reconnect salmon to the Gibson Creek drainage. On our first visit back on the rerouted trails we saw a few birds and drained lakes. I will be interested to walk the rest of the trails when the project is complete.

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Looking across the new Steigerwald Lake to the east.

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Egret and heron

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The bridge that used to have a lake under it.

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Killdeer

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Crossing the bridge

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Trail now closed

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Art trail – should be open next spring

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View across the Columbia River from the berm

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Geese

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11/10  Angel’s Rest, OR

We save this popular close-in trail for midweek hikes. The trail zigs and zags up, through the forest, then the cliffs, to stunning  panoramic views up and down the gorge, and across to the snowy Washington peaks (4.5 miles, 1500 feet).

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Angel’s Rest

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View to the west from the upper cliffs

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Looking north across the Columbia River

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Closer view of Silver Star Mountain

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View to the east, northern shoreline highlighted by sunbeams

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Blue jay lunch companion

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Colorful twice-burned forest in the foreground.

11/14 The Labyrinth, WA

Our reliable eastern gorge hike, especially on windier days when the basalt columns give some protection. I love to visit all my favorite trees along the trail, and check the water levels in Hidden Creek (4 miles, 800′).

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Approach trail – Old Hwy 8

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Looking south across the Columbia River

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Pools in Hidden Creek

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Hidden Creek

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Dry grass

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Basalt cliffs

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Up the labyrinth

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More basalt cliffs

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Favorite oak grove

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Lunch view to the east

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Farther up, the cliff-edge oak tree

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Poderosa at the upper viewpoint

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And down, past the haunted tree

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Driving home toward rainy Portland through sunbeams

11/8 Maryhill Museum of Art, WA

I was still nursing a knee injury, so instead of hiking, we drove east of our usual winter hiking ground and visited the Maryhill Museum of Art. It is perched on a cliff edge on the northern side of the Columbia River Gorge, in a mansion built by Sam Hill. He was the remarkable American businessman who built railroads and roads, including some of the first roads through the Columbia River Gorge. He travelled through Europe in the early 20th century, and made many artist friends who convinced him to turn his mansion into a museum. The building was started in 1914, but not opened until 1940. It contains an eclectic selection of art, some donated by Sam Hill’s friends, some acquired later. So out in the middle of nowhere, on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge, is a museum with galleries of Rodin sculptures, gilt furniture that once belonged to the Queen of Romania, historical exhibits about Sam Hill and friends, and a large and well curated display of Native American art and artifacts. And hundreds of chess sets from all over the world. It is a beautiful collection.

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Driving east out of the rain, through the Columbia River Gorge along WA 14

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We accidentally parked near the service entrance, so walked to the museum from the western side.

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Throne chairs, inspired by those donated to the museum by the Queen of Romania, with excellent views.

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View west, to the vineyards and Columbia River

We walked around to the eastern entrance plaza.

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Main entrance

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Yarn-bombing installation

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Dedication by the Queen of Romania

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One of the historical exhibits was about pioneering modern dancer Loie Fuller, who encouraged Sam Hill to dedicate his house to art.

There is an entire gallery dedicated to the works of Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor, including a fascinating exhibit with miniatures showing each step in the process of Lost Wax Bronze Casting. We had just seen one of Rodin’s more famous pieces, the Burghers of Calais, in the Washington DC Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden, and here was a whole roomful of bronze statues, and plaster casts, working models, sketches and completed pieces.

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Rodin gallery

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Plaster model of The Thinker

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More Rodin artwork

Another Gallery, Theater de la Mode, displays miniature mannequin collections from Paris fashion houses.

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Native American Art and artifacts are on display in several galleries:

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Modern jewelry

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Displayed in a glass walled gallery with extensive views.

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Modern paintings in another gallery,

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these change seasonally.

And extensive displays of beading, basketry, stone, leather, weaving, pottery and other antiquities, organized by regions of the west. This exhibit is scheduled to be overhauled during the winter closure. (The museum is closed from midNovember to midMarch).

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The last gallery we visited was the hall of chess sets – over 400, from all over the world, carved or sculpted from many different media, a dazzling display.

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A life size cutout of Sam Hill stands overlooking this gallery.

As we exited the museum, we walked again along the outdoor plaza, admiring the views and outdoor art installations.

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Looking down on the outdoor plaza

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Aptly named “Roll and Play”, by Alisa Looney, 2007

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Eastward view

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View to the south, with three birds

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Three birds

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Walking into the wind back to our car. “Brushing” by Mike Sur, 2009.

I can’t believe I had never been here before, but I hope to return next year when they host their annual plain air exhibit.

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