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.

Knitting/quilting update and some holiday cheer.

December 10, 2020 – I have been both knitting and quilting away, as the days get shorter, the evenings longer. We usually watch one program in the evenings, and have made our way through the latest seasons of The Crown, The Great British Baking Show (including the holiday edition with the Derry Girls), and The Queen’s Gambit. Some of these require full attention, but the Baking show is pretty relaxed, so I can get a lot of knitting in.

I finished my Dissent Socks and another Ridge Washcloth.

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Dissent Socks, pattern by Tiina Kuu

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Ridge Washcloth, pattern by Hannah Maier

I joined the AdventureGnome Mystery KnitALong, and am also making one of her earlier released gnome patterns, just a little knitting on these every day.

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Adventure Gnome, pattern by Sarah Schira

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Here We Gnome Again, pattern by Sarah Schira

I am making good progress on socks and a hat that are holiday gifts.

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Rafa’s Hat, pattern by Joji Locatelli; Artists Garden Socks, pattern by Tif Neilan

And I finished the quilting on the Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt. I just need to add the binding.

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Holiday Cheer – My knitting group, which has become an online knitting group during the pandemic, cleverly set up a holiday exchange, beginning last summer. Three of the 15 members collected twenty 10 gram mini-skeins of leftover fingering weight yarn from each member, and set up what were were promised as a Solstice Surprise, Advent Calendar, Hanukkah Miracles, or Pagan Pockets (to be ecumenical about it). They really outdid themselves, and we have been assured that they had a lot of fun doing it – despite having to collaborate remotely. I was expecting a bag with twenty balls of yarn, but instead was presented with this magnificent gift -bearing banner. Gifts in pockets, and ribbons with tied-on but hidden yarn balls. It has been so much fun to open one every day and see what my surprise is. I believe the plan is to save the banner and fabric squares for reuse in future years – so it is also a wonderful, reusable item. I am so grateful to these knitters, who I get to see twice a week on knit chat meetups, for helping  to pass the pandemic time so productively and supportively.

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My yarn “Solstice Surprise” banner.

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10 days of surprises, so far!

I have noticed lots of cheerful decorations around the neighborhood on my walks. We lit candles for the first night of Hanukkah tonite, joining our son remotely. Our Christmas tree is up and lighted – I have yet to unpack the ornaments – that will be next.

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Giant ornaments

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Lawn reindeer

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Roof reindeer

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Star Wars heroes

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Porch nutcrackers

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A beautiful sunset –

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reflected in the window.

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Menorah

Today, the first Covid vaccine was approved – we can begin to hope for the end of the pandemic – that is probably the most uplifting thought of all!

In October we went to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon

Another socially distant/Covid careful trip. We stayed three nights in Prineville, and had two days to explore the Painted Hills and Sheep Rock units of the National Monument. Indoor exhibits were closed, trails were available for walking. 

Painted Hills 10/27/2020

We walked five different short trails, each highlighting an aspect of the ancient lake beds that are exposed now as brilliantly colored and striped landforms. It was bitter cold out in the morning – well below freezing, but warmed up during the day.

Painted Hills Overlook – The main overlook has an amazing view of the Painted Hills. We walked to the upper overlook for more views.

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Main overlook.

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River of grass on the nearby hills.

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Zooming in from the upper overlook:

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Upper overlook

Painted Cove Trail – We next walked the short loop through the red hills near the John Day River.

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Red Scar Trail – Another short trail that leads past brilliantly colored badlands.

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Red Scar Knoll and Red Hill

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Carroll Rim Trail – Our longest trail for the day (1.6 miles/400 feet) was a walk up to the Carroll Rim. As we hiked up, we could look down on the Painted Hills. From the top, we could see views in every direction.

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Carrol Rim

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Looking down from the trail.

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View from the end of the trail.

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View to the east

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View to the northwest, Painted Cove area.

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Close up of Painted Cove

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View to the Painted Hills on the way down.

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Back to the Painted Hills Overlook – for another look as the low western light added a glow to the Painted Hills.

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On our drive back to Prineville, we saw a herd of deer, and a view of the Central Cascades.

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Deer near Painted Hills.

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Mt Bachelor, Broken Top and the Three Sisters on the horizon.

Sheep Rock Unit – Blue Basin – 10/28/2020

We first walked the Island in Time Trail in the heart of Blue Basin.

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Entering Blue Basin – one of many bridges on this trail.

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Ice in the creek – last time we were here there was bluish water in the creek.

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Blue-green volcanic ash claystones.

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One of many fossil displays along the trail.

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We would be hiking on the surrounding hills later in the day.

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Bench at the end of the trail.

This beautifully eroded skyline was a prominent feature.

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Zooming in on the prow…

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We spotted this little bird on our way out.

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After lunch, we hiked the longer Blue Basin Overlook Trail (3.25 miles/ 600 feet) around the encircling mountains. 

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North of Blue Basin, the trail passes more blue badlands formations.

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Continuing up hill…

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Boardwalk over mudstone

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Views to the north

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Robins and juniper berries.

Eventually we reached the viewpoint over Blue Basin –

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The trail circles around to the south, above the basin, giving views of the same beautifully eroded skyline I noticed earlier.

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Eventually, we descended to the trailhead. 

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John Day River Valley.

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We also took a short hike on the Story in Stone Trail, located just a few miles north in the Foree unit. We saw similar landforms there.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this remote area. We were lucky with sunny, if cold, weather. The trails were mostly empty, an important Covid consideration. Lots of fresh air and a good change of pace from our sheltering at home routines.

 

 

Thanksgiving approaches…

Thanksgiving approaches and once again I am baking three kinds of pie, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and a turkey breast. There will be mashed potatoes and (store bought) gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, and veggie lasagna. For four people. We will be grateful for abundance and eat all the leftovers for days. We will be grateful for all the years we could share the meal with a larger group of family and friends. I will even make just a little bit of whipped cream for the pies, to keep with tradition, this year when we struggle to keep the traditions afloat. We won’t be using the good china, the antique gravy boat, or grandma’s silver. We won’t be lighting candles or lingering over the table. We will be in the backyard, grateful that it is not raining. Grateful that after a negative covid test and continued social distancing, we can set up a separate table for our son to join us, and we can sit together for as long as the weather holds. We will be grateful to have lots of warm clothes, hand knitted socks, scarves and sweaters to keep us warm while we celebrate our first, and hopefully our last, Covid Thanksgiving.  November 25, 2020

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Pumpkin and chocolate pies ready, apple to be baked tomorrow.

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Turkey collection.

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Thanksgiving card collection

We went to Mt Rainier in September –

-on a midweek getaway, to a self-contained cabin in Packwood, Washington, with our own food, following all Covid-19 precautions. We have seen the stunning wildflower displays of summer a few times, and had long been wanting to see the the mountain in fall colors.

Mount Rainier area hikes.

September 29, 2020 – Comet Falls/Van Trump Park

This trail, west of the Nisqually River and Paradise, follows Van Trump Creek all the way up to the stunning Comet Falls, then farther up the slopes to magnificent views of Mt Rainier from Van Trump park. (P.B. Van Trump  was one of the first to stand on the summit of the mountain, in 1870). A very challenging and satisfying hike (7 miles, 2500 feet).

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Smaller falls near the trailhead.

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Trail through the woods.

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I first thought this was our waterfall, then continued over the next ridge:

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Comet Falls! About 400 feet, counting smaller tiers above and below the main falls. Snow bank on lower right.

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With rainbows in the mist!

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Our trail continues up, with better views of Comet Falls.

The trail continued upward steeply, into Van Trump Park.

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Above the waterfall, the mountain came into view.

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Fall foliage on the slopes of Van Trump Park, glowing red!

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Mount Rainier from our lunch stop in Van Trump Park.

Views of the glaciers from a new angle:

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The trail down seemed steeper than the trail going up; that might just be my knees talking.

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Mt Adams on view beyond the Tatoosh Range.

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Glacial striations/polish and Mt Adams.

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Uppermost tier of Comet Falls.

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A particularly steep trail section.

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A few late gentians in the upper meadows.

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Vine maples just beginning to turn red.

We stopped at a couple of roadside viewpoints on our way out of the park.

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Highway bridge over the Nisqually River canyon.

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Nisqually River downstream.

We could not resist stopping to see the mirror image in Reflection Lakes.

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September 30 – Naches Peak/Tipsoo Lake Loop, smoke haze at Sunrise, Silver Falls.

We hiked this loop trail (4 miles, 600 feet), with our views increasingly shrouded in haze. Wildfire smoke began drifting diffusely in, creating a grayish white sky that was so startlingly blue yesterday.

We were almost alone as we walked around Tipsoo Lake, admiring the beautiful reflections in its mirror-like surface.

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Tipsoo Lake

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Yakima Peak

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Mt Rainier, slightly obscured by haze.

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Mt Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake.

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Yakima Peak – our trail rising along its base.

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Pasque flower seed head

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Meadow of huckleberry and aster seed heads.

Then we hiked the loop around Naches Peak – following the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Crossing Hwy 410.

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Hwy 410, headed down the canyon, to the east.

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A new wilderness area for us!

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Trail up over the shoulder of Naches Peak.

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Naches Peak.

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Looking back.

We passed a small lake with a friendly chipmunk.

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Once over the shoulder of Naches Peak, we could see the Dewey Lakes to the southeast as the smoke haze increased.

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One of the Dewey Lakes.

The trail circles back west,  with stunning views of Mt Rainier when there is no haze, as it passes more small lakes. 

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Mt Rainier is ahead through the haze.

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One of the trailside lakes.

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More beautiful meadows!

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Mt Rainier disappearing before our eyes!

We stopped to admire Upper Tipsoo Lake near the trailhead before finishing the hike.

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Upper Tipsoo Lake.

After lunch we drove up to Sunrise, elevation 6400 feet, but the smoke haze obscured views, so we didn’t stay.

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Dotted Blue line shows Mt Rainier skyline behind the smoke haze.

Instead we hiked to Silver Falls, on the Ohanapecosh River, through old and mossy forest, to see clear turquoise waters, and bright falling waters cutting through a slick rock gorge. All in all a lovely ‘recovery’ day from yesterday – the hikes being not so steep. We hope the smoke will blow out for tomorrow.

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Small fairy falls in the mossy old growth forest.

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Looking down on the blue waters in Ohanapecosh gorge.

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Overlook at the top of Silver Falls.

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Downstream view of the Ohanapecosh River below the bridge.

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Silver Falls.

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October 1 – Paradise, Golden Gate Trail, Panorama Point

The mountain was ‘out’ behind a thin veil of translucent haze! Smoke would gather throughout the day below us to the south on the flanks of the Tatoosh Range. 

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View from the parking lot at Paradise.

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Iconic gateway to the trail system.

We hiked across Paradise Valley, and up the Golden Gate switchbacks and granite steps, to the High Skyline Trail that circles the valley (6 miles, 1700 feet).

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Looking up toward the red huckleberry foliage on Alta Vista, which would be our return trail in the afternoon.

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Looking toward the Skyline trail on the east side of Paradise Valley.

We saw a black bear foraging in the meadows below, and at least eight marmots foraging and nest building on our way up.

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While looking across at the waterfall,

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I noticed a moving black spot in the valley below.

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Black bear.

The slopes were still green, and full of fading wildflowers with a few remaining blooms.

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Switchbacks of the Golden Gate Trail ahead.

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Up the last switchback to the Skyline Ridge.

Once to the ridge, stark, glaciated landscape dominated.

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High Skyline Trail

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A glimpse over the ridge to the east to the next glaciated valley.

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Our destination is around the cirque and above the snowfield – there are tiny humans on that ridge.

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Rocky trail.

A mountain goat was resting near one of the snow fields in the cirque.

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This is the closest we would get to the mountain goat (to the right of the snow field).

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Mountain goat, zoom lens.

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Looking down on the mountain goat after we climbed higher.

Over the rocky top above Panorama Point, near Pebble Creek, we sat on the rocks and ate our lunch with a full mountain view: 7000 feet of vertical relief, glaciers and sculpted rocks. We heard an occasional boom as something up there, heeding gravity, fell.

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Lunch view.

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Chipmunk on the rock.

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Glacier close-ups.

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We made our way back down the steep granite steps, past Panorama Point and more glacier views.

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Heading down to Panorama Point.

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Panorama Point, with views in all directions:

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East, where we have been.

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South, toward our starting point, and the smoky Tatoosh Range.

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West, to our downward trail and the Nisqually Valley.

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Continuing down…

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Rocky steps to Glacier View.

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We saw one late pasque flower in the meadow.

The bear was still roaming in the valley below.

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We crossed through the brilliant red huckleberry foliage on the flank of Alta Vista.

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After a last stop at Edith Creek and Myrtle Falls, I was done walking for a while. My legs were tired, my cup full! I have to agree with the sentiment carved in the steps at the trailhead. This is one of the most beautiful places I have been. I feel so lucky to have seen it in the fall!

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Myrtle Falls

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Edith Creek

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This hungry deer near the trailhead paid no attention to the people taking his photo!

Breathing (and quilting!) again…

November 11th, 2020 – Well yeah!!! Biden and Harris won the election! We will have a new administration in January! Action will be taken on the pandemic, on climate change, on humanitarian treatment of every person, with intelligent, informed, common sense in decision making.

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And, our new vice president Kamala Harris represents the breaking of the glass ceiling for so many underrepresented and often abused populations of people! What joy!

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Halloween was  celebrated in a subdued way.

My neighborhood trees have gone through their beautiful color change cycle. Just today I walked through red, yellow and orange paved sidewalks. Rain is turning leaf piles to mush. The city clean up trucks are coming tomorrow.

For me, now that I know that our current president will be replaced by someone with decency, I can feel my stress levels decreasing. So many events this year involving breath – the coronavirus, the smoke from wildfires, the political morass…I am beginning to breathe more freely again!

Another thing I can do again has to do with my crafting. I love quilting and sewing, but for me it is a different sort of creativity than knitting. And for me, all the stress of the past four years has found its best relief in knitting. I am grateful, and I will keep on knitting. But on Friday night, when my son told me I really did have reason to be optimistic, I got the notion to pull out a languishing quilt top. Quilting is a different creation process to knitting, and not nearly as immediately satisfying as picking up needles and frantically knitting until I calm down a bit. I have already basted the quilt, and am making decisions about thread and pattern, so soon will be stitching.

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Plaid Rectangle Charms quilt

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I finished my Rio Calina scarf (Cat Bordhi).

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I made a tiny Mochimochi Gnome.

I have no delusions that our national way forward will be easy. Almost half of the nation voted for our country to stay on the same path. I believe that people are allowed to believe whatever they want, but there should be a wall that separates church and state. White supremacy is wrong.  I and more than 75 million other Americans, not to mention millions of global citizens, have been holding our breath these four years, knitting frenetically in my case, waiting to be able to breathe again. When all the law suits and the recounts and the lame attempts at coup are done, we will all be inhaling deeply, exhaling freely, back on the path of decency, with many long hills still to climb, but a worst scenario overcome.

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Knitting update, neighborhood walks, an art exhibit, and waterfalls…October 2020

Knitting

My fingers have been busy:

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Stripey socks – finished!

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Rio Calina Cowl – getting longer, and I might just make it into a long scarf instead of a cowl.

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Dissent Socks, in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsberg – I’ve finished the ankles – on to the heels!

Walks around the neighborhood,

New signs, whimsy, architectural elements:

Fall colors evolving…

I have been hunting witches and other Halloween displays, to be shared in a later post.

Portland Textile Month, Tiny Pricks Art Installation

We visited the exhibition window to see the stitchery, made by artists who embroider a quote onto a vintage textile as a form of protest. It is not how I want to spend my crafting time – but I was glad to get a chance to see a small sampling of the thousands of pieces that have been contributed to this crowd-sourced artwork.

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Silver Falls State Park

October 19th – We hiked the 5 mile waterfall loop. It was hard to relax and enjoy the scenery –  there were a fair number unmasked, seemingly Covid-protocol-oblivious hikers. We cut our day shorter than usual. The waterfalls are always beautiful, and the light streaming through the yellow big leaf maples enchanting.

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South Falls

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Lower South Falls

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Double Falls

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Middle North Falls

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