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…

Deschutes River/Ferry Springs Trail, Oregon – October 14th, 2020

 

Image 10-18-20 at 12.36 PMDeschutes River trail, a smattering of rain, it feels like walking through a purifying mist, and there’s no Covid out here.

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Deschutes River

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Rabbit brush

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Sumac along the trail

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Sumac

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Raindrops on leaves

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Raindrops in the creek

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A place to rest

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Burned tree from 2017 fire

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Golden grasses

I could be wrong, we have passed a few hikers, anglers, a hydrologist; there are boats on the river, workers on the railroad across the river, campgrounds and powerlines nearby.

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Looking uphill to the east.

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Our trail continues south, upstream.

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Columbia Hills to the north.

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Rocky cliffs

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Seagull in the river

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Maybe because in this low desert landscape, with golden light on the black cliffs and the dry grass of late summer, I feel like I can really breathe out here; the scent of the high desert, and a smattering of rain only enhancing the sense of free fresh air.

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Climbing up the cliffs..

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Golden grasses

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Lunch view north.

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Looking down at the river from our lunch stop.

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Looking down to the river through the rock arch.

Up on the hill now after lunch, golden and desolate views of the rivers, views of the black volcanic rocks that used to enclose cascading waters of Celilo Falls, cascading waters that used to have salmon leaping up them every year, salmon leaping up into the nets of the Celilo people, before the dam.

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Ascending the hills.

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Closer view of the Deschutes/Columbia Confluence

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Windmills on the hills, power transmission lines to the dam, cell towers, highways, train tracks, campgrounds, and yet I feel alone on this golden hillside.

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Golden grasses

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Dried balsam root will bloom bright gold in spring.

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Approaching the upper Ferry Springs crossing.

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Ferry Springs

I feel alone even though the powerlines are buzzing above us, the powerlines are transmitting the thoughts and bytes of millions, and yet I feel blessedly alone.

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Its all downhill now to the trailhead.

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Dry waterfall and power lines humming above.

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Back down to river level, with power lines.

I’m not really alone of course – hiking with Dan, in a respite from the city; the desert is a place of wide open freedom – harsh, spiky, dry, rocky, steep, prickly; hidden hazards beyond each cliff, under every rock, yet wide open above, on an autumn day, I am lucky to be here, to be breathing freely.

Bonus content: More River otters! There were six otters playing in the river near the trailhead – 

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River otters

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River otters and ducks

Celilo Falls, Salmon fishing, before the dam:

“Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine” 

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/timeline/632.html

First Columbia River Gorge hike in a while, another hike on the Wildwood Trail, some knitting, and neighborhood views

June 2, 2020 – Phlox Point, Beacon Rock State Park, WA

A quiet Tuesday. We met only a few other hikers on trails that are mostly wide equestrian trails until they switchback up Hardy Ridge. Lower slopes are shady forest, with shady forest blooms. We passed a few sunny open areas before reaching the rocky ridge crest with the wide angle view of the Columbia River Gorge that we have been missing these last few months of pandemic-closed trails. A mile north along the ridge are the rocky ledges of Phlox Point. I was very tired by the return, but happy to be able to hike here again. Hike #44, 8.5 miles, 2200 feet.

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The wide angle view – Mt Adams, Table Mountain, Columbia River Gorge, Bonneville Dam, Hamilton Mountain, Mt Hood.

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Hardy Ridge Crest intersection

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Lunch view of a raven and Mt Hood.

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Heading north along the ridge to Phlox Point.

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Phlox, paintbrush, and parsley on the way up Phlox Point.

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Hamilton Mountain, Mt Hood

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Mt Adams

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Northern Phlox Point ridges and view.

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Some of the wildflowers:

June 10, Wildwood Trail again…

Today we hiked from the Springville/Trillium Trailhead on the Wildwood Trail, east to the detour at the Cleator Trail, and then back. We will have to skip the next mile of Wildwood Trail that is closed for repair. We have now completed approximately half of the 30 mile trail on our five pandemic Wildwood hikes. – Hike #45, 7.6 miles, 615 feet.

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On the Wildwood Trail…

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Salmon berries getting ripe…

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A bridge

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Green!

Knitting

Mitts and a new sock:

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Neighborhood

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Another tethered horse.

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Interesting concrete

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Low light

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A colorful garden

A Black Lives Matter march appeared in our neighborhood. We were able to catch the tail end and join for a short distance, masked and separated, of course.

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Yellow bells at Tom McCall Point, knitting progress, and neighborhood sights

Tom McCall Point, March 18, 2020

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Tom McCall Point, seen from near the trailhead.

We got to see the mid-March wildflower suite. Yellow Bells were sprinkled through the meadows at every elevation. I have never seen so many anywhere!

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Yellow bells on the lower plateau, Mt Adams beyond.

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More yellow bells, midway to the top.

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Yellow bells and an early balsam root near the summit.

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Compact early blooms of the purple Columbia desert parsley line my favorite trail segment that I call Parsley Alley.

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Columbia desert parsley

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There is a new geology sign at the summit!

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Gold stars were sprinkled in some of the sunny spots.

More flowers along the trail:

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Looking eastward toward Rowena as we return to the trailhead.

Hike # 33, 4.3 miles, 1300 feet.   We had no trouble keeping our distance from the few other hikers on the trail, and so far, we are still encouraged to get outside as long as we can keep our distance.

Knitting progress:

I finished the Geology Shawl.

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Geology shawl, pattern by Very Busy Monkey, Malabrigo Mechita, Ninfas colorway.

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I have been knitting the sleeves on my Meris sweater, put away since before our New Zealand trip.

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I cast on 390 stitches for the Which Came First shawl, using the Malabrigo Mechita Piedras that my daughter picked out.

Noticed while walking in my neighborhood:

New blooms:

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tulips

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anemone

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A camelia left in a hedge

New growth:

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Tree trunk

A secret message, and interesting sidewalk cracks and patches:

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First Trilliums of spring

March 2020

On two hikes last week we saw the first trilliums of spring. I also went on the Rose City Yarn Crawl with knitting friends, and to the Portland Art Museum to see the exhibition in honor of the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt St Helens.

Tryon Creek State Park, March 4, 2020

Hike #30 of 2020, 3 miles, 400 feet.

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Early trillium blooms scattered on the forest floor.

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Trillium

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Trillium buds unfurling

Other early flowers in the forest:

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Indian plum

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Skunk cabbage

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Oregon grape

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Salmon berry

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Poetry in the park.

Angel’s Rest, March 9, 2020

Hike #31, 5 miles, 1500 feet.

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Trillium and oak’s toothwort on the Angel’s Rest trail.

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Trillium blooms on the forest floor.

We were treated to the usual stunning views from the top of Angel’s Rest on this sunny, calm day:

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West toward Portland.

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North to Silver Star Mountain.

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East up the Columbia River.

Knitting

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Buttons from Twisted and Close Knit in Portland, and Blizzard in Vancouver.

Portland Art Museum: Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art

This exhibit marking the 40th anniversary of the Mt St Helen’s eruption is multifaceted – videos, photography, and paintings, depicting the mountain before and after the eruption. We did not live in the area at the time, but have hiked around the mountain often in the past ten years. My favorite paintings were these two vibrant depictions of the eruption:

Meanwhile, in Portland…

Back in Portland after our trip to New Zealand, we were greeted by blooming daffodils, hyacinths and wind flowers.

Catherine Creek hike, February  27, 2020

We went to Catherine Creek in the eastern Columbia River Gorge to see what early blooming spring flowers were still on view. We lucked upon a windless, blue sky day, with Mt Hood reflected in the Columbia River. DSC00152Grass widows were waning, desert parsleys, gold stars, yellow bells and buttercups were emerging.

We hiked the lower paved loop, then the upper Bitterroot Trail above the fairy ponds all the way up Sunflower Hill to Atwood Road. We walked down the connector trail to Rowland Wall, for the first time.

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Trail connection to Rowland Wall

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Going down Rowland Wall.

We still want to try the inside out switchback on the upper Shoestring Trail that we missed last time. I love that there are so many trails to follow in this area, and that each visit during the next couple of months will present a different wildflower suite.

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Hike #29, 5.5 miles, 1300 feet.

Knitting

I knit a small amount while in New Zealand.

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Geology shawl, and my current traveling socks.

Hamilton Mountain, WA, and first knit socks of 2020

January 3, 2020 – Our first hike of the New Year was to Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. We’ve been many times, usually to see the cliffs become hanging gardens in the spring. Today we had perfect winter hiking conditions – not too cold, a bit muddy, full waterfalls, clear views from the top.

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The first summit of Hamilton Mountain, as seen from the power line cut on the lower trail.

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Approaching the upper cliffs, eastern gorge beyond.

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Bonneville Dam, with Mt Hood appearing to the south.

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First view from the summit- Mt Adams glowing in winter white beyond Table Mountain.

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Wide view from the summit.

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Mt Hood to the south, in low winter light.

After lunch at the summit we continued the trail to the northern saddle/plateau –

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A last look back at Mt Hood.

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Western gorge, filling with mist and a painterly sky.

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Columbian lewisia foliage in the saddle.

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Crossing over a very full Rodney Falls on the return hike.

Hike #1 for 2020, 8.2 miles, 2250 feet.

Knitting

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First knit finish in 2020 – traveling socks that I started last May.

Christmas Eve at Dry Creek Falls, and knitted ornaments

December 24, 2019, Cascade Locks, Oregon

A foggy day – a good time to head into the forest. The trailhead park at the Bridge of the Gods was decorated for the holidays. We hiked in the other direction, south on the Pacific Crest Trail, and up hill away from the Columbia River. It is about 2.5 miles to this lovely waterfall that pours over a columnar basalt cliff. We had it to ourselves for lunch and a photo session. Then back down the trail, back to town, to finish up some elf work.

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Bridge of the Gods trailhead

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Into the foggy forest that is scarred by the 2017 fire.

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Dry Creek just below the waterfall.

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Dry Creek Falls

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Closer views:

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Still foggy on the cliffs as we drive home.

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Hike #58, 5.5 miles, 1050 feet

Back home, I baked a few cookies, wrapped a few presents, and constantly rechecked the airline website as our daughter’s flight from DC was on a long delay. She eventually arrived about 1 am. Her visit for the week is the best present!

Knitted ornaments

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I made a little acorn for my friend’s tree – a last minute project. I collected the acorn caps last year after seeing some knitted acorns on Ravelry. It was a very quick project, using a bit of scrap yarn.

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A knitting group friend gave us all ornaments that were knitted by a mouse.

 

Up the Labyrinth and down Coyote Wall in fog and sun

12/13/2019  Coyote Wall, Washington

Once again we drive through the foggy, rainy Columbia River Gorge to the east side of the Cascade Mountains…

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Rainbow over White Salmon, from the Hood River Bridge.

Once again, we walk along Old Highway 8, parallel to the Columbia River…

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Look Lake reflections.

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Columbia River, Oregon beyond.

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Geese on those rocks above the river.

Once again we hike up the winding trails of The Labyrinth, through layers of shifting fog.

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Red Oregon grape along the trail.

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Labyrinth waterfall

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Fog ahead

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My favorite oak grove

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The sun is trying

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Mt Hood’s flattish top peaking in and out at us as we go higher.

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Our favorite landmark tree viewpoint – one moment in the fog, 

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then clear skies for a while.

Once again we hike higher, then across Atwood Road to the sudden cliff edge of Coyote Wall.

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Cliffs of Coyote Wall are just beyond the oak tree

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Coyote Wall, Look Lake, Columbia River.

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Looking north to the upper slopes of Coyote Wall.

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Eastern Columbia River Gorge.

Once again we hike down the ankle breaking bike trails, one called the Crybaby trail, while the fog layers shift and disperse.

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East view from Old Ranch Road

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Looking back up the wall, fog descending again.

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Summer parsley.

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Looking East toward the Rowena orchards.

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Almost back to the Coyote Wall trailhead.

(Hike #57, 7 miles, 1500 feet)

Knitting…

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Button bands on the Meris cardigan done; and about two thirds of a Rafa Hat.