Eleven Lakes and a bear in Indian Heaven Wilderness, and more pandemic knitting

We took two hikes in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a beautiful patch of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Mt St Helens in southern Washington. A few small volcanic peaks rise above the rolling forested landscape that is also spotted with dozens of lakes, and covered with ripe huckleberry bushes in August.

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August 20, 2020 – Indian Racetrack Lake and Red Mountain


Trailhead into the forest


Racetrack Lake – the only lake on this hike


Looking Across Racetrack Meadow to Red Mountain


View of Mt Adams on the way up to Red Mountain


Closer view of Mt Adams,


And closer.


Nearing the top of Red Mountain

Views from the top:

Mt Hood beyond Red Mountain Lookout


We climbed up to the viewing platform on the lookout.


Some other hikers pointed out a bear cub down on the other side of the mountain, eating huckleberries.


Looking back east at Mt Adams – clouds now covering the top


Mt St Helens to the north


And starting down again, we can see our trail dropping into the woods, and beyond we see the spine of Indian Heaven Wilderness: Berry Mountain, Gifford Peak, burned East Crater, and Lemei Rock.

Some details along the trail:

Lily pads and grass, Racetrack Lake


Falls Creek

Hike #57, 6.8 miles, 1500 feet

August 28, 2020 – Thomas Lake trailhead to Junction Lake

The other ten lakes were seen on this hike.


Once again we enter the forested wilderness…


Thomas Lake


Heather Lake


Dee Lake


Eunice Lake


Nuha Lake


Rock Lakes


Unnamed lake beyond Rock Lakes


View of burnt East Crater from the Old Cascade Crest trail segment


A glimpse of Mt St Helens as we cross the shoulder of East Crater


Unnamed lake near the trail junction


Junction Lake, our turnaround point

Some details along the trail:

Reflections in the lakes…



Huckleberry bushes turning red


Mountain ash berries




Most likely the last beargrass bloom of summer


And another view of Mt St Helens above Eunice Lake on the descent.


Hike #58, 6.8 miles, 630 feet.

Meanwhile, we are floating along through more days of pandemia – some days we see no one at all, only virtual connections to the outside world. Our neighbors leave us tomatoes. We leave them apples and plums and wave across the rose bushes. Downtown is still burning up with civil unrest while I go on placidly through the days of late summer, of pandemia, of this administration… I virtually hold my breath, knock on wood, pray, cast spells, wish for a begin to a return to ‘normalcy’; hope for a late summer without a local fire season, hope for a scientifically tested efficacious vaccine, and hope for a fair election that will allow us to emerge from impending climate change, covid and facism. And I knit…

Knitting –

I cast on a hat and some socks…


Rafa by Joji Locatelli, Malabrigo Arroyo, Blue green


Sock, Berroco Sox yarn

Neighborhood sights:


fern shadows


Poetry Post


yard sign


neighborly tomatoes

And nationally…

My daughter attended the 57th March on Washington,

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The march

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Lincoln Memorial


The Mall

-and this artwork crossed my social media feed:


I am still struggling a bit with the new WordPress format….

Wildflower Rainbows along the trails during Pride month; some knitting, and neighborhood views –

Friday, June 19, 2020, Grassy Knoll, Washington

Wildflower meadows filled the open slopes near the trailhead.

White dogwood, lilies and anemones led us through the shady forest up the steep trail to the ridge crest.

More flowers all the way to the top of Grassy Knoll, and beyond.


Pink cliff penstemons along the rocky ridge, Mt Adams beyond.


Grassy Knoll looks green from here,


but the green slopes are full of flowers!


Summit view toward Mt Hood.


Summit view toward Mt Adams.


Continuing up the ridge, Mt Hood, the Columbia River, and more wildflower meadows.


And more blooming meadows near our turnaround point.

Every color of wildflower was in bloom today!

It was a great day in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. (Hike #46, 6.2 miles, 1350 feet.)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Chinidere Mountain, Oregon

We saw many of the same flowers that we saw at Grassy Knoll, though we were a thousand feet higher in altitude, so earlier in the bloom season. (Hike #47, 7.5 miles, 1450 feet.)


Wahtum Lake, near the trailhead.

A few early season flowers still in bloom here:


Ascending into the rainbow meadows on Chinidere Mountain.



Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams from the summit.


Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson from the summit.


Wahtum Lake and Mt Hood.

A highlight was walking north of Chinidere Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail, into the upper margin of the 2017 burn zone. Beargrass blooms sparkled in the recovering forest.


Wahtum ‘Express’ back to the parking area.



Finished mitts.


A nearly finished Meris cardigan – still have to sew on the buttons.


Sock progress.

Around the neighborhood:

Black Lives Matter signs blooming everywhere, along with summer flowers.

And more action nationally…


Hiking to St Helens Lake / A Peek at Beatlemania and Halloween in Portland

St Helen’s Lake, Sunday, October 27, 2019

We hiked from Johnson Ridge Observatory in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument to the St Helens Lake overlook for stunning 360 degree views.  It was cold, but not too windy.


From the trailhead, Coldwater Peak is the highest point in view. St Helens Lake is tucked behind the ridgeline on the right, behind the arch.


Frost along the trail,


and Mt St Helens, herself.


Nearing our destination, nice view of Mt Adams and Spirit Lake.


One last ridge to traverse.


Lunch view and turnaround point – St Helens Lake. Mt Rainier, about 40 miles away, peeking over the ridgeline of the Mt Margaret backcountry.


Zooming in on Mt Rainier,


the Goat Rocks,


Spirit Lake, the silhouette of Mt Hood, and Mt St Helens, with Harry’s Ridge in the foreground.


One last look at St Helens Lake before heading down.

This entire area is off limits to off trail exploring, so there is no trail to the lakeshore. Before the 1980 eruption, the bare slopes were covered with soil and forest. New plants are growing, but the relic tree stumps and log rafts remain as they were after the blast.


Closer view of the 39.5 year old log rafts.


Zooming in on the dome and glacier in Mt St Helen’s crater.

We hiked partway up Harry’s Ridge on the return.


Another view of Spirit Lake and Mt Adams from Harry’s Ridge.


And a last look at Mt St Helens in afternoon light.

Some details:


We met a birder on the return trip who was very excited to have spotted this Northern Pygmy Owl on a fir tree. Nice display of tree stumps and blast-oriented logs in the background.


Northern pygmy owl.


A few very late wild strawberry blooms along the trail, nestled into the pumice..

SCREEN SHOT 2019-11-03 AT 11.53.50 AM

(Hike #50, 10 miles, 2300 feet)

Downtown Portland

I met a friend at the Portland Historical Society Museum to see a photo exhibit about the making of flax into linen in the 1930s. It was fascinating, but not photogenic. I popped in to see an exhibit celebrating The Beatles’ 1965 concert in Portland. I was a preteen when the Beatles invaded, but my older sister swept us into fandom with her enthusiasm, and their music is timeless. My own children have had their Beatle years. We visited Abbey Road in London, and then went on the Magical Mystery Tour and to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool during our UK trip in 2011. It was fun to see a little slice of Beatlemania in PDX.


We had plenty of Beatle magazines and trading cards at my house, but not this game. It’s funny now to think how shockingly long their hair was considered- it looks pretty clean cut by today’s standards.


It was a gorgeous fall day in downtown Portland.


Oregon Historical Society Museum


First Congregational Church


Central Library

Neighborhood Witches and more:

There are many elaborate halloween decorations in my neighborhood to enjoy while out walking and admiring the beautiful fall colors on the day before Halloween.



The light was just right to bring out the face on this tree.


Eagle and salmon carved from a cedar that had to be removed.




Two wildlife refuges, Indian Heaven, and trying to keep up with fall colors, Sept-Oct 2019

It has been a busy couple of weeks – a quilt show, a fiber festival, hikes at two wildlife refuges and Indian Heaven Wilderness. Meanwhile, the Mac hard drive is off at the Genius repair shop. I am learning blog work-arounds via iPad.

Friday, September 27 – I attended the Northwest Quilt Expo, admired all the quilts and photographed many. This vintage Tile Friendship Quilt (circa 1900, maker unknown) from the Latimer Quilt Museum, was very interesting. Seemingly random shapes are appliquéd to a plain background, each signed by a different maker in true Friendship Quilt style. It looks very modern, but it is old and entirely hand stitched!

I bought a few fat eighths to add to a batik quilt in my mental UFO list.

Sunday, September 29 -I visited the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon, just long enough to buy a lighter weight spindle and more fiber to practice drop spinning.

Then we went to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, our first visit there, and walked around the perimeter. Not many birds have arrived yet, but there are great overlooks and a nice winter trail for future visits. (Hike#44, 3.6 miles)

Great Blue Heron

Hawthorne berries

Looking across the refuge – soon this will be flooded with water and birds.

Great Blue Heron on the return trail.

Saturday, October 5 – We went to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington during their season closing bird fest. We walked the Kiwa Trail and part of the newly opened Carty Lake trail, and also went inside the Chinook Plankhouse to look around. (Hike#45, 3.2 miles)


Sand Hill Cranes

Sand Hill Cranes in flight.

Great Horned Owl

Carty Lake

Chinook plank house

Inside the plankhouse.

Chinook Salmon trap

Sunday, October 6 – We joined friends for a hike in Indian Heaven Wilderness – from the East Crater trailhead to Junction and Lemei Lakes. Late fall colors, thawed mushrooms and blueberries, very pretty. (Hike#46, 8.8 miles, 1000 feet)

East Crater beyond one of many small lakes along the trail.

Junction Lake

Lemei Rock

Lemei Lake

Neighborhood walks – Meanwhile, in Northeast Portland, the days grow shorter, the light angles lower, the leaves more colorful.

Katsura trees


Neighborhood witches hunting…

More witches…

Ash trees reflected in nearby windows.

Rain chain shadows

Knitting – I am making progress on my Meris cardigan….

Someone turned on the waterfall! June Lake and Chocolate Falls, Mt St Helens, July 4th, 2019

We went with good friends to the June Lake Trail northeast of Cougar, Washington, on the south side of Mt St Helens. Image 7-4-19 at 10.33 PMThe walk to the lake is easy, with flowers blooming along the way, and magical mirror reflections at the lake.


June Lake


Mirror reflections


View to the waterfall across the lake.

In February 2016 we snowshoed to this spot – a couple of comparison look back views:


June Lake and waterfall, July 4, 2019


June Lake and waterfall, February 20, 2016


July 2019


February 2016

Today we continued beyond June Lake, up a steep ridge, to the Loowit (around the mountain) Trail, and walked east for a ways.


Beargrass blooming at the edge of a lava flow along the trail.


Large trees

We turned back west to visit the elusive Chocolate Falls. Our well traveled companion had never ‘seen’ the waterfall, although he had been there a few times. We arrived at the horseshoe shaped cliff, but there was no waterfall.


Dry lip of Chocolate Falls, 2:44 pm.


The waterfall is now “on”, 2:46 pm.

Then some nearby hikers noticed water beginning to flow in the channel above the cliff, and lo and behold, a couple of minutes later, water was plunging over the cliff through a well-worn, polished slot in the cliff edge.


Looking upstream at the channel.


Narrow but steady stream of Chocolate Falls


Looking down at the polished slot at the lip of Chocolate Falls.

The snow fields on the mountain above had warmed enough to send fresh meltwater down the channel. Apparently this is a documented phenomenon here. To us it was a surprise, like a rainbow or a special wildlife sighting – a serendipitous moment of grace and beauty.


Mt St Helens remained slightly cloud covered, with partial views. The temperature was perfect. Our plan to take the loop trail back to June Lake for the return hike also offered a ‘surprise’. This connector trail is really only a good option in the winter, on snowshoes or skis, when the lava flow boulderfields are snow covered. It took us almost an hour to navigate the half mile connecting trail, and we were very happy not to have twisted an ankle or knee in the process.


Picking our way across the lava flow.

The unexpected elements, the waterfall and the boulder field, added to our adventures on a day suited to celebrating our nation’s commitment to protecting our wilderness areas! (Hike #30, 7.5 miles, 1500 feet)


Mt St Helens from the south.

New or notable wildflowers today:


I have seamed and added the top edging to Le Petit Sac, and knit the icord strap.




Trapper Creek Wilderness, WA (18-46)

October 20, 2018 – Observation Peak and Sister Rocks

We hiked up and down this roller coaster trail, through autumn light and sun, to viewpoints of the surrounding Cascade mountain peaks rising above a bluish haze.

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7 miles, 1575 feet (#58)

Driving to the trailhead on Dry Creek Road we passed through a tunnel of yellow trees.


View through the front windshield…

Bunchberry and huckleberry along the trail provided some color.


At the top of the first ridge, the views from the rocky outcrop are to Mt Rainier and Mt Adams.



Mt Rainier

We then took the side trail to Sister Rocks, with a great view of Mt St Helens and Mt Hood. Lunch stop.



Dan atop Sister Rock; Soda Peaks on the left.


My shadow and Mt St Helens


Closer view


Mt Hood

The intermediate high point on the Sister Rocks spur provides an excellent view of Mt Adams.



Mt Adams


Returning to the main trail, we headed down hill, then back up to the views from Observation Peak of four tall volcanoes rising above the forested landscape.

Version 2

Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, and Mt Adams from Observation Peak.


Mt St Helens and the Mt Margaret backcountry


Mt Rainier


Mt Adams


Mt Hood

As we departed Observation Peak I spotted what may be the last blooming aster of the year.


Mirror Lake

The lake is at the base of Vista Point in Rooster Rock State Park. As we drive through the Columbia River Gorge on I-84 we sometimes see swans here in winter. This morning, no swans, but the fog was lifting poetically, so we stopped to look at the light.



Another dishcloth finished, and I frogged and am reknitting the front of the Ivy Lace Cardigan.




Falls Creek Falls (18-42)

Falls Creek Falls Trail, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA     9/29/2018    (#54)

This trail provides fall foliage along Falls Creek, and an impressive waterfall at the terminus.


Colorful vine maples at the trailhead


Into the woods


Over the first bridge


Along the creek


Over the upper bridge


Around this turn we hear the falls


Then look up and see the upper falls


Middle and lower tiers (about 225 feet high) of Falls Creek Falls viewed from the end of the trail.


Lower plunge pool


Downstream view

After eating our lunch, we returned back down the trail,


Through the vine maple corridor


Under the big leaf maple canopy


With a pause by the stream


And another pause near the trailhead to play with the impressionistic reflections…


We saw a variety of leaf displays…


Vine maple – green



Vine maple – turning orange



Vine maple – orange


Solomon seal, with berries


Vine maple – red

My new identification for the day was Pacific dogwood without the distinctive white flowers. In the fall it has red leaves and red seed pod clusters.


About 4 miles round trip and 800 feet.

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I have made knitting progress on my Ivy Lace Cardigan and a round dishcloth.


Fall Equinox, Indian Heaven, WA (18-41)

East Crater Trail, 9/23/18 (Hike #53)

Indian Heaven is a landscape of lakes, cinder cones, forests and meadows in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest southwest of Mt Adams. The Pacific Crest Trail runs right through the center of the Wilderness on its northward path through southern Washington state. There are abundant wild huckleberries in late summer. By fall, the huckleberry and other foliage display a vibrant spectrum of bright colors – reds, oranges, fuchsias, magentas, yellows, yellow oranges and yellow greens that stand out in sharp contrast to the forest and lake greens and browns, and the sky blue.

Last fall the Indian Heaven Wilderness was closed due to the East Crater Fire that occurred at the same time as the Eagle Creek Fire, so we are back this year after a 2 year absence.

Today we hiked the East Crater Trail to Junction Lake in the center of the wilderness area, then completed a loop that passed several lakes and followed the Pacific Crest Trail back south to Junction Lake.


Red huckleberry bushes in the forest


Layers of color


Unnamed lake just east of East Crater – the burn from last year seen beyond and above.



Top of East Crater


Junction Lake

So much color in the meadows!



Ripe huckleberries





Dropping down to Lemei Lake where we had our lunch:



Lunch view


The southbound section of the Pacific Crest trail was more forested, with views through the trees of a couple of bigger lakes.



Bear Lake

We passed Junction Lake again, then hiked back to the trailhead.



Huckleberry and spirea


Mountain Ash


Huckleberry stump



The last little lake on the trail out.

Our total for the day:  9.6 miles/1000 feet elevation.

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Panther Creek Falls

We made a quick stop on our drive home at this massive waterfall complex – there are three creeks that tumble together into the main branch of Panther Creek.



I went to the Northwest Quilt Expo in Portland and purchased some fabric for my next quilt project:


Red, White and Purple at Three Corner Rock, WA (18-28)

Three Corner Rock   4th of July, 2018    (Hike#40)

This easy hike follows the Pacific Crest Trail south from the 2090 road in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The beautifully maintained and graded trail switchbacks up a ridge lined with a variety of summer wildflowers. DSC06569The last 3/4 mile is on a rutted red access road which goes to the saddle – and to the volcanic pile of Three Corner Rock that is holding down the ridge from blowing away on this windy July 4th.


We scramble part way up the rock to a windbreak and have lunch – only one of our hiking party braves the blast to scramble all the way to the top.


Meanwhile, we admire our five volcano view: Jefferson, Hood, Adams, St Helens, Rainier, along with views of the Columbia River all the way to Portland to the west. This was a good place for a lookout back in the day!


Mts Hood and Jefferson beyond the cell tower.


Mts St Helens, Rainier and Adams.


Silver Star Mountain

Among the flower palette are tons of red paintbrush, white bunch berry, and purple penstemon – nothing blue blooming up here today.

Other wildflowers – some are first sightings this year:

The map and June flower comparison is on my blog post from last year. 4.4 miles/1200 feet.

We stopped in Cascade Locks on the way home to buy fresh salmon for our 4th of July barbecue dinner.


Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River.


Native fish market at Bridge of the Gods. The burned skyline shows how close the Eagle Creek fire was to Cascade Locks.


Pinwheel Quilt completed and just waiting for baby:


Fabric baskets for a sister’s birthday:


I started a quilt for the Welcome Blanket project:




25. Early Fall in the Gifford Pinchot

September 30, 2017    Rainy weekend predicted; possible dry window Saturday to the east of Portland;  Indian Heaven still closed from the Crater Fire; windy along the Columbia River. We decided to try some short hikes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Indian Heaven, near Trout Lake, WA.


Our first drive through the Columbia River Gorge since the fire: Good photos are posted in official feeds elsewhere.  I was pleased to see how much is not burned. That said, it was sobering to see the extent of the burn: blackened trees on the skyline, blackened forest floors down to the highway in some places, blackened trunks on still green trees.  I felt great appreciation for the fire fighting, for the massive cleanup that has already occurred, and for the challenge ahead. We will be back someday but not soon.


Through the passenger window of a moving car:  Blackened trees on the skyline; slash piles below.

We got a glimpse of Mt Adams and an intense, wide rainbow just as we entered Trout Lake.


Steamboat Mountain  (#48)

This short hike (1.5 miles, 400′) is touted by Scott Cook in his Curious Gorge book to have some of the best views of the Cascades and a relatively easy trail. The weather was not in our favor, though.  When we parked at the trailhead/quarry, we could just see the top of Steamboat Mountain from the base.


As we hiked up the well graded trail through red huckleberry the clouds closed in.


From the rocky top, I could just make out our Suburu parked at the base, but no mountains, no views.


Looking down at our Suburu (center of photo) from the top


We ate our lunch, hiked down.  We were reminded that we are now in hunting season, as people were firing guns just on the other side of the quarry.

Langfield  Falls

Driving back south toward Trout Lake, we visited Langfield Falls, just east of Tire Junction.  There is a short trail down to the waterfall viewpoint, and another user trail along the creek above the falls. A spatter of rain, a lovely waterfall.


Natural Bridge

Back to Trout Lake, then west about 5 miles, is the Natural Bridge area- a collapsed lava tube with bridges in places of incomplete collapse.  A friend from the Portland Hikers Facebook group had tipped us off to brilliant fall color here, and we found this to be true – even if we were early for the full show.  The inner collapsed tube is overgrown with vine maples that blazed in gradation through the spectrum from bright green, to yellow green, yellow, yellow orange, orange, red orange and red: the analogous colors from half the color wheel on view.  We wandered around for a while, and Dan set up his tripod as we waited for sunbreaks to illuminate the scene.


One of the Natural Bridges



Dan with tripod