April 2023

In April, there were neighborhood walks, wildflower hikes, knitting, and quilting – both before and after our trip to Pennsylvania and Connecticut, described in the previous post.

Neighborhood walks –

Spring blooming trees and flowers…








Forget me not

Sidewalk cracks and shadows…




A friend’s tea party


A stranger’s brass band in the park

Knitting –

I made progress on these two blankets – I keep one downstairs and one upstairs, as they are both getting big!


Slip Stitch Blanket


Sliding is Fun blanket

Quilting –

I finished piecing the top for the Modern Quilt Studio 2023 Mystery Quilt, and started piecing together the scraps plus other fabric from my stash into the backing.


Modern Mystery Quilt 2023 Top


Piecing the back with scraps.

Hiking –

We found lots of wildflowers in April, from the earliest trillium in the forests to the beginnings of spring balsamroot fields in the eastern Columbia River Gorge – all the wildflowers are late this year.

April 3 – Tryon Creek, Portland – A rainy day with intervals of hail. We hiked for a couple of miles, and found the earliest trillium blooming along the Cedar Trail:


Indian plum


Hailstones on the bridge









April 20 – Memaloose Hills and Rowena Plateau, Oregon – Checking the wildflower bloom in the eastern gorge – we saw the beginnings of the balsamroot bloom, and some of the last of the early flowers.

Memaloose Hills:


Lower Trail – buttercups in the oak woodland


Blue eyed Mary


Glacier lilies and buttercups


Pacific waterleaf and buttercups


A few balsamroot blooming on Chatfield Hill


View to Tom McCall Point from the top of Chatfield Hill, with desert parsleys, balsam root and paintbrush

Rowena Crest:


Desert parsley on the plateau


Columbia desert parsley on the cliffs, view toward Lyle Chery Orchard trails


Vultures on the cliff




One of the last grass widows of spring…

April 25 – Upper Cape Horn Trail, Washington – We walked over the top of Cape Horn to the Nancy Russell Overlook, and back. Lots of trillium in the forest, and snow on the mountains to the north…


View north across the Columbia River from Pioneer Point


Looking south toward Cape Horn


Silverstar Mountain


Trillium in the forest

April 27 – Crawford Oaks, Columbia Hills, Washington – We hiked the Lower Vista Loop, with friends. Balsamroot beginning to bloom out here at the lower elevations – beautiful!


Horsethief Butte and Mt Hood


Eightmile Creek Falls with balsam root and desert parsley


Fleabane and biscuit root


Balsamroot, Dalles Mountain Ranch


Reflections in the Columbia River


Large head clover




Showy phlox


The panoramic view across the Columbia River

March 2023 – Back in PDX

We returned to Portland from New Zealand on the 18th of March. Our daffodil and crocus bulbs that had just started to bloom in February were still blooming because Portland was unusually cold while were gone. Spring flowering trees and bulbs continued to emerge, sprinkling the neighborhood with color.

We took one hike, on March 22nd, at one of our favorite winter season hiking trails, Catherine Creek, WA, and it was the same story out there. I had predicted tons of grass widows while we were gone, but instead, the area had been covered in snow again. By late March, the grass widows were re- or just blooming, and other early spring flowers were out – gold stars, Columbia and pungent desert parsleys, and yellow bells…


Grass widows and gold stars, Columbia River, and the orchards of Mosier


Catherine Creek Falls

We made a short visit to the Oregon Historical Society on a rainy morning. I focused on some of the textiles on display.

Knitting: I made just a little progress on a sock while traveling, but then immediately cast on a toddler sweater for the knitting Guild service project when we returned. This is my first ever knit raglan sweater. I used the same Caron Cotton Cake yarn I am using for the Sliding is Fun Blanket, also for the Guild challenge. The blanket will take much longer, and I realized I had way too much yarn, so repurposed some of it into this little sweater.


Flax (Tin Can Knits) toddler sweater

Quilting: I attended an online ColorMixer quilt seminar on the Creative Spark platform this week, and got lots of ideas for future quilts. Next month, I plan to sew the blocks together for my Modern Mystery Quilt that I had made before our New Zealand trip.

Poetic ode to sunlight from a neighborhood Poetry Post:


New Zealand 2023 (or there and back, again)

When we left New Zealand in February of 2020, we had a list of places to visit next time, but then the Covid pandemic shut the world down. Three years later we finally made our return trip. It took us two days to leave Portland – we were on the runway waiting to take off when an unusual 10 inches of snow caused the airport to be shut down. We made it out the next day, and thus began our New Zealand, part two, expedition. Last time we had a guided trip for two of the weeks, but this time we were comfortable with independent travel. This post is an abbreviated summary of our trip (February 23 to March 18, 2023) – more detailed accounts will follow.


View from seat 17A, Portland International Airport, February 23, 2023

DSC03022 (1)

Remarkable Mountains from the Queenstown Airport, February 25, 2023

Image 4-6-23 at 2.29 PM

Locations visited and hikes (stars) on the South Island, New Zealand, February and March, 2023

We stayed one night in Queenstown, stocked up on groceries, then headed to Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu.

Glenorchy: As we drove along Lake Wakatipu, the low clouds lifted, and the peaks of the surrounding mountains came into view.


Lake Wakatipu and Southern Alps from Bennet’s Bluff viewpoint, 3/26/2023

After checking into our lodgings, we spent the afternoon walking the Glenorchy Walkway, where the Dart River flows in to Lake Wakatipu.


Mt Earnslaw from the Glenorchy Walkway


Black swan, Glenorchy Walkway

The next day was one of our more challenging hikes, on the Routeburn Track to the valley above Routeburn Falls (13 miles, 2000 feet).


Quiet lunch spot in the Routeburn Flats along the river. Our destination waterfalls are in the cliffs beyond.


Routeburn Falls


Higher waterfalls on the Routeburn River


Our high point, looking west, on the Routeburn Track


Routeburn Flats, on our return hike.

The road to this trail crosses the Dart River, tagged on Google Maps as the location for Isengard, a Lord of the Rings movie location.


Isengard? on the Dart River

Lake Alta: The next day, we drove back through Queenstown to Te Anau. We made a side trip to the Ski Hill at the top of The Remarkables for a short hike to Lake Alta, which sits just behind Double Cone.


Lake Alta, a cirque lake nestled behind Double Cone at the top of the Remarkables.


Up close, the water is a beautiful green blue!

In Te Anau, we hiked a part of the Kepler Track to Lake Manapouri. By incredible coincidence, we bumped into our guide from three years ago at the trailhead.


Waiau River (Anduin River) from the Kepler Track.


Spirit Lake. The surrounding marshes were dry this late in the summer.


Lake Manapouri, with sandflies.

We also made a quick stop in the Te Anau Birdpark to see the Takahe.


Takahe, Te Anau Birdpark, 3/1/2023

Milford Sound: The Key Summit Track, which is also the other end of the Routeburn Track, is along the road to Milford Sound. We missed this entire segment of our trip three years ago, due to flooding, so this was one of our main destinations this trip. We had the good luck of seeing the clouds lift as we reached the top, revealing views of the surrounding peaks, with Lake Marian nestled between them.


Mts Christina and Lyttle, and Lake Marian, from Key Summit


Key Summit tarn and reflections

After the hike, we drove on through the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound, where we spent two lovely nights at a lodge on the Cleddau River, surrounded by incredible views of the mountains.


Homer Tunnel entrance, westbound


Milford Sound Lodge, Cleddau River

The next day we took our long awaited cruise through Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea and visited the underwater observatory. It was a cloudy day, but didn’t rain. We saw many waterfalls, dolphins, seals, and birds.


Morning view of Mitre Peak, Milford Sound, 3/3/2023


Bird flocks near the Tasman Sea


Black coral in the underwater observatory


One of the many waterfalls.


Afternoon reflections

The next day, we drove back through the Homer Tunnel, and this time stopped in the Hollyford Valley to walk up to Lake Marian, which we had seen from Key Summit. The trail is not long, but it is very rough (5 miles, 1500 feet). There is much climbing over rocks and roots, and lots of stairs. The lake was very peaceful, and once again, that beautiful aqua blue color.


Rainforest in the Milford Sound area


Homer Tunnel entrance, eastbound


Lake Marian


Climbing down one of the steeper trail segments

To Wanaka: We stayed one more night in Te Anau, then had a long day’s drive to Wanaka. On our way back through Queenstown, we took a break at Kewarau River Gorge, with its famous bungy jumping platform. It is a beautiful setting, with an antique suspension bridge over aqua blue waters. We saw rafters and kayakers in the gorge below, and also saw several people take the bungy leap.


Kawarau Gorge


Wanaka: We had been hoping to go to Rob Roy Glacier, but couldn’t find a 4wd vehicle to get to the trail. Instead, we repeated our Rocky Mountain hike of three years ago, this time on a windless day. We were able to admire the 360 degree view from the top for a good long time.


View from the top of Rocky Mountain


View from the top of Rocky Mountain

Back in town, we visited ‘That Wanaka Tree’ on the lakeshore, and I also found some souvenir knitting wool.


That Wanaka Tree, Lake Wanaka, 3/6/2023


Souvenir sock yarn

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park: This was one of our favorite spots three years ago, so we planned to stay three nights. We were bargaining with the weather spirits, as there was a lot of rain in the forecast. Given the state of my knees, we were not planning to rehike the 2000 steps up to the Sealy Tarns, but we were able to find decent weather windows to take four easier hikes in the area. While waiting out rainstorms, we monitored the view of the beautiful Aoraki/Mt Cook through our hotel room window.

We walked the longest hike (7.3 miles, 650 feet), up the Hooker Valley to Lake Hooker, on out first afternoon, while the mountain was still out, and before the rain set in. We could see the toe of the glacier across the lake, and get quite close to the icebergs that were floating near shore.


Hooker Valley Track. The first of three swing bridges, near Lake Mueller.


Aoraki/Mt Cook from the trail


Closer view of the summit


Aoraki Mt Cook, Hooker Lake, Hooker Glacier at the far end of the lake.


Closer view of the ice bergs


Late afternoon view of Aoraki/Mt Cook from our hotel room

The next day we slept in while the rain poured down.  We took a short hike to Kea Point, on Lake Mueller, during a dry spell.


Lake Mueller, and glaciers on Mt Sefton, from Kea Point

The next day was also quite rainy until late afternoon, when we hiked up to a view point at the Red Tarns. This was another of those “mostly stairs” hikes that my knees regretted later.


Some of the 1000 stairs up to the Red Tarns


Red Tarns, with cloudy view of the mountains

Our last day was fairly clear, except for a bit of cloud sitting just on the summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook. On our way out of the park, we took a short hike up to Tasman Lake, for another view of a milky blue glacier lake with ice bergs and a giant glacier at the far end.


Tasman Lake and Glacier (3/10/2023)


Icebergs in Tasman Lake

Then we drove back along Lake Pukaki, and eventually to Christchurch, before our flight to the North Island the next day.

DSC05012 (1)

Lake Pukaki

North Island…

We did not do any North Island sight seeing on our previous trip, so these were all new locations for us.

Image 4-8-23 at 12.42 PM

North Island locations and hikes (stars), March, 2023

Hobbiton: Our first stop was Matamata, where we took the Hobbiton Movie Set tour. Having reread Tolkien’s books many times since I was about 12 years old,  I had a little trepidation about this, but was completely charmed by the tour. Fog was just lifting off the green, sheep speckled hills when we arrived in the Shire. We walked paths past colorful hobbit holes and gardens, then around the lake and the Party Tree to The Green Dragon Pub. It was like being in the fictional Shire for a little while, with a clever and funny tour guide. I found it a little magical and very satisfying.




Bilbo’s home


View across the lake

Turangi: We drove on to our lodging in Turangi, stopping at a couple of spots along the way.


Mudpots and fumaroles at the Craters of the Moon Geothermal Area


Huka Falls on the Tongariro River

Our main goal on the North Island was the Tongariro Crossing, a challenging 13 mile hike across the shoulders of two volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, and also the location for Mt Doom/Mordor in the Tolkien movies. This very popular trail has a shuttle bus system that takes hikers to the trailhead. The track ascends 3000 feet, and then descends 4000 feet, back to the car park. We had budgeted a few days in the area, hoping for a good weather day. On our first day in the area, we could not even see the volcanoes due to clouds and rain. We took a short, slightly rainy walk along the Tongariro River, near our lodging.


Tongariro River Trail near Turangi; this area is famous for fly fishing. 3/13/2023

Tongariro Crossing: The next day, March 14, was perfect! Sunny and clear, but not hot. Hundreds of people, including several classes of 12 year old students, were also making the Tongariro Crossing this day. I think they all passed me, but that’s okay – I wasn’t in a hurry, I was just glad to be able to complete the crossing, though it took over nine hours. Of course everyone joked about walking into and out of Mordor. The trail leads through a variety of volcanic landscapes – lava fields, craters, ashy slopes, fumaroles, crater lakes of various sizes, and then back into the forest.


Lower trail, approaching the lava flows up ‘Devil’s Staircase’ toward Mt Ngauruhoe (2290 m)


Looking back at South Crater and Mt Ngauruhoe, from the shoulder of Red Crater


Looking into Red Crater on Mt Tongariro


Summit of Red Crater 


View from the summit back to Mt Ngauruhoe


Heading down the other side, on a very steep scree trail, toward the Emerald Lakes; Blue Lake is a little further on the left.


Emerald Lakes


Lunch stop at Emerald Lakes


Looking back from the rim of Blue Lake toward Red Crater and a giant lava flow in Central Crater. The highest volcano in the park, Mt Raupehu (2797 m) can be seen just to the left of Mt Ngauruhoe.


Blue Lake and Central Crater


Heading down from Blue Lake, now just 3000 more feet of descent between us and the trail’s end (pink circle). Lake Rotoaira, and the enormous Lake Taupo beyond.


Looking back up at fumaroles and a waterfall


Eventually, we descended into the forest


By this time, so many people had passed me that I enjoyed walking alone for a while through the lush green forest, listening to the birds and the nearby river.

Mt Raupehu: The next day, March 15, we returned to Tongariro National Park and met up with some friends who also happened to be in the area and had made the crossing the previous day. We took the Sky Waka Gondola up the Whakapapa Ski Field on the shoulder of Mt Raupehu, admiring the views, and mostly taking it easy. I needed a rest day!


Sky Waka Gondola on Mt Raupehu


Tawhai Falls/Gollum’s Pool in Tongariro National Park


Black swans on Lake Rotoaira, Mt Tongariro in the distance

To Auckland: On Thursday, March 16th, we drove north to Auckland. We stopped for views of Lake Taupo, and visited the Waimangu Volcano Valley.


Lake Taupo, an enormous crater lake, is 21 miles wide and 29 miles long


Inferno Crater in Waimangu Valley


Birds Nest Geyser in Waimangu Valley

Auckland: We stayed in Auckland for two days before flying home. The first day, we walked all around the city center, and took the elevator up the Sky Tower.


Auckland Harbor and Sky Tower


View toward Mt Eden from the Sky Tower


Auckland Harbor Bridge to the North Shore communities, including Takapuna

While we were viewing the city from the Sky Tower windows, adventurous people were jumping off the ledge above, attached to a vertical zip line. The first time one fell past us was quite jarring!


Sky Tower jumper…


going down to a fixed landing pad at the bottom.

We continued our walk around the city, and walked through the Albert Park to the Art Museum.


Albert Park


Maori portrait in the Auckland Art Gallery

The next day, we drove over the Auckland Harbor Bridge to Takapuna Beach, and took  a lovely beach walk. We also visited an art exhibit in the local library.


Takapuna Beach


Rangitoto Island beyond the beach


Coquina beach sand


Paintings of Iceland and New Zealand in the Takapuna Library by artist Hafdis Bennet

We hiked up Mt Eden on our way to the airport, for a last look around.


Downtown Auckland from Mt Eden


Mt Hood and Mt Adams from the airplane window, as we return home to Portland.

In all, I loved our return visit to New Zealand. We got to almost all of the hikes and sites on our list. It is an easy place to travel if you can adjust to left side drive. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been, and who loves beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures.


Early February 2023, hiking, quilting, knitting…

This post updates my activities for the first part of February…

Knitting: I’ve made progress on two blankets – one for me, and one for the Puddletown Knitters Guild Service Project:

I had planned to crochet the guild blanket, and tried my hand at a sample, but I’m not quite ready to commit to such a big crochet project yet. Maybe the next one.


Practice crochet swatch

Quilting: I’ve worked through all the clues on the Modern Mystery Quilt, and pieced the blocks. We were asked not to share the finished look until March 3rd.


Modern Mystery Quilt 2023 tentative layout…

In bloom: Our first crocus emerged from the mostly dormant garden beds on February 9th. Just about the same time as the first grass widows were blooming in the eastern Gorge.


Our first crocus

Hiking: Both hikes were in the eastern Columbia River Gorge, Washington:

Eagles again!  Bitterroot-Rowland Trail at Catherine Creek, WA – February 8th:

Lots of water here today – in vernal pools, and oozing out of the grassy slopes. No actual flowers, but plenty of emerging foliage – just waiting for a bit more warmth and sun.


Catherine Creek/Sunflower Hill


Fairy pools


Up the Bitterroot Trail,


The Arch


Mt Hood with fresh snow


Mt Hood close up

Meanwhile, as I was admiring these plants at the edge of Rowland Wall, a juvenile eagle swooped by at eye level.


View west from Rowland Wall


Bald eagle…


circling back,


and around again.

Then the entire eagle family circled its way up Rowland Wall, juveniles and mature adults – perhaps the same flock we saw a couple of weeks ago over Lyle.


Adult bald eagle


The whole family is here.


We continued down the wall, and back to the trailhead, imagining the flowers that will be blooming soon.


Looking back up Rowland Wall.


Another vernal pool. The frogs were really loud, but became instantly silent as we approached.

Crawford Oaks-Vista Trail, Columbia Hills, WA – February 14th

A cold, slightly windy day – fresh snow on the Cascade Peaks. We walked the five mile lower loop and were rewarded with seeing the first grass widows – next week there will be a purple bloom here.


View west from near the trailhead – Mt Hood and Horsethief Butte


Mt Hood

Eightmile Creek Falls was fairly full…


Eightmile Creek Falls


Rainbow and plunge pool

The view from the waterfall to the east across the Columbia River:

We continued up the road, across the creek, then south on the Vista Loop, to our usual stop near the power pylons, where we often see the first flowers blooming, and the first grass widows were just beginning to open in the cold breeze…


grass widow


A few purple buds opening in the grassy slopes

We continued around the loop, to the high point, then back around to the view of Dalles Mountain Ranch. A good walk on a brisk day.


West from the high point


East from the high point


Dalles Mountain Ranch

There will be more hikes in February – in the next post.

Hiking, January 2023

January 3rd – Eagle watch near Lyle, WA; Catherine Creek Arch Loop

We drove through the snow-frosted Columbia River Gorge, with a stop at Cascade Locks.


View down river from The Bridge of the Gods.

At the Balfour-Klickitat Natural Area near Lyle, WA, we spotted just a few bald eagles where we sometimes have seen many in early January.


One adult and two juvenile bald eagles


Bald eagle

We followed with a hike around the nearby Catherine Creek Arch, foliage mostly dormant.


View south toward Mosier, OR


Catherine Creek Arch


Eastward, up the Columbia River

January 17 – More eagles; Lyle Cherry Orchard, WA

After two weeks of inclement, unhikeable (for me) weather, we returned to the eastern Gorge. We began with another attempt to see the eagles at the Balfour-Klickitat Natural Area near Lyle. This time, we saw only one bald eagle near the lagoon, and also a great blue heron.


Lagoon near the Klickitat River; bald eagle and heron circled in blue


Bald eagle and heron again


Bald eagle


Great blue heron

Also seen near the mouth of this lagoon and the Klickitat River:


Salmon swimming in from the Klickitat River


Ducks and geese in the Klickitat River

From the southern bluff, we could see that most of the eagles were down on the delta/sand bar where the Klickitat River meets the Columbia River. I took a few fuzzy zoom photos – we counted about a dozen eagles fishing down there.


Bald eagles on the Klickitat River sand bar


Lyle Cherry Orchard Town Loop: Then we drove through Lyle and the railroad tunnels to the trailhead for Lyle Cherry Orchard. We climbed up the first tier, admiring the reflections in the river.


Eastward view from the Convict Road

As we hiked westward on the town loop, we spotted our eagles circling overhead – it was quite thrilling to watch them for a while as they made their way up the Klickitat River Canyon.


Bald eagles circling above Lyle, WA


We also got a glimpse of Mt Adams from the trail:


Mt Adams


And another look at the town of Lyle as we finished our loop. No eagles on the river bar, but one overhead.


January 26 – Tracy Hill, WA

Another gloomy day in Portland. Cold and dry in the Eastern Gorge. We started at Catherine Creek Trailhead, and opted for the eastern loop to the top of Tracy Hill.


Looking up the slope near the trailhead. Bitterroot and grass widow foliage emerging in the foreground.


Vernal pools along the way.


We stopped for lunch with a view up Major Creek.

Continuing upward after lunch, I noticed a ghost tree with an awestruck look on their face:


A face in the trees…


Ghost tree with an amazing view:


The view is of Mt Hood from this point on the trail.

Continuing on to the top of the hill:


To the top of Tracy Hill


A makeshift bench for a short rest


Just beyond the top, a peek at Mt Adams through the bare trees

And another view of Mt Hood on the return hike.


Underexposed, but I can see the glaciers shining in the low winter light on the slopes of Mt Hood.

January 31 – Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge, WA

Our last hike of the month was another visit to Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge in Washington. There was more water in the reconstructed lakes than during our most recent visit in December, and we saw a variety of wildlife.


Tree reflections in the slightly frozen lake, as seen in from the dike.


Geese gathered near the lakeshore.


Deer near the long bridge


Water under the bridge this visit, swan (and Mt Hood) in the distance.


Tundra swan


Two bald eagles out in the lake.

A great blue heron on our path on the return hike.


Great blue heron on the trail


And I zoomed in to this view of Mt Hood from the dike on our return.


Notice Vista House in the right foreground.

Looking back on 2022…

Hiking, reading and crafting, goals and accomplishments, life in pandemia….

We begin 2023, adapted to the new ‘ordinary’ life. We are injected with as many booster shots as we can get, and masking whenever in crowds of people. We will probably go on this way for a while. With the best of intentions we move on in our world, acknowledging privileged survival and a relatively easy life here, now.

TRAVEL: We returned to international travel in 2022, hiking in Scotland and Iceland during long summer days. We also traveled to Joshua Tree and southern Utah for hiking, and went twice to Washington DC, to see our daughter, and other east coast relations.

HIKING: My 76 hiking and walking adventures added up to 332 miles, and 52,272 feet in elevation, many of these while on our travels. New notable local hikes: finishing the last few miles of Portland’s 39 mile long Wildwood Trail, a pandemic project; the return to fire-scarred Bird Creek meadows on Mt Adams; and our first time to walk around Bayocean Spit on the Oregon coast.


View from Pittock Mansion over Portland after finishing the Wildwood Trail.


Bird Creek Meadows, Mt Adams


Sand pipers and plovers on Bayocean Spit

Our many repeat hikes were satisfying for monitoring seasonal changes, exemplified by these views of Mt Hood:


March, White River


August, East Eliot Moraine


October, Vista Ridge

READING: I finished 88 books last year. I learned the most from nonfiction and memoirs (red stars), written by diverse authors, mostly women: a thru hiker, a mountain climber, a senator, musicians, writers, and even an astrophysicist. My favorite fiction books were: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, and Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather. I also enjoyed rereads of classics and old favorites.

QUILTING: I made one baby quilt.


Baby quilt for a new great niece, March

KNITTING: I knit my way through 9933 yards of yarn, the largest quantity into 15 hats for our guild service project. I also knit at least one gnome every month, for the Year of Gnomes. I made hats and socks for family, and a couple of scarves and gift critters.

Image 1-22-23 at 3.26 PM

Ravelry 2022 project thumbnail pictures

Image 1-11-23 at 8.56 PM

Ravelry 2022 knitting stats


12 gnomes, for the Year of Gnomes

FAMILY: Both of our sons, who had been temporarily living at home, moved out: one nearby, the other to Philadelphia. So we are fully empty nest for now. We were able to visit our daughter in DC twice last year, and she came home twice. She is in a gap year, and may be relocating to a new city for grad school next year. We were able to see some extended family members for the first time since the pandemic, but they live far enough away that regular visits are not easy.


A favorite garden in Eugene, OR, August

More of my favorite photos from 2022:

Portland cherry trees:

Scotland, June:


New Zealand Tree Fern in the Glasgow Botanical Gardens


Climbing Stob Dubh


Solstice near Glencoe


On the slopes of Stac Pollaidh

Iceland, July:

Street Art in Reykjavik:

Waterfalls and puffins:








Latrajbarg cliffs

Plans for 2023: I am relearning crochet so that I can make a blanket for the Guild service project, and a coral for the Coral Reef project. I am midway through knitting a slip stitch blanket. I have started the Modern Quilt Studio Mystery Quilt, and am having fun using my stash again. I hope to see more of family, but that is not always up to me. I plan to continue monthly blog updates, with expected travel interruptions. I am working on about a dozen posts from our 2020 New Zealand trip, and from 2022 Scotland and Iceland trips, and quilt documentation posts. I have to resize pictures in older posts to fit storage limits, adding a layer of time consuming work.

We will continue weekly local hikes, and expect to hike almost daily on our upcoming trips to New Zealand and Italy.

My general wish for the New Year is for good health, and for living in a way that honors diversity and contributes to ecological repair, with kindness, honesty, and generosity.


December 2022 Recap

What do I want to remember about December? A freak snowstorm the first week. A lot of grey, rainy cold days which I spent counting down to the winter Solstice. I only went on two hikes this month:

12/6/2022 – Catherine Creek, WA –

We drove through the snowy Columbia River Gorge, and found the early snow at Catherine Creek.


Ice on Rowland Lake


Snow covered slopes on the Lower Trail


We saw a fox run up the slope.


Looking across the Columbia River to Oregon.


Catherine Creek Waterfall


Then we walked up to the snow-covered fairy pools,


and looked across to the Arch.


While eating lunch and warming up in the car, the sun came out, so we decided to walk the trail above the Arch.


Bridge over the creek


I saw a few predator birds in the tree tops – a hawk


American kestrel


Looking up toward Sunflower Hill


We turned around at the top of the Arch, not having adequate footwear for deeper snow and ice.


Eastward view

12/13/2022 –  Portland Arboretum –

Another day, we found a slightly dry weather window, and took a 2.5 mile walk through part of the Portland Arboretum.


We found the most color in the Holly Garden.


Bare deciduous trees and grey skies.


Mahonia in the Winter Garden




I took plenty of walks through the neighborhood looking for cheerful holiday decor.

I remember willing the Solstice and longer days to arrive. For a few days each year, the sun is so low, it shines through our front door windows onto the stairwell wall.

Later in the month, the east winds swept through and pounded our neighborhood, blowing down several very tall fir trees, including one across the street that we had been worried about for years. It fell on the neighbor’s house. Fortunately no one was in the room that was crushed at that moment. Then we watched the street drama of tree removal for several days, front row seat from our living room.


December 22nd, tree down


December 23rd – a thin layer of icy snow over everything…


December 26th – first they removed the other standing tree,


Then used a very tall crane to remove the fallen tree.


Rainproofing the roof; reconstruction and repair will take a while….

Elsewhere in the neighborhood:


Over in the park, Henry Huggins lost his shade tree,


and the tall fir to the left of this nutcracker…


blocked this street for a few weeks until it could be removed.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt an any of these local incidents.

What else…one son moved to Philadelphia at the beginning of the month and was not here for the holidays. We began to settle into our next phase of empty nesting, with no sign of any of the kids living here in the near future. We were glad to have our daughter home for the holidays. Luckily, she moved her flight up one day, and missed the travel craziness that happened this year. We were amazed that our other son arrived home from a business trip on a delayed flight from Denver, at 3 am on Christmas morning…for some reason not cancelled. We enjoyed setting up our tree, admiring the ornaments and the memories they bring; lighting Hanukkah candles, baking cookies, having a lovely Christmas dinner with some of our oldest friends.

Portland Art Museum – 12/28

My daughter and I went with friends to see a few of the current exhibits.

The golden brush strokes on this special exhibit Botticelli painting drew me in.


Very different from the rectangular smudges on this Impressionism work, which I also loved.


The Japanese woodblock prints of Mt Fuji were much more intricate and detailed, also beautiful!


A large retrospective exhibit of the Native American artist, Oscar Howe, was so interesting. His style evolved from representational to fractured, and was very colorful. These paintings are both dancers, with one arm raised, and feathers hanging down. I loved them!


Other December news:

An artist friend gave me a small painting of Mt Hood that we hung in our kitchen adjacent to one of my husbands’ photos of Mt Hood. We love the mountains!

I knit my way through the month, completing a few gifts, and finishing the year of gnomes.


I made three of these Warm One Hats in Knit Picks Mighty Stitch yarn held double, as gifts for each of my kids.


I made the 12th gnome, Gnova, by Sara Schira, for the December Year of Gnomes.


I made three Little Tigers that have new homes.


I continued knitting the Malabrigo Slip Stitch Blanket after all the gift knitting was done. This one is for me.

I plan to write one more post for 2022 – hopefully soon.

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.


Looking across the new Steigerwald Lake to the east.


Egret and heron


The bridge that used to have a lake under it.




Crossing the bridge


Trail now closed


Art trail – should be open next spring


View across the Columbia River from the berm




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).


Angel’s Rest


View to the west from the upper cliffs


Looking north across the Columbia River


Closer view of Silver Star Mountain


View to the east, northern shoreline highlighted by sunbeams


Blue jay lunch companion


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′).


Approach trail – Old Hwy 8


Looking south across the Columbia River


Pools in Hidden Creek


Hidden Creek


Dry grass


Basalt cliffs


Up the labyrinth


More basalt cliffs


Favorite oak grove


Lunch view to the east


Farther up, the cliff-edge oak tree


Poderosa at the upper viewpoint


And down, past the haunted tree


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.


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


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


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


View west, to the vineyards and Columbia River

We walked around to the eastern entrance plaza.


Main entrance


Yarn-bombing installation


Dedication by the Queen of Romania


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.


Rodin gallery


Plaster model of The Thinker


More Rodin artwork

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


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


Modern jewelry


Displayed in a glass walled gallery with extensive views.


Modern paintings in another gallery,


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).


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.



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.


Looking down on the outdoor plaza


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


Eastward view


View to the south, with three birds


Three birds


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.

Shenandoah National Park, October 2022

During our Washington DC trip, we spent three days in the middle of the week exploring the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.

Image 12-5-22 at 11.07 AM

Location Map for our Shenandoah National Park trip.

10/25 – First Looks

We drove west, toward the Shenandoah Mountains, admiring the fall colors along the way.



Westbound on Hwy 211

We entered the park at Thornton Gap. We stopped at a few overlooks on Skyline Drive before checking into our room at the Skyland Resort.


Tunnel Parking Overlook


Buck Hollow Overlook


Jewell Hollow Overlook


Jewell Hollow Overlook

10/26 – Hawksbill Summit, Deer Hollow Falls, a gorgeous sunset

The misty morning gave way to a few sun breaks.

Crescent Rock Overlook

Crescent Rock Overlook


Crescent Rock Overlook

We decided to hike the Hawksbill-Salamander-Appalachian Trail Loop and hope for the best.


Hawksbill Summit Trailhead, nest in the tree hollow


Upward into the mist…

Hawksbill Summit was fogged in, but while we ate our lunch, the clouds cleared, and we had a lovely westward view to the Shenandoah River Valley.


Shelter near the summit


The last section of trail


Disappointing summit views…


The mist began to rise…


More sun breaks and color…


Shenandoah River Valley


Beautiful foliage


and more clearing…


Foliage color wash

We descended via the Salamander Trail, to an intersection with the Appalachian Trail, which we walked along for about a mile.


Appalachian Trail Junction


Walking along the west side of Hawksbill


We could see the summit crags through the bare trees.


Red foliage and scree slopes.

The Hawksbill hike was about 2.7 miles, 600 feet. After our hike, we stopped at the Big Hollow Visitor Center and learned a bit about the history of the park. Then we hiked about 3 miles to Dark Hollow Falls from the Rose River Trailhead, once again, admiring the foliage colors, and then the tiers of the waterfall.


Rose River Trail


Rose River Trail


Dark Hollow Falls, lower tier


pool between tiers


Dark Hollow Falls, upper tiers

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Tanners Ridge Overlook,  just south of Big Meadow.


Tanners Ridge Overlook


Shenandoah Valley from Tanners Ridge

We noticed the clouds and sunbeams were looking promising for a great sunset. We hurried to The Point Overlook, known for excellent vistas. For the next hour, the rolling waves of mountain silhouettes, clouds and sunbeams put on a stunning display, nearly impossible to capture (but we tried!)


10/27- Old Rag hike from Berry Hollow

Old Rag (3274′) is a craggy mountain to the east of the main ridge of Shenandoah National Park, and a popular hiking destination. This was our longest hike for the week (6 miles, 1750 feet). The trailhead was about an hour’s drive from our lodging. We had purchased limited access permits online ahead of time, and passed three ranger check points along the trail. Many hikers choose the challenging Ridge scramble trail up the eastern rocky slopes. We opted for the slightly shorter, nonscrambly route from the Berry Hollow Trailhead.


Old Rag, as seen from the road to the trail head


Berry Hollow Trailhead

We hiked upward through beautiful fall foliage.


The lower trail follows roads


Old Rag Shelter, the rockier trails begin here


yellow foliage


A glimpse of the top


Through the slabs


Another view toward the summit, and an overhanging boulder


Large slab just below the summit, where we stopped for a lunch break.

The summit is covered with rocky boulders and slabs that more intrepid hikers scrambled up. We settled for circling the perimeter, and viewing the landscape to the west, north and east.


Panorama of the Shenandoah Mountains from Old Rag Summit


The scar of Skyline Drive is visible along the ridgeline


Colorwash of foliage…


Green, yellow, orange, red


Rocky outcrops on the summit


Panning to the east


The flat eastern seaboard comes into view


Farther east


Balancing boulder


Berries along the downward trail

We returned the way we came, the steep downward trail challenging to my recently injured knee, but we made it, thank you hiking poles!


Shelter below the summit


Last view toward the top


And back through the colorful forest

We drove back up to Skyline Road and stopped at the Old Rag Overlook, to look back at where we had been:


Old Rag from the Old Rag Overlook on Skyline Drive


Zooming closer


and closer

This was a successful trip. We wanted to see the fall foliage. The peak foliage was a little past at the top of the mountains, especially in Big Meadow, but was still sweeping in waves down the slopes, and is much more colorful than what we see in our home evergreen forests in Oregon.

The next morning we stopped for a last look from the Buck Hollow Overlook before driving back to Washington DC…


View from Buck Hollow Overlook

October 2022 – Hiking

Three mostly repeat hikes in October: Vista Ridge on Mt Hood, Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington, and Oaks Bottom in Portland.

10/3 – Vista Ridge, Mt Hood

This is one of my favorite hikes on Mt Hood – especially during wildflower season. Today we enjoyed the fall colors in the burn zone – bright red huckleberries, white pearly everlasting, pink fireweed; and greeted a few of my haunted tree friends.


Huckleberries, pearly everlasting, and Mt Hood



We stopped in Wy’East basin (5800 feet) for lunch, then hiked a little higher, toward Barrett Spur.


Wy’East Basin above the Timberline Trail


Huckleberry foliage and faded wild flowers


Toward Barrett Spur and Mt Hood


North view, toward Mt Adams and Mt Rainier, behind the haze

We returned back down the Vista Ridge Trail, about 6.5 miles, 1500 feet for the day.


Pasque flowers


Huckleberry foliage

I stopped to look more closely at the fireweed – the four-petal flowers produce curly and fuzzy seedheads. On closer look, I noticed the seed casing split into four strands that curled away as the fuzzy seedheads emerged. I am not a botanist but found this fascinating.


Very few fireweed flowers still on view.


This four-part split seed caught my eye as I walked by. That is when I noticed this pattern on all the plants, though most were more fuzzy or curly, and less noticeable.


Fuzzier seeds, ready to fly.

We took a moment to look out east from Vista Ridge, toward The Pinnacle and Mt Hood, and the remains of the Dollar Lake Fire of 2011.


Farewell for the year to the haunted trees, by now knee deep in snow….


10/11 – Thomas Lake to Rock Lake to the Old Cascade Crest Trail, Indian Heaven Wilderness

A beautiful fall day. We found the huckleberry foliage still changing – some bright red, some still green, in the faded summer meadows, and no mosquitos!


Thomas Lake – Rock Lakes – Old Cascade Crest Trail Loop. About 7 miles, 800 feet.


Beautiful reflections in Heather Lake.


We continued past the first lakes on the trail, up hill, to the viewpoint of Mt St Helens,


and a glimpse of Mt Rainier.


Rock Lakes lunch stop


After lunch, we continued east beyond Rock Lakes, toward East Crater, to the junction with the Old Cascade Crest Trail. We had followed it north before, today we were trying the south trail.


There are many small lakes along this route.



The trail eventually crosses a large meadow, with a view of Gifford Peak beyond.


Looking back north toward East Crater, shortly before this trail intersects the Blue Lake Trail.


A shrinking lake near the trail junction.

At the trail junction, we headed north again to complete the loop. The Old Cascade Crest Trail is still used, and easy to walk, though it does not show up on recent trail maps.


Another peek at Mt St Helens beyond Eunice Lake on our return hike.

10/17 – Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Portland

The standard 3 mile loop around the Wildlife Refuge, partly on the bike path, partly on dirt trails around the wetlands.



Wetlands and mausoleum mural from the bike path


Cooper’s hawk


Wood ducks


Oaks Amusement Park across the wetlands




Hint of fall…

Later in the month we went to Washington, DC, where there were some long city/mall/museum walks, and to Shenandoah National Park, VA, where there were three other hikes, described in the next post.