Southwest hiking trip, April, 2022, Part 1: Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

I accompanied my husband for a week of hiking before he attended a long delayed outdoor photography course in southern Utah. We began by flying to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the friend we planned to visit there had a last minute family emergency. And much as we wanted to see the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show, we were not ready to be with unmasked people indoors for that amount of time. So, we kept to our hotel, and to the great outdoors, of which there is plenty to go around in this part of the world!

April 21 – Flying to Las Vegas

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Flying over Mt Jefferson on our way south…

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And directly over Red Rock Canyon, with its beautifully displayed Keystone Thrust Fault (gray Paleozoic Limestone lying atop tan and red Mesozoic sandstones), where we would be hiking tomorrow.

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We circled the Las Vegas strip before landing.

We could see the strip skyline from our hotel:

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By day;

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including the marquee for the show we wanted to see;

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And by night.

April 22 – Red Rock Canyon

As we drove west toward Red Rock Canyon, we could see a storm coming in…

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We began at the Visitor Center, which has excellent outdoor exhibits that explain every category of natural and human history of the area.

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Sheepshead Peak and Calico Basin redrocks

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Geology exhibit, storm clouds

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Desert tortoise

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Wildflowers, storm clouds

Then, instead of being allowed to drive the 13 mile one way scenic drive to trailheads and viewpoints, we were asked to leave, as they were evacuating the park. We assumed it was due to flash flood hazard. Fortunately we had noticed nearby Calico Basin Trailhead, which was not closed. We waited in our car as the brief storm passed through, then hiked the Calico Basin and Red Springs trails.

In Calico Basin, it was lovely to walk among the cross bedded sandstones and spring flowers, to a small canyon. I heard, for the first time in many years, the descending scale of the Canyon Wren song, though I never did see the bird.

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Trailhead

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Sheepshead Peak again, beyond Calico Basin

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Paper daisy? Lots of new to me wildflowers on this trip.

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Hedgehog cactus

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Crossbedded sandstone

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Canyon at the end of the trail

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White crowned sparrow?

As we walked the boardwalk around Red Springs, we saw more birds, flowers, and interesting rocks, all the while being serenaded by violin music from an ongoing wedding.

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Red Springs

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California Quail

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Petroglyphs, orange globe mallow, white evening primrose

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View back to Las Vegas from the ridge above Red Springs

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View back into Calico Basin

We decided to check the park entrance again, and it had just reopened, so we drove the Scenic Loop, stopping for views at the High Point Overlook:

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Toward the southeast, Calico Basin

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Sheepshead Peak, Paleozoic limestone to the northeast

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More Paleozoic limestone to the north

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Northwestern slopes of Red Rock Canyon

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Western slopes

Then we drove into the Willow Springs area, and took two short walks into the rocky landscape.

First, the Petrogyph Trail:

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Trailhead

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We spotted a pale pink penstemon in the wash.

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Signage at the Petroglyph Wall

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Pictographs

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Petroglyphs

Next, we walked a labyrinthian maze to Lost Creek:

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Trailhead

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Around the tree, up the stairs,

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Under the overhanging rock,

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To a trickling waterfall at the end of the trail.

Finally, we stopped at Red Rock Wash Overlook for a last view of the area.

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Late afternoon light over Sheepshead Peak and Calico Basin.

We enjoyed our day in this beautiful landscape; and were next looking forward to a few days of hiking in southern Utah.

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Last words from the Visitor Center.

April 2022

We returned from our east coast trip early in the month, happy to see our bulbs and crabapple tree in full bloom.

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Checker lilies

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Tulips

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Crabapple

On April 11th we had an unusual late season snowstorm covering all the blossoms. It melted within a day, and though hail, wind and rain hit sporadically that week, we were also treated to several rainbows.

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Snow on the crabapple blossoms

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and tulips

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Hail and crabapple blossoms

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Sunny deluge

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Rainbow

We hiked the Lyle Cherry Orchard West Loop on April 6th, – our second time on this new trail. Today we saw the early spring flowers, the always spectacular views, and a lot less wind compared to our hike here last December!

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Eastern gorge, red poison oak beginning to leaf out.

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Death camas in abundance throughout the lower plateau.

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Death camus

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Mt Adams from the upper trail

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Pink filaree carpeting the upper oak groves

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View to the western gorge and early balsam root blooms.

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Balsamroot

On April 15th, we took a quick loop through Tryon Creek on our annual spring hike to see the trillium and skunk cabbage….

April 21st to 27th we travelled to the southwest, Nevada and Utah, the subject of my next post.

On return to Portland, the neon green of our city glowed from the airplane window. I was pleased to see the dogwoods and azaleas in the neighborhood in full bloom.

My knitting this month:

And…I celebrate the approval of our new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson…though her presence will probably not be enough to thwart the regressive decisions looming….

DC-MD-PA-CT-DC, March 25-April 3, 2022

We visited family and friends who live 3000 miles away, most of them not seen since 2019. We flew to National Airport, in Washington, DC, and stayed near our daughter for the first weekend. Then we drove north, and visited folks in Baltimore, rural Pennsylvania, and near New Haven, CT. We returned to DC for the second weekend, before flying home.

I have not spent very much time in the eastern US, so every time I visit I am wide eyed and curious, taking in all the scenery, buildings, and landscapes that are so different from the west. The 300 mile drive from DC to Connecticut is along a low relief coastal plain, gently sloping toward the sea, incised by rivers, and fringed with the bare branches of deciduous trees this time of year. The prominent vertical elements are city skylines. When a highway overpass allowed an elevated view, I could see how vulnerable the coastal plain is to hurricanes – there is so little relief (compared to the west coast) to alter trajectories!  That is my old geocuriosity showing up here, and my first time actually driving this route and seeing it with my own eyes…

Friday, March 25 – We left our Washington Cascade peaks behind, flew over the central plains, and arrived with a long distance view of the National Mall. We took the Metro into town and met our daughter at a Peruvian-Sushi-fusion restaurant, followed by gelato, before finding our way to our AirB&B near Columbia Heights.

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Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier

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Iowa

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DC Metro area

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National Airport from the Metro

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Dinner

Saturday morning we visited a local Farmers Market, ate amazing felafels, then took the Metro to the National Mall. This was the second weekend of the cherry blossom festival, and the trees were in bloom. After a quick look at the very crowded Tidal Basin, we decided to walk east up the Mall.

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Farmers Market

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Cherry blossoms

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Looking across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial

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Walking past the Washington Monument

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A brief stop in the Smithsonian Castle

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Kite flyers out on the Mall on this windy day.

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Zoom in on the Capitol

We visited the National Gallery of Art.

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Azaleas in the Foyer

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Knitters!

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Western landscape

Sunday, we visited an Art Fair at the  Kennedy Center REACH – again so cold and windy we were glad to eat lunch in the sheltered cafe nearby that looks toward the Kennedy Center out of one set of windows, and toward Roosevelt Island on the Potomac on the other side.  Then we said goodby to our daughter for the week and drove north to Baltimore to see cousins there.

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Kennedy Center

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A new Kennedy statue near the REACH complex

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President Kennedy

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Nordic Swan sculpture near the Art Fair; the swan is made of more than 300 upcycled plastic buckets.

Monday afternoon we headed north again, this time to rural Pennsylvania, just north of Wilmington, Delaware. We had snow squall warnings on our phone just as we arrived at our destination. This cold spell was not in the weather predictions when we packed for our trip!  Our cousins in PA have a lovely old home with an amazing kitchen, and we spent lots of time there, with a sight seeing break to see an old oak tree and a walk in a nature preserve.

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Good news about boosters, bad news about the weather.

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Pennsylvania house

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Ancient oak tree

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Nearby landscape view

A chilly walk at the Laurels Preserve:

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Wednesday – On to Connecticut – about a 3.5 hour drive. We visited the New Jersey Palisades just west of the George Washington Bridge. My husband was interested in seeing them, as he had recently been reading about their role in some of the American Revolution battles. I wanted to see the rocks – diabase sills that originated near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge as the North American Continent was slipping away from Europe much longer ago – 200 million years. We both got our wish, and this was a perfect place to eat our lunch as we looked south at the skyline of New York City.

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George Washington Bridge from the Ross Dock Picnic area, New Jersey

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The Palisades

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Looking up the Hudson River

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New York skyline

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Over the bridge…

We had lots of lovely family time in Connecticut, catching up with family and meeting some new members.  On Thursday we walked up East Rock with some of my husband’s childhood friends, followed by lunch in New Haven.

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East Rock Park

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View to New Haven and Long Island Sound

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Dog of Connecticut

Friday was the 300 mile drive all the way back to DC, a long stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike, previously only known by me in the Paul Simon song: “We all come to look for America!”… passing the most industrial of views, and also wetlands and natural areas when crossing rivers. It was very efficient for us – we managed to avoid heavy traffic until we arrived in DC at dinnertime.

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Back over the George Washington Bridge,

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through New Jersey,

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Over the Delaware River,

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Into the Fort McHenry Tunnel to Baltimore,

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Back to Columbia Heights, in DC.

Saturday, we visited the Farmers Market again for more of those delicious felafels, then took a bus to the Mall for a private tour of the Federal Reserve building. We were thoroughly screened by security, then our family member escorted us through the newly refurbished building. We looked at some of the artwork on the walls, took a peek into “the room where it happens”, then admired views from a cubicle window and  from the upper balcony and outdoor dining area.

Wall art (unattributed):

Views from the balcony:

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Southwestern view over the Mall

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Jefferson Memorial

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Southeastern view to the Capitol

Next, we visited the nearby Art Museum of the Americas.

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Walking down Virginia Avenue

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Art Museum of the Americas

The main exhibit was ‘Mapping The Layers’ by Julio Valdez.

Beautiful tile work in the Interior Courtyard of the building:

Tilework and a sculpture outside the building:

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Some views from the bus on our way back to Columbia Heights:

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Sunday we helped with house and bicycle repairs before flying home. On our way to the airport we had time to take a short walk on Roosevelt Island in the Potomac, say Hi! to Teddy, and see a few spring flowers, before our flight.

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View from the bridge

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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial

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Into the woods

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Spring flowers

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Back over the bridge, looking toward VA.

I had a great view of the Pentagon before flying up through the clouds and toward the setting sun.

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Pentagon

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It felt very satisfying to reconnect with so many important people in our lives, hopefully,  a harbinger of cautious return to the ‘new normal’.

March, 2022

March was cold, rainy, windy, with a few sun breaks and early flowers:

We went on three repeat hikes:

Memaloose Hills – March 3rd:

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Cold and windy at the Memaloose Overlook


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Looking to the westward cliffs…


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Zooming in on the blue heron rookery.


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Chatfield Hill – mostly still dormant,


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with a few yellow bells.


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We tried a (new to us) side loop up the lower hill on the return hike.

White River with micro spikes – March 11th:

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Clouds wafted across Mt Hood throughout the hike.


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Our usual lunch spot – snow level is low!


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Return hike – lenticular clouds forming…

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The Labyrinth – March 16th:

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Plenty of water in the Old Hwy. 8 waterfall; Mt Hood on the far horizon.


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Slightly frozen grass widows.


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Labyrinth waterfall


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Yellow bells and buttercups


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My favorite oak grove


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Our guide Ponderosa


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View from the guide tree


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Early yellow parsley


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The haunted tree

Knitting and sewing:

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Quilt for my new niece, born at the end of the month.


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New laptop sleeve.


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‘Brave Enough’ Hitchhiker – yarn by Knitted Wit, pattern by Martina Behm


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Gnome Pun Intended, pattern by Sara Schira, Year of Gnomes, scrap yarn.


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Ripples Make Waves hat for the Guild Service Project; pattern by Casapinka; Knit Picks Hawthorne yarn.


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I started a new pair of socks for travel knitting.

At the end of the month we flew to the east coast to visit family – that will be my next post. 

Joshua Tree National Park, February 7 to 11, 2022

We flew in an airplane
with a lot of other people,
with masks on, 
south to Palm Springs, 
looking out and down the whole way…
From Palm Springs, we drove west,
tracing the San Andreas Fault,
then north through the Morongo Valley, 
then east to Twenty Nine Palms.
We hiked in Joshua Tree National Park, 
where Cretaceous monzogranite has intruded into Precambrian Gneiss. 
Movement along the plate boundary (San  Andreas Fault System) that defines this topography has shattered the rocks with orthogonal cracks. 
The granite has been rounded and transformed into great piles of boulders by the elements. 
We walked dry canyon mazes while anthropomorphic faces in the rocks watched us. 
Joshua trees posed on the skyline, 
witnesses to the dry open skies, 
and the battering winds, 
of the high Mojave desert.

2/7 – Hidden Valley Loop

An excellent introduction to the plants and rocks.

2/8 – Panorama Loop, Black Rock Canyon

6.7 miles and 1150 feet, a lovely loop through the Precambrian gneiss at the west end of the park.

2/9 – Several short hikes and viewpoints

Keys View:

Looking across the the San Andreas Fault and Coachella Valley, toward snow-covered Mt San Jacinto and Mt San Gorgonio.
Looking farther southeast, to the Salton Sea.
Coachella Valley highlights. It was too windy to stay long at the viewpoint, so instead of hiking here, we visited several other viewpoints and short trails in the park.

Cap Rock:

Oyster Bar:

Hall of Horrors Trail:

Skull Rock Trail:

Cholla and Ocotillo on Pinto Basin Road:

We drove to the lower desert to see my old friends from the Sonoran Desert…

Split Rock Trail:

Sunset views:

2/10 – Willow Hole Trail and The Oasis of Mara

A seven mile round trip hike to Willow Hole in the Wonderland of Rocks…

Oasis of Mara Visitor Center, Twenty Nine Palms

As travelers from the gray wet skies of the north, 
we offered up all of our surface moisture to the desert  air.
It felt good, but also exhausting.

After four days we were desiccated, 
wind blown, tired from hiking, 
filled by immersion in scenery that continues beyond us in scope and time. 
We returned home to the Pacific Northwest, much refreshed.
Note - This is my first post using the "new" block editor - I'm still deciding if I like it. 

February 2022

I knitted a few things this month…

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Goose Hollow Shawl, Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL

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Four hats for the guild service project

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A flotilla of gnomes, sent to Washington DC, with survival provisions.

I started a baby quilt

The front yard bulbs are blooming despite a late hard freeze.

We went on three local hikes to familiar areas, in addition to one big adventure to Palm Spring National Park in southern California (separate post)….

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Portland, Oregon, February 3

An easy 3 mile loop with lots of wildlife sightings.

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Wildlife mural on the mausoleum

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Blue heron mural

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Blue heron

Coyote Wall, Washington, February 18th

5 mile loop, with friends, on a sunny day with only a light breeze.

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Coyote Wall

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Lunch view to Mt Hood

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Lunch view to the eastern gorge

The early flowers:

Catherine Creek, Washington, February 25

A week later, a cold snap had frozen most of the grass widows at nearby Catherine Creek. We walked a few miles, exploring some side trails we hadn’t tried before.

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Fields of grass widows – some shriveled in the cold. Hoping many of these will bloom when it warms up!

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The arch

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The road

Dozens of robins bobbed and hopped in the surrounding meadows and bushes.

We visited our favorite fairy ponds, which were frozen,

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And found a few blooming grass widows nearby.

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grass widows

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bitterroot foliage

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Snow dusted eastern view

Meanwhile…The days have been galloping by. I have created a few things to justify the time, of which there is never enough. Elsewhere in the world all is upheaval, war and death. A power grab, unexplainable access to power; the code of civility is a construct…if we don’t all buy in then it cannot exist.

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NZ2020: Day 15, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

February 8, 2020

After the beautiful evening views at Lake Ohau, clouds were hiding Aoraki/Mt Cook this morning. The wind was up, and Lake Ohau was a steel gray. We drove back around Ben Ohau and its landslip-streaked mountain face. Slight rain was in the forecast, but we pressed on to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

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Lake Ohau in the morning

Image 1-27-22 at 3.27 PM

Our driving route to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

The road follows the shores of Lake Pukaki, up the Hooker Valley toward Aoraki/Mt Cook. We will hike the Sealy Tarns/ Mueller Hut Track, and stay the night at the Mt Cook Chalets.

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A rainbow in Hooker Valley, as we approach Aoraki/Mt Cook Village

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Trail map showing our location in orange.

Sealy Tarns Track / Mueller Hut Route

This trail is famous for having about 2000 stair steps up to the tarns. It is one of the hardest I have done, but somehow I keep my legs going up. I count steps in sets, counting up to one fewer number each time (20-19-18-17…), with planned breathing/rest stops between sets. There should be 210 steps per set, 10 sets in all…some of the steps are almost ladders. There are clouds blocking some of our views and spitting rain; cold wind, then warming sun.

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Trail stairs

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Looking down at the Kea Point Lookout on Lake Mueller (circled in blue). Beyond Lake Mueller is a huge moraine, then Hooker Lake.

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Kea Point Lookout on Lake Mueller.

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Looking toward the camp on Mt Sefton, circled in orange.

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Zooming in on a tent at the foot of the glacier on Mt Sefton.

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Looking back down Hooker Valley to where we started the hike.

When we arrive at the tarns, I feel surprisingly strong. We eat lunch at the picnic tables, take some pictures of glaciers, then decide to go higher.

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Sealy Tarns

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Glacier on Mt Sefton

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crevasses

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wildfire dust?

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rockfall

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The Mueller Route, going up beyond the tarns.

Above the tarns the track is rougher, a bit cliffy. I miss the stair steps here! We continue up the rocky, “choose your own adventure”, anastomosing trails, until I decide I can go up no more. We take in the view, eat a snack, then go down.

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From our high point we had a good view of Hooker Lake, the terminus of Hooker Glacier, and Aoraki/Mt Cook, still in the clouds.

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Closer look at Hooker Lake, and the Hooker Valley Trail

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Ice bergs in Hooker Lake.

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Looking south down the Hooker valley from our high point.

We saw a few flowers and some interesting flora along the trail.

We returned back down the 2000 murderous steps, knees and legs a little wobbly. On the way down, we stopped often to admire the views of the glaciers, lakes, moraines, and the unveiling summit plateau of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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Down the steps…

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Another view of the terminus of Hooker Glacier

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Close up of Hooker Glacier

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The peak of Aoraki/Mt Cook, coming out of the clouds!

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Closer views…

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The curved southern edge

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Northern slopes

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So beautiful!

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Aoraki/Mt Cook, completely unveiled by the time we reached the bottom of the trail!

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and Mt Sefton, too!

We make our way back to the bus, and check into our room at the Mt Cook Chalets, having hiked about 6.5 miles and 2800 feet. But we are not done with the mountain yet! After dinner in the cafe, we relax in the lounge, where we can see the triple triangle face of Aoraki/Mt Cook glowing bright white, then pink with alpenglow, in the pinky blue cloud streaked sky. Phenomenal!

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Lounge with a view…

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Mt Sefton, Aoraki/Mt Cook

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Aoraki/Mt Cook

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Tomorrow we are going back to Christchurch – our last guided tour day. The next two weeks in New Zealand will be on our own – with many more adventures that I am excited to be reliving with these blog posts!

January 2022 in Portland

The first couple of weeks were very cold, followed by many days of rain dripping down the windows, yarn loops sliding by on the needles, and just a few sun breaks. A tsunami from Tonga, the Omicron surge just beginning to decline, a trip to Joshua Tree cancelled…another pandemic month in Portland.

Hikes:

1/9/2022 Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion in Portland – A rare sunny day – everyone out on the trails – we continued our section hike of the Wildwood Trail, completing about 3 more miles as we hiked up and back to Pittock Mansion from the arboretum, crossing the new Barbara Walker Bridge for the first time.

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Up until last year, hikers had to scurry across the very busy Burnside Street.

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 Barbara Walker Bridge.

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Urban trail graffiti

We reached the 1914 Pittock Mansion, and walked around to the viewing areas…

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Pittock Mansion

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Views from the property to the Cascade Mountains…

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Mt Hood

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Portland and Mt Hood

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Mt St Helens

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Mt Rainier beyond Mt St Helens

Returning back over the Barbara Walker Crossing…

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1/12/2022 Eagles and snow near Lyle, WA – Our annual trip to see the eagles at the Balfour/Klickitat Preserve:

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Calm Columbia River looking east from the Hood River Bridge.

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Snowy ground near Coyote Wall.

We walked to the eagle viewing area near the mouth of the Klickitat River:

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Osage oranges along the trail

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Frozen lakeshore, eagle flying above the island

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Eagle and ducks

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Looking up Klickitat Canyon – white eagle heads in the trees

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Bald Eagle

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Bald eagle

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We saw more than twenty today.

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Looking south to Tom McCall Point.

Next we walked some of the trails at nearby Catherine Creek.

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Snowy slopes at Catherine Creek

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Frozen Fairy Ponds

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The arch

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Mt Hood and the orchards of Mosier

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Eastern Gorge

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Grass widow foliage, but no blooms.

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The waterfall.

1/18/2022 Swans at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA – We walked the 2.5 mile Oaks to Wetland Trail.

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Swans in the distance, from the railroad bridge

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Fungus

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Belted kingfisher

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Trumpeter swans

Then we drove the auto tour, looking for more swans.

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Plenty of tundra and trumpeter swans in the northern lake…

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American coot

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Northern harrier next to the road.

1/28/2020 Chehalem Ridge Nature Park, OR – Our first visit to this new park south of Forest Grove. We walked almost six miles on the trails, quiet today with a few views of the distant mountains.

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Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

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Mt St Helens and Mt Adams

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Farmlands and Coast Range to the west

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Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens

Neighborhood:

On our first sunny day, I went outside for what seemed like the first time in weeks, to see blue sky and low angle winter shadows:

1/16/2022 – Another sunny day, we met friends and walked a long loop on the hilly streets south of downtown Portland.

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Mt Hood from SW Portland

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Mt Hood and the Tilikum Bridge over the Willamette River

By the end of the month, viburnum and crocus were beginning to bloom…

Knitting:

I did get a lot of knitting done this month, since the outdoors were so inclement. And I am still meeting once or twice weekly with my knitting group over Zoom.

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Winding yarn on my new swift.

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Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawl, in progress

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New pile of yarn from the guild to make hats for our service project.

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I used online tutorials to learn Tunisian crochet.

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I finished a languishing WIP – The Ella Improv Cowl, by Cecelia Campochiaro, using marling and sequence knitting techniques.

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A Gnoah gnome, (Imagined Landscapes), sent via Intergalactic Gnome Transport to the burgeoning colony in Washington DC.

Addenda:

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The volcano in Tonga!

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The snow in DC.

Other adventures – January 10th was the 4th anniversary of my pituitary surgery. With constant vigilance and good doctors, all my hormone levels are now within the normal range. I feel healthy and strong and grateful for early diagnosis and the miracles of modern medical science, especially the monthly injections that keep the acromegaly in check.

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On to February – pandemic numbers are going down in our neck of the woods – we may actually travel somewhere – stay tuned.

December 2021, Walking adventures

We went on a couple of hikes, and walked among Van Gogh paintings in a digital art experience.

Lyle Loop, 12/2/2021, 5 miles, 1250 feet

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Clockwise track

A new loop has been carved out of the Nature Conservancy Lyle Cherry Orchard property. We tried it on a windy (but not tooo windy) day- lovely blue sky and puffy clouds our backdrop. We climbed up the familiar tiers of basalt flows, above the Convict Road,

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Looking down on the Convict Road

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Windy blue skies above

then headed west, to a new trail carved into the grassy slope.

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It curves around the mountain above the town of Lyle.

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As the trail circled to the north, Mt Adams appeared on the horizon.

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Zooming in

On the northern side of the loop, out of the wind, we walked through lovely oak woodlands, occasionally switching back past views of Lyle, and of Mt Adams again.

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Lyle, Klickitat River delta

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Lyle town sign, in white rocks

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Mt Adams again,

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now with clouds.

Eventually, our trail intersected the Cherry Orchard Loop, and we descended on the familiar trail.

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A lovely day on the sunny side of the mountains.

Tracy Hill, Catherine Creek, WA, 12/8/2021,  5.3 miles, 1200 feet

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Our counterclockwise trail map 

Calm and bright; clouds topping the highest hills; some blue sky distant:

DSC01336some of our plant friends in their winter garb:

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bitteroot

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parsley

Ravens and cows:

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ravens

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cows

Columbia River shining:

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oak and ponderosa sharing the sky:

Ent on the skyline: 

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It’s very birdie in this section, chirping and calling, flashes of blue, rust, white and black between trees, I can’t quite see them; blue jays and woodpeckers?

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Up Tracy Hill’s open slopes:

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View up Major Canyon, to the east

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Seating at the top of Tracy Hill

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A well earned rest

and down again:  

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halfway down

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above the arch

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Looking back at the top of Tracy Hill

It felt a bit like walking in a painting. I was interested to compare it with walking in digital paintings the next day…

Beyond VanGogh, Oregon Convention Center, 12/8/2021 – We did actually walk in pictures, as the digital imagery swirled around us, and the paintings painted themselves on the walls. All beautiful and colorful, and an excellent reminder of Van Gogh’s work. I loved seeing:

the flowers that melded together then blew away:

the swirls of starry night whirling:

walls of self portraits:

buildings appearing from simple sketched lines to full color paint strokes:

signatures writing themselves in a patchwork of squares:

dark starry skies dripping down the walls:

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However, Beyond Van Gogh was not a wilderness experience. I enjoyed the visual imagery, but would have liked to see it in an Imax setting. Perhaps if we had been stationary, I would have felt more in control regarding Covid precautions, especially now that omicron is spreading. There were too many people wandering around in the hall. I was constantly checking over my shoulder to get away from someone standing tooo close with their mask slipping down. I guess I’m not ready to resume life in the peopled world yet.

For the rest of December it has been raining, and now is cold (for us) and snowing. Not conducive to driving to the trails or hiking.  I’ve mainly been taking neighborhood walks in the brief dry spells. I will be glad to return to walking in the real hills after this Canadian cold front moves on.

NZ2020: Day 14, To Lake Ohau

February 7, 2020

Today began with an easier hike (than yesterday) near Queenstown, then we drove north to the vicinity of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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Driving route to Lake Ohau

Queenstown: After breakfast at a local cafe, we took a last walk through Queenstown and along the Lake Wakatipu waterfront.

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Wall art in our breakfast cafe

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Quiet morning in Queenstown

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Queenstown waterfront

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Sam Summers’ Hut Hike – 5.4 miles, 800 feet

Then we drove west along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the Mt Crichton Loop Track trailhead.

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Trailhead map – our trail circled in light blue

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Dipping schist along the trail

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View back to Lake Wakatipu

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Juvenile lancewood, or horoeka

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Adult lancewood

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A bog near our turnaround junction

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Small lake

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Lake Dispute, Lake Wakatipu

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Waterfall on Twelve Mile Creek

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Quartz layers in the rocks behind the waterfall

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Sam Summers’ Hut

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An old gold mining lodging

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Rustic…

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The history

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Interior…

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Meadows and sandstone outcrops on the return hike

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Twelve Mile Creek

I enjoyed the hike, and it was good to stretch our legs on an easier trail, after the challenging hike yesterday, and another challenging hike planned for tomorrow.

Arrowtown: Next, we drove back through Queenstown, and on to Arrowtown, where we stopped for a picnic lunch in the park, and a short wander around the western style gold rush town.

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Western facades in Arrowtown

DSC07124DSC07125DSC07128Driving north: For the next few hours, we drove north along Hwys 6 and 8, with several short stops, and lots of interesting scenery along the way.

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Last glimpse of The Remarkables as we leave Arrowtown

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Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge

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Wine country near Gibbston

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We stopped at a fruit stand near Cromwell, with orchards of ripe nectarines (southern summer!), and delicious homemade ice cream.

At Lindis Pass, over 3000 feet in elevation, we walked up to a viewpoint over the dry tussock landscape. The golden rolling hills reminded me of the high deserts of eastern Oregon and California.

DSC07143DSC07144DSC07146DSC07147 We took one last break in Omarama, where I found a few post cards, but no knitting wool.

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Lake Ohau:  We arrived at Lake Ohau around 5 pm. Once again, I was taken by surprise, by the startlingly turquoise blue of the lake, and the barren mountain slopes streaked with colorful landslips beyond. I was not expecting anything so stunning, as we had just been passing through the dry summer landscape of the Mackenzie Basin. And into my mind came memories of the southwestern US, where I spent a fair amount of time geologizing in my younger days. Here in New Zealand, I was seeing glacial lakes such as those that filled many of the basins of western North America in the ice ages. It was like going back in time, in a way, and I was grateful to see a version of this ‘geologic setting’ in real life. So striking in starkness and color. Another of the amazing experiences I would have on this trip. And there would be more beautiful images later today!

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Lake Ohau, Ben Ohau

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Our lodge room had ‘picture’ windows overlooking Lake Ohau and the near and distant mountains. Standing beyond but higher than all was the stunning Aoraki/Mt Cook, 12,218 feet tall, the highest mountain in New Zealand. From our vantage, it was a giant chunk of glistening white, it’s peak plateau about a mile long, it’s faceted shear white slopes facing us, calling attention to itself, and I felt lucky to see it.

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Our lodge room

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Lake Ohau

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Aoraki/MtCook

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Aoraki/MtCook

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The other glaciated mountain at the end of Lake Ohau

After a dinner in the lodge of pumpkin miso soup, salmon, and chocolate mousse, we returned to our room to see the moon rising and the the mountain glowing in the twilight, then in alpenglow. I seemed to be sitting in a picture postcard.

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Later, the rising moon was reflected in the lake, and Aoraki/Mt Cook shone with moon glow.

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We also saw Orion in the sky, but have not yet seen the southern cross. This day ended well, and tomorrow we were looking forward to getting closer to Aoraki/Mt Cook.