Two hikes as our trails reopen…

Boundary Trail, Mt St Helens, Washington –

May 27, 2020 – Trails and parks in Oregon and Washington are slowly reopening for careful, “social distance” hiking. We chose a sunny Wednesday to hike at Mt St Helens. The road to the Visitor Center is still closed, so we began our hike on the Hummocks Trail, and continued on to the Boundary Trail. (Hike #42, 8 miles, 1625 feet)


Red marks our route.

The trail crosses through the hummocks, which are debris avalanche and landslide deposits from the violent May 18, 1980 eruption. Though once a barren moonscape, the hummocks are now lush and green, covered with plants and shady alder groves, and surrounded by ponds and wetlands.


Alder groves and ponds near the trailhead.


The trail comes out into open landscape at the junction with the Boundary Trail, then heads off into lowlands along the Toutle River, before climbing steeply up the flanks of Johnston Ridge. From here on we almost always had a full on view of the mountain.


Boundary Trail Junction


Zooming in…


Crossing the Toutle River lowlands.


Heading up, Indian paintbrush and Mt St Helens.

Once high enough, we can see north to the west end of Coldwater Lake, and back to the ponds in the hummocks, our starting point.



Closer view of Coldwater Lake.


Lovely view from our lunch stop.


Red current in bloom as we continue eastward.

We reached our farthest view point, not quite to the Loowit Turnout on the road.



Coldwater Peak


Mt Adams and a glimpse of Spirit Lake


Mt St Helens

I felt a bit out of shape on this hike, so we only went as far as a viewpoint where Mt  Adams comes into view, before we reached the Loowit Viewpoint. It was fairly hot, and once out of the hummock zone, there is no shade. What is amazing is how much shade there is in the hummocks area, because everything in sight has regrown since the eruption 40 years ago.

A last look back at the mountain on our return hike:


40 year old stumps, with younger trees in the foreground.


Sheep sorrel, Toutle River

Wildflowers are beginning to bloom – in a couple of weeks it will be very colorful here.

We stopped at the Castle Lake Viewpoint on our drive home for a last look today, with plans to return in the not too distant future.


Castle Lake Viewpoint

Wildwood Trail Hike 4

Friday, May 29, 2020 – In continuation of a pandemic goal to hike all of the 30 mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, we walked another section, from Springville Road to the Wildwood Trail, to the Trillium Trail and back to our trailhead on Fire Road 7. This section of the Wildwood Trail is cut into the sides of steep forested slopes. It was dry and warm today, but well shaded. We saw a few flowers, a few birds, a lot of trail runners, and a few hiking groups. Most of the hikers pulled masks up when passing. Trail runners mostly did not. We did our best to give them a wide space. We all need the fresh air! (Hike #43, 5.2 miles, 460 feet)




Springville Road


The first wild roses I have seen this year.


Fern shadows





Our return trail is all uphill!


I am getting ready to start new projects, so I have been hand winding yarn, knitting a gauge swatch, and spending lots of time searching the glorious Ravelry pattern library, which in my opinion is the very best place in all of the internet. I also cast on a gift knit – fingerless mitts.


A note on the times we are living in  I support the Black Lives Matter protests going on this weekend. It may be a long time before the “all are created equal” spirit of our nation is realized, but I try to live my life in support of it. On a more positive note, I was happy to see the successful SpaceX launch this weekend, furthering work my father participated in as rocket scientist.

First Trilliums of spring

March 2020

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

Tryon Creek State Park, March 4, 2020

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


Early trillium blooms scattered on the forest floor.




Trillium buds unfurling

Other early flowers in the forest:


Indian plum


Skunk cabbage


Oregon grape


Salmon berry


Poetry in the park.

Angel’s Rest, March 9, 2020

Hike #31, 5 miles, 1500 feet.


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


Trillium blooms on the forest floor.

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


West toward Portland.


North to Silver Star Mountain.


East up the Columbia River.



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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Frost along the trail,


and Mt St Helens, herself.


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


One last ridge to traverse.


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


Zooming in on Mt Rainier,


the Goat Rocks,


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


One last look at St Helens Lake before heading down.

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


Closer view of the 39.5 year old log rafts.


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

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


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


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

Some details:


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


Northern pygmy owl.


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

SCREEN SHOT 2019-11-03 AT 11.53.50 AM

(Hike #50, 10 miles, 2300 feet)

Downtown Portland

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


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


It was a gorgeous fall day in downtown Portland.


Oregon Historical Society Museum


First Congregational Church


Central Library

Neighborhood Witches and more:

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



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


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




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

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


June Lake


Mirror reflections


View to the waterfall across the lake.

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


June Lake and waterfall, July 4, 2019


June Lake and waterfall, February 20, 2016


July 2019


February 2016

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


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


Large trees

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


Dry lip of Chocolate Falls, 2:44 pm.


The waterfall is now “on”, 2:46 pm.

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


Looking upstream at the channel.


Narrow but steady stream of Chocolate Falls


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

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


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


Picking our way across the lava flow.

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


Mt St Helens from the south.

New or notable wildflowers today:


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




Paintbrush and clouds at Mt St Helens, WA

June 21, 2019

Clouds thwarted our plan to hike to the top of Coldwater Peak, about 13 miles round trip from Johnson Ridge Observatory, and more than 3000′ total elevation gain. Most of Mt St Helens and the Mt Margaret backcountry, where Coldwater Peak resides, were socked in for the day. We didn’t even go to the top of Harry’s Ridge, as the thick cloud layer that hovered when we arrived at the saddle seemed immovable. Instead, we added a side trip to Devil’s Point on our return hike. On the plus side, the wildflower extravaganza was superb, and the all day cloud cover kept the hiking temperatures kind. This trail can be brutal on a hot and cloudless day.


Indian paintbrush, penstemon and yarrow at the trailhead…preview for the day.


First view of Mt St Helens, with her head in a cloud, and our best view all day.


Flowers along the trail.


More flowers – dwarf lupine and pussypaws added to the mix.


Flowery foreground to Mt St Helens and the pumice plain.



Clouds on the trail


The landscape of today’s trail. We are hiking in the blast zone, and all this greenery has emerged since 1980.


Approaching the decommisioned western arm of the Devil’s Elbow trail.


Flowers and clouds


Up the new Devil’s Elbow bypass trail.


View of Spirit Lake from the top of the bypass.


Paintbrush and dwarf lupine as far as the eye can see….


Still hoping the clouds will lift…


Yellow arnica in this section


Tiny saxifrage flowers


The same tiny saxifrage covers the slope that leads to the saddle with the trail junction between between Harry’s Ridge and the Mt Margaret backcountry.

At this point, we gave up on the clouds lifting, and headed back, enjoying the flowers along the way.


We took the now dead end trail to Devil’s Point to our lunch stop.


Devil’s Point ahead.


Loowit Falls drains the Mt St Helens Crater Glacier.


Looking back, Harry’s Ridge is still in the cloud.

Lunch views from Devil’s Point:


East: Spirit Lake and the Pumice Plain.


South: Mt St Helens with cloud cap.


West: Johnson Ridge and trailhead. 

As we continued after lunch, the clouds lifted very briefly:


Harry’s Ridge


The Dome in Mt Margaret backcountry partially unveiled.

Hike #29 for 2019, 7.5 miles, 1500 feet. I felt strong at the end of the hike, like I could have made it to the peak and crawled back up the hill to the trailhead at the end of the day. We will return to try another day!

Extra flower photos:



Knitting progress on Le Petit Sac by Pam Allen, using Sparrow linen by Quince and Co. I often have to knit the left twist rows twice 😉


I patched, mended, and reinforced worn seams on six pairs of hiking pants.


Summer sky with windows.

Lewis River Waterfalls, a hat finish, and snow in Pdx

January 31, 2019  Moulton Falls, Bells Mountain trail, and Lucia Falls, Washington

Our first time hiking here. We have passed through on our way to Silver Star Mountain in the summer, and noted the crowds enjoying the swimming holes along the Lewis River near Battleground, Washington. Today we stopped to see the waterfalls in the off season, and to hike up the nearby Bells Mountain trail for a view of Mt St Helens.

The rails to trails path along the Lewis River goes over this beautiful bridge, the East Fork High Bridge, which is apparently a popular jumping spot in summer.



Downstream from the bridge.


Upstream from the bridge.


Looking down…


My shadow self portrait.

Up the Bells Mountain trail – about 1000 feet up in 1.5 miles, so a good work out.


Uphill through ferns and second growth forest…


Until we cross a clear cut area, and the view to Mt St Helens opens up.



Ice on the trail


Lunch time view – across the Lewis River area to Mt St Helens.


Passing Moulton Falls on the return hike


Nearby Yacolt Falls

And Lucia Falls:


Total for the day:  6.7 miles, 1100 feet, hike #7.


I finished my Brioche Watch Cap, after having to buy an extra skein of Berocco Millifiore yarn, just in time for snow in Portland.


Neighborhood, 2/5/2019



And a view of Mt St Helens and the Ross Island and Tilikum Crossing Bridges from the OHSU eighth floor waiting room. Latest follow up results are all good!




Hummocks Trail, Mt St Helens, WA, and some finished projects!

1/14/2019 Hummocks Trail

We drove north from Portland through fog and hoarfrost, up the Toutle River Valley on Hwy. 504, then out of the fog to the Hummocks Trailhead, the end of the road this time of year.


Mt St Helens with hummocky landscape in the foreground.

The Hummocks Loop Trail winds through hummocks, which are mounds of poorly consolidated pulverized volcanic deposits that were dropped here like a house out of a tornado, as the debris avalanche produced by Mt St Helens’ eruption passed over the area. Since that time, 38 years ago, lakes and primitive drainages have formed between the hummocks, and trees and plants have grown on their slopes, every form of life younger than 38 years old. Today we saw bare alder trees, iced lakes and dry grass in the stark landscape, but the hummocks also protected us from the wind.


Walking along an icy lake


Lake ice



Another lake between the hummocks


Icy surface





Trail companions


Small creek between hummocks.


Our lunch time view of Mt St Helens, slightly sheltered from the wind.

We continued to the Toutle River viewpoint.


Looking downstream – the river carves through the hummock deposits.


Upstream – the Toutle River braid plain and the mountain.

We also saw the Science and Learning Center situated high above Coldwater Lake.



Another lake in the hummocks.



The white and windy mountain – stunted by eruption, wide maw open to the north, wind blown dust and snow hazing our view.


Half moon rising over 38 year old stumps on the ridge to the east.

The present is the key to the past, in geological thinking. Except when it isn’t – that is, when the present hasn’t yet revealed how the rocks got that way. On May 18, 1980, about three weeks before I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology, Mt St Helens revealed to scientists all over the world how these particular deposits form. It was a moment of instant enlightenment, as my professor excitedly told us, once the ash finished falling and the studies begun. Wide ranging theories about how similar hummocky landscapes all over the world were formed were replaced by the lateral blast model. Going forward, Red Evacuation Zones would be wider, and more lives protected.  It was just a blip in geological time, but a catastrophe in human time, a moment that changed everything.

Coldwater Lake

Coldwater Lake was not even here before the eruption. The blast debris dammed up the drainage, and then engineers stabilized it. It is now a lovely place to contemplate the surrounding landscape. Dan and I completed the 12 mile hike around the lake a few years ago in a low snow year. Along the way we witnessed the rusting logging equipment that survives on the lee side of Coldwater Ridge, while walking through a mostly new and revegetating landscape. Today, we walked past the “shutdown” locked gate to the shore.

dsc01186We held onto our hats while the wind whipped the water into white caps, and looked at the barren knife edge of Minnie Peak at the far end of the lake. The surrounding slopes were all denuded by the 180 mph lateral blast of volcanic debris, ash, and gas.


Coldwater Lake


A large hummock right in the middle of the lake.


Closer view of Minnie Peak.

The lake, and all the vegetation are less than 38 years old. It is an awe inspiring sight!

(4.2 miles, 200 feet, for the day, hike #4 for 2019)

Elk Rock Viewpoint

On our way home we stopped at a high point on Hwy 504 – the Elk Rock Viewpoint. No elk today, but another look at Mt St Helens, the adjacent Mt Margaret back country, and Mt Adams peeking over her shoulder, volcanic cone intact for now.


Mt St Helens


The Mt Margaret back country.


Closer view of Mt Adams.


Panoramic view.


I finished knitting the toe of the second sock.


I relearned how to stitch French knots, so placed the final stitches in Jane Austen’s house. My next step is to figure out how to frame it. And then move on to my Nova project, teach myself the canvas stitches – tent, cashmere, mosaic, Scottish. A new stitching adventure awaits.

Trapper Creek Wilderness, WA (18-46)

October 20, 2018 – Observation Peak and Sister Rocks

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 8.29.52 PM

7 miles, 1575 feet (#58)

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


View through the front windshield…

Bunchberry and huckleberry along the trail provided some color.


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



Mt Rainier

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



Dan atop Sister Rock; Soda Peaks on the left.


My shadow and Mt St Helens


Closer view


Mt Hood

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



Mt Adams


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

Version 2

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


Mt St Helens and the Mt Margaret backcountry


Mt Rainier


Mt Adams


Mt Hood

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


Mirror Lake

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



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




Marquam Hill, Portland, OR (18-2)

1/10/18     A different kind of Adventure of the Week:      Marqham Hill

Begins with a pre-dawn drive up Sam Jackson Road, four flights of stairs in the parking garage, into the entrance hall where I get my wristband; down to the preop suite where I wipe myself with antiseptic wipes and change into a snap on gown, booties and shower cap. That’s when it all gets real. Someone comes to start the IV;  I sign all the forms that admit knowledge of possible bad outcomes including death, and then they whisk me away into the OR ante room. I start shaking uncontrollably as they transfer me to the operating table, but they give me oxygen and then the mask, say “Count down five breaths”.  I only remember three.

Someone is tugging at a mask on my face. There are bright lights in my eyes. They are holding me in place, putting oxygen tubes in my nose, needles in my arms. I am coming awake and it is over and they say I am doing fine.

Then there are a number of hours I am in and out of awake. Dan is there holding my hand. Emily is sitting next to me giving me droplets of water and encouraging me to eat one saltine cracker that takes 2 1/2 hours. There is a light above that is too bright and one doctor says the hospital is full and I may have to stay in this space all night. It is very noisy and bright and I feel discouraged. Eventually they do find a room for me and wheel me in most carefully. Now here I have been for three days with the kindest of nurses caring for me, doctors coming and going in teams all hours of the night, needles poking, measuring ins and outs. Brian and Sean keep me company and take me on walks around the halls and I appreciate their presence. Dan is ever-present and stays the first night. Emily stays the next two nights and I slowly shed tubes and wires and medications until I feel almost ready to go home.

By day three I am feeling very accomplished to make several laps around the 10th floor neurosurgery ward, and a walk to the view plaza above the Portland Tram, resting and looking at all three snow covered peaks on the skyline on a beautiful blue sky day.


Mt Hood and lower waterfront from Portland Tram plaza


Mt St Helens and Mt Adams


Mt St Helens and a peek at Mt Rainier over its left shoulder (photos by Dan)

Friends and family have texted emailed visited called, sent flowers balloons meals good wishes. Now I just look forward to slowly getting better and less dizzy as I adjust to the new me. No more excess human growth hormone seeping from an adenoma on my pituitary. No more hidden acromegaly.

After 4 days on the hill we drive home, me shielding my eyes from the too bright sun and the overwhelming motion around me. I walk as if balancing a marble on my brittle bubble of a head, each day my equilibrium slowly increasing. In a few weeks I hope to be able to move better, drive, smell, hike…continue the adventures.

Meanwhile, the knitting:

I’ve added a few rows to the Girl From the Grocery Store Shawl, though I may rename it Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward.




22. Mt St Helens Boundary Trail

Eagle Creek fire update as of  9/11/17:  34000 acres, 7% contained.


USFS Incident Map

Boundary Trail toward Harry’s Ridge     9/10/2017    (#45)

The skies are alternating blue and cloudy today. Unsure of any firesafe place east of us, we opted to drive north to Johnston Ridge, Mt St Helens National Monument.  Clouds that were floating at mountain level when we arrived late morning evaporated during the day.



Mt St Helens

We hiked the Boundary Trail toward Harry’s Ridge.


Coldwater Peak, north of the Boundary Trail

The trail that used to go along a steep, cliffy slope to the grand viewpoint at Devil’s Elbow is now closed.  The new alternate route cuts over the ridge, and has a view to Spirit Lake from the pass at the top of the cutoff. We stopped there for lunch.


Lunch stop at the top of the new cut off trail, with view to Spirit Lake

I decided it was too hot to continue, so hiked slowly back to the observatory.  Dan went on to Harry’s Ridge then met me back at the observatory later.  I had the chance to watch the excellent 16 minute film that simulates the eruption and illustrates the forces of nature during the 1980 eruption.


View while hiking back toward Johnston Observatory


Looking east from the observatory toward Mt Adams


Mt Adams

There are straggling summer flowers in bloom – lupine of both large and dwarf varieties, penstemon, paintbrush, yarrow, an abundant yellow composite, and equally abundant white pearly everlasting gilding the slopes, and standing out strongly in contrast to the early reds of fall.

We stopped at Coldwater Lake to walk the boardwalk trail that illustrates the Birth of the Lake. It was peaceful and beautiful there, with excellent views of Minnie Peak and Mt St. Helens. It is pleasant to walk through shady foliage after spending time in the blast zone. My total mileage for the day was about 5 miles/800 feet.


Boundary Trail to Harry’s Ridge – we have hiked this trail in several seasons, with different views of the mountain:


June 2016


September 2017


Inner crater dome close up    June 2016


September 2017

Coldwater Lake:

In March of 2015, a low snow year, we walked the 12 mile loop around Coldwater Lake.  The foliage was mostly dormant and brown.  We had views of the mountain, walked by the abandoned logging machinery destroyed by the blast, got some closer views of Minnie Peak.


March 2015   Minnie Peak and old logging machinery on Coldwater Ridge


March 2015    Minnie Peak



March 2015


September 2017 Mt St Helens and Coldwater Lake

In Spring of 2017 we were in the area hiking the Hummocks trail, and we visited the Science and Learning Center, which gave us a snowy view of the boardwalk that we walked on today.


February 2017   Looking down on Coldwater Lake