May 2022, at home

It has been a rainy month in Portland. Many spring flowers were late, but they did bloom. I planted tomatoes and basil and marigolds, and I hope they grow. There was plenty of knitting time for gnomes, hats and socks. The terrible school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th has put a damper on everything, though it is a sunny 74 degrees out today.  I may live in a bubble, and I don’t think all guns are bad, well somedays I do, but the lack of action on this issue is so frustrating, and deadly, and it happens everywhere in our country and rarely anywhere else. I find some comfort in seeing so many social media posts that agree with me. I have collected quite a few via screenshots, and I am posting them here, for me, to remind me that many share my anguish and sadness and frustration.

Knitting –

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Make Gnome Mistake – the May Mystery Knitalong with Imagined Landscapes

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New socks for a gift

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Two sets of Knitted Knockers, made for donation to KnittedKnockers.org, who provide prosthetics to mastectomy patients.

I made three hats for donation to the Puddletown Knitters Guild service project.

I started a new pair of travel knitting socks to take on our upcoming Scotland and Iceland trip.

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Not knitting – we painted one of the bedrooms.

Garden

Anti-Gun Violence Memes, mostly from Instagram:

Background checks and limits on assault weapons and ammunition could prevent these senseless deaths. This time I am privileged to be witnessing from a great distance, though it has happened nearby – an average of 544 gun deaths per year in my state. And, ‘no person is an island’ – we all suffer each time.

My actions:

We donate money to advocacy groups, and vote in every election.

Next month we have some international travel planned, so it may be a while before I post again…..

Hiking in May 2022

Our four hikes in May were all repeat hikes for us, east out of the Portland rain, to see spring wildflowers in the Columbia River Gorge.

5/4 – Tom McCall Point

One of our favorite hikes (3.5 miles, 1000 feet) with wildflowers and mountain and river views.

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Balsamroot and lupine on the lower plateau

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Fern-leaf desert parsley and poison oak in Parsley Alley

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Paintbrush and balsamroot all the way up the mountain

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Chocolate lilies

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View to Lyle and Rowena Crest

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Mt Adams

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View to the Cherry Orchard cliffs from the top of Tom McCall Point

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And, a flock of American pelicans flying upriver…we’ve never seen that before!

5/10 – Bitterroot Trail at Catherine Creek

Another easy loop (3.5 miles, 800 feet), my favorite bitterroot flowers in bloom, and amazing views the whole way.

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Bitterroot blooming on the rocky balds near the trail head.

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Poppies and bachelor buttons along the road

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Bitteroot, camas and monkey flowers near the fairy pools.

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Bitterroot – Lewisia rediviva

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Cluster lilies, orchards of Mosier

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Meadowlark

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Rosy plectritis and bitterroot

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Upriver view at the Balsamroot cairn

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Downriver view, giant anvil cloud southeast of Mt Hood

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Top of Rowland Wall. I found that one giant cluster of bitterroot that I always look for.

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Giant bitterroot cluster, not in bloom;

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Another beautiful bitterroot cluster, in bloom.

5/13 – Weldon Wagon Road

A hike with friends along gorgeous slopes of blooming balsam root flowers (5 miles, 1200 feet).

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Lower oak woodland

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Western tanager flying near the balsamroot

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The open slopes in bloom

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Open slopes

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Parsley and balsamroot

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Flowery meadows along the trail

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Lupine dew

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Balsamroot

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Dogwood in the lower forest

5/26 – Hamilton Mountain

This can be a more difficult loop hike (8 miles, and 2200 feet), but we chose to go just to the upper set of rocky switchbacks, then return the way we came (5 miles, 1550 feet). I got to see the smaller cousin of the bitterroot – Lewisia columbiana, on the upper cliffs just as the weather was starting to turn.

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Lots of white flowers blooming in the forest

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Equisetum (horsetail)

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Rodney Falls

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Pool of the Winds

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View across the gorge from the Little Hamilton summit meadows

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Larkspur, parsley, and chickweed blooming down the slope

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Bonneville Dam and the eastern gorge

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Hamilton Mountain- we are only going to the upper rocky switchback section, circled.

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Most of the Lewisia columbiana was not blooming yet,

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but there were some patches on a sunny cliff.

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Chocolate lilies, phlox and parsley on the lower cliffs

We felt a smattering of rain as we hiked down, but managed to sneak this hike out from under the nose of the weather gods. The real rain didn’t start until we were on our way home.

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….

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. 

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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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.

November 2021 report…

 A month that sped by, interludes of rain and wind and another atmospheric river, a few hikes, some knitting, and a family Thanksgiving celebration indoors…

Hikes:

November 5th – Wildwood Trail, miles 0 to 1.5, Portland, OR

On a sunny afternoon, we walked the first section of the Wildwood Trail as part of a 3 mile loop. We saw some late fall color, a bald eagle, and a few other interesting trees.

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oak


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bald eagle

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Redwood trees


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Huggable!


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Monkey puzzle trees

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Not huggable! 

I only have about 3 miles left to have completed all 30 miles of the trail.

November 10th – Catherine Creek – Bitterroot/Stringbean/Rowland Wall trails, WA

Another 4.5 mile loop on a sunny day in the eastern Gorge, Washington side. 

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Up the Bitterroot Trail, view to Catherine Creek Arch.


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Oak groves on the west side of Rowland Wall.


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Spotted towhee


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Lunch view to the east toward Rowland Wall

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another towhee?


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Handsome old tree snag


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Westward view


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Back over Rowland Wall

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Orchards of Mosier

We took a quick stop to check out the bald eagle nesting grounds on the nearby Klickitat River, knowing it was probably too early to see them.

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No bald eagles yet,


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but plenty of Osage Oranges,

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and some small birds in the bushes.

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Three bushtits


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Spotted towhee

November 18th – Deschutes River Trail, OR

A two hour drive to get out of the rain – a pleasant 5 mile walk with friends…

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Canada geese near the trailhead


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The river level is high!


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Some fall colors along the banks


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Cliff views as we start uphill…

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View back to the river mouth.

November 23rd – Stonehenge, WA

Again we drove east, looking for good weather. We found sun, but too much wind! We drove through the wind power installations in the hills, then stopped for our lunch break at the Stonehenge replica/ WWI Memorial near Maryhill, WA. 

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Rainbow and white caps on the Columbia River, from the Hood River Bridge.


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Driving through wind power country…

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Stonehenge Memorial out on a bluff over the Columbia River…

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West toward Hood River

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Eastward views

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Sun on the cliffs near Lyle, WA, as we drive back west into the rain.

Thanksgiving:

We celebrated with friends, 

while this bird feasted on the rudbeckia seedheads in our front yard:

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Knitting

Mostly on a brioche project. I have become quite experienced at repairing knitted purls and vice versa.

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Neighborhood

Many walks during the dry intervals. Leaves saying goodbye…

and this guy looking to the future…

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The rest of October, 2021: knitting, neighborhood, more hikes…

A transitional month – the last of the summer flowers, leaves turning and falling, more rain, an atmospheric river event. We got our Covid booster shots, are poised for reentry, again, again, again, again….

Knitting, etc: 

I knitted some little creatures – a gnome, three cats and a witch, and finished a pair of socks. My collection of twelve hats and a cowl are blocked and ready for donation to a local women’s shelter. I sewed potholders and a door light curtain for my daughter.

Around the neighborhood:

Colors of the season:

Two more hikes, besides our Mt Adams and Eagle Creek adventures:

With more frequent rain in western Oregon, we go east of the mountains, beyond the rain shadow. 

10/21/2021 Tom McCall Point, Oregon: Orange oak trees, views of Mt Adams and Mt Hood, and a surprise viewing of a buck near the top of the mountain.

10/27/2021 The Labyrinth, Washington: A saunter with our son through some of my favorite basalt piles and oak groves on an overcast day with sun breaks.

New Zealand Albatross update: The chick Tiaki that I watched in the webcam from the time it was laid as an egg last fall, to its fledging in September 2021, has flown across the South Pacific Ocean to the coast of South America.

And some inspiration for staying positive…

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Internet meme – author unknown.

Our first return to Eagle Creek since the fire of 2017

October 12, 2021  Eagle Creek Trail to Twister Falls

We had been planning to hike all the way to Tunnel and Twister Falls in the autumn of 2017, after the summer crowds cleared out. Alas, the Eagle Creek Fire started on Labor Day weekend that year, scorching 48000 acres of the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side of the river. After years of trail maintenance, the Eagle Creek Trail has reopened intermittently this year, occasionally reclosed by landslides. I was wary of hiking this trail, and many of the reopened Gorge trails, for just this reason. Burned trees will fall. Burned, denuded slopes, will slide. And yet… we have been waiting to hike this trail for years.

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Map showing extent of 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Our trail up Eagle Creek to Twister Falls shown in blue.

The trail extends for 13 miles up Eagle Creek, from the Columbia River, to its outlet on Wahtum Lake (elev. 3700′). We have hiked above this trail, from Wahtum Lake to Chinidere Mountain, many times. And we have hiked the lower trail, past various of the waterfalls, many times before the fire, but never all the way to Twister Falls, which is 6.5 miles from the trailhead.

A notable feature of this trail is that several sections are carved out of the vertical basalt rock walls that line Eagle Creek. Trail ledges were blasted out of the cliffs in the early 1900’s, around the time the old Columbia River Highway was built. People with fear of heights do not like this trail.

We chose a clear fall day, no recent rain, and not windy. Onward!

The trail begins near the banks of Eagle Creek, but mostly stays well above the creek on the east bank.

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Trailhead

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Eagle Creek trail along the cliffs

The trail passes by several waterfalls – we were not stopping much – keeping our end goal in mind.

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Punchbowl Falls

 

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Almost to High Bridge

 

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Loo Wit Falls, near High Bridge

 

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High Bridge, 3.3 miles

 

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Looking down from High Bridge

After crossing High Bridge, the trail is on the west side of Eagle Creek. 

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New undergrowth in the burned forest beyond High Bridge

 

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Skoonichuck Falls –  the farthest we had been on previous hikes.

 

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4.5 Mile Bridge – crossing back to the east side.

 

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Fungi

 

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“Potholes” section

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Grand Union Falls

After 6 miles, we reached the first view of Tunnel Falls:

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Tunnel Falls, East Fork of Eagle Creek, 175 feet.

 

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Approaching the tunnel

 

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View across to the cliffs and ledge trail on the other side

 

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Into the tunnel

 

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Looking up at the lip from the other side

 

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Fern-lined trail ahead

 

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My husband took this photo of me after I walked through the tunnel.

We continued around the corner, and upstream another quarter mile to Twister Falls:

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Twister Falls, West Fork of Eagle Creek, 148 feet.

 

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We couldn’t really get a good look at the full drop of this waterfall from the cliffside trail.

 

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Eagle Creek, just above Twister Falls.

We found a quiet place beside the creek to rest and eat lunch before heading back down the trail.

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Top of Twister Falls

 

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Back through the tunnel,

 

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and out the other side.

 

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My turn…

Hiking back through the “Potholes”, where the trail surface is a parquet of columnar basalt:

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Potholes

 

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Columnar basalts

DSC00687We continued hiking downstream:

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Vine maple turning orange in the burned forest

 

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Big leaf maple turning yellow

 

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We hadn’t noticed Wy’East Falls in a side canyon on the hike up.

 

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Basalt cliffs on the east

 

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4.5 mile bridge again.

There were many areas of obvious trail repair in the burned forest.

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Scree slopes, burned and fallen trees

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High Bridge again…

We successfully completed this hike – 13 miles, 1600 feet for the day. I was glad to have seen Tunnel and Twister Falls, but I also felt a bit of vertigo on that section of the trail, and thought that maybe I won’t need to repeat this hike. The week after our hike, the trail was closed again briefly after an atmospheric river event caused more trail damage (quickly repaired by the valiant trail-keeping organizations in the area). It is a special place, and I am glad to have finally been able to see it.

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Last look at Punchbowl Falls.

What happened in September 2021…

Home and garden:

Knitting:

I finished more hats for the Women’s Shelter donation, made progress on socks and a shawl, both excellent travel knitting, and began knitting the fall Mystery Gnome. And I received a late but welcome crocheted bag as a birthday gift from my sister.

Hiking:

We spent a lot of time on hiking trails! In addition to two out of town trips to the Olympic Peninsula and Mt Baker, and a day hike at Cloud Cap on Mt Hood, all described in separate posts, we went on six other adventures:

September 9, East Crater Trail, Indian Heaven, Washington. Return to Junction Lake.

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Into the woods

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East Crater

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Junction Lake

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Mountain ash

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Huckleberry

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Mt St Helens from the PCT Southbound

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Birds in a water hole in a mostly dry creek

September 17, Portland Arboretum. Early fall color on a beautiful day.

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Aralia

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Sumac

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Hop hornbeam

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Douglas fir with sap

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September 24, Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking for Sandhill Cranes while we can still hike the trail before it is closed for the winter nesting season.

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Nightshade berries near the creek

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Woodland

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Grassland with teasel

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These are the sandhill cranes we are looking for!

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Resident nesting pair with colt

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September 26 – Saltzman Road in Forest Park, Portland. Our first time on this particular trail through the park, we walked 6 miles while catching up with friends.

September 28, Crawford Oaks, Washington. A return to an oft hiked trail, we escaped the rain in Portland and saw only 4 other hikers the entire day.

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Columbia Hills from The Dalles Bridge

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Geologic context

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Eight Miles Falls

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Pear tree

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Our usual lunch spot

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Clouds and wind

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Eastward

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Tufts

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The “one tree”

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Dried balsamroot, Dalles Mountain Ranch

Some foliage for the day:

September 30, Coyote Wall, Washington. Another often hiked trail, again with friends. A beautiful day up there!

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Puffy clouds and rocks

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Coyote Wall

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Mt Hood in the clouds

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Return hike

Other news:

Tiaki, the Albatross chick I have been watching in New Zealand via webcam, has fledged!

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The blue line is a tracker on Tiaki, the red line is one of her parents.

A family member acquired a new-to-him car.

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I attended an in-person book group meeting, where we watched the moon rise over the Willamette River from Sauvie Island.

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