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.

Southwest hiking trip, April, 2022: Part 2 – Escalante, Utah

April 23, To Escalante, Utah

Escalante is about 5 hours drive east of Las Vegas, so we spent most of a day driving there, but it is a beautiful drive!

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I thought this was a lake, in the desert along Highway 15 east of Las Vegas, but it is actually a large array of solar panels.

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Snow capped Pine Valley Mountains on view as we cross into Utah.

We stopped for a lunch break with a family member who lives near St George, Utah.

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View from the garden.

After lunch, we continued on to Cedar City to buy groceries for the next few days. Then we took the scenic route, Hwys 14 to 89 to 12, over mountains, and onto the Colorado Plateau, where the ‘lower’ elevations are above 5000 feet.

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We passed the turnoff to Zion Canyon, not on our agenda this trip.

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Over snowy mountains on Hwy 14,

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Back down to the Sevier River, along Hwy 89.

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Highway 12 deserves it’s scenic designation!

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Hoodoos of the Claron Formation along the road near Bryce Canyon.

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Everyone loves a rock tunnel!

Beyond Bryce, Powell Point of the famous Grand Staircase Pink Cliffs began to dominate our view.

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Powell Point

We stopped at the overlook on Highway 12 to admire Powell Point from another angle.

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View of Powell Point from the Hwy 12 Overlook.

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Hwy 12 Overlook sign

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Our stratigraphic column for the week.

We arrived in Escalante around dinner time.

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Escalante hotel room view – very different from Las Vegas!

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Location map for our hikes and landmarks for the next few days.

April 24 – Toward Boulder and the Burr Trail

We began the day by driving east on Hwy 12 into this remarkable landscape:

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Lower Calf Creek Falls –  We hiked six miles round trip along Calf Creek, mostly between steep red sandstone walls of Navajo Sandstone. 

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The trail begins near the campground, and stays close to the river most of the way.

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Red sandstone walls loom above,

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On both sides of the river.

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Photogenic scenery in every direction.

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Beaver dams in the river.

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The paper trail guide pointed out pictographs across the canyon,

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identified as Fremont-style rock art,

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painted with red pigment.

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A rock arch across the creek, where the canyon walls narrow.

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At river level, the vegetation forms a tunnel,

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and then the waterfall appears through the trees.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls, 126 feet

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Upper lip

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Lower drop

This was a great lunch stop! We admired the falls for a while.

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Tripod nation

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Upper lip again

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After lunch, we returned down the sandy trail.

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Desert varnish on sandstone

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Spotted towhee

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Navajo Sandstone

We continued driving east on Hwy 12, toward Boulder. We stopped at the pullout that is just above Calf Creek Falls, to see the view across the canyon.

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Looking west

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Our trail down in the canyon

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Blue arrow points to the narrow part of the canyon, and approximate position of Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Long Canyon Slot – We continued east on Hwy 12, to the small town of Boulder, then turned onto Burr Trail Road for eleven miles, to the Long Canyon slot canyon. Once again, the road cut through amazing scenery. These white sandstone hills just outside Boulder remind me of Checkerboard Mesa, near Zion Canyon.

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Navajo Sandstone

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By the time we reached Long Canyon, we had driven lower into the stratigraphy to the older Wingate Formation, also a massive red sandstone layer. The slot canyon here is less than a quarter mile long and easily accessible. 

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Wingate Formation

 

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The slot

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Slot entrance

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Looking up at the sky between the walls

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The end of the canyon

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Much narrower above.

Head of the Rocks Viewpoint

On our drive back to Escalante, we stopped at the Head of the Rocks Viewpoint, with all the world displayed around us.

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Head of the Rocks viewpoint

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Panorama

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Farther east

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Close up of slick rock Navajo Sandstone surface

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Navajo Mountain in the far distance

April 25 – Hole in the Rock Road

Zebra Slot Canyon – We drove down Hole in the Rock Road, south of Escalante, to the trailhead to Zebra Slot. This was another six mile round trip hike, first across open desert, then into canyons cut into Navajo Sandstone. For most of the hike we were admiring wall after wall of cross bedded sandstone.

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Open desert and cliffs west of Hole in the Rock Road

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A desert vetch in bloom

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Slumping within the original sand dune layers

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Closer view

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Microfaulted crossbeds

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Harris Wash

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Entrance to Zebra Slot

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Passage becoming narrower

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An open chamber between narrow passages

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Stripes of varnish and concretions

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Squeezing through – we didn’t make it much farther – we would have had to chimney up the slot – a bit out of our skill set.

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Some of the beautiful striping suggesting the Zebra name

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Daylight above

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Coming out of the slot

On the hike out, we wandered across the beautiful slick rock surfaces.

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Devil’s Garden – We continued down Hole in the Rock Road for a few more miles, to the Devil’s Garden – an area of hoodoos eroded from the Entrada Sandstone. We wandered around this area for about an hour enjoying the photo opportunities.

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Metate Arch

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Metate Arch

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Metate Arch

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Mano Arch

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More hoodoos in the distance

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A rock wren?

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Eroding sandstone layers

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To Tropic – At the end of the day, we drove back west for about an hour, relocating to the town of Tropic, just east of Bryce Canyon, where my husband would be based for his photo class. And we still had a whole day to explore in this area.

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View to Powell Point from our cabin in Tropic.

Coda:  When I was at Joshua tree in February, I was wondering if I still liked the desert, and this trip to the redrock country has answered that question. This is the desert I like…sandstone slickrock, slot canyons,  and cliffs – I realized it was the Colorado Plateau I was seeking. Each day, we noted trails and views we didn’t have time to explore, and made a list for next time…

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Three Fall Hikes near Mt Adams, WA Oct. 6-8, 2021

We stayed two nights in Trout Lake, Washington, to be closer to some far flung trailheads in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The distance may not be far, in miles, but the nature of the roads requires slow and patient driving. The trails were beautiful, in their fall colors, despite a a bit of rain and early snow.

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Trail location map

Lewis River Falls – October 6th

Knowing it would probably rain, we chose a waterfall hike through the forest. This area is extremely popular in summer. However, on this rainy fall day, we had the trail entirely to ourselves beyond the Lower Falls Overlooks near the campground.

Lower Falls: We looked from above, then from one of the downstream side trails.

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Lower Falls from the overlook

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Closer view of the holes in the rocky platform

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Fallen leaves near the downstream viewpoint

The Lower Falls were mesmerizing:

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Lower Lewis River Falls

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We walked back upstream along the Lewis River for about three miles, toward the Upper Falls. We passed the Lower Falls again:

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Lower Falls with a bit of fall color

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We found a beach during a pause in the rain for our lunch break.

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Lunch rock

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Rock hopper nearby

We continued upstream to the Middle Falls:

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Rainy trail – the trees sheltered us much of the time.

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Middle Lewis River Falls

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The main channel cuts into the rocky bench below the falls.

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We passed Copper Creek Falls, a tributary to the Lewis River:

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Copper Creek Falls

We paused for a rest at the Upper Falls lower viewpoint:

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Upper Lewis River Falls

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From here we turned back, retracing our steps through the woods, quite satisfied that we have seen most of the Lewis River Falls.

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We drove on various Gifford Pinchot National Forest roads to our lodging in Trout Lake. These roads were very slow going, shifting from paved to gravel and extremely potholed!

Killen Creek Meadows, Mt Adams – October 7th

We woke to a glorious blue sky day! The mountain was out, and we looked forward to our hike to Killen Creek Meadows on the northwest flanks of Mt Adams.

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Mt Adams from Trout Lake

The Killen Creek Meadows to High Camp trail begins in the forest, then emerges into tiers of meadows. We started at about 4500 feet elevation, ascending to about 6000 feet on the 12,281 foot tall stratovolcano.

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Lots of red huckleberry bushes along the trail.

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Fresh snow from yesterday’s storm began at about 5200 feet.

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In one forest opening we could see Mt Rainier to the north.

The open meadows provide great views of Mt Adams:

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We reached the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail and the High Camp trail at lunch time, after hiking 3.5 miles. The snow was getting deeper, so we decided this would be our turnaround point. We did meet one northbound hiker, Tortoise, while we rested there.

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Trail junction/lunch stop

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High Camp is somewhere up on this ridge

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Sparkling snow

We made our way back, admiring the views and the foliage.

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Clouds forming in the afternoon

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Huckleberries in the snow

Killen Creek Meadows are known for summer wildflowers, and we plan to return for a future summer adventure.

Takhlakh Lake is not far from the Killen Creek Trailhead. We stopped by for the iconic view on our way back to Trout Lake.

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Mt Adams from Takhlakh Lake

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Glacier close ups

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Northern flank

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An ice cave?

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Adams Glacier

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Hummocky topography on the south flank

Bird Mountain Loop, Indian Heaven Wilderness – October 8th

We chose this hike on the northeast side of Indian Heaven Wilderness for our last day. Clouds were coming in, but we had excellent conditions for seeing lots of lovely fall foliage around the meadows and lakes. The trail begins in the forest, and heads up hill to the flanks of Bird Mountain.

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Once again, our trail leads through red huckleberry foliage.

From the shoulder of Bird Mountain, we got views of surrounding peaks, near and far.

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Mt Adams to the east

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Goat Rocks to the northeast

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Sawtooth Mtn, with Mt Rainier in the distance

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Scree slope beneath Bird Mountain, near our return trail this afternoon.

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Continuing south, we would pass near Lemei Rock.

Beautiful foliage, mushrooms, small lakes appeared in the meadows along our trail.

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Mountain Ash

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Small lake

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Mushroom

We stopped by this small unnamed lake to eat lunch and admire the reflections and colors.

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We took the side trail to Deep Lake, passing the Cultus Lake outlet on the way.

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Cultus Lake from the Deep Lake Trail

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Deep Lake

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Back on the main trail, we passed Cultus Lake before taking the junction toward the Pacific Crest Trail and Clear Lake.

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Cultus Lake

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Clear Lake

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Back on the Pacific Crest Trail, northbound

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One of the scree slopes on the west side of Bird Mountain.

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Another unnamed lake by the trail.

We crossed back over the northern shoulder of Bird Mountain, where we could see some views again, before descending through the scree slopes back to the trailhead. Lots of late blooming flowers and seedheads in this area.

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Sawtooth Mountain, from Bird Mountain

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Mt Adams

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Descending the scree slope – rougher trail in here

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Seedheads

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The very last lupine of summer.

This was a very successful trip – three new trails for us, and more added to our list for the future. We’d hiked more than 22 miles, and 4000 feet elevation, and fully immersed ourselves in the autumn foliage.

Artist Point trails near Mt Baker, WA, September 12 – 15, 2021

We stayed in a condo near the small town of Glacier, WA and drove to trailheads near Artist Point each day. During previous visits, we had some lovely hikes, but were impeded by snowed-in trails in August of 2010, and rain in October of 2015.  We felt lucky to have a good weather window this trip.

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Our four hiking trails – the Ptarmigan Ridge and Chain of Lakes Trails share the same trail from Artist Point for the first mile.

September 12 – Bagley Lakes

The cloud level was just above the Bagley Lakes – no mountain views today, and a bit of rain, but not many people either.

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Hiking down the glaciated columnar basalts to the lakes

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Mountain ash, pearly everlasting, and clouds

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Lower Bagley Lake, asters

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Bridge across Upper Bagley Lake outlet

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First we hiked partway around Upper Bagley Lake:

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Small waterfall and late paintbrush along the trail

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Huckleberry bushes turning red

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Fringed grass of parnassus in abundance!

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Upper Bagley Lake shore and meadows. On our previous visit this area was full of snow.

We turned back and walked along the southern shore of Lower Bagley Lake:

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Meadows full of fringed grass of parnassus – previously only seen rarely by me!

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Bridge over the check dam at the lower end of Lower Bagley Lake.

We returned along the north shore of Lower Bagley Lake,

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Columnar basalt waterfall

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Cascade between the lakes

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Pool above the cascade

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Fireweed

then climbed back up the glaciated basalt surface, having completed the 3 mile loop, clouds lifting just a bit.

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On our drive down the road, we stopped at the Picture Lakes – no mountain views today, but plenty of colorful wildflowers and  foliage in the surrounding meadows.

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Picture Lake

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I realized the foliage colors are all there in the Hitchhiker Shawl I am knitting.

September 13 – Ptarmigan Ridge

When we arrived at the Artist Point trailhead, Mt Baker was out, though hiding a bit behind fast-moving clouds.

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Mt Baker from Artist Point

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We started along the first mile of trail that is carved into a high cirque, toward the saddle where the Ptarmigan Ridge trail begins.

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Trail along the cirque

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Saddle, Mt Baker beyond the clouds.

From the saddle, we dropped down into another cirque, then back up to Ptarmigan Ridge, heading toward Coleman Pinnacle.

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Hiking up the next cirque to the ridge.

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Ptarmigan Ridge

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Rock hopping bird

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View along the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

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Closer view of our next saddle

Once over that saddle, we hiked toward Coleman Pinnacle.

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Coleman Pinnacle

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Glacial striations

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Hiking up the barren, glaciated surface.

We were high enough to look down on Goat Lake,

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Goat Lake

but the mountain remained elusive. One shoulder peeked out, giving us our best view for the day.

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Looking for the mountain

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Mt Baker’s shoulder

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Glacier close ups

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Meanwhile, I was also admiring the foliage colors, and the sea of lily seed heads. This must have been an amazing wildflower meadow a few weeks ago.

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Lily and pasque flower

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Lily and huckleberry

The clouds became thicker, so we decided to turn back, after 4.5 miles.

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Another look at Goat Lake.

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Goat Lake, a few people for scale.

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The clouds parted for a minute, giving us a glimpse of this outlet valley below.

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One last look back at Mt Baker before we turned the corner at the high saddle.

Returning along Ptarmigan Ridge…

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Partridge foot, Happy Bunny Butte

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Trail across the western cirque toward the saddle at Table Mountain

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Back along the eastern cirque, Mt Shuksan still under clouds

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Marmot crossing

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Almost back to the trailhead, Mt Shuksan beginning to peek out.

We hiked 9 miles, 1500 feet for the day. We had packed food in our car, just in case the sunset looked promising – one never knows in the  mountains.

September 13 – Artist’s Point Sunset / Huntoon Point

We rested for a while in the trailhead area, and were rewarded with more cloud clearing, and some beautiful sunset views. We walked along the Huntoon Point Trail for about a mile, watching the sky, the glaciers, the reflections in the several ponds and tarns along the way. A lovely evening.

Mt Shuksan:

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The peak

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Glaciers

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Tarn and trail between Huntoon Point and Mt Shuksan

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More stunning reflections

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Last look.

Mt Baker:

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Mt Baker; Coleman Pinnacle, which we walked around earlier today, in the foreground.

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September 14 – Chain of Lakes

The mountains were out at the trailhead under a higher cloud cover, rain pending…

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Mt Baker

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Mt Shuksan

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Cascades to the north

Knowing it might rain by afternoon, we started out on the Chain of Lakes Trail…

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Cirque trail

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Today we can see the Cascade peaks to the south, and Baker Lake below,

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and the glaciers on Mt Baker

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Crossing the stone ledges in the cirque

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Fireweed and Mt Baker, and our trail junction in the saddle.

From the saddle, we had a better view than yesterday of the Ptarmigan Ridge trail.

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Ptarmigan Ridge trail

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Today we are going north, down the scree slope below Table Mountain, into the Chain of Lakes basin.

We passed by four lakes in the basin…

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Mazama Lake

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Stream between Mazama and Iceberg Lakes

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Iceberg Lake

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Hayes Lake

We followed the side trail around Hayes Lake, toward Arbuthnot Lake, and found shelter under a few trees to eat lunch just as the rain began.

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Hayes Lake and Table Mountain

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Lunch spot view of Hayes and Arbuthnot Lakes

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Closer view of Arbuthnot Lake

The rain was beginning in earnest, so we turned around to retrace our steps, walking quickly as conditions got worse.

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Mushroom forest

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Outlet stream

By the time we were hiking back up the scree slope, I was getting pretty tired, after three days of hiking. I paused, and heard a whistle, and saw a marmot down on the rocks below the trail.

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Marmot giving me the side eye as they enjoy their shower.

We still had more than a mile to go in the pouring rain, no more photos today. But we were very happy with our three days of hiking, and seeing the mountains, and came up with a new list of trails to return to, not just here, but along other trailheads in the North Cascades.

September 15 – Billy Frank-Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Halfway through our six hour drive home to Portland we took our lunch break at this wildlife refuge at the southern end of the Puget Sound. We walked about two miles, to the beginning of the boardwalk that extends for another mile out into the Puget Sound.

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The trail begins near a bog where we spotted a great blue heron.

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We continued on wooden boardwalks through the woods,

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with views to grassy lowlands.

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Some other hikers pointed out the tiny frogs on the marsh grasses.

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and I spotted a hummingbird.

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After passing the barn,

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we emerged to wide open views of the southern Puget Sound,

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and spotted another heron.

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We walked to the very beginning of the mile long boardwalk out over the water,

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but decided to turn around for the day,

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saving our visit to the farthest viewing platform for another day.

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We will return!

Thus ended another adventure, leaving me with tired legs, and a new list of places to hike next time.

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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Olympic Peninsula, WA, late summer, 2021

Aug 29 to Sept 3, 2021 – We scheduled a trip to the Olympic Mountains after our Iceland plans were cancelled due to increased spread of the Delta variant of Covid 19. We have been to the Olympics a few times, and have wanted to go back and explore more in the Hurricane Hill/Deer Park area where there are higher altitude hiking trails, the only ones that can be accessed without overnight backpacking. The weather was perfect, but a different sort of human pathology foiled our plans. The night we arrived in Port Angeles, the Olympic National Park website posted a closure alert due to police action. The closure continued for the three days we were in the area, so each day we found alternative hikes.