Knitting finish! and another Forest Park hike –

May 22, 2020

For the third week in a row we went to Forest Park on Portland’s west side to hike. We chose the segment of the Wildwood Trail from Germantown Road to Springvale Road, looping back to where we started via Leif Erickson Drive and the Cannon Trail (5.6 miles, 500 feet, hike #41 for 2020.) There was a 20% chance of rain for the day – I think we got all of it during our hike. The last time I hiked in this much rain I was in a rainforest in New Zealand! 

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We began our hike in the rain.

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A cedar dripping with rain and moss.

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There were some sun breaks.

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Returning down the wide, social distance friendly, Leif Erickson Drive.

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Robins were hopping along the trail.

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Honeysuckle blooming along the Cannon Trail.

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Thoughts of New Zealand!

Knitting Finish!

The Which Came First? shawl by designer Cheri Clark used three full skeins (1260 yards) of Malabrigo Mechita in the Piedras color way! I will be mailing this to my daughter, who chose the yarn when I saw her in January.

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From bottom to top, eggs (eyelets), chicken feet, chicken wire.

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Remains of the three skeins of yarn.

Garden and neighborhood:

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Penstemon blooming in our front yard.

Two kinds of poppies in the neighborhood:

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California poppies

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Oriental poppies

More words of encouragement on a local Poetry Post:

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Forest Park again…

May 15, 2020 – Wildwood Trail: Newberry Road/BPA Road Loop

We returned to the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park on the west side of Portland for another pandemic hike. It had been raining off and on all week, and the forest was a little drippy. Clouds blocked the view of mountains we saw from the BPA Road last week, but there were lots of new wildflowers this week. (Hike #40, 6.5 miles, 1250 feet)

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Newberry Road trailhead

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Fern-lined trail

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Forest

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Powerline cut – no mountains this week.

In other good news, nearby forests and state parks are gradually reopening, so we will soon have a wider geography available.

Knitting

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A finish!  Patons Kroy Celestial Purple traveling socks.

Neighborhood walks-

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nasturtium

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dogwood

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Porch parade

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Porch pig

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Tethered horse

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More words of encouragement!

Addendum – Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, May 5, 2020

When Washington State reopened some public lands, we went to the driving loop at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. The wintering birds – swans, geese, and sandhill cranes – had flown on. Today we saw turtles, redwing blackbirds, egrets and herons. This was our first foray out of our neighborhood in two months, and it was great just to see some wide open spaces from the safe space of our car!

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Egret in the distance.

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Turtles

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Red wing blackbirds in the meadows.

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NZ 2020: Day 5, Point Elizabeth, Hokitika, Lake Mahinapua

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

After our relatively dry day yesterday in Punakaiki, we encountered more of the rain of the rainy West Coast on our way south to Franz Josef.Image 4-14-20 at 5.55 PM

Point Elizabeth Track in the rain – palms and seals

We started the day with a hike through rainforest to a coastal viewpoint at Point Elizabeth.  Highlights were lots of blooming nikau palm trees, and then our first sighting of fur seals for the trip.

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View north toward Rapahoe

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Landward mountains

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View south toward Point Elizabeth

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Into the rainforest

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Tree fuchsias

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Nikau palm trees

Views from Point Elizabeth:

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Looking down at the fur seals near the cliffs.

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Still misty as we hike out.

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Hokitika

We stopped to eat lunch and browse the shops offering Maori greenstone carvings.

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Views from the Hokitika River Quay.

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I discovered a yarn shop with a sock knitting machine museum, here near southernmost part of the settled world!

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Sock knitting machines

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And a Carnegie Library, here on the far side of the world.

Lake Mahinapua

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Another hiking stop – we took the Jum Michel Walk, in the rain, and saw some interesting plants. Once again our guide dropped us at the trailhead, and met us on the other side.

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Into the rain forest

Then we wandered over to Lake Mahinapua to look at what could have been a view to the peaks of the Southern Alps.

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Lake Mahinapua

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Total hike stats for the day: 6 miles, 300 feet.

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Tree Ferns and mountain views, Franz Josef

Our final stop was our lodging in Franz Josef. Tomorrow, if the weather cooperated, we planned to see the Franz Josef glacier.

NZ 2020: Day 4, Punakaiki

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The sun was still shining when we woke up to a beautiful morning in Punakaiki!

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Morning view from our lodging.

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Southern rata and cabbage tree

We spent the day hiking in Paparoa National Park.

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Our destinations for the day.

Pororari Punakaiki River Track

We had our first chance to fully immerse ourselves in the rain forest. It was beautiful, and very different from our usual forests in Oregon.

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The red line shows our trail. Our guide dropped us at the Pororari River, then hiked in to meet us from the Punakaiki car park.

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Limestone cliff above the Pororari River.

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Tree ferns

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Nikau palms

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Each turn in the trail revealed interesting views.

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Palm trunk

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Cut trunk of a tree fern?

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Pororari River, looking west toward the ocean.

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We were learning the unusual (to us) foliage – this is the Rimu, or red pine, a member of the native Podocarp family. We would see these throughout our travels on the South Island.

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The red blooming tree is the Southern Rata, a native evergreen tree.

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Our guide had us taste the inner core of the supplejack vine – a bit like asparagus.

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We were excited to see a few weka birds running across the trail and in the parking area. They are flightless native birds about the size of chickens, sometimes regarded as nuisances, but are a protected species, as are all the native birds.

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Weka

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

After lunch we visited the famous Pancake Rocks. The tide wasn’t quite high enough for spouting during our visit, but we admired the weirdly eroded limestone rock formations and ocean views.

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View to the south.

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Closer look

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Limestone layers

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Red-billed gull

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Imaginative viewing.

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View north to the next destination – the Truman Track.

Truman Track

The Truman Track leads through rainforest to the beach.

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It was a little misty in the forest.

By the time we reached the beach the sun was out.

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View to the south back toward Punakaiki.

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Truman Cove beach to the north.

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The tide was going out as we walked along the sand.

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Pebbly “sand”

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Marine fossils in the sandstone cliffs and ledges

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Overhanging sand stone cliffs, and view to the beach stairs.

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Stairs up through New Zealand flax back to the trailhead.

We had a lovely day exploring interesting rocks, fossils, pebbly beaches, and rainforest palms and tree ferns of Paparoa. Tomorrow we would go south along the West Coast toward Fiordland. Our three hikes for the day added up to about 7 miles/600 feet (#3 for 2020).

NZ 2020: Day 3, Christchurch to Punakaiki

January 27, 2020

Our guide picked us up in the morning in Christchurch to begin a two week guided hiking tour of the South Island of New Zealand.  The agenda for the first day was to cross the Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass, and to arrive in Punakaiki on the West Coast by the end of the day.

Image 3-22-20 at 11.10 PMThe South Island is about 500 miles long, and 150ish miles wide, with steep mountains along the west coast. The mountains create a rain shadow for the eastern part of the island. We were on our way to experience the rain forests and wetter climate of the west coast.

Castle Hill

Our first hiking stop was Castle Hill. We walked up the hill and through the maze of giant, weirdly eroded limestone boulders and knobs that standout in the landscape.

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We learned early on that most of the wildflowers we would see are non-native, and considered weeds. (“If it’s pretty it’s a pest!”) The national effort to remove alien wildlife, both plants and animals, was an ongoing theme during our trip.

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Wandering among the limestone boulders.

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View back to the car park.

Hike #2 of 2020, 2.2 miles, 150 feet.

Arthur’s Pass National Park

We could see we were headed for clouds and rain as we continued west toward the mountains.

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We stopped to look at the Waimakariri River, one of the largest of many broad, braided glacial outwash rivers that cross the eastern plains of the South Island.

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Waimakariri River

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We made a quick stop to view Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, 131 meters high.

Rain began as we drove through Arthur’s Pass.

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One of many road preservation structures and roadworks we would see in this geologically active country.

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Rata tree blooms – these are native!

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Quintessential New Zealand green pastures with sheep and cows.

We reached the west coast near Kumara, then headed north to Punakaiki, admiring the beautiful beaches and lush green, misty slopes along the way. It had been a lovely first day of our tour.

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Driving north along the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

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West coast sun, clouds and beaches!

Trip note: Our tour was with the New Zealand company Active Adventures. I have only good things to say about our experience with them. Amazingly, because of some last minute changes, we were the only two people on the first five days of our tour. We had been expecting up to twelve people, and instead we had a private tour, with an entire small bus and guide to ourselves. This is the first time we have taken this type of tour, and we were not sure what to expect, but we soon became good friends with our guide. We appreciated being able to simply enjoy the adventure without worrying about  the logistics of meals and lodging, or the left-sided driving.  As the trip went on, there were challenges from the weather, and we were very glad that our local, experienced guides could nimbly create alternative itineraries – more about that later.

Tomorrow we would explore the landscape around Punakaiki.

Yellow bells at Tom McCall Point, knitting progress, and neighborhood sights

Tom McCall Point, March 18, 2020

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Tom McCall Point, seen from near the trailhead.

We got to see the mid-March wildflower suite. Yellow Bells were sprinkled through the meadows at every elevation. I have never seen so many anywhere!

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Yellow bells on the lower plateau, Mt Adams beyond.

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More yellow bells, midway to the top.

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Yellow bells and an early balsam root near the summit.

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Compact early blooms of the purple Columbia desert parsley line my favorite trail segment that I call Parsley Alley.

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Columbia desert parsley

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There is a new geology sign at the summit!

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Gold stars were sprinkled in some of the sunny spots.

More flowers along the trail:

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Looking eastward toward Rowena as we return to the trailhead.

Hike # 33, 4.3 miles, 1300 feet.   We had no trouble keeping our distance from the few other hikers on the trail, and so far, we are still encouraged to get outside as long as we can keep our distance.

Knitting progress:

I finished the Geology Shawl.

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Geology shawl, pattern by Very Busy Monkey, Malabrigo Mechita, Ninfas colorway.

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I have been knitting the sleeves on my Meris sweater, put away since before our New Zealand trip.

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I cast on 390 stitches for the Which Came First shawl, using the Malabrigo Mechita Piedras that my daughter picked out.

Noticed while walking in my neighborhood:

New blooms:

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tulips

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anemone

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A camelia left in a hedge

New growth:

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Tree trunk

A secret message, and interesting sidewalk cracks and patches:

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Cherry blossoms and snow in Portland, and a White River snow hike, March 2020

Cherry blossoms, Portland waterfront, March 11, 2020

We took our annual walk along the waterfront just as the cherry trees were beginning to bloom.

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View from the Burnside Bridge.

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Refections of clouds and trees in downtown buildings on this beautiful day:

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White River microspike hike, March 12, 2020

On a blue sky day we walked up White River toward Mt Hood. The snow was packed and not deep, so we could wear our micro spikes instead of snow shoes. We walked past our usual stopping point, up the snow covered moraine, to a closer viewpoint of Mt Hood.

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Walking along White River toward Mt Hood.

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View from our lunch stop – near where the Timberline Trail crosses the river under the snow.

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We walked to a high point on the moraine between the ridges.

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Closer view of Mt Hood.

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Zooming in on the peak – the black speck is a mountain climber.

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Dormant lupine and penstemon on the moraine.

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Wind patterns.

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Hike #32, 5.2 miles, 1000 feet.

Snow in Pdx, March 14, 2020

We had a few inches of snow that did not last long – but added a layer of white to the star magnolia blooms.

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I am posting from caronavirus social isolation. We are still allowed to go out walking and hiking as long as we keep our distance. Wishing all who read this patience and good health! There will be a lot of knitting going forward!

First Trilliums of spring

March 2020

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

Tryon Creek State Park, March 4, 2020

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

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Early trillium blooms scattered on the forest floor.

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Trillium

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Trillium buds unfurling

Other early flowers in the forest:

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Indian plum

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Skunk cabbage

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Oregon grape

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Salmon berry

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Poetry in the park.

Angel’s Rest, March 9, 2020

Hike #31, 5 miles, 1500 feet.

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

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Trillium blooms on the forest floor.

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

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West toward Portland.

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North to Silver Star Mountain.

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East up the Columbia River.

Knitting

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

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

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

Meanwhile, in Portland…

Back in Portland after our trip to New Zealand, we were greeted by blooming daffodils, hyacinths and wind flowers.

Catherine Creek hike, February  27, 2020

We went to Catherine Creek in the eastern Columbia River Gorge to see what early blooming spring flowers were still on view. We lucked upon a windless, blue sky day, with Mt Hood reflected in the Columbia River. DSC00152Grass widows were waning, desert parsleys, gold stars, yellow bells and buttercups were emerging.

We hiked the lower paved loop, then the upper Bitterroot Trail above the fairy ponds all the way up Sunflower Hill to Atwood Road. We walked down the connector trail to Rowland Wall, for the first time.

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Trail connection to Rowland Wall

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Going down Rowland Wall.

We still want to try the inside out switchback on the upper Shoestring Trail that we missed last time. I love that there are so many trails to follow in this area, and that each visit during the next couple of months will present a different wildflower suite.

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Hike #29, 5.5 miles, 1300 feet.

Knitting

I knit a small amount while in New Zealand.

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Geology shawl, and my current traveling socks.

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

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

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

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

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Frost along the trail,

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and Mt St Helens, herself.

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

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One last ridge to traverse.

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

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Zooming in on Mt Rainier,

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the Goat Rocks,

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

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One last look at St Helens Lake before heading down.

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

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Closer view of the 39.5 year old log rafts.

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

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

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

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

Some details:

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

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Northern pygmy owl.

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

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(Hike #50, 10 miles, 2300 feet)

Downtown Portland

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

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

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It was a gorgeous fall day in downtown Portland.

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Oregon Historical Society Museum

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First Congregational Church

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Central Library

Neighborhood Witches and more:

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

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

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