12/14/2021 Waiting for the winter solstice…

Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes near Vancouver Lake, WA

I had heard rumors, and we had a day with some sunshine amidst the weeks of rain…

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Sandhill cranes and snow geese near Frenchman’s Bar

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We found a couple of view points through the berms and fencing around the Columbia Land Trust cornfields where we could see the flocks of birds wintering there. We saw the cloud of white geese stir up, then settle.

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Sandhill cranes were grazing near the cornfield, often flying in groups of three…

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We were using our zoom lenses, far from the birds, but could hear the honking of the geese, and that special purring trill of the sand hill cranes. And were grateful to see and hear them!

Meanwhile…

New York Times notice today:

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NZ2020: Day 13, Ben Lomond hike

February 6, 2020

After two days of being sidetracked by flooding, heavy rain and road damage, the road north was opening for limited time windows while being repaired. We departed from Te Anau at 5:30 am to drive to Queenstown. We waited in the dawn at Five Rivers for the 7 am opening.

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Queue waiting for the partially flooded road to open

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Sunrise with llamas

We arrived at the Queenstown Skyline Gondola on schedule for the 9 am opening.

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A ten minute gondola ride took us up the first 1500 feet of the Ben Lomond trail.

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Great views from the Upper Gondola complex.

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Views below to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu

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We still had about 4 miles, and 3400 feet to hike to the top of Ben Lomond. We started up, through sun, mist, and a little rain. The weather got better through the day, but many of the surrounding mountains retained a high cloud cover. The cooler temperature was perfect though, as it gets warm hiking continually up. This was a challenging hike for me! We took a steady pace, with rests.

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Lower trail. Ben Lomond is the high peak on the skyline.

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Looking back toward Lake Wakatipu.

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Getting closer to our destination.

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First we have to get to the saddle,

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then up the rocky and steeper ridge.

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Looking back down at the saddle.

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Up the rocky section, with mist wafting in and out.

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A feral goat below on the rocky crags.

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The last steep pitch…

At the top, my relief of making it to the peak was almost completely sidetracked by the surprise of finding mountain parrots at the summit!

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Kea, or mountain parrot, perched on the summit cliff of Ben Lomond.

There were five or six of these large birds (about 18 inches tall), flying around, undaunted by the people, and fairly aggressively scrounging for hiker lunch crumbs. I am accustomed to seeing marauding chipmunks where I come from, so this was an unexpected reward for the last three hours of steady upward effort.

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Kea and hikers on summit of Ben Lomond

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Kea, metamorphic rocks

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Kea, flashing orange back feathers while flying.

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Face close up

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Mists rolling in

I watched the keas for a while, and rested, while clouds rolled in and out from the steep southern cliffs. We looked around as much as possible before beginning the hike down. I would have liked to stay longer, but it was very cold and windy.

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Lake Wakatipu

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Clouds wafting across

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The view!

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Southern alps to the west

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Starting down – view back to The Remarkables and Queenstown, with our trail in view.

(Geology interlude) As we looked back toward Queenstown on our return hike, I noticed the effects of the rain on the rivers downstream from Lake Wakatipu. The very brown and muddy Shotover River flows into the deep blue Kawarau River (the Lake Wakatipu outlet). Downstream farther, the Kawarau River is muddier in color.  (I saw this happen a long time ago at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers in the Grand Canyon, on a once in a lifetime river trip.)

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Confluence of Shotover and Kawarau Rivers

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Wider view, muddier Kawarau downstream.

We continued down the mountain, on tired and satisfied legs.

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Resting, Southern Alps beyond.

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Clouds have lifted, this peak finally exposed.

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Last look at Ben Lomond

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and the tiny people enjoying the summit.

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The down trail crosses over the luge track at the Gondola Complex.

We took the gondola back down to town, then checked back into the Crowne Plaza Hotel. We had a group dinner in town, and said goodbye to our additional tour members and guide. We still had two more days with our guide Kaleb, and we were going north toward Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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NZ2020: Day 12, Southland improvisation; Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

February 5, 2020

After the previous few days of constant rain, we were happy to see blue sky this morning. The roads in most directions were still closed by flooding. Fortunately, our guides had grown up in the area, and chose some of their favorite places for our day’s adventure in Southland.

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Snow on the mountains near Te Anau

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Today’s route, and stops in Southland.

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Clearing skies above the Southern Alps as we drive south.

Clifden Suspension Bridge

We stopped here to stretch our legs, and to look at the historic bridge over the Waiau River as it continues south to the sea. We had been walking along its banks yesterday near Lake Te Anau.

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Historic Bridge

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Clifden Bridge

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Muddy river – from the recent storms

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The Waiau River is connected all the way upstream to Doubtful Sound.

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Feral rooster

We continued driving south on the Southern Scenic Route, eventually reaching Te Waewae Bay near the mouth of the Waiau River.

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Quintessential New Zealand scenery – sheep and mountains,

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Te Waewae Bay, muddy from the recent storms.

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My Google maps image – showing that I am the closest I have ever been to Antarctica!

We stopped at several beaches and took two longer hill walks while in Southland.

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Southland stops

Gemstone Beach

Once on the coast, we stopped first for a walk at Gemstone Beach.

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Gemstone Beach

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Caves in the sandstone

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seaweed

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beach rocks

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oyster catcher

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sandstone erosion

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Orepuki

By this time, we were ready for a coffee break at the Orepuki Beach Cafe.

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Lovely setting and delicious cakes!

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Monkey Island Beach

We took a short walk at another beautiful beach – at low tide one can walk out to the island.

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Monkey Island Beach

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Monkey Island

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Westward view

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Long Hilly Walking track

Next we went on a short hike on the Long Hilly Walking Track to Round Hill, through historic gold mining areas of the 1870’s.

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Tree fern forest

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Tree fuchsias

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Historic mining ventures

Riverton

We continued our drive along the southern coast to the town of Riverton,

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Riverton, Pourakino River Bridge

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Surfer crossing 

then to a beach cove along the drive to Howell’s Point for our lunch break.

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Cove with picnic bench along Rocks Road

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Lunchtime

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Exploring the cove…

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After lunch, we stopped to see the view to the south from Howell’s Point:

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Bluer water away from the river

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Red billed gulls on the beach

Hilltop Lookout

Next, we took another hill walk over the headland – past cows and Balancing Rock.

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Balancing Rock

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And a cow…

After the hike, we drove back to Te Anau, with our guides keeping touch with the flood status of the roads for tomorrow.

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Driving back through Riverton

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View of the flooding rivers and the southern alps beyond

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Sheep again, and the Tasman Sea

Te Anau Bird Sanctuary

We arrived back in Te Anau with time to visit the Bird Sanctuary. Here was a chance to see some of the endangered birds that are endemic to New Zealand. It was a challenge to get good photos through the chain link fencing.

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Entrance to the Birdpark.

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First, the parakeet/kakarike:

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Next, the parrot/kaka:

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We walked past the lake area, and saw some waterfowl…

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Paradise shelduck

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And last we spent quite a bit of time admiring the flightless Takahe, who were running around free range in their enclosure. There were several adults and a chick. they were very odd and fascinating to watch, and gave us a good final interesting new thing for the day.

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Takahe are about the size of a chicken

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Takahe chick being fed

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Both beaks and feet look formidable!

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Takahe

I enjoyed our improvised day in Southland. It was all new landscape to me, and as with everyday day so far, brought me surprising new views and experiences. Tomorrow, we were returning to our originally scheduled tour, and going back to Queenstown to take a hike up a mountain called Ben Lomond.

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The only kiwi bird we saw at the bird sanctuary. It is extremely rare to see one anywhere, as they are nocturnal and almost extinct. There are a few refuges one can visit, but we did not seen on our trip.

Begin anew! January 2021

January 20, 2021 –  So far 2021 has not brought much change to our daily life, but the relief of having a new president casts a hopeful light on our future! We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary this month, with homemade Indian food and leftover Christmas chocolate. We continue in pandemic lockdown mode, staying home unless doing essential shopping, going on neighborhood walks, or weekly out of neighborhood hikes. Vaccines are seeping into the community, mostly to health care professionals and long term care facilities. My husband has temporarily unretired and will be helping with vaccinations. Thus he was able to celebrate inauguration day doubly, as he got his first dose today.

Hiking: We have been on three hiking adventures so far. The first, on January 7th, was our annual trek to see the bald eagle nesting area along the Klickitat River near Lyle, Washington. We saw at least thirty birds, many of them juveniles that still have brown plumage. 

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Bald eagles flying across the Balfour-Klickitat pond.

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One eagle stayed perched in a tree nearby.

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Closer view.

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Many more eagles in the trees across the pond.

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Zooming in, even more eagles can be seen disguised in the foliage.

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Another dozen eagles were out on the sand bar where the Klickitat River flows into the Columbia River.

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Two adults, one juvenile bald eagle on the sand bar.

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Osage oranges along the trail here.

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They are a curious fruit.

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We walked a couple of miles along the Klickitat River trail.

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Downy woodpeckers were in the bushes nearby.

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This is a converted rail trail with a nice even tread.

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We turned around at the Fisher Hill Trestle.

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View down the Klickitat River from the trestle.

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A side stream cascading into the Klickitat River.

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On our return walk we saw a congregation of a couple of dozen eagles circling overhead.

On January 14th, we walked around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Portland. The blue sky was reflected beautifully in the water, and we saw cormorants, herons, and a barred owl near the trailhead.

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Blue sky.

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Reflections in the marsh.

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Winter foliage.

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Muraled Mausoleum across the marsh.

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Oaks Park on winter/Covid hiatus.

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Cormorants and herons, Downtown Portland.

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Cormorants.

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Barred owl.

Back out at Catherine Creek, near Lyle, Washington, on January 19th, we found the first grass widow of spring, then hiked a long loop up Atwood Road, across the top of Sunflower Hill, then down the Desert Parsley Trail back to Rowland Wall, thus completing some of the gaps in our map there. It was a beautiful day – chilly, but conducive to hiking up hill at a steady pace to see the eastern gorge spread below magnificently.

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First grass widow of spring!

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Catherine Creek waterfall set in the winter landscape.

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Mt Hood to the west.

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The arch from Atwood Road.

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An old stove near Atwood Road.

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Lunch view from the top of Sunflower Hill.

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Oak tree, Mt Hood, noonday sun.

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Looking up at our guide Ponderosa from The Desert Parsley Trail.

Knitting: So far this year I have finished knitting a sweater and a gnome, I’ve started a blanket and a new pair of socks:

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Farallon Cardigan

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Here We Gnome Again

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Habitation Throw, using my “advent” yarns exchanged with my knitting group

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Artists Garden Socks

Quilting: I finished my Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt, a companion piece to my Plaid Applecore Charm quilt.

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Plaid Rectangles Charm Quilt

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Companion quilts.

A New Day! After a long, satisfying hike yesterday, I got up way too early (for me) to watch the inauguration celebration. I felt some trepidation, due to the recent insurrection. I am very relieved to report that all proceeded beautifully. The participants were diverse, eloquent, hopeful, forward looking! I cried as I witnessed the swearing in of our first female vice president! The singing, the president’s speech, and the prayers were relevant, meaningful, beautifully delivered.  I adored the young poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and the firefighter who signed as well as spoke the Pledge of Allegiance. The outgoing vice president was gracious in the transition. The colorful wool coats of the ladies brightened a blue sky day, when the Capitol, unfortunately, had to be surrounded by military lockdown, as the previous occupant never really conceded to his violent, deluded followers. I am disappointed that my daughter, sitting in her apartment about a mile away from the proceedings, could not witness the day. She assured me they remained safely within, while the din of helicopters continued above. Perhaps, going forward, the domestic terrorists will withdraw and think about the bill of goods they were sold, the lies told, the violence fomented by a greedy, disappointed narcissist who was only ever out for personal profit and aggrandizement, with no concern for the common good, no interest in public service. Good riddance! Meanwhile, executive orders and initiatives are already putting to right some of the damage, and asserting to the world that we want to participate in finding solutions for global problems.  

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Hiking in November, 2020

A gathering of late reports….

Monday, November 2nd, The Labyrinth

My favorite, often visited, eastern Gorge trail on a windless day with beautiful low autumn light. (Hike #69 for 2020, 4.4 miles, 1000 feet)

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Trailhead, Rowland Lake, perfectly calm and reflective. Our destination is the tall Ponderosa Pine, left of center.

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The Old Hwy 8 waterfall is completely dry.

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Mt Hood on view to the west across the Columbia River.

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The labyrinth waterfall is almost dry…

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A few drips in the mossy wall,

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and some still pools below in the streambed.

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We wind around columnar basalts surrounded by golden grass,

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Through the oak grove.

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Mt Hood still on view in the glare, as the sun moves west

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We pass a favorite trailside oak tree,

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Almost to our destination Ponderosa…

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The eastern Gorge beyond

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Rowland Wall and the Catherine Creek area slopes.

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Zoom in on Lyle and Memaloose Island

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Tom McCall Point and the orchards of Mosier on the descent.

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The haunted oak tree bids us farewell.

Monday November 9th, Dry Creek Falls

We spotted the winter swans in Mirror Lake at the base of Crown Point as we made our way through The Gorge to Cascade Locks.

DSC04798DSC04797Dry Creek Falls, which we have hiked many times, is one of the closest waterfall hikes, most of the trails still being closed since the 2017 fire. Today we walked through falling Big Leaf Maple leaves lighting up the partially burned forest. (Hike #70, 4.9 miles, 1050 feet)

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Bridge over Dry Creek on the Pacific Crest Trail.

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Dry Creek Falls

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Monday, November 16th, Finley Wildlife Refuge

Our first visit to this refuge, on a day when the Willamette Valley to the south was the only partly dry place within a two hour drive from home. Recovered farm land is a winter sanctuary for migratory birds. (Hike #71, 2.5 miles, 150 feet)

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Our first stop, the Prairie Overlook:

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Miles of Willamette Valley grasslands.

From there, we walked the Homer Campbell Boardwalk through a wetter terrain.

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Canadian Geese near the trailhead

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The boardwalk…

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Marshy forests

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A bird blind at the end of the winter trail.

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Back through the mossy and lichen covered trees.

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Another hiker told us we would see swans in the McFadden Marsh, so we headed there for our lunch stop.

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Swans, geese and other water fowl.

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The weather had cleared a bit, so we hiked the Woodpecker Loop trail to stretch our legs a bit more.

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Along the Woodpecker Loop trail.

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High point – a shelter, and view of some of the high Cascade Mountain peaks to the east.

As we began our drive home, we found the best view of the Cascades was from a road pullout above some of the historic farm buildings.

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Mt Jefferson

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North, Middle and South Sisters.

We enjoyed our day at Finley Wildlife Refuge – anything to get out of the house for a few hours and walk in nature. I would like to visit in other seasons, but we usually have destinations closer to home…

Fresh Air at the Oregon Coast

September 20 to 23, 2020

We were able to reschedule our planned trip to the central Oregon Coast until after the wildfire smoke cleared out. We stayed in a hotel, brought our own food, and walked on the beaches and trails, following all the covid-safety protocols. Many of the parks and trails along the coast were closed due to the recent windstorms and wildfire smoke event, or due to Covid precautions. But all of the beaches were open for walking.

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Central Oregon Coast, and places we walked on our trip.

Sunday, September 20th

Yachats, Oregon

We arrived in Yachats in the evening, in time to walk along the rocky outcrops near our hotel as the tide was receding, and watch a lovely sunset, with pelicans and gulls.

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Pelican

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Yachats sunset

Pelican peleton

Pelican peleton

Monday, September 21st –

Washburne to Hobbit Beach at low tide – A lovely three mile walk toward Haceta Head.

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Tidal pools and sand bars on the beach as we walk south toward Haceta Head.

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Rocky outcrop with tide pools.

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Sea anemones, barnacles, and mussels.

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Blue sky, blue sand.

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Ripples.

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Return walk north.

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A skittering of sand plovers.

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Sand plovers, doubled.

Darlingtonia Wayside

After our beach walk we continued south along the coast looking for more adventures. Our next stop was to see a swath of carnivorous plants.DSC03030DSC03026

North Jetty

We followed the north side of the Siuslaw River to it’s mouth and took a walk along the North Jetty, where we again saw pelicans and plovers.

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Entry to the North Jetty.

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Walking seaward on the North Jetty – those shadows in the distance are birds!

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Another skittering of sand plovers! It makes me so happy just to watch them!

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Plovers.

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Pelicans and other sea birds far out on the jetty.

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Pelican in flight!

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I spotted one seal nearby.

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The dunes and lifeguard tower near the North Jetty entrance.

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A line of rocks in the estuary make perfect perches for the seabirds.

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Pelicans and gulls on their perches.

Exploding Whale park

As we drove back toward Florence, this park caught our attention. It is named for the infamous attempt to dispose of a washed up dead whale with dynamite, on a nearby beach, about 50 years ago.

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Local citizens voted for the park name.

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A short walk here reveals nice views of the highway bridge, and the dunes to the south.

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Haceta Light House

We stopped briefly south of Haceta Head in the early afternoon to see the lighthouse through the fog. On our return trip north in later in the day, the view was much clearer.

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Haceta Head Lighthouse from the beach, through the fog.

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Lighthouse from the highway viewpoint, early afternoon.

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Lighthouse from the highway viewpoint, late afternoon.

Monday, September 22nd

Wax Myrtle Trail and Lagoon Trail, Siltcoos River

Campgrounds in this area were closed, and the trails were particularly empty on this beautiful September day.

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The walk to Wax Myrtle Beach follows the Siltcoos River.

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We spotted a heron in the estuary as we got closer to the beach.

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Heron.

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We followed the Siltcoos River to the sea.

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A line of sand dunes border Wax Myrtle Beach.

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Dunes and beach.

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We walked north to the mouth of the Siltcoos River, where birds were out on the low tide sandbars.

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Pelican.

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More plovers in the foreground!

As we walked back upriver on our return hike, another hiker pointed out three river otters who were swimming upstream and eating fish along the way. We followed along with them until they disappeared upriver. This is my first time seeing them in the wild!

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All three otters in this photo – the third one in the upper left corner. They are very fast and hard to photograph!

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We walked partway around the nearby lagoon, where these beautiful plants floated on the surface.

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South Jetty, Siuslaw River

We drove back north toward Florence, and decided to drive out to the South Jetty of the Siuslaw River, just across from where we had walked on the North Jetty the previous day. There were plenty of people out there, also plenty of room to walk on beaches and in the dunes. 

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Looking seaward between the jetties. The North Jetty lifeguard tower is on the horizon.

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Waves crashing against the South Jetty. Not as many pelicans on the outer jetty.

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South Jetty beach from South Jetty.

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Seaweed on South Jetty beach.

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Swash zone.

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Looking south.

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Sand dunes to the east all along the beach for miles.

Sunset in Yachats

We had a lovely colorful sky outside our hotel.

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Wednesday, September 23rd Yachats

We woke up to wind, and predictions of a storm coming in. We walked a short way on the beach in the wind before heading north toward home.

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Seal Rock and Ona Beach

On our drive north, we stopped to look at the Seal Rocks, in the wind. 

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Seal Rocks to the south.

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Seal Rocks to the north.

We stopped at Ona Beach, just to the north of Seal Rocks, and walked out to the beach.

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Crossing Beaver Creek on our way to the beach.

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Beaver Creek estuary

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Squirrel getting ready for winter.

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Ona Beach.

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Windblown sand across the tidal flats.

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Sand ripples, birds on the low tide bars.

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These might be our last pelican sightings for the year.

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Ona Beach, looking south toward Seal Rocks. Too windy to explore today – we will have to come back another time.

Rain started as we headed back to the car. I felt so refreshed from our few days in the fresh air and wide open spaces of the Oregon coast, and thankful that I could be there during this difficult year of pandemic, climate and political crises. 

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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NZ2020: Day 6, Franz Josef Glacier

January 30, 2020 –

After our rainy drive yesterday, we were delighted to see the mountains above Franz Josef this morning.

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Blue sky and snow capped peaks, Franz Josef, New Zealand.

Franz Josef Glacier hike

We had an early start for our walk to the Franz Josef Glacier viewpoint. I remember thinking, as we walked up the Waiho Valley, that this was our best hike so far!

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Waiho River Valley

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The glacier is filling the valley on the left.

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The trail emerges from the forest at an overlook that marks the advanced position of the glacier in 1908.

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We still have a bit of a walk to get closer to the glacier.

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Zooming in on the glacier from the 1908 overlook.

We continued walking up the glaciated Franz Valley on sediment eroded from the mountains above.

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Haast Schists – beautiful metamorphic rocks!

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We reached the river crossing, and continued walking up the valley.

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A huge waterfall is gushing out of rocks below the glacier on the right – we can see the mist cloud from here.

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Jagged glacier surface

We passed waterfalls and beautiful, glacially polished schists in the valley walls.

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The last viewpoint is ahead, on the low hummocks.

We reached the end of the trail, the closest viewpoint, due to safety concerns.

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From here we can see the waterfall mist cloud, but not the waterfall. Helicopter tours were landing in front of the dark rocky area on the left side – they looked like ants from here.

The bare scraped rocks and talus piles were covered in colorful lichens and mosses.

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Turbulent water full of glacial dust in the outflow stream.

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View down the Waiho Valley from the upper endpoint of the trail.

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Last look back at the Franz Josef Glacier from the valley trail.

We continued walking on the local trail network to a couple of other viewpoints, first to Sentinal Rock.

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Franz Josef Glacier from Sentinal Rock.

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Winding Waiho River.

We continued on a short distance to Peter’s Pool.

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Reflections in Peter’s Pool

By the time we were leaving the area, the clouds had moved in again among the peaks. I’m glad we got an early start to our day! (Hike#6, 5 miles, 400 feet)

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Car park view: I love that this tour bus has kiwi-shaped grill openings.

Alpine Fault geology interlude. I loved learning about New Zealand geology on this trip. I didn’t research much before our travels. As the landscape unfurled before me, I enjoyed looking, learning and speculating. Now I am investigating in more detail as I process my photos and thoughts. I learned in Franz Josef that the giant, active Alpine Fault runs right through the center of town. The Alpine Fault is a major transcurrent fault and tectonic plate boundary between the Pacific and Australian plates. The Southern Alps are constantly rising along the fault zone that connects subduction zones to the north and south. The metamorphic rocks I saw along the Waiho River were deformed along the plate boundary.

On with our tour:

After our hike we continued south on Hwy 6, with much beautiful scenery ahead for the day. Our guide spotted and pointed out many recent land slips in the mountains, and we had several road repair delays. There had already been flooding this year, with more to come! But we didn’t know that yet.

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Lake Matheson

We stopped for a walk around Lake Matheson.

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Hike #7, 3 miles, 200 feet.

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New Zealand pigeon (kereru) posing near the trailhead.

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At this viewpoint, the Southern Alps may be seen reflected in the lake.

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We were not so lucky today – the clouds had moved in.

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It was a lovely hike, with beautiful lunchtime views of the lake, and interesting foliage to admire.

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Kidney ferns

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Lancewood

Knights Point

Farther south on Hwy 6, we stopped at this clifftop viewpoint over the Tasman Sea.

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Treeferns, lancewood and flax covered the coastal cliffs to the north.

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To the south we could see to a headland. When I zoomed in, I could see that some of the ‘rocks’ were actually Elephant seals.

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Elephant seals

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Ship Creek

The highway descended back to sea level. Our stop at Ship Creek was our last chance to walk on a West Coast beach before we turned east to cross the mountains at Haast Pass. We climbed up the Observation Tower for a wide view, then spent a little time on the beach.

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View of the beach from the Observation Tower.

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View inland from the tower.

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Sand dunes

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Beach boardwalk, going north.

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Pebbly shingled beach – great skipping stones!

Onward! Our views were diminished by clouds as we headed east into the mountains.

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Driving view as we cross over the Haast River on the longest one lane bridge in New Zealand .

 

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In Haast Pass, where rivers change direction.

We made a brief stop in Mt Aspiring National Park to see Thunder Creek Falls.

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Thunder Creek Falls

Our overnight destination was a lodge at Makarora.

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Evening sky above Makarora.

We would be headed to Lake Wanaka tomorrow.

Note: The most difficult thing about these posts is paring down the photos. I love to remember every view!

 

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).

Oaks Bottom, a rainbow, and a knitting update

12/8/2019  Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

We went for a quick walk around the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in Portland. The last time here I was in the slow walk mode, recovering from my pituitary surgery. Today we walked briskly along – not too many birds out, but a nice dryish respite from the rainy days behind and ahead. (Hike #56, 3.1 miles, 100 feet)

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Oaks Bottom

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Bald eagle on a perch in the Willamette River.

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Neighborhood

Lots of rain, and a rainbow…I am looking forward to the solstice.

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Knitting

I finished a foxy bib for a baby shower present,

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I put the thumbs on the mitts,

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and have finished the body and icord hem on the Meris cardigan; on to the button bands….

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