Balsamroot, Bitterroot, and a Birthday

May 2, 2019 Dalles Mountain Ranch, WA

On a very windy double birthday, we followed the lure of the wildflowers to Dalles Mountain Ranch, Columbia Hills State Park, WA. We hiked the Middle Loop, from the Ranch, downhill and then back up again, over rolling slopes and across streams. Balsam root, biscuit root, lupine, and filaree painted  gold, yellow, purple and pink highlights on the hills, and neither words nor pictures can really describe the beauty! But I try…

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We started from the ranch trailhead, Mt Hood in the distance.

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Down the balsmroot and lupine filled slopes.

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As the trail winds down, the view changes from Mt Hood

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to the Columbia Hills.

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The Columbia River comes into view,

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and so many flowers!

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Under oak trees,

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Down hill, closer to the river.

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Stream crossing,

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Puffy mounds of phlox,

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A patch of death camas

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Another stream crossing,

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Back up the last slope to the trail head.

A few less common flowers seen today:

Later, the same day – camas lilies and bitterroot!

On our way home, we took a short hike at Catherine Creek where the open slopes are already beginning to dry out.

DSC03831I was hoping to see swales of blue camas lilies in the vernal pools, and we found them!

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Blue camas lilies growing where the vernal pools are drying up.

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A few white camas in with the blue camas lilies.

A bonus was finding the first blooming bitterroots of the year! We completely missed them last year when we were in Cornwall, so I took extra pictures to make up for it.

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The large pink flowers are so delicately beautiful, and yet grow out of tough black lava outcrops.

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Bitterroot blooming on the rocky foreground, camas lilies and buttercups beyond.

This was hike #21 for 2019, about 6 miles, 600 feet overall, but a million in flowers.

Even later, birthday cake and new socks

I made the requested traditional chocolate cake. After dinner out at our favorite local Chinese restaurant, Brian blew out XXVI candles.

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Dan will blowout his LXV candles on Sunday when he has his party. Both had ‘medical insurance significant’ birthdays this year. Brian was wore his new socks the next day while watching the Portland Trailblazers squeak out a win over Denver in quadruple overtime! I don’t think there is any adrenaline left in town.

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I finished these just in time for Brian’s birthday!

Meanwhile in the garden….

Dogwood trees are blooming all over town in glorious pink, salmon and cream colors. And in our yard:

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Only one of twelve camas bulbs bloomed.

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Chinese fringe flower and phlox still going strong

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Iris

Columbia Hills, WA, Tryon Creek, OR, and some Brioche Knitting

Crawford Oaks 4/4/2019

We had to drive 75 miles east to the Columbia Hills to find a dry hike this weekend. We started up the road to Eight Mile Falls, then continued on the Vista Loop. It was a bit late for grass widows and yellow bells, and a bit early for full balsamroot display, so we had a bit of each, on a windless day. A lovely hike, and pretty easy, compared to when we hiked here about a year ago and I was less than two months post surgery. Next spring, we will attempt this hike a few weeks later to get the full balsamroot experience.

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Bird welcoming us to the trail.

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The graphic showing the depth of the Missoula Floods here always impresses me.

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Eight Mile Falls

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Looking back west toward the river and Horsethief Butte.

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One of the scattered early blooming balsamroots.

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View to the west, toward The Dalles

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View to the east toward Biggs

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Looking north to the Columbia Hills

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One swale of shooting stars – first of the season

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A blue jay near the trailhead

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Last look at Horsethief Butte

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Hike #15, 5 miles/1000 feet

The wildflower suite:

Sunday dash around Tryon Creek to see the Trillium

4/7/2019   A rainy weekend in Portland, a weather window, so we went:

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Trillium in swathes in the woodlands, and individually along the trail.

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After a weekend of rain, some flowers were becoming transparent

Other flowers included skunk cabbage in the bogs near the creek.

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Lots of water dripping, but we mostly avoided actual rain.

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cedar

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violets

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Oregon grape

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(Hike#16, 2.2 miles, 200 feet)

Knitting

Progress on the Vintage Prim hat, with brioche:

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I will just say that there has been frogging, and use of lifelines. I have even learned to fix one or two stitches, but a big fix is still beyond me with this technique. I do love how it looks!

Spring Break 2019 – Knitting and Cherry Blossoms

Knitting – Frost Slippers

I crocheted the steeks,

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and cut,

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and cut again.

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I have basted the edges, and blocked.

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Frost Slippers – uppers and soles, blocked.

Next I will sew soles to uppers, then add cuffs. There is a lot of finishing work in these slippers, but so far I am intrigued enough by the process to keep going!

Lyle Cherry Orchard, WA    3/29/2019

A beautiful day to hike up the cliffs above the Columbia River with friends, and try the new trail switchbacks. There are a few old cherry trees along the uppermost cliff loop that were not in bloom today, but we saw many wildflowers, including some balsamroot. (Hike #14, 5.6 miles, 1500 feet)

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We are headed to the top of the cliffs…

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The second bench

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River cruise below…

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One of the vernal ponds along the upper trail

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View to the east from the Cherry Orchard

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And to the west

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One of the new switchback legs – nowhere  near as steep or cliffy as the former trail.

Plenty of new flowers along the way:

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Yellow parsley and gold stars

Neighborhood flowers…

Lots in bloom these days,

including poetry:

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Portland Cherry Blossoms –  Sunday, March 31

The waterfront on a sunny day with cherry trees in bloom. Today is a day for embracing the crowds.

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We decided to walk up onto the Steel Bridge to look down on the waterfront.

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Views from the Bridge:

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I love the railing shadows.

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Wandering around amongst the trees and crowds:

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A maple tree budding out, with bugs!

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White Stag and Old Town Water Tower behind the trees.

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View of the eastside of the Willamette River.

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And a little Portland weirdness, because it is always here.

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Group-peddled brew cycle.

Late Early Flowers at Catherine Creek, WA, with Robins

March 14, 2019    Bitterroot Trail to Rowland Wall

We hiked a Catherine Creek loop, up past the vernal ponds along the Bitterroot Trail, then down Rowland Wall. (Hike#12, 3 miles, 1000 feet)

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Fairy ponds

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View to the east from the Bitterroot Trail

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The Arch

We saw the first wildflowers just beginning to bloom.

On the upper grassy slopes we noticed robins hopping in the grass all around us.

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There are probably a dozen robins bobbing and hopping in this view, though they are hard to photograph as they don’t stay still for long.

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Here is one…

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And another one in the snow.

The snow level was about 1000 feet, and we could see extensive snow covered landscape in every direction, though it is melting out.

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Still looks very snowy out in the high desert

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The orchards of Mosier, and Mt Hood

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Rowland Wall, Rowland Lake, Mt Hood beyond the Columbia River

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Mere

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Returning via the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks. Burnt trees on the Oregon Gorge skyline.

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Knitting

I finished the soles for the Frost Slippers, but haven’t yet crocheted the steeks.

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I have started the brioche patterning on a Vintage Prim hat.

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Garden and Neighborhood

The hyacinths finally bloomed out front,

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and there was our annual neighborhood St Patrick’s Day parade down the street.

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Klickitat Bald Eagles and the Labyrinth, WA

1/10/2019 Balfour/Klickitat Bald Eagles

We met up with friends in Cascade Locks, then drove to the Balfour/Klickitat wildlife viewing area near Lyle, Washington. Early January is bald eagle nesting season there, and we saw many eagles in the trees across the pond.

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Our first eagle sighting – white head in the oak trees.

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Two eagles on this branch…

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Actually, there are seven in this picture – four on the lower level and three higher up.

I watched these two eagles for a while – as they looked around.

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For every white head in the trees, there were two or three brown juvenile eagles. They are as big as the mature eagles, but harder to spot because they don’t get their white feathers fully until they are four years old.

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Three juvenile eagles in the tree, one flying nearby.

We witnessed a lone salmon struggling up the stream, and then watched as a juvenile bald eagle grabbed it with his talons, pulled it onto the adjacent mudflat, and ate it. Other eagles joined in after a while. It was the circle of life before our eyes – not pretty, but the way of nature.

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The salmon

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Juvenile eagle lands nearby

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and pounces

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Drags the salmon onto the mudflat

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Joined by other eagles.

We also saw two great blue herons on the nearby cliffs.

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Two great blue herons, circled in blue.

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A closer view of the herons.

Shortly after this drama, a couple of dozen eagles flew in circles above the area for five minutes. My camera telephoto lens is not quite up to clear pictures of all these events, but I enjoyed watching and marveling at the beauty.

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Labyrinth Trail

After a quick lunch we walked up the nearby Labyrinth trail to the tall Jefferson pine  landmark tree. We saw Mt Hood, the Columbia Hills and eastern gorge with snow dusting, and a few early wildflowers on on this misty, cloudy day. A good day with friends. (5.8 miles/1000 feet/#2 for 2019)

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The Old Highway waterfall

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The upper waterfall

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My favorite oak grove

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Views of Mt Hood

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Phlox

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Phlox, eastern gorge dusted with snow

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Salt and pepper

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Oak trees in low light

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Columnar basalts

View under the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, our meeting place.

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Happy New Year 2019!

First Hike of the New Year: Ferry Springs Trail, Deschutes River State Park, Oregon – January 5, 2019 

We did this same hike almost exactly one year ago – January 6th, 2018.  It was a beautiful day with blue sky and long reaching views. Today, was a cloud covered day with no actual rain. We saw the effects of the July 2019 Substation Fire that burned both river banks for about 20 miles upstream from the park.

There was a bald eagle near the trailhead, but it flew off as I watched it.

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Bald eagle near the trailhead.

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Bald eagle – the white tail visible in the center of the photo, flying downstream.

Our trail started along the river, through riparian vegetation, but then we crossed the fire line and saw before us nearly completely denuded and blackened landscape through which grass in now emerging, a green/black palette. In some ways it reminded us of the highlands of Scotland.

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From dry grass to burn zone, though the bench is intact, as were the other benches along the lower trail.

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We passed below, then above the arch as the trail looped back north and uphill towards Ferry Springs.

 

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Looking up at the arch.

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Looking down through the arch.

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I was looking forward to resting on the bench on the upper trail, but it was burned. 

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Lookback: Two views from the Upper Trail toward the mouth of the Deschutes River and Columbia River. In 2018 we were walking through dry grass. This year, the edge of the burn is well defined.

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January 2018, pre-burn

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January 2019, post fire

After crossing Ferry Springs, we headed back to the trailhead, looking down at the fire scars along the way.

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This wooden gate survived, though the area around was scorched.

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Looking back upriver.

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The dry waterfall

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More scorched earth, then back to dry grass.

This landscape is renewed by fire. I don’t think all the green grasses emerging are native grasses, but we did see new growth on some of the native plants. It will be interesting to return next year to see what happens. (5 miles, 560 feet, Hike #1 for 2019)

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A yellow composite flower

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New foliage on burned shrubs.

Crafting

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Cross stitch of Jane Austen’s house – I just need to add the windowpanes and french knot flower centers.

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I finished the second sock, now I have to find the place in the stripe sequence that will match the place where the knot was in the first sock.

Other Adventures 

It has been a busy couple of weeks of the New Year, winding down from the holidays, and getting my daughter and her things sent back to college. I note that today is one year exactly since my surgery. I am adjusting to all my new medications, and am healthier for not having excess growth hormone secretly running around in my body and creating future problems. I am grateful for my recovery. My husband has just stepped down to half time work, with full retirement planned for a year from now. Thus we will likely have many more hikes and adventures in the years to come, including having just booked a hiking trip in New Zealand for a year from now! I am used to hiking at my own pace, but I will need to increase the difficulty of my hikes as the year goes on to prepare for the trip. A good goal, one of many, for 2019. (2019-1)

 

Memaloose Hills Hike, and Christmas (18-59)

Memaloose Hills Hike, Oregon 12/27/2018

We went east through the gorge again to the sunny Memaloose Hills, and walked 3.2 miles, 600 feet, through the dormant winter landscape. (Hike #65 for 2018). This area is known for abundant wildflowers in spring.

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View north, with a peak at Mt Adams, from the upper trailhead on old highway 30.

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Ponderosa bark

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Trail up to the lower viewpoint.

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Chatfield Hill – our upper destination

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Dan heading up Chatfield Hill in the dormant winter.

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Same view in springtime….

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View to the east and lower viewpoint.

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View to the west from the top

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Northern view toward Mt Adams

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Mt Adams

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Mt Hood

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An apple tree and Mt Adams, on the return hike.

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Apple tree

Dalles Dam

Another hiker reported seeing bald eagles at the Dalles Dam, so we drove to the Visitor Center to see them. We walked some of the paths in that area and saw interesting views of the infrastructure, but no bald eagles.

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Under the freeway bridge

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Looking toward the dam

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A dusting of snow in the hills

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Mt Hood in the distance

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Zooming in – Mt Hood and The Dalles.

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Bald eagles should be here

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Fishing platforms

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Another westward view in the low winter light.

Driving Landscape Views

I snapped photos from the freeway as we drove back through the gorge. There are great views of our hiking spots on the Washington side of the Columbia River, and I thought I did fairly well at freeway-speed photography!

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Lyle Cherry Orchard

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Lyle, Washington

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Catherine Creek

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Rowland Wall

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The slope above Coyote Wall

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Coyote Wall

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Coyote Wall

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Snow dusting the black-fringed cliffs above Cascade Locks

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Corbett Point

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Closer view of Vista House

Knitting

I knit a star ornament for my friend who has made the costumes for a local production of Mary Poppins, I finally finished seaming the Ivy Cardigan, and I finished another round washcloth.

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Mary Poppins Star

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Ivy Cardigan

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Wash cloth

Christmas

Lovely quiet Christmas with family and friends.

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Our tree.

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My only new ornament – from the Jane Austen Museum in Bath, England.

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Viburnum in my garden

 

 

Lyle Cherry Orchard, Washington (18-58)

December 15, 2018

Once again we escape east of the Cascades to dry skies, a bit of sun, no wind, at Lyle Cherry Orchard. Quiet on the trail today.  (5.2 miles/1250 feet, hike #64 for 2018)

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Approach trail, up the first set of cliffs.

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View from the Convict Road to the east

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View from the Convict Road north – we are going up those cliffs to the top!

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Hiking up to the second tier..

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We could see the new trail reroute partially cut by WTA workers that will make the upper cliff ascent farther from the cliff edge and less steep in gradient. And lots of native plant seedlings in place.

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Those lines in the slope ahead are the new trail, in progress, with a gentler gradient than the steep track we will climb today.

 

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Looking back at the flagged new trail, not cut yet.

Lunch stop near the top…

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The trail continues in and out of the woods along the top of the cliffs to the remnants of a cherry orchard…

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View to the east from the grasslands near the cherry orchard.

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One of the old cherry trees

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Cherry tree in foreground, Lyle Peak above – our trail doesn’t go there.

We head back down…

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View west toward Lyle

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Closer view of the terrane we hiked, and the Convict Road Viewpoint on the lower left.

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Convict Road viewpoint – where we stood looking up this morning. The grey background is the Columbia River, not the sky!

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A spot of sun on the way down.

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GPS track

Crafting

Another knit dishcloth,

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and I’m now adding backstitch detail to Jane Austen’s cross stitched house….

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Catherine Creek, WA and Blogiversary! (18-16)

Bitterroot Trail- Rowland Wall Loop  4/20/18      (hike#16)

The Bitterroot Trail branches off north of the vernal pools/fairyland swales that are just above the main parking area.

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View up Sunflower Hill, where we are going.

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Fairy ponds with camus

The trail follows the steep western edge of Catherine Creek, and we get great views of the arch as we continue north.

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Bitterroot Trail

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Catherine Creek Arch

Long distance views appear as we gain elevation.

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Mt Hood to the west

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View to the east of the Columbia River

A variety of spring flowers line the trail all the way up to our destination above the power line corridor on Sunflower Hill (named before cattle grazed away all the balsamroot).

 

The first clump of balsamroot we see marks a trail junction.

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We have gone up to the top of the hill from here in the past. Today we decide to head downhill on the Rowland Wall trail.

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We find a rocky promontory for a lunch perch. On this beautiful blue sky day we have a clear view of Mt Hood.

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View to the west – the Labyrinth area and Mt Hood

As we continue down the rocky cliffs atop the wall east of Rowland Creek

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we see our first blooming paintbrush of the season, and bitteroot foliage whorls, one of which is massive!

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paintbrush

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bitterroot foliage

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buckwheat

I note the trails that criss cross Rowland basin below us, spying out options for future hikes.

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Camus swale

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Vernal pool

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3.5 miles, 1000 feet.

 

CRAFTING

The Elgol Cross Stitch is getting closer to completion; just the sky colors of pale pink, cream and white remain to be filled in.

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I cast on the Cornwall socks for travel knitting; k2p2 ribbing, top down vanilla sock.

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Blogiversary!

My first post, April 22nd, 2017, documented a hike up Coyote Wall. I have posted just about every week since then. I will be traveling for the next three weeks, so there will most likely be a delay in posting about our upcoming adventures.

Klickitat Trail; Poetry to the Rescue (18-14)

Swale Canyon, Klickitat Trail, WA     4/8/2018         (Hike #14)

Chasing east out of the rain, we started from the Harms Road trailhead north of Lyle, WA, and walked 8 miles round trip on this nearly flat former rail bed.  We began on a high grassy plateau, then slowly dropped between rim rock cliffs.

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Bright yellow parsley lined the trail and slopes, and other spring flowers were blooming locally.

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yellow parsley with gold stars

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grass widows

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a duck

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Oregon grape

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Columbia desert parsley

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shooting stars and saxifrage

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message written with old nails

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Dutchman breeches

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yellow parsley, red shrub

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golden currant

We saw large marmots on the cliffs across the river

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marmot in the center

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the marmot across the river

and a couple of smaller ones near the trail.

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A waterfall and some rocky pools marked our turnaround point, about 4 miles in.

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waterfall

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rock pools

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The trail continues, but we turned around here.

This was a great trail for a long walk with friends on an overcast windy day.

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My first post-surgery 8 mile day, a good omen for the upcoming trip to Cornwall.

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GPS track – Swale Canyon trail

Crafting:

I have been playing with leftover Smithsonian reproduction fabrics, including a feathered star and a lot of four patches that I pieced before I was inspired to use the collection for the Jane Austen quilt.

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I have been filling in cross stitches on Elgol.

I need to choose a knitting project for upcoming travel – probably socks.

Garden:

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Crabapple blooming

Other Adventures:

Another trip through the MRI this week – the neurosurgeon was able to show me the small void in my brain where the tumor had been. I am grateful for a good outcome and still contemplating additional medication going forward.

Poetry to the rescue!

I silently recite verses memorized long ago to take my mind off of the enclosed space and noise inside the MRI.

Lochinvar rides by my side, then I walk along the beach with the Walrus and the Carpenter as the clanging alternates between jack hammer and diesel engine.

I compose bad haiku to describe the experience-

dissociation/I pretend all is normal/while the machine clangs

or

poetry verses/distract from the jack hammers/of the MRI

Time passes. I wonder how Emily completed mental tasks while inside an MRI machine and participating in a scientific study.

Then Alexander Hamilton drops in from a forgotten spot in the middle of the Caribbean to keep me company.

I don’t mind the journey so much with my poetry companions, but I also think I need to learn some new verses before the next trip in six months.