May 2021, part 3: Hiking

Three significant hikes:

May 5 – Weldon Wagon Road, WA

We returned to this favorite trail while the balsamroot were fresh, and the later season flowers were just beginning to bloom.

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Open slopes of balsamroot along the upper trail.

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Mt Hood view from the open trail.

Late season flowers:

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Old plow at the turnaround.

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Second growth firs viewed through oak trees.

May 11 – Saddle Mountain, OR

Another favorite trail – this time we were early for the full bloom, and saw fawn lilies in the upper saddle.

The alder trees in the lower forest had not leafed out yet. We made our way up to the prominent knob, admiring lots of early flowers in the alternating woods and open slopes.

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Alder trees

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The knob, and first view to the ocean.

Some of the early flowers:

Lilies along the first summit before the saddle:

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Glacier lilies

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Pink fawn lilies

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View to the saddle and summit.

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Prairie fire in the upper meadows.

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Lewisia foliage – too early for flowers.

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View of three Cascade peaks from the summit.

May 28 – Ridge Trail, Forest Park, Portland

This was our first time hiking the Ridge Trail in Forest Park.

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This trail has an excellent view of the iconic 1930’s St Johns Bridge, over the Willamette River. 

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The trail ascends 1000 feet from the start near the St Johns Bridge in North Portland, to the intersection with Firelane 7. We continued the loop on Firelane 7, the Wildwood Trail, and Leif Erickson Drive, before returning on the lower Ridge Trail for a total distance of 4.25 miles. Most of the time we were in the forest.

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Through the woods…

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Vine maples

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Mushroom

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Late trillium

We stopped to admire the bridge again on our return trip – sky a little bluer than when we began.

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My next and last May 2021 post will be about our wonderful first post-Covid-vaccination trip to visit our daughter, in Washington DC.

Late April 2021

Continuing my neighborhood walks: After the cherry blossoms, the pink snow,

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We go from pink trees

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to pink sidewalks in a week’s time.

And find them all through the neighborhood.

Dogwood trees and other flowers bloom,

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Dogwood

Interestingly cracked concrete catches my eye…

We went on two more hikes with amazing wildflowers:

Tom McCall Trail, OR, April 23

When we hiked here on March 11th, the slopes were covered with purple grass widows. Today, the balsamroot is the star!

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Starting up the trail with friends.

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Lower cliffs, balsamroot and lupine in full bloom!

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Eastward view.

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Every blade abloom under the oak trees.

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Open slopes of balsamroot and Mt Adams.

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Continuing up.

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Paintbrush in bloom on the upper slopes.

Views from the top:

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West to Mt Hood.

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North to Mt Adams.

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Northeast, to the Cherry Orchard.

More views on the hike down:

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Rowena Plateau.

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Paintbrush! and the Memaloose Hills, with their yellow backs.

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Parsley Alley….

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And a few more flowers, for the day.

Bitterroot Trail, Catherine Creek, WA April 26

Aptly lived up to its name – the earlier blooming flowers have faded, but the bitterroot is just getting started today!

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We began near the fairy ponds – now filled with camas lilies; the adjacent rock outcrops hosting glorious bitterroot flowers.

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Lewisia rediviva

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Sprinkled across the basalt; bicolored cluster lilies speckle the meadow beyond.

We wind our way up the slope:

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Eastward.

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Camas lilies and shooting stars.

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Death camas and purple camas lilies

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Turn left at the balsamroot, while admiring the windswept views east,

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and west…

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We drop down the Rowland Wall trail,

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One of the largest clusters of bitterroot buds I have seen…

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buckwheat

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A giant clump of cliff penstomen surprised us!

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More bitterroot scattered across the rocky surface along our return trail.

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This is their time to rise up!

Meanwhile…

We finally had a chance to see the heritage American Chestnut Tree in the Sellwood neighborhood. It dwarves the house, and there is an enormous stump of another chestnut tree behind it.

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Rare American Chestnut, Sellwood, Oregon

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Leaves just budding out.

Knitting

Quilting

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I’m making progress on the baby quilt.

Repotted plant report from Washington DC:

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Commentary on the verdict, and the path forward:

.

Eastern Gorge Trip, April 2021

We spent a few days hiking east of the Cascade crest and the rain. We stayed in a small hotel in the small town of Moro, and explored two Oregon State Parks for the first time, then visited the Columbia Hills in Washington on our way home.

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Driving south of the Columbia River to White River Falls State Park – low hills and agricultural buildings our new scenery.

April 13th,  White River Falls State Park, Oregon

We admired the White River Falls from the overlook, then walked downstream to see the lower tiers of the falls. We were about 2 miles upstream from the confluence with the Deschutes River, and about 50 miles from the source, the White River Glacier on Mt Hood, near a favorite winter snowshoe location. Here, the White River tumbles over cliffs, past the ruins of a hydropower plant that was abandoned in 1963, when a giant dam on the nearby Columbia River was built.

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White River Falls

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Abandoned power plant.

This is a beautiful falls, though the surrounds are a bit of a wasteland – cement and disconnected pipes, wire grids, a broken building with roof gaps, graffiti, tumble weeds and leaves blown in, plants growing out of the cracks, moss in the crevices.

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Bright yellow balsamroot and parsley were blooming around the canyon, and gold fiddle neck striped the edges of the rocky path.

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Balsamroot, parsley

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fiddleneck

Down by the river we had a bit of a wind shelter. Quiet today, but in summer people come to swim. We walked a ways down stream to see the third tier of the falls, the smoothed rocky shelves with potholes, now exposed, and smooth, sandy banks.

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Sandy beach above the lower falls.

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Lower falls; upper falls visible to the upper right.

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Downstream along the White River.

We walked back up to the rim, past the ruins of the powerhouse and almost post-apocalyptic scenery.

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Return hike.

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More of the ruins of the old power plant.

From White River Falls, we drove east across the Deschutes River on our way to Moro, along a long, smoothly curved road on the Warm Springs Reservation. Balsamrooot blooms were sprinkled on cliffs above the canyon.

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We passed sagebrush uplands and cultivated green fields, a 360 degree horizon punctuated by white windmills gleaming in the afternoon light.

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Many white wind turbines on the horizon.

April 14th, Cottonwood Canyon State Park, Oregon

We drove across the uplands between the John Day and Deschutes Rivers on a beautiful clear blue morning.  Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were on the horizon, and more windmills.

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Mt Hood

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Mt Adams and Mt Rainier

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Mt Adams, windmills

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Mt Rainier and the Goat Rocks, windmills

The Lost Coral Trail in Cottonwood Canyon State Park is 9.6 miles out and back. The trail follows an old road along the John Day River, sometimes beneath river-cut cliffs, sometimes across the point bars, as the wide blue river sweeps down stream.

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Trailhead

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Under the cliffs

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Balsamroot above

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Bicolored cluster lilies

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Desert parsley and lichen

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Balsamroot and parsley

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milk vetch

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Cottonwood Canyon campground across the river.

Continuing along the river, the slopes were speckled with wildflowers; willows on the bars and a few trees were beginning to leaf out.

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Flowering alluvial fan across the river.

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Cliffs and reflections, serviceberry in bloom.

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Sagebrush

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A welcome bench for rest and contemplation.

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Lovely desert colors in the rocks, river, plantlife.

At our turnaround point, we found a phlox-covered slope and beautiful views of the river. We saw three equestrians – our only other people on the trail today.

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Three equestrians in our downstream lunch view

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Upstream lunch view.

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phlox

We retraced our steps upstream after lunch, admiring the views along the river in the changing light.

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Walking upstream.

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Many colors along the river.

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Grassy tufts in the river.

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Larkspur

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Back under the cliffs near the trailhead.

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Parsley

I don’t know if I still love the desert as much as I used to. The rocky, prickly, isolation of it has caught up with my age. Dust and wind, and there must be snakes around somewhere …I just don’t know…

April 15th, Dalles Mountain Ranch, Columbia Hills State Park, WA

We drove back across the windmilled uplands, in view of the three mountains on the skyline, all the while watching the painted slopes of the cliffs and hills on the north side of the Columbia River. Distinct patches of yellow, white, and purple across the green and brown indicate the slopes are blooming with the wildflowers that we are going to see.

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Looking at the Columbia Hills in Washington from Oregon.

We hiked the Ranch Loop clockwise from the Dalles Mountain Ranch Trailhead – we have been here before, most recently in February, when only the early flowers were on view. Today there were so many flowers out – gold balsamroot, purple lupine, pale pink phlox, and always the yellow parsley and pink filagree creating a pastel underglaze on almost every slope.

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Mt Hood and ranch buildings from near the trailhead.

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The “one tree”, still no leaves, with a flowery background

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Balsamroot all the way down to the Columbia River.

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Lower east-most view.

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Lupine and western view from the high point on the lower trail.

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Large head clover

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Fleabane

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Lunch view – in February this area was covered in purple grass widows.

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Back up Eight Mile Creek to the ranch.

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We finally spotted the old car that is so often photographed among the flowers at the ranch.

We enjoyed this hiking trip, a chance to get out of town and enjoy the spring flowers at a couple of new locations.

Blooms of early April 2021

The crabapple tree in our front yard finally bloomed during the second week of April. This tree was in full bloom the day we moved into our house in mid March almost 30 years ago.

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April 9th

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April 11th

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April 15th

Other garden blooms:

And some cupcakes for a friend’s birthday:

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Hikes:

April 2nd, Memaloose Hills, OR –

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Begin at the Memaloose Overlook…

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Today’s star is balsamroot!

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Buttercup carpet in the woods.

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Balsamroot all the way up Chatfield Hill.

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Looking back.

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North view from the top – Mt Adams, paintbrush, yellow parsley.

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Columbia River, Columbia Desert parsley, balsamroot

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Mt Hood to the west.

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Willows and bees near the spring on the return hike.

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Popcorn flowers on Marsh Hill.

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View from Marsh Hill back to the Memaloose Hills.

More wildflowers:

 April 8, Coyote Wall, WA – Our first hike with friends in more than a year! We are all fully vaccinated!

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Starting up The Old Ranch Road.

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Service berry in bloom on the Little Moab Cliffs.

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The edge of the Coyote Wall, yellow parsley.

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And balsamroot, eastward view.

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Southward view.

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And we are going higher!

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Upper cliff edge view.

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A nice meadow near Atwood Road, as we loop eastward before hiking down.

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A day when every blade of grass seems to have a bloom!

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So many flowers!

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Desert parsley along Old Hwy 14 cliff, return hike.

And more flowers:

Knitting

Some progress on two projects:

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I finished the yoke on this bamboo cardigan, and it is way too big, despite careful swatching, so this one is in time out for a while.

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A mystery project for a gift…

Quilting

I am starting a baby quilt for a new family member!

The rest of March, 2021

Tulips and cherry blossoms, three more hikes, a new knit along, a careful cross country trip, and our neighborhood loses our star author, as we continue into our second year of pandemia.

The neighborhood in bloom –

Catherine Creek East

March 26th – A beautiful day – we roamed on the eastward loop to see the latest of early spring flowers sprinkled on the grassy slopes.

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White death camas and saxifrage all the way up…

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Yellow agerosis and yellow bells

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The first of the purple camas,

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the last of the grass widows.

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Monkey flowers, rosy plectritis and orobanche

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Shooting stars and saxifrage

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Larkspur, and purple Columbia desert parsley

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Yellow parsley and Mt Hood!

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Meadow lark

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Fairy ponds

Wildwood Trail,  milepost ~ 10 to 14

March 29th – A slightly rainy day, trilliums lining the trail on our loop. I have now completed about 20 miles of the 30 mile trail during the pandemic.

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Wildwood trail on a damp day.

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Trillium blooming all along the trail.

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Trillium

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Violets

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Salmonberry

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Coltsfoot

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Return along Leif Erikson Drive

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Sky breaking out!

Cooper Mountain

March 30th – We took a quick loop around this mountain on the edge of suburbia, being reclaimed/preserved so that all doesn’t become concrete, while our son was at an appointment nearby. A few early spring flowers on view.

Knitting

I finished another hat, and continue to knit on the socks and cardigan.

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Plaid hat – a test knit for a friend.

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Sock and cardigan, in process.

Son’s trip to DC:

Travel is fraught in these Covid times, yet we needed to transfer one of our cars to our daughter on the east coast. Our temporarily unemployed son volunteered, so in the midst of the pandemic, he bubbled himself across country. With all appropriate masking and testing, he delivered the car. Then he flew back, and after more bubbling and testing, successfully completed his adventure Covid free.

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Postcards from the road

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Cherry blossoms on the National Mall

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More cherry blossoms, tidal basin.

Beverly Cleary

We live in Ramona’s neighborhood, the same neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, where the acclaimed children’s author went to school and roamed Grant Park and Klickitat Street. Beverly Cleary died last week, a few weeks short of her 105th birthday. Though she spent most of her adult life in California, our neighborhood honors her legacy. Libraries and schools bear her name. We have a walking tour of the neighborhood to see her world.  I remember getting my middle school aged son to read the books to his three year old sister while I was making dinner, and he never objected – he looked forward to it. “Is it time to read to Emily yet?” I especially enjoyed her two memoirs, recognizing many of the scenes from her childhood as replayed in her novels. I heard her say in an interview that she identified most with Ellen Tebbits. She got to live a good long life, and in our neighborhood we have her “ordinary” fictional children cast in bronze in the sculpture garden in the park, which doubles as a splash pad in the summer. Last week there were flowers in the sculpture garden in tribute to her memory.

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Ramona the Pest

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Henry Huggins

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Ribsy

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March 2021, so far….

We are sliding into spring around here. Flowers are blooming, with a few warm days between the rainy stretches. We were vaccinated at just about the one year anniversary of the pandemic, and I am grateful! I feel the hope of spring, yet I know we still have so far to go until everyone can say that. And then my daughter reminds me of our privilege in the world. I know. I can only live where I am, but I do know.

Knitting, reading, hiking, on we go, fuzzy days mushing into each other. Planning the weekly grocery list. Creating with my hands, my brain, I take notes. I try to find the distinguishing features of each day, and celebrate the positivity and the beauty. That is most of what I do, and will do, and am lucky to do. So….

Hiking

1) We snowshoed up White River on Mt Hood on March 2nd – clouds swathing the peak much of the day, but in a most artistic way.

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Mt Hood in clouds, near the Sno-Park.

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Lunch view, near the Timberline Trail crossing.

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The snow on nearby Boy Scout Ridge looked unstable, so we kept our distance!

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Return trip…

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Last views – we can almost see the entire peak.

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2) On March 11th we hiked Tom McCall Point and around Rowena Crest, east of Hood River in Oregon, to see the fields of  grass widows.

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Thousands of grass widows on the plateau below Tom McCall Point.

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Grass widows

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More grass widows…

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Columbia River reflecting the Cherry Orchard cliffs in Washington.

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Parsley alley

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Mt Adams and Rowena Plateau, from near the top of Tom McCall Point.

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Tiny flowers of spring whitlow grass.

Then we walked around Rowena Crest, closer to the river:

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East view from Rowena Crest cliffs – kettle lakes in the foreground.

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Westerly view.

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One of the lakes on Rowena Crest.

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Abstractions in the lake reflections…

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And more grass widows!

3) The next week, on March 16th, we went out across the river to Lyle Cherry Orchard again. No squalls this time – a perfect hiking day, and the first of the bright yellow balsam root blooms were opening as we hiked.

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Hiking up above the Convict Road.

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Columbia Desert Parsley in full bloom.

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Balsam root opening on the upper slopes.

Lots of flowers showing for the first time this spring:

Stunning views from the cherry orchard:

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Eastward, one of the remaining cherry trees.

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Westward, balsamroot

4) We also walked a fast loop through Tryon Creek Park, on March 17th, where the very first of the trillium were opening, a little later than last year.

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Tryon Creek

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First trillium of spring

Around Portland

My neighborhood is also blooming.

Knitting

I finished knitting a pair of socks for me and another hat and a cowl for the guild charity project, and cast on new socks and a cardigan.

And…

I hold the more difficult challenges to the outside world in my heart. This week it is yet another uniquely American gun violence episode in Georgia, another hate crime, anti-woman, anti-Asian. I know in my heart it is all true, and part of the work we all have to do – bring out all the biases into the light of day and see how they harm so many. I am listening and learning more each day, and it all rings true, and saddens me. I pledge to myself to be as much of an ally as I can recognize. Listen and learn. Validate. Search for the commonalities and not the otherness. From my place on the privilege spectrum.  That is most of what I do, and will do, and am lucky to do. And before I can publish this – yet another mass shooting at a grocery store in Colorado.

As a youngster with all the idealism of youth, I envisioned a giant magnet circling the world sucking away all the implements of violence, all the guns and weapons of war. On days like today with a heavy heart and a less idealistic world view, still I sigh and wish it could be true.

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And a volcano is erupting in Iceland!

Hiking in February 2021

Despite the mid-month ice storm, we managed three hikes in February – all in the eastern Columbia River Gorge of Washington.

Lyle Cherry Orchard / Lower Catherine Creek – Feb. 2nd

We were hoping for good weather east of the mountains, but were foiled by a squall.

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Starting up the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail, we could see nothing but blue sky from the Convict Road…

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But there are clouds over the Columbia River to the east,

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and west.

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We saw our first Columbia Desert Parsley of the season,

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and scattered grass widows.

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As we continued up the tiers of basalt,

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we noticed more ominous clouds to the west.

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We continued up,

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to about this point, when we encountered wind and driving rain on the unsheltered slope

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We sheltered briefly under one of the oak trees, then headed down. 

By the time we reached the car, the skies were blue again, so we decided to stop at Catherine Creek before going home.

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We walked the Lower Loop, with views of the waterfall,

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and of our Ponderosa guide tree, up on the slopes above the Labyrinth.

We saw a few early wildflowers, and finished just in time for another squall to blow through.

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Blue jay

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Bitterroot foliage

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Rain in a vernal pool.

We saw rainbows in our rear view mirror as we drove back to rainy Portland.

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Coyote Wall – Labyrinth Loop – Feb. 9th

We started cold and overcast, but hiked into a bluer, warmer day.

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Looking up at the wall from the trailhead – we would soon be looking down from there….

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View to the east from the lower slopes.

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Ice on the trail.

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First yellow parsley of the season,

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and first prairie stars, with salt and pepper.

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A bald eagle below us, watching the river.

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Continuing up the Little Moab trail to the edge of the cliff…

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Heralded by this raven the whole way.

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Looking down at the trailhead,

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and up the edge of Coyote Wall toward our lunch stop.

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Trail continuing up the slope…

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to the rocky edge where we took our lunch break.

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The clouds began to part after lunch.

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We headed east toward the Labyrinth across the upper slopes,

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into a bluer sky.

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Icicles in the upper Hidden Creek crossing.

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Eastward view from our Ponderosa guide tree viewpoint on the Upper Labyrinth Trail.

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Continuing down, we could see Mt Hood on the skyline peeking out from the clouds.

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Through my favorite oak grove,

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Past the columnar basalt buttes,

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Following the waterfalls of Hidden Creek down the Labyrinth,

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beneath the blue sky.

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These falls were nearly dry in November,

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now the pool is overflowing.

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Goodbye to the ghost tree.

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And back to the trailhead beneath the wall. A successful day!

Dalles Mountain Ranch – Vista Loop – Feb. 24

After two weeks of snow and ice storms, we were finally able to find a blue sky day at Columbia Hills State Park, an hour and a half east of Portland. A beautiful day, edged by snow on the skyline. Take a peek here if you want to see this trail in full spring bloom!

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View south and west from Dalles Mountain Ranch trailhead – Mt Hood in Oregon, far across the Columbia River. We are heading downhill toward the river.

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Looking back to the ranch as we hike down Eight Mile Creek.

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Creek crossing.

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Our lunch stop along the Missoula Floods scoured lower bench. Mt Hood, Columbia River, The Dalles and Horsethief Butte. Lots of purple grass widows in the foreground.

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Eastward lower viewpoint.

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Salt and pepper, grass widows.

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Yellow bells

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Gold stars

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Another desert parsley

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Looking back up to the ranch on the return hike.

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One tree to rule them all.

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 December, 2020

Another gathering of late reports…

Friday, December 4th, Tracy Hill, WA

The fog never lifted, and was sometimes frozen, as we hiked past the Catherine Creek Arch, all the way up Tracy Hill, and then down again. (Hike #72, 5 miles, 1100 feet)

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Looking toward our destination from the Hood River Bridge.

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Passing the Arch on the way up,

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and into the fog.

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The frozen grasses and seed heads are pretty.

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Lunch stop with no view, near the top of Tracy Hill.

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On our way down – eventually below the fog again.

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Frozen vernal pond.

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Hiking above the Arch on the return.

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Our first time crossing the new trail bridge over Catherine Creek – we used to walk back along the highway.

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We always see something new here – this time, frozen grasses and a new trail bridge.

Wednesday, December 9th, Hardy Ridge and Nancy Russell Overlook, WA

The rain was supposed to stop midmorning but didn’t, so we turned back about half way. We stopped for a quick view from Nancy Russell Overlook on the way home. (Hike #73, 6.2 miles, 1200 feet)

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Soggy trail to Hardy Ridge.

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Soggy lichen

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Nancy Russell Overlook

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Columbia River Gorge, looking east.

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Puddles in the trail.

Monday, December 14th, Catherine Creek, WA

We finally found the path through the inside out switchbacks on the Shoestring Trail beneath Rowland Wall, as we hiked through fog, snow, and then a surreal landscape between fog and sun. (Hike #74, 4 miles, 850 feet)

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Fog ahead – we began with hopes that the fog would lift.

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Looking to the east – it is sunny out there.

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By the time we reached the pylons, we were in the fog.

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When we dropped over Rowland Wall, we were walking through oak groves with patchy snow along our trail.

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I saw a ruby crowned kinglet in the bushes.

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The snow helped define the place in the path where we have lost the trail on previous occasions. Also, by hiking down instead of up, I thought we could make the connection, and we did!

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Our GPS track for the day: the red circle is the place of the inside out switchbacks, developed by mountain bikers, where we have lost the trail in the past.

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After lunch, we continued down, and looked behind us to see blue sky!

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Continuing down toward Rowland Wall, below the fog.

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We emerged out onto the grassy slopes, fog above, sun somewhere shining on the Columbia River.

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Heading toward Rowland Wall.

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The leaning tree and the Pinnacle.

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Our path back up the wall.

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Once above Rowland Wall, we could see more blue sky to the east.

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Vernal pool near the trail head.

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Catherine Creek Arch in the low sun.

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Foliage of the bitterroot flowers of April!

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Looking back up to where we have been.

Wednesday, December 23rd, Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA

Swans from a distance, and an excellent view of moonrise. (Hike #75, 2.7 miles, 100 feet)

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The best view of the swans in Carty Lake was from the entry bridge.

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Upside down trees out in their full glory.

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Moon rising…

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Moon, photobombed by airplane, as we approach the bridge at the end of our hike.

Monday, December 28th, 2020, Powell Butte, Portland, OR

Cold and windy, with clear views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains. (Hike #76, 4.3 miles, 500 feet)

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Mt Hood from the top of Powell Butte

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Mt Jefferson

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Mt Adams

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Mt St Helens

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…