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…


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


Down the balsmroot and lupine filled slopes.


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


to the Columbia Hills.


The Columbia River comes into view,


and so many flowers!


Under oak trees,


Down hill, closer to the river.


Stream crossing,



Puffy mounds of phlox,



A patch of death camas



Another stream crossing,



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!


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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:


Only one of twelve camas bulbs bloomed.


Chinese fringe flower and phlox still going strong



A Winter Day at the Oregon Coast


We drove over the snowy Coast Range from Portland to Cannon Beach and explored some of our favorite places on a cold, sunny day. Everywhere else within reach was colder, wetter, snowier.

Arcadia Beach State Park

First stop, late morning. High tide was in the early afternoon so the beach was shrinking as we walked a couple of miles south along the shore. We could not get around any of the headlands. Heavy mineral concentrations on the sand-depleted winter beaches made beautiful patterns.


Looking down on Arcadia Beach from above – at low tide we would be able to walk around the headland and north all the way to Cannon Beach.


Tidal channels


Heavy mineral patterns



Foot for scale.


View to the south toward Hug Point and beyond.


Zooming in on Hug Point – as close as we would get to it today.

Hug Point State Park

Tide even higher, so our stop here was brief.


Beach at Hug Point State Park – north view at high tide. We would not be able to see the waterfall or Hug Point itself today.


South view – in the summer the sand stretches for miles at low tide!

Arch Cape Beach

We have stayed near this beach many times over the past 30 years. We found a log to perch on while we ate our lunch. Only the rocky shingle was exposed on the winter beach. Thick foam was washing around in the swash zone, floating on the ebbing water, sparkling in the sun.


Lunch view to the north.


Lunch view to the south, Arch Cape and Castle Rock.


Neahkahnie Viewpoint

At the south end of Oswald West State Park, the view to Nehalem Bay and Manzanita to the south is stunning.


Neahkahnie Mountain

We hiked the three mile round trip to the top of Neahkahnie Mountain – beautiful views on this cold day.



Much of the trail is through shady forest.


View from the rocky top. Nehalem Bay and Manzanita Beach.


Note the snow capped peaks in the Coast Range.

Short Sand Beach, Oswald West State Park

We walked a couple of miles here on the interconnected trails that lead to Short Sand Beach in Smuggler’s Cove.


Bridge over Necarney Creek


View to north from the south beach


View to south from the south beach


North beach of Smuggler’s CoveFalcon Point and Blumenthal Falls

There were a few surfers in the water.


I accidentally photographed a surfer when I was zooming in on the falls.



Blumenthal Falls

Silver Point View

Looking back toward Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock.


Cannon Beach/Haystack Rock at Sunset

After an early dinner in Cannon Beach, we parked near Haystack Rock. Dan walked down the beach to photograph the sunset. I watched from above, keeping warm in the car. (Hike #11, 8 miles, 1100 feet for the day).

Version 2

Haystack Rock

Version 2

Tillamook Head to the north.



I finished the first sock of this pair. I have set up a frame to practice canvas stitching.


Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge birds, a lunar eclipse, and new knitting projects

1/19/2019 Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA, in the fog

We drove the auto tour in the southern, River S Unit, to see if anyone was out today.



We saw several bald eagles through the fog all along the route.

It was a great day for Great Blue Herons near the road.



Great blue heron standing in the field beyond a flock of Canada geese.


We also saw swans and more geese,


lots of nutria swimming, and this one crossing the road:


lots of ducks,


We watched a hawk take a bath on a sign near the exit.


1/20/2019 Lunar Eclipse

The clouds cleared for about 10 minutes. We saw the moon just as it was entering totality. My camera could not see it once it went dark, but we briefly saw the orange glow of the blood red moon before the clouds closed in again.


My best image, hand held and zoomed in.

New knitting

I cast on another pair of socks from Berocco Sox yarn – plain vanilla with a 3×3 cable down the sides.


And a Brioche Watch Cap from  Berroco Millifiori yarn – this makes a cushy and shiny fabric, and works up fast!


Good deeds for the week – I cleaned out my sewing cabinet and organized my threads and notions, so now I should be able to find things and get back to sewing. And I enabled a new sock knitter!

Neighborhood Poetry Posting


Rest In Peace, Mary Oliver. Your poems will live forever.

Winter trees at Tryon Creek, OR (18-56)

December 9, 2018  Tryon Creek State Park

After two weeks of clear, cold, windy days our clouds have returned, warming us up enough for a short hike through Tryon Creek State Park. It was mostly empty on the trails, unlike in spring when the trillium are in full bloom. Bare trees, stream reflections and a sunbreaks marked the woods this day. (2.2 miles, 200 feet, #63)


Crafting, etc

I finally cast on a new pair of socks.


I have finished the cross stitching on Jane Austen’s House – that has been my evening work lately. Next, back stitching and french knots.


I have done some pre-winter clean up in the garden. We have our Christmas tree standing in the living room, as yet unadorned. I went to see the latest Fantastic Beasts movie with one of my sons at a midweek matinee, and we were the only viewers in the theater. We both enjoyed the movie. Otherwise, I am trying to finish up my blog posts about our UK trip last spring by the end of the year – there are so many photos to sort through – it really was an amazing trip! I am enjoying reliving those experiences.

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.


View up Sunflower Hill, where we are going.


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.


Bitterroot Trail


Catherine Creek Arch

Long distance views appear as we gain elevation.


Mt Hood to the west


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.



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.


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


View to the west – the Labyrinth area and Mt Hood

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


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




bitterroot foliage



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



Camus swale


Vernal pool


3.5 miles, 1000 feet.



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


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



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.

Weldon Wagon Road (18-12)

Weldon Wagon Road trail     3-25-2018      (#12)

Early flowers were out  along this trail through the oak woodlands and open slopes in southwest Washington above the White Salmon River near Husum. This was my most elevation gained so far as I recover (4.5 miles/1300 foot rise), and I felt good. Progress!


Lower trail through oak woodlands


Views to the open slopes ahead.


A seat with a view at the halfway point

Last spring,  the exposed upper slopes were a bright green and yellow balsam root meadow. Today we saw just one plant blooming along the trail,


and otherwise, the meadows and woodlands were still waking up, sprinkled with grass widows, buttercups, a few prairie stars, toothwort, yellow bells, blue eyed Mary, and Columbia Desert Parsley.


Heading down in the afternoon

LOOKBACK: to May 2017 when the balsam root was in bloom-


May 2017


May 2017


Another scrappy tortilla washcloth for the 2018 stack:


I reknit the toes of the socks I finished last week so that the stripes would match.

Elgol Cross Stitch update

I have been filling in the foreground with shadows and light – mostly pinks:

Cross stitch depicting the view from Elgol on the Isle of Skye.

Blooming in the garden


Tulips opening




Shadows on a neighborhood stair


Rooster Rock and Memaloose Hills (18-11)

Rooster Rock      3/15/2018       (#10)

We took a short afternoon to explore the trails at Rooster Rock State Park. To the east, the beach trail gives views of Sand Island and the burned skylines in the gorge.


Looking east toward Sand Island and the beach trail


Sand Island



Burned Angel’s Rest and trees along the skyline

To the west we hiked to a close view of Rooster Rock. This park is very popular in the summer, but quiet today in the off season. (3 miles).


To the west


To the east


The waterfall above Hidden Lake


A robin


Looking east, Rooster Rock




Rooster rock

Memaloose Hills       3/18/2017      (#11)

This is the earliest we have hiked this April-May wildflower eden between Mosier and Rowena in the eastern gorge.


Pinnacles along the lower trail between I-84 and Rt 30


Grass widows, gold stars, and a view across the Columbia River toward the labyrinth.

From the ledge above the lower trail one can look over to a cliff that hosts a great blue heron rookery. We only saw a few birds here today (grey spots), but in a previous year there were countless herons on this cliff.


Look for the grey blobs on the green slope near the top of the cliff


From the Hwy 30 Memaloose viewpoint one can look directly across the river at Catherine Creek in Washington.


It was interesting to see the early season flowers – gold stars, yellow bells, glacier lilies, early buttercups, Columbia desert parsley, and a few others.

We hiked up a nearly barren Chatfield Hill, with extensive views at the top.


Hiking up


View to the west from the top


To the north and east


To the east, Tom McCall Point and Columbia desert parsley

Since the full flower bloom was not out, we returned by the loop through the oak woodlands on the north side of Chatfield Hill. DSC01798

I hope the next time we take this hike it will be in full wildflower glory: a view from today compared with April 2015.


March 2018


April 2015

4 miles/800 feet.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 4.04.07 PM


I spent a day photographing 13 of my quilts, and adding labels where omitted. I am getting closer to writing the stories of these quilts, which is why I actually started this blog!



I finished the Strong Heel Socks, though I plan to reknit the toe where the knot in the yarn interupted the stripe sequence.

DSC01831 (1)

And in the garden:


Star magnolia



A Painterly Mist (18-7)

Catherine Creek Arch Loop, WA        2/16/2018     (#7)

Sunshine and clouds, spring flowers and just enough misting rain to create wandering rainbows.


We walked the arch loop counterclockwise while noticing the latest spring flowers to emerge.  Purple grass widows sprinkled everywhere in the green, and the first parsleys – yellow, white and purple, as well as white saxigfrage, gold stars, pink prairie stars, and the whorls of green bitterroot foliage.


The bare oak trees around the arch stand out in a textured gray palette.



After crossing the bridge we sidestepped up the next hill to the fairyland ponds.


Constantly changing light created a sense of walking through a painting.


A short, easy hike and I feel I am slowly regaining stamina. 2.5 miles, 500 feet.


More rainbows and clouds driving through the gorge:


Quilting: Thread choices for the Jane Austen Quilt


Knitting: Girl in the Nuerosurgery Ward Shawl – Ravellenic WIP  Dancing.


Shawl with light dusting of snow

New socks: Berocco Sox yarn knit top down with a simple k7p1 leg, then a Strong Heel – a new to me technique. If it doesn’t fit I will rip back and go with a traditional heel flap.


First daffodils in my front yard.


14. Lupine at Elk Meadows, and a bit of Knitting, 7/22/2017

Elk Meadows, Mt. Hood   7/22/17  (#38)

This hike includes a lovely walk through the woods,


Lupine near the trailhead, with the tip of Mt. Hood in the trees.



a slightly harrowing crossing of Newton Creek,


Mt. Hood and Newton Creek

seven switchbacks up to the ridge top through woods and a hanging garden,

and a gentle descent to blooming Elk Meadows with views to the east side of Mt. Hood.


So many flowers in the meadows!

We circumnavigated the perimeter of the meadow through lupine carpeted forest.


Lupine in the woods


Mt. Hood


A million asters!


More lupine and asters


Bugbane and lupine


Another mountain view

We returned back down down the hanging meadow switchbacks, back over the rushing Newton Creek on tippy logs, and a quiet amble back to the trailhead.

It is about 5 miles to the meadow and back, and another 2 miles around the perimeter and exploring the meadow area, for a total of 7 miles/1200 feet.


Lookback: We have hiked Elk Meadows before, with different views each time.  I found photos from August 2013, where yellow flowers were prominent in the meadows, and once again, the top of the mountain was capped with clouds.  We hiked with microspikes to the meadow in March of 2015, an especially low snow year, and had a crystal clear view of the mountain across pristine white meadows.


August 2013


March, 2015


July, 2017


Progress on a few knitting projects:

9. Grassy Knoll and #Hearts4PDX

Grassy Knoll   6/17/2017   (#33)

Bear siting on the approach road

This lovely trail is not heavily used, possibly because the trailhead is a very slow 10 miles on a potholed road (6808) that is on a ledge above a steep drop down to Bear Creek.   We saw a bear on the road within the first mile after the end of pavement.  We drove around a bend, and there ahead was a large shaggy deep brown bear who looked back at us then hustled down the road around the next bend, away from us.  By the time we made our way to that spot in the road we could not see any sign of the bear.  There were steep, heavily forested cliffs above and below the road, but I have seen a bear run up a similarly steep mountainside in Yellowstone, so I have no doubt the bear could have gone either way.  This was the first time I have seen a bear in the Pacific Northwest.  I have seen them previously in Yosemite and Yellowstone.

Wildflower Hike

The trail begins by traversing a grassy slope that is full of wildflowers – buckwheat, lupine, paintbrush, penstemon, groundsel, bluehead gillia, and lots of mariposa lilies.

The next mile or so is very steep uphill through the shady woods. Dan compared the trail to the steep part of Dog Mountain. Forest flowers abound, especially windflower and Solomon seals.

The trail breaks out onto an east facing rocky view point with abundant bright pink cliff penstemon and views across Big Lava Flow to Mt. Adams and Little Huckleberry Mountain.


Back into the forest and along the ridge top, there are views to Mt. Hood to the south, and more varied wildflowers in the dappled light.

The trail passes a mossy outcrop with lots of white onion flower, penstemon and phlox.  Last year this area was covered with Mariposa lilies and other kinds of onions.

Eventually, there is a view ahead to Grassy Knoll.

The trail switchbacks through a glorious meadow with abundant flowers, and increasing views of Mt. Hood to the south, and Mt. Adams to the east. At the top are the remains of a fire lookout.


Mt. Hood, Dog and Wind Mts. in the foreground


Mt. Hood and the lookout footings


Mt. Hood behind Mt. Defiance


To the west – Three Corner Rock is the point on the left, and Silverstar Mountain the double peak on the right of the skyline


Mt. Adams and Little Huckleberry Mountain

We continued up the trail for about a mile, through more forest and two more wildflower meadows.  We saw more flowers we hadn’t seen yet.

The uppermost meadow was covered in yellow glacier lilies and small pink western spring beauty.  Looking back from the high meadow we had another view of Mt. Hood before heading down the trail for the day.

We first hiked this trail last year about the same time in June, but on a rainy and overcast day, so we were glad to see the views this time.  Another difference is that last year was a low snow year so wildflowers were all much earlier, and the suite that we saw included later season bloomers, such as Clarkia and a lot more blooms from the onion family. Other than the Clarkia, we saw almost all the same flowers, plus a few early season extras in the upper meadows above Grassy Knoll, which we did not hike to last year.  Our total for this hike was 63 different wildflowers that I could identify, the highest total for this year.  We hope to go to both Saddle and Silverstar Mountains next week, where we may see even more different flowers.  This hike was about 6 miles and  1500 feet elevation.


Mt Hood from Grassy Knoll


Flower list

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GPS track

Yarn Projects Finished

I retaught myself how to crochet, and made 6 #Hearts4PDX for the yarnbombing event planned for June 26th, in honor of the Hollywood Transit Center attack victims. I appreciated the opportunity to do something positive in response to this event.



I finished knitting a pair of socks from the pattern Ludwig by Stephanie van der Linden.  These have been my “on the go” knitting for a few months.