Meanwhile, in Portland…

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

Catherine Creek hike, February  27, 2020

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

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

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Trail connection to Rowland Wall

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Going down Rowland Wall.

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

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Hike #29, 5.5 miles, 1300 feet.

Knitting

I knit a small amount while in New Zealand.

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Geology shawl, and my current traveling socks.

Hamilton Mountain, WA, and first knit socks of 2020

January 3, 2020 – Our first hike of the New Year was to Hamilton Mountain in Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. We’ve been many times, usually to see the cliffs become hanging gardens in the spring. Today we had perfect winter hiking conditions – not too cold, a bit muddy, full waterfalls, clear views from the top.

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The first summit of Hamilton Mountain, as seen from the power line cut on the lower trail.

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Approaching the upper cliffs, eastern gorge beyond.

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Bonneville Dam, with Mt Hood appearing to the south.

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First view from the summit- Mt Adams glowing in winter white beyond Table Mountain.

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Wide view from the summit.

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Mt Hood to the south, in low winter light.

After lunch at the summit we continued the trail to the northern saddle/plateau –

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A last look back at Mt Hood.

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Western gorge, filling with mist and a painterly sky.

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Columbian lewisia foliage in the saddle.

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Crossing over a very full Rodney Falls on the return hike.

Hike #1 for 2020, 8.2 miles, 2250 feet.

Knitting

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First knit finish in 2020 – traveling socks that I started last May.

Up the Labyrinth and down Coyote Wall in fog and sun

12/13/2019  Coyote Wall, Washington

Once again we drive through the foggy, rainy Columbia River Gorge to the east side of the Cascade Mountains…

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Rainbow over White Salmon, from the Hood River Bridge.

Once again, we walk along Old Highway 8, parallel to the Columbia River…

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Look Lake reflections.

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Columbia River, Oregon beyond.

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Geese on those rocks above the river.

Once again we hike up the winding trails of The Labyrinth, through layers of shifting fog.

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Red Oregon grape along the trail.

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Labyrinth waterfall

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Fog ahead

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My favorite oak grove

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The sun is trying

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Mt Hood’s flattish top peaking in and out at us as we go higher.

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Our favorite landmark tree viewpoint – one moment in the fog, 

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then clear skies for a while.

Once again we hike higher, then across Atwood Road to the sudden cliff edge of Coyote Wall.

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Cliffs of Coyote Wall are just beyond the oak tree

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Coyote Wall, Look Lake, Columbia River.

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Looking north to the upper slopes of Coyote Wall.

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Eastern Columbia River Gorge.

Once again we hike down the ankle breaking bike trails, one called the Crybaby trail, while the fog layers shift and disperse.

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East view from Old Ranch Road

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Looking back up the wall, fog descending again.

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Summer parsley.

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Looking East toward the Rowena orchards.

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Almost back to the Coyote Wall trailhead.

(Hike #57, 7 miles, 1500 feet)

Knitting…

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Button bands on the Meris cardigan done; and about two thirds of a Rafa Hat.

Ridgefield birds, and darning success

11/30/2019  Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, WA

On a cold morning we walked the Oaks to Wetlands Trail in the northern unit – the best views are from the railroad bridge. (Hike #55, 2 miles)

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Swans in the lake…

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Frosty leaves

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Bird, oak galls.

We then drove the Auto Tour Route in the southern River ‘S’ unit and saw many more birds than were here in early October.

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View from the bird blind – swans and geese will be closer on the far side of the driving loop.

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Beyond the lake, a large flock of tall birds…

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Zooming in-

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sand hill cranes, a heron,

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and an egret.

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A great blue heron landed right next to the road.

Meanwhile, in the lake:

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Lots of geese and swans,

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and a black swan.

Knitting and the darning pile:

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Fingerless mitts – just need the thumbs. Malabrigo Arroyo in the Jupiter color way.

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Darned and depilled – three pairs of socks and a sweater!

Reflections and birds at Steigerwald Lake, WA

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This is the place we go to see upside down trees that don’t exist except as reflected imagery in water.

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Mt Hood beyond the lake.

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And birds. We enjoy spotting them in their home, though we are not true ‘birders’.

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Northern Harrier

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We saw this Great Blue Heron several times from different vantage points:

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Hiding in plain sight. I didn’t notice the heron in the middle of the picture until I was looking at my photos later.

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Green Heron

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Egret

Steigerwald Lake Wildlife Refuge is in the early stages of a major overhaul. Dikes to the Columbia River will be breached, the lake will be enlarged, and wild salmon will return to the streams in the surrounding hills. Trails will be rerouted. Today we see early work – large logs have been placed to provide underwater wildlife habitat throughout the area that will become the enlarged lake.

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Hike #54, 3.8 miles

Knitting, etc

Cold front in Portland this week, Thanksgiving supplies are in – I am chopping and baking and decorating for a small gathering.

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One pair of sock toes mended so far.

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Chocolate silk pie!

Rowland Wall, WA, and a Darning Pile

November 16, 2019

We left Portland’s dense fog behind as we drove through the Columbia River Gorge to Catherine Creek Recreation Area east of White Salmon, WA. The fog was lifting to the east. I  saw the wintering swans in Mirror Lake below Crown Point as we drove past.

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Driving east on I-84 toward Crown Point.

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Those tiny white dots are swans at freeway speed.

The upper reaches of the Catherine Creek area were still under fog as we hiked upward on the Rowland Wall trail.

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Fog above us.

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Orange oak trees, black volcanic rocks, golden grasses, Ponderosa pines, Rowland Lake.

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Rowland Pinnacle

The clouds rose higher as we zigzagged up the trail.

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Mt Hood in view as the clouds lift.

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A relic apple tree from some past life.

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Apples

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Blue sky!

We lost the trail when hiking here last year and returned the way we came. Today we lost the trail again, but we were close enough to the top to bushwhack our way up to Atwood Road.

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Lunch view – toward our starting point just beyond the Rowland Wall cliff.

After eating lunch with a stunning view of the land rolling away beneath us – river, cliffs, orchards of Mosier, we hiked down Sunflower Hill. At the edge of Rowland Wall, we saw the other end of the connecting trail we missed – we will find it next time! A story in every trail. Not many other people here today. We returned to Portland which was reported to be under cloud all day.

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Walking down Sunflower Hill,

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to the edge of Rowland Wall – reflections in Rowland Lake.

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Orchards of Mosier across the Columbia River.

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Mt Hood

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Another train

Pre wildflower bonus shot:

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Bitteroot foliage.

Hike #53, 5.1 miles, 1100 feet.

Knitting

I continue to make progress on my Meris Cardigan – but at three or four 300 stitch rows a day, it is slow going. That includes a little extra knitting when I have to find a dropped yarn over in the lace repeats. Meanwhile, I have isolated my Darning Pile – I hope I can show it finished by next week.

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Three pairs of sock toes, and a sweater with a few holes.

Hiking to Lyle Cherry Orchard, WA, and knitting a peach

October 11, 2019 – Green vegetation of summer transitioning to autumn hues: golden grass, yellow big leaf maples, orange oak, and the luring leering red of poison oak against the black cliffs. The ‘Cherry Orchard’ consists of a few ancient snags at the far end of the trail on top of the cliffs….the rewards are the blue sky and river views from the cliffs. (Hike#47, 6.3 miles, 1300 feet)

View of the cliff tops from the Convict Road.

Convict Road below us now.

Big leaf maple

Oak

Acorns on the trail.

Poison oak

Lots of poison oak all the way up…

Lunch view toward Lyle from the cliff top.

One of the remaining cherry trees.

End of the trail – west toward Rowena.

End of the trail, east toward The Dalles.

Almost back to the trailhead.

Knitting

I interrupted my other projects to knit a peach from the pattern Peached by Hunter Hammersen – who is donating the proceeds to RAICES and The Southern Poverty Law Center in aid of immigrants. I sent it to my daughter in her birthday package.

Meanwhile, I have made progress on a cardigan and a cowl.

Meris Cardigan

Spiral Cowl

Two wildlife refuges, Indian Heaven, and trying to keep up with fall colors, Sept-Oct 2019

It has been a busy couple of weeks – a quilt show, a fiber festival, hikes at two wildlife refuges and Indian Heaven Wilderness. Meanwhile, the Mac hard drive is off at the Genius repair shop. I am learning blog work-arounds via iPad.

Friday, September 27 – I attended the Northwest Quilt Expo, admired all the quilts and photographed many. This vintage Tile Friendship Quilt (circa 1900, maker unknown) from the Latimer Quilt Museum, was very interesting. Seemingly random shapes are appliquéd to a plain background, each signed by a different maker in true Friendship Quilt style. It looks very modern, but it is old and entirely hand stitched!

I bought a few fat eighths to add to a batik quilt in my mental UFO list.

Sunday, September 29 -I visited the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon, just long enough to buy a lighter weight spindle and more fiber to practice drop spinning.

Then we went to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, our first visit there, and walked around the perimeter. Not many birds have arrived yet, but there are great overlooks and a nice winter trail for future visits. (Hike#44, 3.6 miles)

Great Blue Heron

Hawthorne berries

Looking across the refuge – soon this will be flooded with water and birds.

Great Blue Heron on the return trail.

Saturday, October 5 – We went to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington during their season closing bird fest. We walked the Kiwa Trail and part of the newly opened Carty Lake trail, and also went inside the Chinook Plankhouse to look around. (Hike#45, 3.2 miles)

Turtles

Sand Hill Cranes

Sand Hill Cranes in flight.

Great Horned Owl

Carty Lake

Chinook plank house

Inside the plankhouse.

Chinook Salmon trap

Sunday, October 6 – We joined friends for a hike in Indian Heaven Wilderness – from the East Crater trailhead to Junction and Lemei Lakes. Late fall colors, thawed mushrooms and blueberries, very pretty. (Hike#46, 8.8 miles, 1000 feet)

East Crater beyond one of many small lakes along the trail.

Junction Lake

Lemei Rock

Lemei Lake

Neighborhood walks – Meanwhile, in Northeast Portland, the days grow shorter, the light angles lower, the leaves more colorful.

Katsura trees

Sumac

Neighborhood witches hunting…

More witches…

Ash trees reflected in nearby windows.

Rain chain shadows

Knitting – I am making progress on my Meris cardigan….

A few days in Paradise…

Mt Rainier National Park, August 5 – 9, 2019

For my birthday my dear husband planned a visit to Paradise at the height of wildflower season. We stayed in the newly refurbished Paradise Inn, authentically both rustic and lavish, perched at 5420 feet above sea level, and 8990 feet below the top of Mt. Rainier. We hiked many trails in the area from Monday evening to Friday morning, alternately focusing on the incredible wildflower blooms at our feet, and the massive  glaciers looming above us on the slopes of this active volcano. We had sunny days – it was almost too warm on the shadeless trails above timberline. On Thursday the clouds rolled in below us, and we watched their flowing patterns throughout the day. I took more than 700 photos on three long and four shorter hikes. My knees and toes held out admirably. We mostly ate out of our ice chest and suitcase pantry, but had one lovely meal at the restaurant. There are not enough superlatives to describe the wonder – but John Muir’s words, carved into the stairs leading to the mountain from the Visitor’s Center, come close.

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Paradise Inn

We were lucky to have a room with a view of the Tatoosh Range, immediately to the south.

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Looking down from the trail at Paradise Inn and the Tatoosh Range.

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Sunset view from our window.

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Paradise Inn and Mt Rainier from Paradise Valley Road.

Hiking Highlights:

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Hikes #34 -38, 28.8 miles, 4520 feet

August 5th – Alta Vista – An evening walk with picnic dinner at this amazing viewpoint:

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Mt Rainier

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Across Paradise Park, preview of the Golden Gate Trail.

August 6 – Pebble Creek and Panorama Point via Golden Gate and Skyline Trails

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Edith Creek in Paradise Park

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Tatoosh Range from the Golden Gate trail.

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The lower humps in front of Mt Rainier are our destination.

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Snow and pasque flowers along the Skyline trail.

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Tiny people on the overlooks ahead.

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A peek over the ridge to the barren, recently glaciated valley to the east, where the Paradise Glaciers have receded.

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Lunch view, below us – Panorama Point, Paradise Park and Inn, Tatoosh Range.

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Nisqually River and highway bridge.

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Our high point – Pebble Creek. People planning to summit the mountain will camp at the Muir Snowfield on the high ridge above.

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Mt Rainier from Pebble Creek crossing.

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Looking down on the anastomosing trail system above Paradise Inn.

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We walked to Myrtle Falls in the evening.

August 7 – Lakes Loop – We hiked downhill from Paradise Inn, past Reflection Lakes, then back up to the Skyline Trail. The ranger assured us the wildflowers along the return hike were incredible, and that was an understatement!

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Another morning in Paradise!

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Our reflections in a stream crossing.

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Small waterfall along the way, in the shady forest.

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Reflection Lake, a little too much breeze for the reflection today.

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Hiking back up – lunch view of Reflection Lakes and Stevens Canyon from Faraway Rock.

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Small reflective lake along the trail.

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As we entered the meadows along the ridge, the wildflowers were stunning,

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and continued to be so for a couple of miles!

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I am out of words to describe amazing wildflowers at this point, but they do help to pull me along the trail when I get tired.

August 8 – Deadhorse, Glacier Moraine and Glacier Vista trails – This was a lower mileage, less elevation day. We found a bit of solitude on the Glacier Moraine trail, and more amazing flowers, including some marshy, wetland species we hadn’t seen yet.

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The clouds rolled in overnight, and stayed all day at about 5000 feet, so we hiked above the clouds most of the day.

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Mt Rainier had a few cloud caps coming and going.

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Lush stream meadows along the Deadhorse Trail.

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The Glacier Moraine trail leads to a viewpoint on the Nisqually Glacier Moraine.

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Neon moss, monkey flowers, saxifrage, etc. along the damp slopes.

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We are headed to the lip of the moraine.

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Panorama of my view – can’t begin to take it all in!

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I am sitting on the edge of the moraine, overlooking the Nisqually Glacier.

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Dan taking the above photo of me as the fog creeps up the Nisqually Valley beyond him.

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The fog stayed at about that level all day.

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Zoomed view of Stevens Peak in the Tatoosh Range, and the Goat Rocks beyond.

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After dinner we walked the Nisqually Vista trail.

August 9 – Christine Falls – On our way out of the park on Friday morning, we took the short hike to the bridge over Christine Falls.

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Christine Falls

We stopped for a picnic lunch at Longmire.

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Old gas pumps at the Longmire Visitor’s Center

Glacier Closeups:

Nisqually Glacier – a river of ice.

Waterfalls:

Top of the Mountain:

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Wildlife

We saw several marmots, deer, and various birds as well as the usual marauding chipmunks.

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Marmot eating marsh marigolds near the top of the Gold Gate trail.

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Marmot at a stream crossing on the Glacier Moraine trail, dwarfed by the Mountain above.

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Marmot, Mt Rainier

New or notable Wildflowers

So many flowers! I tried to note all that I could identify – at least 65 different types, but I am no expert in discerning the many varieties of some of these:

In all this was a fabulous trip! We had nearly clear views of Mt Rainier during our entire stay. We didn’t move our car all week. No internet or cell service away from the Visito’s Center. I am so appreciative of the National Park Service, and laws that preserve our national treasures such as Mt Rainier!

And a brief Look Back…

In 1995, when our boys were two and six years old, we spent a long September weekend with my Mom at Paradise. She loved the mountains, and this was her first chance to visit Mt Rainier. She was 71 years old, and not in hiking shape of late, so was proud of herself to make the three mile hike to Glacier Vista overlook, helping to guide our two young ones more than 1000 feet up the trail. This was a couple of years before macular degeneration, and then later, ALS. I thank her for taking us hiking and camping in our youth, even after our father died and she was on her own with nine children. I remember her naming the flowers – paintbrush and lupine and aster, in Tuolumne Meadows. She was a wonder woman, and I wish she was here to wish her a Happy 95th Birthday today! I hope there is chocolate cake on the other side!

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Someone turned on the waterfall! June Lake and Chocolate Falls, Mt St Helens, July 4th, 2019

We went with good friends to the June Lake Trail northeast of Cougar, Washington, on the south side of Mt St Helens. Image 7-4-19 at 10.33 PMThe walk to the lake is easy, with flowers blooming along the way, and magical mirror reflections at the lake.

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June Lake

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Mirror reflections

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View to the waterfall across the lake.

In February 2016 we snowshoed to this spot – a couple of comparison look back views:

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June Lake and waterfall, July 4, 2019

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June Lake and waterfall, February 20, 2016

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July 2019

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February 2016

Today we continued beyond June Lake, up a steep ridge, to the Loowit (around the mountain) Trail, and walked east for a ways.

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Beargrass blooming at the edge of a lava flow along the trail.

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Large trees

We turned back west to visit the elusive Chocolate Falls. Our well traveled companion had never ‘seen’ the waterfall, although he had been there a few times. We arrived at the horseshoe shaped cliff, but there was no waterfall.

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Dry lip of Chocolate Falls, 2:44 pm.

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The waterfall is now “on”, 2:46 pm.

Then some nearby hikers noticed water beginning to flow in the channel above the cliff, and lo and behold, a couple of minutes later, water was plunging over the cliff through a well-worn, polished slot in the cliff edge.

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Looking upstream at the channel.

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Narrow but steady stream of Chocolate Falls

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Looking down at the polished slot at the lip of Chocolate Falls.

The snow fields on the mountain above had warmed enough to send fresh meltwater down the channel. Apparently this is a documented phenomenon here. To us it was a surprise, like a rainbow or a special wildlife sighting – a serendipitous moment of grace and beauty.

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Mt St Helens remained slightly cloud covered, with partial views. The temperature was perfect. Our plan to take the loop trail back to June Lake for the return hike also offered a ‘surprise’. This connector trail is really only a good option in the winter, on snowshoes or skis, when the lava flow boulderfields are snow covered. It took us almost an hour to navigate the half mile connecting trail, and we were very happy not to have twisted an ankle or knee in the process.

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Picking our way across the lava flow.

The unexpected elements, the waterfall and the boulder field, added to our adventures on a day suited to celebrating our nation’s commitment to protecting our wilderness areas! (Hike #30, 7.5 miles, 1500 feet)

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Mt St Helens from the south.

New or notable wildflowers today:

Knitting:

I have seamed and added the top edging to Le Petit Sac, and knit the icord strap.

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