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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Paintbrush and clouds at Mt St Helens, WA

June 21, 2019

Clouds thwarted our plan to hike to the top of Coldwater Peak, about 13 miles round trip from Johnson Ridge Observatory, and more than 3000′ total elevation gain. Most of Mt St Helens and the Mt Margaret backcountry, where Coldwater Peak resides, were socked in for the day. We didn’t even go to the top of Harry’s Ridge, as the thick cloud layer that hovered when we arrived at the saddle seemed immovable. Instead, we added a side trip to Devil’s Point on our return hike. On the plus side, the wildflower extravaganza was superb, and the all day cloud cover kept the hiking temperatures kind. This trail can be brutal on a hot and cloudless day.

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Indian paintbrush, penstemon and yarrow at the trailhead…preview for the day.

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First view of Mt St Helens, with her head in a cloud, and our best view all day.

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Flowers along the trail.

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More flowers – dwarf lupine and pussypaws added to the mix.

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Flowery foreground to Mt St Helens and the pumice plain.

 

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Clouds on the trail

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The landscape of today’s trail. We are hiking in the blast zone, and all this greenery has emerged since 1980.

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Approaching the decommisioned western arm of the Devil’s Elbow trail.

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Flowers and clouds

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Up the new Devil’s Elbow bypass trail.

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View of Spirit Lake from the top of the bypass.

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Paintbrush and dwarf lupine as far as the eye can see….

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Still hoping the clouds will lift…

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Yellow arnica in this section

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Tiny saxifrage flowers

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The same tiny saxifrage covers the slope that leads to the saddle with the trail junction between between Harry’s Ridge and the Mt Margaret backcountry.

At this point, we gave up on the clouds lifting, and headed back, enjoying the flowers along the way.

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We took the now dead end trail to Devil’s Point to our lunch stop.

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Devil’s Point ahead.

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Loowit Falls drains the Mt St Helens Crater Glacier.

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Looking back, Harry’s Ridge is still in the cloud.

Lunch views from Devil’s Point:

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East: Spirit Lake and the Pumice Plain.

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South: Mt St Helens with cloud cap.

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West: Johnson Ridge and trailhead. 

As we continued after lunch, the clouds lifted very briefly:

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Harry’s Ridge

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The Dome in Mt Margaret backcountry partially unveiled.

Hike #29 for 2019, 7.5 miles, 1500 feet. I felt strong at the end of the hike, like I could have made it to the peak and crawled back up the hill to the trailhead at the end of the day. We will return to try another day!

Extra flower photos:

Crafting:

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Knitting progress on Le Petit Sac by Pam Allen, using Sparrow linen by Quince and Co. I often have to knit the left twist rows twice 😉

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I patched, mended, and reinforced worn seams on six pairs of hiking pants.

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Summer sky with windows.

Lewisia and Clarkia on Hamilton Mountain, Washington

Hamilton Mountain trail, Beacon Rock State Park, Washington, June 14, 2019

We hiked to the top of the upper rocky switchbacks, looking for wildflowers.  I have previously hiked here earlier in the wildflower season – being slightly later meant getting to see both Lewisia and Clarkia in bloom. We had cloud cover most of the day, then Mt Hood peeked out as we began our descent. Hike #28 for 2019, 6 miles, 1500 feet.

Our destination:

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Hamilton Mountain from the power line trail cut.

The waterfall area:

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Pool of the Winds

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Rodney Falls

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Below the bridge

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More woods:

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Up the lower cliffs and out onto Little Hamilton Mountain viewpoint:

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Hamilton Mountain still ahead.

Wildflower meadows in this area:

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Drying out, but full of the Clarkia called Farewell to spring, and blue-eyed Mary.

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Farewell To Spring

Farther up the trail, on the rocky upper switchbacks, Columbian Lewisia clings to the cliff edges.

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Upper meadows with both Lewisia and a few Clarkias up on the slope, as well as bluehead gilia, Oregon sunshine, death camas and blue-eyed Mary:

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We stopped near here at the top of the switchbacks for lunch. On the way down, Mt Hood peaked out from under the clouds.

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More flowers of the day:

Weldon Wagon Road, WA

5/10/2019

We walked Weldon Wagon Trail on a hot day in May. Balsamroot beginning to fade in the heat. I craved the shade, wished for a breeze in the still air, unlike the windblown walk last week at The Dalles Mountain Ranch. Lupine, clarkia, manroot, various parsleys, cutleaf violets, no sasquatch sighting this year. An enjoyable walk with friends. This will likely be my last of the balsamroot hikes this year! (Hike #22, 5.5 miles, 1300 feet).

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Lupine along the trail in the lower woodlands.

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First view of the open flowered slope.

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Our trail ahead across the balsamroot slope,

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and a view of Mt Hood across the valley.

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Friends ahead.

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Balsamroot

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Looking straight up at the steep slope above.

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Turnaround point

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And back the way we came,

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Back into the shade on a hot day.

New or notable flowers:

Neighborhood and Garden

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Birthday bouquet

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Our rhododendron in bloom,

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And our native irises.

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Giant camas in a neighborhood garden.

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Local fairy garden.

Knitting

I finished the Frost Slippers. The fit is a bit tight, but they should fit someone! Interesting construction, including stranding, steeking, and seaming, and I used up a lot of the leftover Dr Who Scarf yarn.

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Yarn for travel knitting!

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((This post has the first photos using my new camera (Sony HX90V).)

Balsamroot, Bitterroot, and a Birthday

May 2, 2019 Dalles Mountain Ranch, WA

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

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

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Down the balsmroot and lupine filled slopes.

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

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to the Columbia Hills.

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The Columbia River comes into view,

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and so many flowers!

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Under oak trees,

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Down hill, closer to the river.

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Stream crossing,

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Puffy mounds of phlox,

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A patch of death camas

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Another stream crossing,

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Back up the last slope to the trail head.

A few less common flowers seen today:

Later, the same day – camas lilies and bitterroot!

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

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

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

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A few white camas in with the blue camas lilies.

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

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

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

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

Even later, birthday cake and new socks

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

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

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

Meanwhile in the garden….

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

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Only one of twelve camas bulbs bloomed.

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Chinese fringe flower and phlox still going strong

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Iris

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

Crawford Oaks 4/4/2019

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

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Bird welcoming us to the trail.

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

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Eight Mile Falls

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Looking back west toward the river and Horsethief Butte.

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One of the scattered early blooming balsamroots.

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View to the west, toward The Dalles

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View to the east toward Biggs

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Looking north to the Columbia Hills

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One swale of shooting stars – first of the season

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A blue jay near the trailhead

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Last look at Horsethief Butte

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Hike #15, 5 miles/1000 feet

The wildflower suite:

Sunday dash around Tryon Creek to see the Trillium

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

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

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After a weekend of rain, some flowers were becoming transparent

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

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

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cedar

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violets

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Oregon grape

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(Hike#16, 2.2 miles, 200 feet)

Knitting

Progress on the Vintage Prim hat, with brioche:

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

Spring Break 2019 – Knitting and Cherry Blossoms

Knitting – Frost Slippers

I crocheted the steeks,

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and cut,

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and cut again.

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I have basted the edges, and blocked.

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Frost Slippers – uppers and soles, blocked.

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

Lyle Cherry Orchard, WA    3/29/2019

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

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We are headed to the top of the cliffs…

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The second bench

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River cruise below…

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One of the vernal ponds along the upper trail

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View to the east from the Cherry Orchard

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And to the west

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

Plenty of new flowers along the way:

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Yellow parsley and gold stars

Neighborhood flowers…

Lots in bloom these days,

including poetry:

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Portland Cherry Blossoms –  Sunday, March 31

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

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

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Views from the Bridge:

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I love the railing shadows.

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Wandering around amongst the trees and crowds:

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A maple tree budding out, with bugs!

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White Stag and Old Town Water Tower behind the trees.

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View of the eastside of the Willamette River.

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

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Group-peddled brew cycle.

Spring Flowers, Coyote Wall and Portland

Coyote Wall, WA,  Thursday, March 21, 2019

Up the Little Maui trail, more up on the Old Ranch Road and Coyote Wall trails, then, down the Little Moab trail, with the early flower suite just opening…(Hike #13, 4 miles, 1100 feet)

Hiking up the waterfalls of the Little Maui trail:

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Gold stars and Salt and Pepper (biscuit root) sprinkled across the landscape.

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Long banked switchbacks to aid the cyclists

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Lunch stop

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Columbia Desert Parsley guiding the way

Looking up to our cliff-edge destination along Coyote Wall from Old Ranch Road:

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Views from the cliff:

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First look.

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We go a little higher

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Looking back toward Oregon; Mt Hood a faint wisp on the horizon.

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Our highest viewpoint for the day.

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Starting down – looking east toward the Columbia Hills and Tom McCall Point.

The flowers:

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Grass widows

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Gold and Prairie stars, Spring whitlow-grass

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Spring whitlow-grass, my pinky for scale

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Swales of gold stars and whitlow-grass

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Yellow pungent desert parsley

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Columbia desert parsley

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Salt and pepper, and grass widows all the way down the slope.

Knitting

Learning the increases and decreases that make brioche knitting look so magical…with a lifeline!

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Vintage Prim Hat, pattern by Andrea Mowry.

Garden – the first tulip! and Star Magnolias!

Better late….flowers are opening in the neighborhood:

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Our first tulip

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star magnolias

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I don’t remember the name of these.

Late Early Flowers at Catherine Creek, WA, with Robins

March 14, 2019    Bitterroot Trail to Rowland Wall

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

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Fairy ponds

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View to the east from the Bitterroot Trail

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The Arch

We saw the first wildflowers just beginning to bloom.

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

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

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Here is one…

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And another one in the snow.

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

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Still looks very snowy out in the high desert

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The orchards of Mosier, and Mt Hood

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

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Mere

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

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Knitting

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

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

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Garden and Neighborhood

The hyacinths finally bloomed out front,

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

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White herons at Ridgefield

Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, Washington,  2/7/2019

Cold and snowy in the Pacific Northwest. We went to the wildlife refuge to stretch our legs and look for birds. We walked the Oaks to Wetlands trail in the Carty Unit. Hike #8, 3.2 miles.

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Bridge into the refuge.

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Old oak tree.

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Great blue heron on the path.

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Wild geese in the distance.

We saw several great blue herons, and two of them seemed to have a white egret companion, but after a little googling, we found that there is a white morph of the great blue heron.

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Two herons across one of the lakes.

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We saw another pair in the distance across the northernmost lake.

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Icy shoreline, two herons in the far distance.

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Zoomed in – the two herons.

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Crafting

I knit a Brioche Headscarf, pattern by Margaret K. L. Thompson, out of the leftover Berroco Millifiori hat yarn. Two evenings of knitting, I just need to add a button.

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I am working on framing my Jane Austen’s House cross stitch.

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