17. Oswald West/Cape Falcon

Beach Day  7/8/2017 (#41)

Portland has been HOT (95 to 105) and SMOKY from the BC and other Cascade wildfires.  My visiting sister, my son and I decided to head west to the coast for some relief.  Our initial plan was to climb Neahkanie Mountain, an easy hike with great views, but the peak was fogged in.  We opted instead for the five mile round trip hike to Cape Falcon from the Oswald West State Park parking area.  The beach is a popular surfing spot, and the trail took us down to the beach where many were riding the waves and enjoying the 60 degree air temperatures.

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Cape Falcon (our goal) is the far ridge beyond Smuggler Cove

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Short Sand Beach

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We went from the trailhead to the cape and back via the beach trail

We followed the well worn trail past a small waterfall and out to the Cape where we watched the fog roll in and out, obscuring views and keeping us cool.  We found a shady perch to eat lunch, then hiked back to the trail head, tripping over some of the many exposed roots on the trail – it could use some work, to be perfectly honest, but the cool temperatures and beautiful views make it hard to complain.

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Looking down on Short Sand Beach from the trail

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Small waterfall above Blumenthal Falls

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Daisies and hemlock on the Cape

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View to south from the Cape

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View to north from the cape

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Cape Falcon

We drove back north on HWY 101, and stopped for a while at Hug Point State Park.  The receding tide was still high, so we could not quite make it on to Hug Point, but we sat for a while in the late afternoon near the waterfall, dipped our toes into the Pacific Ocean and enjoyed the peace, and the cool temperatures. I was able to get one iPhone photo of the waterfall without other beach goers in it.

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Castle Rock from near the Hug Pt Waterfall

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Hug Pt Waterfall

And because I have been really enjoying the LOOKBACK aspect of writing this blog, despite, or maybe because of, the rabbit hole nature of digging through my photos, here are two comparison photos of the Hug Point waterfall, and the view south  toward Castle Rock from Hug Point, taken May 8th, 2016, when we were there for a super low tide.

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Hug Point waterfall, May 8, 2016

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View south to Castle Rock from Hug Point, May 8, 2016

We stopped in Cannon Beach for a typical post beach day meal at the Pelican Brewery (clam chowder, fish tacos, fish and chips), then returned eastward on Hwy 26, back over the coast range to Portland and home, where the hazy smoky air and hot temperatures absorbed us into their gloom.  Next weekend is predicted to be in the 80s; perhaps the wildfires will calm down and the smoke will dissipate.  One can only hope, as it is rather tedious to complain about the weather.

Meanwhile, back in Portland:

By the weekend, the heat spell finally broke.  I pulled open the living room shades for the first time in two weeks, and there were plums on our plum tree, raindrops on roses, and cherry tomatoes for my birthday eclipse bowl.

And, somewhere in Peru…

They made it to Machu Picchu!

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16. Visiting in Eugene; Hiking in Silver Falls State Park

 

Family time in Eugene, Oregon

A sister visiting from California created an opportunity for us to spend part of the week in Eugene visiting other family members while my husband and daughter are off on an adventure to Machu Picchu, Peru.  We found a house to rent for a few days near the University,

and were able to spend some lovely down time relaxing, celebrating my birthday, and trying to stay cool in the unreasonable hot temperatures and smoky hazy air that have settled in the Willamette Valley for an overlong period this year. There was lots of color around town and at the Saturday Market,

the UO Art Museum,

and a couple of family yards that were blooming with lovely flowers.

Silver Falls State Park  8/6/2017 (#40)

We drove home via Silver Falls State Park, arriving about 4 pm and unrealistically hoping for slightly cooler temperatures.  We completed the short loop (about 3 miles and 300 feet) around the Upper and Lower South Falls.

It was a little hot for hiking, and the water levels were low enough that we were not at all misted when we passed behind the falls on the trail, another hope that was dashed.  This contrasts markedly with the last time I was there in February, when we had to practically run those trail segments to avoid being soaked.  Still, my sister enjoyed the scenery and the greenery, as she lives in a completely different landscape.

Lookback photos:  February and August, 2017

Upper South Falls:

Upper South Falls from the footbridge:

Behind Upper South Falls:

Lower South Falls:

Another view of Lower South Falls:

A bit of Knitting:

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Genius Wash Cloth

Meanwhile, in Peru,

Dan and Emily made it over 15000′ Salcantay Pass!

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15. Cloud Cap/Cooper Spur/ Timberline Trail, Mt Hood, Oregon 7/28/2017

Timberline Trail High Point from Cloud Cap  7/28/2017  (#39)

We drove up the dusty switchbacks of Cloud Cap Road, through the burned forest from the 2008 and 2011 fires.  Lupine, goldenrod, penstemon, aster and paintbrush lined the road, and the views to the Cascade peaks to the north appeared as we gained elevation.

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Lupine lined road to Cloud Cap through the burned forest

The trail head is at 5600 feet, and we began our hike in the forest.  We soon rounded a bend to clear views of the mountain, and of our trail heading up through loose moraine and across a stream.  Abundant wildflowers lined the trail despite the dry dusty nature of the substrate.

After crossing the drainage, we continued up and soon emerged above timberline on a rocky alpine slope with local patches of snow.  We saw stunning views to the peak of Mt. Hood and it’s eastside glaciers, and to the Washington Cascade peaks of Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier and Mt Adams.

We continued gently up and down on the Timberline Trail, around ridges and across snowfields. We could see the peak, and the Cooper Spur moraine and ridgeline made distinctive by a huge boulder called tie in rock.  We hiked that ridge to the base of the glacier a few years ago, and we could see a few antlike people hiking along the ridgeline today.  We opted to stay along the timberline trail to its topographic high point, about 7300 feet.  We traversed along the ridge adjacent to this point to a lunch spot with 360 degree panoramic views, including views to the south of Gnarl Ridge, Lamberson Butte, and much further to the south, the silhouettes of Mt Jefferson and Black Butte that were somewhat obscured by wildfire smoke in that direction.  To the north, the view was still clear to Mt. Adams and Mt Rainier.

 

Though the landscape looks barren from a distance there were abundant flowers along the trail, some of them short or dwarf varieties.

 

I love to look at the shapes and textures of the glaciers:

These suncups in a melting snowfield on the trail created an otherworldly landscape.

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We stopped to look at the stone Cooper Spur shelter, and get a better look at the upper part of the Eliot Glacier.

 

Our round trip hike for the day was about 6 miles and 1650 feet.

Lookback: We completed this same hike in October of 2015 with friends.  At that time there was an early winter dusting of snow, creating a frosted white landscape.  The clarity and blueness of the sky was remarkable that day, despite the patchy clouds, with Cascade peaks both north and south easily seen.

The three Washington peaks to the north from timberline:

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July 2017

Version 2

October 2015

and from above timberline, with the Cloud cap shelter on the left:

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July 2017

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October 2015

Mt. Hood from the Timberline trail high point lunch spot; Cooper Spur/Tie-In Rock on the right:

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July 2017

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October 2015

Looking down Tilly Jane Creek from the trail crossing:

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July 2017

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October 2015

Craft Update:

I made a key basket for my son, and added one and a half knitted tortillas to my collection:

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,

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

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Trailhead

a slightly harrowing crossing of Newton Creek,

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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.

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So many flowers in the meadows!

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

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Lupine in the woods

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Mt. Hood

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A million asters!

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More lupine and asters

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Bugbane and lupine

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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.

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August 2013

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March, 2015

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July, 2017

Knitting

Progress on a few knitting projects:

13. Latourell Falls and Sherrard Point, 7/14/2017

Latourell Falls and Sherrard Point  7/14/2017  (#37)

Health issues and visitors slowed down my hiking this past couple of weeks, but we ventured out again to the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, with our visiting son, to an easy waterfall hike and an iconic viewpoint.

 Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls is one of the westernmost waterfalls in waterfall alley of the Columbia River Gorge.  The lower falls is easily seen from the old highway; the short trail down to its base was crowded on this beautiful Friday afternoon in July.  We chose to hike the easy 2.4 mile loop (500′) which took us to views of both upper and lower falls, and an overlook of the Washington side of the gorge.  Most of the usual forest flowers were past, or dusty remnants, with the exception of hedge nettle along the lower part of the trail in pleasing tall swaths, and  bright yellow arnica at the upper falls.

Sherrard Point

We then backtracked along the old highway to Larch Mountain Road, and drove the 13 winding miles through forest lined intermittently with orange tiger lilies, purple foxglove, white cow parsnip and yellow wooly weed. Sherrard Point, the view point at the top of Larch Mountain is a short (0.3 miles) walk up a wooded path that was  lined with many forest flowers.  At the top, the cream puff cascade peaks were all floating in the distance, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams to the North, Mt. Hood directly to the south, and Mt. Jefferson a bit farther south in the haze.

 

 

12. Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Kiwa Trail   7/4/2017  (#36)

We celebrated 4th of July with a midday stroll along the Kiwa Trail at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. The  one and a half mile loop trail crosses through treed areas, open fields and wetlands.

Birders love this trail – we were surrounded by much birdsong and glimpsed a few, including redwing blackbird sentinels.  The trail is closed during winter nesting season, and I can easily imagine the fields full of swans and geese. Today was warm and dry with only a few clouds, so not much wildlife viewing.  We appreciated the vistas, the quiet,  the ambient sounds, and the splash of color from the midsummer wildflowers.

Sounds:

  • bullfrog – a deep bass mooing,
  • birds – higher pitched tweets, warbles, pips and chirps,
  • train – periodic horn blast and thrum of wheels on rails,
  • breeze in trees – intermittent light percussive ruffling,
  • country band – occaisional wafts from the Ridgefield 4th of July celebration, less than a mile away as the crow flies,

Critters: tree frog, turtle, butterfly, redwing blackbird, other birds.

I noticed wapato plants with acute triangular leaves and three petaled white flowers growing in one of the wetlands.  The bright green leaves reflect the sunlight in an array of pointed spaceships, ready for takeoff, and also shadowed transparency with interesting intersecting shapes in the bright sunlight.

The wapato blooms are  bright white with three petals.

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Other blooming wildflowers/weeds were mostly dry season holdovers – many noted for growing in disturbed areas.  The refuge is a reclaimed pastureland, after all.

Preserving time by catching shadows behind leaves and light on grass, on water, and on a butterfly in a freeze frame photo.

11. Avalanche Lilies and Haunted Trees of Vista Ridge

Vista Ridge Hike   6/30/2017   (#35)

The Vista Ridge trail, trailhead at 4500′, is one of my favorite ways to hike to the summer alpine meadows along the Timberline Trail on the north side of Mt. Hood.  The area suffered a large forest fire in 2011, so much of the lower part of the trail is through a burned forest.  Each year the undergrowth in the burn zone has increased, and there are many huckleberry bushes now filling in the ashy ground, but there is little shade in the scorched forest.  We see glimpses of the stark white peak of Mt. Hood through the screen of burned trees, and each year we notice more fallen trees.  Usually we wait to hike until the snow has melted out up to the Timberline Trail at about 6000′, and we have noticed  abundant lily seed heads lining the trail through the burn zone.  We have also seen the social media posts about the incredible avalanche lily display that follows the snowline up the mountain. We have previously seen swathes of lilies in the upper trail area, but this year we went early enough to see the lower trail in full bloom.  With the heavy snowpack this year, it may be a while before the Timberline trail is snow free.

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Dan hiking toward Mt. Hood in the lower lily fields, flowers fading to pink.

There were millions of lilies along the trail and throughout the forest floor. The lilies in the first patches we encountered were fading and turning pink, petals tips curling up. But soon enough we were surrounded by fresh blooming flowers with crisp white points and yellow centers. They were beautiful and amazing and the pictures speak for themselves.  It was lovely to be able to walk through them.  We hiked to about 5300′, where snow obscured the trail and the lily plants in the patches of snow free ground had not yet bloomed.

Meanwhile, we were walking among  the ghosts of a forest past – trees reduced to spiky trunks, sloughed black bark, chalky curled branches and ashen soil.   Trees with haunted sad faces, gaping mouths, and twisted empty eye sockets occasionally loomed above, watching us walk by. The contrast between blue sky and bare trees creates a starkly beautiful if tragic setting.

Two photos from previous year’s hikes show one of the tree faces that I couldn’t find this year, so it must have fallen.  The August 2014 photo shows abundant lily seed heads.  In March of 2015, a low snow year, I saw the same face with a snowy ground.

Returning down the trail, Mt. Adams seems to float  on the skyline, reminding me of Carl Sandburg’s Village of Cream Puffs.

There were only a few other wildflowers blooming on this day, including some seen along the road to the trailhead.  Our hiking mileage for the day was 4.2/800 feet.

10. Saddle Mountain with a bit of quilting and knitting

Saddle Mountain     6/23/2017   (#34)

Saddle Mountain is in the coast range, so has slightly different suite of flowers than what we see in the Gorge or Cascades. We have hiked Saddle Mountain in different seasons, and today we expected a mid-wildflower season bloom.  I found 66 different flowers that I could name, a new maximum for this year.  The trail switchbacks through both forest and open meadow slopes and cliffs, 5 miles round trip and 1600 feet elevation.

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Top of Saddle Mountain as seen from the trailhead.

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Dan in the cliff meadows on the way up.

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Distinctive knob along the trail with views toward the ocean.

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Looking north toward Mt. Rainier from near the top.

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Our friend having lunch on the lower summit ridge, with Mt. St Helens and Mt. Adams beyond.

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View from the top to Astoria and the ocean

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View to the north from the summit with three volcanos

Some of the wildflowers that stood out to me:

Quilting progress:

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Sneak peak at my Jane Austen tribute quilt using Smithsonian reproduction fabrics, many years in the making, and now basted and ready for quilting.

Knitting progress:

Crazy eights dishcloth (pattern by Julie Tarsh, Ravelry), made from kitchen cotton.  The second photo is a compressed version of the picture in my quest for better blog photos.

 

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.

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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.

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

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Mt. Hood and the lookout footings

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Mt. Hood behind Mt. Defiance

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

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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.

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Mt Hood from Grassy Knoll

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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.

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#Hearts4PDX

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.

8. Three Corner Rock and Elgol Update

Three Corner Rock   6/11/2017   (#32)

 

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Three Corner Rock is one of the high points and former fire lookout locations in southern Washington along the Columbia River corridor.  It is a relatively easy and well graded hike of about 4.5 miles round trip and 800 feet elevation to a high point of 3550 feet.  We started from the intersection of the Pacific Crest Trail and GG 2090 road, which is about a 10 mile drive along a well graded gravel road north from Skamania, Washington.

The trail leads through shady forest and early season flowers – Alaskan Bunchberry, the distinctive four-petaled white flowers of the Dogwood family, were especially abundant along the entire trail.  Also common were vanilla leaf, anemones, and fading trilliums.

After a few switchbacks we entered into avalanche lily territory, many dripping with water that made them looked like they were melting.

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There is one rocky lookout to the east along the trail. Full landscape views don’t really appear until saddle/summit meadow.  Three Corner Rock is to the north of the saddle, and a cell tower is to the south.  We were pleased to see our first blooming bear grass of the year in the summit meadow, as well as plenty of the dogwood, paintbrush, lupine and a few Queen’s Cup lilies.

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View to west – Silverstar Mountain is the double peak on the skyline.

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Dan, Three Corner Rock, blooming meadows

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View to the east – Mt. Adams shoulders

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Lupine, paintbrush and dogwood

We ate lunch near the top of Three Corner Rock – the path to the old lookout platform on the very top is a rock scramble that we did not feel the need to make.  To the east we could see the base of Mt Adams and part of the ridge line of the Goat Rocks/Dark Divide area.  We could see a bit of the Columbia River to the southeast, and SilverStar Mountain and the logged patchwork of the southern Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the west.  We will have to return on a cloudless day day to see the full cascade views.

On our drive back we stopped to see Steep Creek Falls.

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Steep Creek Falls

Elgol Cross Stitch Update

In September of 2016 we spent 5 days on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Dan had a photo workshop one day which included spending the evening on the beach at Elgol, looking across the sea to the Black Cuillin Mountains.  This was a remarkably beautiful location, with interesting rock formations and amazing light as the sun set behind the mountains.

I purchased an Elgol cross stitch kit designed by Isle of Skye Crafts from the shop in Portree.  It is a bit daunting in size and pattern – I think there are more than 20 different pink/purple thread colors.  I leave it out on a table where I can add a few stitches whenever I have a few minutes.  I have enjoyed watching the landscape appear from the cloth. I have been taking a picture about once a month.

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