Beacon Rock, Cooper Mountain, Hats, Flowers (18-6)

River to Rock Trail, Beacon Rock State Park, WA    2/10/2018   (#5)

From the switchback staircases on Beacon Rock we have looked down to see a dock on the Columbia River.


August 2015

Today we looked up at the ant-sized people climbing the Beacon Rock stairs from the dock. We walked to the dock from the Doetsch Ranch Trailhead. There are great views of Beacon Rock,


Beacon Rock boat dock


Beacon Rock from the boat dock


Beacon Rock, Table Mountain, Aldrich Butte


Stairs and switchbacks




and of the burnt trees along the ridge line on the Oregon side of the Gorge.


We had planned to continue up the River to Rock trail toward Beacon Rock, but they remove an all important bridge during the winter.


No bridge.


It is parked across the road.

After completing the loop around the former Doetsch Ranch area, we parked at the upper River to Rock trailhead and walked down to the viewpoints around Riddell Lake.



Riddell Lake



Closest view of the stairs and switchbacks.

Spring plants and natural history – the Missoula Floodwaters were 200 feet above the top of Beacon Rock!


Although I have been feeling well, like I turned a corner in stamina this week, I was glad to reach the top of the small hill back to the trailhead. Today was not the day to climb Beacon Rock, but it was great get a close view of its columnar structure from a new vantage.

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3 miles/200 feet

Lookback:  Switchbacks and stairs on the Beacon Rock trail.


November 2013


November 2013


August 2015


August 2015


August 2015


August 2015

 Cooper Mountain Nature Park, OR    2/11/2018     (#6)

We walked the 2.8 mile loop with friends on a clear cold Sunday. Nice to continue stretching my legs, and the 300 feet elevation change was plenty. We enjoyed the view of the Tualatin Hills as we ate our lunch from a well placed bench on the overlook trail. There should be a good wildflower display here come spring.


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Cooper Mountain GPS track


I finished the second Sonic Six hat, easily winning at yarn chicken, and in good time for Valentines Day.


I cast on and finished a bulky weight Brassica hat, out of Collinette Prism yarn in the Fresco colorway. This is the last of the yarn I bought in Scotland last year.

Flowers in the neighborhood:

My yard:

Down the street:


First cherry trees blooming!




Chinese paper bush


Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (18-5)

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Loop Trail   2/3/2018   (#4)

Continuing to take things slowly this week, we went for a 3 mile walk around Oaks Bottom in southeast Portland.  This is an easy trail between the river and the bluff that sees plenty of neighborhood walkers and runners. From the bluff side we could look across the lake and see the west hills and Oaks Amusement Park, with cyclists flying by on the Springwater Corridor.

Details along the Bluff Trail:

We later walked north on the Springwater Corridor path and looked back across the lake to the famous mausoleum with enormous wildlife mural painted on the side. We saw a few real birds in the water as well as some decoy/art installation blue herons.


Springwater corridor


Heron decoy in foreground

My longest walk so far – getting better all the time.


Meanwhile, I have been knitting

away on the Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward shawl – I have about half of the purple border to go.


I cast on a second Sonic Six hat using the remainder of the Total Eclipse yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts striped with some leftover grey sock yarn to extend the skein for the full hat.  Playing yarn chicken with this one.


And I finished the second of a continuing collection of cotton tortilla dishcloths. I gave away most of those I made last year, but still have scraps to use up.


The front yard crocuses were in full bloom today.


Back on the Trail – Grass Widows, Bald Eagles and Osage Oranges (18-4)

This has mostly been a recovery week – taking things very slowly, and with awareness to my limitations. I have been able to walk more, drive the slow back way, and gradually increase all my activities.

Catherine Creek Trail, WA   1/28/2018      (#3)

I saved my weekend energy for a walk on one of the easiest trails – the Universal Access  trail at Catherine Creek just east of Hood River along the Columbia River. We often include this trail as a quick stop on our hiking trips to see the latest blooms.  Today at my slow pace I appreciated the paved surface and benches along the way, the small details and micro landscapes. Grass widows are beginning to bloom.



View to the west, labyrinth waterfall in the distance


Lookback: A couple of pictures with snow, and with more flowers:





Balfour-Klickitat Eagles

We also stopped at the Balfour-Klickitat trail near Lyle, WA to look for bald eagles in their nesting area. We saw about a dozen, mostly juveniles, perched in the trees around the pond, and taking occasional practice flights.


White spots are bald eagles


Another highlight of this location are the Osage oranges, at this point, mostly lying on the ground in colorful curious piles. Signage explains that the fruit is inedible, but that the thorny dense foliage was used as a natural fencing material by settlers in the west in the 1800’s.



Lookback : A couple of pictures from snowier days:


12/28/2015    Six eagles


12/30/2016   Osage oranges

Knitting and quilting

Progress on the Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward Shawl:


My sister sent me a bouquet of fabric as a get well gift – a beautiful rainbow of batiks that will fit beautifully into my collection for my rainbow themed quilts in planning stages.


And the first crocus peaked up in my front yard:


A Healing Week (18-3)


Home for a week now, each day I am more awake, more alert, more me.

Each day I walk a bit more, usually with Sean, at a glacial pace. First to the end of the block, then around the block. On Saturday Dan escorted me a full slow mile around the neighborhood, and on Sunday we visited Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy at Grant Park. I am disappointed not to participate in the Women’s March this year, but have given myself permission to temporarily ignore the outer world as I heal from this event.


Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, Grant Park

I have been thinking about trust. What is it that allowed me to trust people I’ve met only briefly, including some on the team I never will meet while conscious, to thread some sort of mechanism into my brain and perform this surgery. That is the foundation of civilization, I suppose, that the standards put in place by experts will be upheld, that we all expect to do our best by each other, that we trust.


Some time is passed in the evenings with Dan and Sean, watching ‘The Good Place’ and adding several repeats to my Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward shawl. The yarn is Tosh Merino Light in the Mandala and Flashdance colorways.


A mantra for the week from one of my favorite podcasts:


Marquam Hill, Portland, OR (18-2)

1/10/18     A different kind of Adventure of the Week:      Marqham Hill

Begins with a pre-dawn drive up Sam Jackson Road, four flights of stairs in the parking garage, into the entrance hall where I get my wristband; down to the preop suite where I wipe myself with antiseptic wipes and change into a snap on gown, booties and shower cap. That’s when it all gets real. Someone comes to start the IV;  I sign all the forms that admit knowledge of possible bad outcomes including death, and then they whisk me away into the OR ante room. I start shaking uncontrollably as they transfer me to the operating table, but they give me oxygen and then the mask, say “Count down five breaths”.  I only remember three.

Someone is tugging at a mask on my face. There are bright lights in my eyes. They are holding me in place, putting oxygen tubes in my nose, needles in my arms. I am coming awake and it is over and they say I am doing fine.

Then there are a number of hours I am in and out of awake. Dan is there holding my hand. Emily is sitting next to me giving me droplets of water and encouraging me to eat one saltine cracker that takes 2 1/2 hours. There is a light above that is too bright and one doctor says the hospital is full and I may have to stay in this space all night. It is very noisy and bright and I feel discouraged. Eventually they do find a room for me and wheel me in most carefully. Now here I have been for three days with the kindest of nurses caring for me, doctors coming and going in teams all hours of the night, needles poking, measuring ins and outs. Brian and Sean keep me company and take me on walks around the halls and I appreciate their presence. Dan is ever-present and stays the first night. Emily stays the next two nights and I slowly shed tubes and wires and medications until I feel almost ready to go home.

By day three I am feeling very accomplished to make several laps around the 10th floor neurosurgery ward, and a walk to the view plaza above the Portland Tram, resting and looking at all three snow covered peaks on the skyline on a beautiful blue sky day.


Mt Hood and lower waterfront from Portland Tram plaza


Mt St Helens and Mt Adams


Mt St Helens and a peek at Mt Rainier over its left shoulder (photos by Dan)

Friends and family have texted emailed visited called, sent flowers balloons meals good wishes. Now I just look forward to slowly getting better and less dizzy as I adjust to the new me. No more excess human growth hormone seeping from an adenoma on my pituitary. No more hidden acromegaly.

After 4 days on the hill we drive home, me shielding my eyes from the too bright sun and the overwhelming motion around me. I walk as if balancing a marble on my brittle bubble of a head, each day my equilibrium slowly increasing. In a few weeks I hope to be able to move better, drive, smell, hike…continue the adventures.

Meanwhile, the knitting:

I’ve added a few rows to the Girl From the Grocery Store Shawl, though I may rename it Girl in the Neurosurgery Ward.




2018 Begins (18-1)

1/1/2018    Oaks to Wetlands Wildlife Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA    (Hike #1 for 2018)

2018 begins with a 2 mile walk at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. Cold, quiet, it felt good to stretch our legs in the sun, see swans and geese in the distant ponds, and an egret flying down the swale.


Shadows on the approach bridge


Swans in the distant pond


An egret flying along the trail


Oak tree



1/6/2018      Deschutes River Trail       (Hike #2)

Blue sky, crisp air, deep blue water, golden grasslands, great escape from the clouds in Portland. Solid boots on the trail, maybe the last time for a while…

We begin by walking along the river:

The trail heads up hill across Ferry Springs Canyon:


snow in the shade



View back to the Columbia River, and the Columbia Hills in Washington



Closer view of the confluence


Columnar basalt above



Geese at the trailhead

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GPS track


We have been here twice before – we saw spring wildflowers in April of 2013


and fall colors in November of 2016.





train across the river



I knit away on Emily’s green shawl try to think of all the things to do before the surgery.  I am organized and scattered at the same time.  I try to anticipate all the needs and soon the time will be used up and I will see what happens on the other side. Hard to set goals for the New Year as I don’t know what to expect for the recovery so I just knit on…


Emily’s Flyaway Twist shawl, completed

38. New Years Eve / Farewell 2017

Wind Mountain, WA     Last Hike of the Week for 2017   (#59)    12/31/2017

Wind Mountain is a 1907 foot tall cone shaped mountain that juts out into the Columbia River on the Washington shore just west of Dog Mountain. These photos show Wind Mountain as seen on previous adventures:


From the Starvation Ridge area (southeast), May 2017


From Starvation Ridge, with rainbow, May 2017


From Dog Mountain (east), May 2013


From Grassy Knoll (north). Wind Mountain is the lower cone on the right side of the photo, June 2017.   Mt Defiance and Mt Hood are beyond, across the Columbia River. Wind Mountain is rather small by comparison, from this perspective.

The trail is short and steep – about 1.25 miles/1100 feet up from the trailhead on the north slope.  Our hike on New Year’s Eve was bitter cold at the beginning and eponymously windy.  We enjoyed beautiful views from the top, and felt this was a great way to end 2017.


Historical significance explained near the top

Views from the top:


To the west – Beacon Rock in the distance


To the east, Dog Mountain and beyond toward Starvation Ridge across the Columbia RIver


Looking north to where Grassy Knoll and Mt Adams would be if there were no clouds.

The trail seemed steeper on the way down.


Some details:


Red Oregon grape leaves


A peaceful forest path




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GPS track

Lookback: We hiked here in February of 2013 on a less windy and cloudy day, and could see all the way to Mt Adams and Mt St Helens


East to Dog Mountain


North to Mt Adams


Northwest, with Silver Star Mountain and Mt St Helens


West to Beacon Rock

Happy New Year!

In the evening we went downtown for a lovely dinner out with friends, and a New Year’s Eve concert at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, featuring Pink Martini and the Oregon Symphony ringing in 2018 at midnight.

And finally, some totals for 2017:

603 Total Miles walked, of which 294 were on hiking trails during 59 hikes, with a total of 50,500′ elevation gained.

76 Books read according to my Goodreads page.  My two favorites were: Jane Austen, The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly, and Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.

6707 yards of yarn knitted in 10 finished projects according to my Ravelry page:

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38 Blog Posts  I am happy to say I have posted weekly since beginning the blog last April.  I am still exploring what I want it to be, but I have enjoyed the motivation to write a bit each week, and I love documenting life events. I hope to keep up the pace in 2018, with more detailed quilt stories added in, once the big adventure with the surgeon is gotten through on January 10th.  I keep thinking of the chorus to an old camp story about a hike through the woods with various obstacles:

“Can’t go under it, can’t go over it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it.”

And I suppose the same can be said about the challenges that face our nation in the next year. Our family holiday letter included this statement:

“It would be incomplete not to mention that 2017 has been a difficult year on the political front. We marched with women and men in January, and although some days it feels like we are barely hanging on by our fingernails, we cling to the belief that the checks and balances built into our Constitution will hold, and that the rule of law and equal protection under the law will win the day.”

Welcome 2018!

37. White Christmas in PDX

Holiday   12/25/2017

Right on schedule we received a thin layer of ice and snow on Christmas Eve. We played Settlers of Catan, finished decorating the tree, and baked some cookies in our newly repaired oven. A cozy Christmas; no hikes this week.


I made a few Jane Austen themed ornaments and finished the flannel pajama pants that Brian started but never finished – he will find them under the tree.  I continued to knit the green shawl for Emily, which she will find under the tree, needles attached, to be finished soon.


36. Labyrinth Hiking

The Labyrinth Trail, WA            12/16/2017         (#58)

East out of the Portland mist, through the frosted central gorge to the open dry eastern gorge, this time to the Labyrinth, trailhead at the Hwy 14/Old Hwy 8 intersection at Rowland Lake.


Waterfall along Old Hwy 8

The aptly named trail winds gently upward between columnar basalt buttes and a cascading stream.




Bare trees, gold grasses, dried flower seed heads, lichen splotched talus piles, higher and higher, rising to views to the south of the Columbia River, the orchards, fields and cliffs around Mosier, Oregon.


To the east the open skies of the Columbia Plateau beckon; to the west, the lowering clouds of western Oregon gloam, this whole area scoured by the Missoula floods. We explore some of the side trails around the waterfall,


at the base of a columnar basalt butte,

and to our lunchstop viewpoint.

Then on up a bit more,

past the cliff that is covered with purple desert parsley in spring,


View toward Coyote Wall


past the oak tree on the trail’s edge,


to the next high point.


Wind rising, we agree to turn around. Down we go, light changing, shoulders of Hood briefly exposed, back to the old highway then home.


During our first hike here in June of 2012, I was enchanted, just exploring the bones of the landscape, the windings between rock exposures then covered with halos of pinkish grass.


May 2012

We attained a high viewpoint back down to Rowland Lake and the river and began to realize the potential. Future trips saw the cliffs and mounds adorned with yellows and purples of spring wildflowers,


Mt Hood from Old Hwy 8 approach trail, May 2012


Balsam root near Hwy 8, April 2014


April 2014


Grass Widows, March 2017


Gold stars, March 2017


Buttercups in oak woodland, March 2016


Columbia Desert Parsley, April 2014

the white snows of winter,


December 2015


December 2015

and actual rainbows.


December 2016

Some comparisons: the waterfall –


May 2012


March 2017


December 2015

the oak tree –


May 2012


December 2015

We also brought back poison oak and left behind one contact lens.  We have explored a few of the side trails – there are many more to look forward to.


Knitting the green shawl: finished another tortilla and the Sonic Six hat.

Decorating the tree – Diamond Log Cabin Christmas Tree Skirt (Quilt In A Day pattern) made in the early 2000’s.  I have learned a lot about color and fabric choices since then, but It still fits our decor and I like it well enough to continue to use it. The rest of the tree decorating is waiting for one child to be home from college.

35. Dreaming of White River, 12/11/2017

A little under the weather, so I missed the hike with Dan and a friend to White River on Mt Hood. He sent me this photo from our usual lunch stop:



This is a favorite adventure because the grade is gentle and the mountain is in view almost all the way up to a spectacular lunch spot. A few photos from previous years:


March 2012 – Close up of the peak of Mt Hood


February 2013


January 2014


March 2016


March 2017


A little of each- knitting, plying, stitching the leftover clams for the back of Atmospheric River, and what fun! deciding to use Fossil Fern as the focus fabric for my long planned hue shift quilt.


Flyaway Twist: begin the brioche, with lifelines


Panel of leftover clams for the otherwise light blue backing for the Atmospheric River quilt


Color wheel of fabrics for a new quilt


Other adventures:  Mostly a waiting week – I tried one new med, and also contracted a common cold from my son, so snowshoeing did not seem like fun.