Wildflowers still late at Dalles Mountain Ranch and Rowena

If you’re planning on going to Dalles Mountain Ranch or Rowena Plateau tomorrow to see wildflowers, don’t bother! Greg and I got up early again this morning and headed out to Dalles Mountain Ranch. A beautiful morning out there, but it’s hard to believe that it’s been two whole weeks since our last visit. The flowers have made very little progress in those two weeks. At the trailhead, the balsamroot are just barely starting, and there are no lupine blooming.

Still no flowers

I would guess it’ll be a good two weeks before it comes close to peak bloom.

Same at Rowena Plateau. Balsamroot blooms just getting started. Lots of lupine leaves but no lupine blooms. And to think that on April 30 last year it looked like this:


One place we DID see lots of balsamroot – rather unexpectedly – was at Mosier Twin Tunnels. Lots of them in full beautiful bloom right before you get to the tunnels (coming from the east). No lupine yet, though.

Balsamroot everywhere

Dalles Mountain Ranch

Greg and I got up EARLY (5:30!) so that we could head out to the eastern Gorge on Sunday and catch the good morning light. Our first stop was the Dalles Mountain Ranch. Unfortunately, it is still too early for wildflowers there. There were a few patches of Balsamroot near the parking area, but we still have a ways to go before the big showy displays.

But the trek was not for nothing. We saw quite a few deer. Several crossed the road in front of us just as we approached the parking area, and then more followed. I got this shot from the parking area, looking back down the road.

Morning wildlife

And we had a lovely view of Mt. Hood, shining in the morning sun.

Mt. Hood morning

Looking up the road from the parking area. Not many flowers yet.

No flowers yet

One patch of Balsamroot, ahead of the game.

Early bloomer

Look at that blue sky! It was a really gorgeous morning out there. Warm and pleasant with no wind, and the birds singing like they were just as happy as I was for the glorious spring weather. We will be back here in a few weeks to see the wildflower show.

Oh, by the way, Rowena Plateau is even further behind than this spot. We saw even fewer Balsamroot down there than here.

Lyle Cherry Orchard hike

My sister joined Greg and me for a hike up the Lyle Cherry Orchard on Saturday. It was a REALLY gorgeous day out there. Sunny blue skies and so warm! A perfect day to be out there. The very bright mid-day sun did not make for the best photos, but here’s what I got. (See the entire set here.)

Walking through the camas

The Meadow Death Camas are blooming in quite a few places.

Slope of flowers

The hillsides have a nice covering of flowers, mostly Desert Parsley but it looked like there was some Balsamroot up there too. This was a TOUGH climb! I’m out of shape from the long winter and it was hard going up this hill.

A fine view

Looking west down the Columbia River.

Lunch with a view

Looking east towards The Dalles from what I assume is the end point of the trail (a big open meadow-like area with east-facing views). We ate lunch here and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. It is SO nice to be warm when hiking, instead of bundled up, cold, and soaking wet.

If you own hiking poles, bring them on this hike. It is tough going up, and you’ll really want them on the way down for your knees. My knees don’t normally bother me on downhills, but even with my poles they were hurting bad by the time we got back to the car.

We saw LOTS of lupine leaves, especially in the forested area at the very beginning of the hike. They will be busting out in bloom soon. More wildflower shows on this hike soon!

A soggy hike on the Multnomah-Wahkeena loop

Saturday’s forecast predicted rain, but this time of year the forecast can barely be taken as a suggestion, let alone fact. So Greg and I went hiking anyway. It rained. Sigh. (Ironically enough, I stayed home on Sunday because rain was also predicted for that day and I didn’t feel like getting soaked again. But THAT was the nicer of the two days. Doh!)

Still a fair amount of water coming down Multnomah Falls.

So much water

Took a shot of Little Multnomah Falls above. I usually skip the viewpoint when I do this hike.

Little Multnomah Falls

Greg and I were here just three months ago and this log at Dutchman Falls was not here. Yet another waterfall obscured by a fallen tree.

Dutchman Falls

A little bird serenaded us from a log at the base of Weisendanger Falls. Birdsong is surprisingly loud. We could hear it loud and clear over the roar of the waterfall.

Weisendanger Falls

I was totally disheartened to see snow on the ground on the trail between Multnomah and Wahkeena Creeks. This is below 1500 feet. It is April. Spring felt very very far away when I walked this section of trail.


When I got to the first junction, I took the longer trail on the right, rather the one on the left that I normally take. It was QUITE muddy and slippery. But it did take me across the creek that forms Fairy Falls a little further downstream, and I got this lovely little shot.

A moment of peace

As soon as I reached Wahkeena Creek, the rain started falling hard again, and continued to do so the entire way down the creek, ceasing, of course, once I left the creek. Grrrr….. I attempted some quick pictures at a few spots, exposing my camera to a thorough soaking, but it was pretty hopeless. Lots of water spots on the lens.

Rain drowns the magic

Things are starting to green up a little out there, and I even saw a few trilliums. But we’re still several weeks away from seeing more green than brown.

I wonder if there are plans to replace the smashed bridge over Wahkeena Creek? The mess of boards and logs they have over the creek now is quite tricky to cross when they are slippery from rain and the creek water is high.


Spider-whacking at Elowah Falls – 9/25/07

Another hike with my roommate’s dog, this time just a short jaunt in the Gorge past Elowah Falls. I was so happy to be out stretching my legs with the dog that I didn’t even notice the spiders for quite awhile. We hiked down to Elowah Falls from John B. Yeon with incident. The falls are small and wispy, as always for this time of year. I stopped and set up my tripod and took some pictures while Besa sniffed and explored. Then we continued on along the Gorge Trail, my goal being Moffet Creek, which would make for a nice 4.5 mile round trip outing.

The only problem is that this trail isn’t hiked as much as the portion between the parking lot and the waterfall. It’s a lot more brushy and there were a lot of spiders! Webs across the trail at every height, and all amongst the bushes on the side too. After inadvertently walking into a few (despite trying to keep my eyes open for them), I found a big stick and started knocking them all down. Nevertheless, I still found myself with stray webs brushing against my face and arms. After half a mile of this, I couldn’t take it anymore. I have a HORRIBLE fear of spiders, and the great abundance of them was really starting to creep me out.

So we turned around and headed back. The funny thing is that now that my brain was in full spider-alert mode, I spotted all sorts of them (high up and in the bushes along the trail) between Elowah Falls and the parking lot that I hadn’t even noticed on the way in! Ugh. So if you’re out in the Gorge this season, carry a stick or be prepared to be webbed!

In general, I love autumn, but the big downside is the abundance of spiders. Those bastards are everywhere this time of year!

Here’s how Elowah Falls looks right now:

Low flow

Dog Mountain kicked my butt

We hiked the Dog Mountain trail today, hitting the trail nice and early at 8:45 to avoid the crowds and the heat. I haven’t done this one since I was a grumpy teenager, forced to do the trail by my parents on a really hot Memorial Day. The hike was brutal and hot and I ended up with heat exhaustion. I had such negative memories of that day that I swore I’d never go near Dog Mountain again. Well, I’ve been forced to eat my words, because the motivation of all those wildflowers was too much to resist and I hiked the trail today. The wildflowers were worth it, but man!…. that trail kicked my butt just as hard as it did the first time. We made it to the top in 2.5 hours, and made it back down in 2, probably faster than I should have pushed myself. By the end, I was just about out of water, and once again suffering from heat exhaustion. But the flowers were worth it!

The wildflowers are just past their peak and beginning to fade. Also, the trail is super dusty since it hasn’t rained in awhile. You all know this hike, so I won’t go into further details. But one thing I’ll mention that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else is that it’s already starting to get buggy up there. The last 15 minutes of forest hiking before emerging onto the open slopes (on the Dog Mountain Trail, not the Augspurger Trail) I was swarmed with bugs. They were most not mosquitos, but I have a few itchy spots this evening so some of them were biting. And I wish I’d had my head net to keep them out of my face! Fortunately, on the windy open slopes the bugs weren’t a problem there.

You can see the yellow carpet of summit wildflowers at the first viewpoint, there are so many of them!

Wildflowers all over

Right after emerging onto the open summit slopes from the forest.

Balsamroot everywhere!

Yellow balsamroot as far as the eye can see.
Egging me on

Mt. St. Helens in the distance with Balsamroot lining the trail to the summit.
A view to beat all views

The Balsamroot may be past its peak, but there are still lots of other wildflowers blooming, including Paintbrush.
Vivid red

Steep slopes of wildflowers above the Augspurger Trail.
Can't get enough of this

Horsetail Falls loop to Triple Falls

On Memorial Day I had the crazy idea to take some friends hiking in the Gorge. Fortunately we got an early start because it was crowded out there! We did the loop that starts at Horsetail Falls, goes up behind Ponytail Falls and past Middle Oneonta Falls, and then up to Triple Falls. Of course everything is vivid green and there are lots of wildflowers blooming along the trail. This is a really pleasant hike, and even though there’s some elevation gain, it’s a good trail for newbie hikers since there’s plenty of scenery and the total distance comes out to about 4.5 miles.

I never cease to be impressed at walking behind a waterfall.
Behind the falls

Middle Oneonta Falls. This summer I really want to “hike” up the creek to see Lower Oneonta Falls.
Middle Oneonta Falls

Lovely Triple Falls, our lunch spot.
Triple Falls