With a rather dismal-looking forecast for Portland on Saturday Greg and I headed east in search of sunshine. We originally wanted to do Cook Hill but decided that without perfectly clear skies for the nice views it wasn’t worth doing. So we decided on the Lyle Cherry Orchard trail.
When we started out the skies were overcast and it was sprinkling. The narrow window of Everything Is Green! in the eastern Gorge is closing and the grass here is already brown.
Rain from the morning lingered on the lupine leaves. (It lingered on a lot of vegetation, actually, and I had soon had wet boots as a result.)
Views down to the river.
Once we leveled out up on top the poison oak seemed to be EVERYWHERE. It was growing out over the trail and we were really glad we had on long pants.
Down below the lupine had already gone to seed. Up above it was just starting to go to seed. In past years we have been too early to see the lupine blooming at all, and this year we were almost too late!
The oaks were fully leafed out and it was a green green world up there.
And then we reached the big grassy meadow at the end of the trail.
There were some lupine blooming in the meadow, but not the purple kind. Greg later identified it as Velvet Lupine (indeed, the leaves felt velvety!).
This is new since I was last here. There’s a memorial here for someone who died in January 2012.
We ate a snack and admired the view.
By this point the skies were really clearing up and we actually had blue sky!
We saw a herd of deer on the next hillside over. We got a good look through the binoculars, but my zoom lens just barely picked up two of them. Can you see them?
Then we turned and headed back.
This was a particularly bad section of poison oak. It has almost totally overtaken the trail.
Once we left the protection of the trees we were hit by winds that had picked up in the past hour. Greg’s hat looks like it’s about to take flight!
It was SO windy that this bird (raven or crow?) was hovering in place as he “flew” into the wind. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it was fun to watch. I wish I could have gotten it on video.
One last view!
We saw almost no other people on this hike. We saw two people at the very beginning who turned around after about half a mile. And we saw a group of four hikers near the end of the trail as we were heading back. But that was it. Least amount of people I’ve ever seen on this trail!
As you can see, the poison oak was very bad. We were very careful and we washed everything as soon as we got home. Too soon to tell yet if we got any on our skin. As for the ticks we flicked a number of them off our pants and socks, but no ticks made it past our clothing.
The wildflowers are wrapping up here and they’ll probably all be gone in a few weeks. Greg’s full wildflower report for our hike is here: http://oregonwildflowers.org/viewreport.php?ID=554