Category Archives: Weather
In the Baker family, when one wants to check out an area with which we are not familiar, we say that we are “‘vestigating.” A gray Sunday seemed like the perfect time for such an outdoor ‘vestigation that offered possibilities for photographic endeavors. My new Sony DSC HX400v was calling my name, as I am still less than adept at its various controls and menus. My friend Hamid was game for a hike, and he knows more about photography than me. Winning!
Kellogg Lake is a major geographical feature in the Milwaukie area, yet few people see it unless they live in certain spots or ride the light rail train, which crosses the outlet from an elevated perspective. Elsewhere, it is hard to view the water. A modest trail network descends a hillside behind the Presbyterian Church. I’d heard of this but had no good information. So Hamid and I explored, trying first this route and then that. There is plenty of walking to be had for a small area, spur trails going out both sides of a small peninsula, where we checked out waterbirds, foliage, and views across the lake. We kept spooking an egret who was close to us on a few occasions. I was never fast enough on the shutter to catch it in flight, but I did find it from afar. Magnificent bird.
Rain started coming down in earnest after we hit the far end of the lake, and although we saw a heron and enjoyed the different vantage points, there was less to explore there, so we adjourned to the Beer Store Milwaukie, which is also a restaurant and bottle shop. I opted for Ninkasi’s seasonal ale, Sleigh’r. Hamid got a stout. It’s tough to go wrong with 15 rotating taps. We enjoyed lots of interesting conversation about art, music, friends, and the circuitous paths our lives had taken, topping off a very pleasant afternoon.
My week of vacation was coming to a close. My visiting mother had left for the east coast, and I had to get back to the grind on Monday. One last hike. My target was a short hike to a waterfall southeast of the metro area. Abiqua Falls is near Silver Falls State Park, but more remote. Given the spotty weather and the below average access road, I was surprised to see as many people as I did. That seems to be a theme for me. I should probably stop being surprised. Recreating in the outdoors is more popular than ever, and in the Pacific Northwest, hiking to waterfalls is a great way to do that.
The trail is actually on private land, so don’t abuse the access privilege. Almost immediately, the path crosses over what looks like part of a motocross track. There is a nice viewpoint off to the right, but don’t get distracted. The route stays left. At times it is steep and muddy. People have attached ropes to trees as handlines in multiple spots, which speaks to the popularity of the spot as well as the nature of the trail. I found that trekking poles handy. In a quarter mile or so, the trail emerges on the rocky shore of a creek. The falls are out of sight, but the canyon is so gorgous, so lush and green, I wasn’t focused on that yet. I meandered upstream and turned a corner to find the falls in a rocky amphitheatre, like a jewel set in the forest. Truly spectacular.
Abiqua Falls is a good sized drop, and the pool below is large. Mossy cliffs curve away on either sides, making for a unique sight. I took my time, as others seemed to do, to absorb all those negative ions. Mist on the lens spoiled a number of my photos, but it was hard not to get some great shots of this verdant world. I loved the rusty hue of some of the exposed rock and the clarity of the water below. Like a great summit, this was a spot I didn’t want to leave.
After meeting a friend for a yummy lunch at Mehri’s Bakery and Deli the other day, my wife and I went for hike at a small wilderness park near Clackamas. What started as a brief nature walk turned into a real hike on an overcast day. We just kept going, creating a nice loop I’d done in reverse before. One curious note was the white powder we saw at regular intervals on the switchbacks climbing out of the parking area. I was careful not to let our pup sniff it. Terrorism! Anthrax! Poison! My mind goes into overdrive with worry on occasion. At the first major junction, a giant X and an arrow showed the powder was simply marking the way for a race or organized walk/run. Relief ensued, and we enjoyed our paces through a pretty mixed forest. The so called summit was a tease, with no significant views.
On the way down, we saw a deer but weren’t quick enough to get a decent shot. One trailside tree seemed to have its own little watering trough. Ferns grew on tree branches. Crazy foliage. Light was fading fast as we returned to the trailhead. I have to admit that I can’t wait for the days to start getting longer. On this day of giving thanks, however, I am thankful for many things, among them the personal health and opportunity to take a hike with my bride. I hope my readers also have reason for gratitude.
The Springwater Corridor trail is a popular trail for cyclists, runners, walkers, and dogs. It’s paved, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its beauty. Since I moved recently, access to the trail is even closer. It’s just a few minutes away from my digs, so it was an easy choice when there was break in the weather. Last Saturday, rains last weekend pounded the Portland area, and there was minor flooding that lasted for a day. On Sunday, Johnson Creek, which runs parallel to the trail for miles of its length, was swollen and brown.
I’d walked and ridden my bike on the trail many times before. This time, as I avoided the many cyclists, I noticed how muddy Johnson Creek was. No surprise given the rains of the day before.
Compare the water in this last shot to a post from early in 2014. Nature is always going through cycles, but sometimes it is more impressive than others.
The rain is back, and I am a lazy hiker on rainy days. Sunday I forced myself to get out of slug mode. I have passed the Audubon Society of Portland’s wildlife sanctuary in the West Hills hundreds of times over the years. Strangely, I did not know until recently that the sanctuary had its own trail system. Hello, McFly! The sanctuary seemed a fine choice for a stroll on a rainy Sunday. I was surprised to find plenty of other hikers. Most were probably staying close to the Audubon buildings, but it is possible to walk a few miles on various trails spread over three tracts and 150 acres. I wandered around a loop on the Jay Trail on the north side of Cornell Road. The colors of foliage are always different on gray days, but it is easy to find tremendous beauty here. I was glad I got myself motivated enough to visit in the rain.
I’ve been here before. We’ve all been here before. Running out of new spots nearby, I revisited an old track and tried to focus differently, to see new pleasures in familiar spaces. The dry conditions certainly did their part to give me a different perspective. Marquam Nature Park is a sizeable greenspace in the hills of Southwest Portland, and I find it a great unsung spot to head outdoors.
As documented on this site, I have hiked from the part to the heights of Council Crest multiple times, but as it was quite warm this go around, I decided to make a loop lower in the trees, expending modest amounts of energy. It was a pleasant way to spend forty five minutes. I was surprised to see leaves already changing color, as well as creek beds completely dry. For a Sunday, few people seemed to be out compared to the crowds I’d seen recently at the Arboretum or in Forest Park. It’s nice to hike on a sunny day, and I know it’s August, but I hope we get some real precipitation soon. It’s disconcerting to see our world seemingly drying up. This too shall pass. It better.
It’s been a long dry spell, and I don’t mean for the Chicago Cubs. I can’t remember the last significant rainfall in the Portland metro area. We are way behind on our annual precipitation, and while the temps have cooled off in the past couple days, the area is still dry as a Melville novel. The grass in most yards yellowed weeks ago. Keep in mind that I live in an area visitors typically think is always gray and wet. While winters can be gray and long, Portland tends to get less annual precipitation than cities such as New York, Washington, Miami, Memphis, and New Orleans. Summers here are great for outdoor activities, but I am concerned this year. A few nights ago, my wife and I ate on a restaurant deck recently. We were shocked to find the creek below the deck had vanished. It looked more like Southeast Oregon or Nevada than a spot in the lush Willamette Valley. I walk every day in my job, but I long for a hike in the rain. This too shall pass.