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History and the View at Canemah Bluff


Looking down at the mighty Willamette


In a shocking development, I went for a walk last Sunday.  The weather was iffy, so I stayed close to home, and I was able to find another pleasant place to leg stretch close to the city.  Canemah Bluff is located above the Willamette River at the south end of Oregon City.  In the 19th century, pioneers settled there and established their own community, which predicated its economy on people who necessarily portaged around nearby Willamette Falls as they headed up or down the Willamette. The town was eventually annexed by Oregon City in the 1920s.  It is still a lovely area, and the Children’s Park (no, I didn’t go down the slide) is a great place to start a walk.  A small network of trails offers a few different options depending on your ambition and interest. Like Mount Talbert and Powell Butte, they have nice signage and mini maps on posts at junctions.

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One of the things about this area is that, historically, Native Americans conducted annual controlled burns, and this affected biodiversity.  Unlike many areas in Northwest Oregon, the bluffs here offer broad wildflower meadows lined lots of oaks and madrone trees, as well as alder and cedar forested areas further uphill.

The walking was easy, and I found myself marveling at the great colors all around.  Bright wildflowers abounded in the open areas, but the most amazing hues of all (and this on a gray day) were on the madrone trunks.  In a couple photos, they seemed to almost glow a rusty color.  Eventually, I caught a glimpse of a pioneer cemetery, then headed uphill on the Old Slide Trail.  They were very pleasant woods to amble about.  On that segment of  trail, I found myself falling into arty photography, noticing the symmetry in a certain fern’s fronds, a stand of deciduous trees, even the perfectly placed bee in the center of a flower. I have found that taking a great photo gives me a great deal of pleasure, but there is nothing like a good walk.  Happy hiking, everyone.

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Sunday Stroll on the Springwater Corridor


Mallards having a good time on muddy Johnson Creek

I’ve written about the Springwater Corridor Trail before for a good reason.  It’s convenient, it boasts some nice scenery, and it’s an easy outdoor fix.  Today Jackie Chan and I walked a stretch just beyond our normal haunts.  To be sure, it’s not as pretty an environment, with industrial buildings nearby, but I was entranced early by ducks below a bridge over Johnson Creek, and then by an electrical tower getting taken over by vines.


The sign warns of high voltage. Plant life does not care.

There were not too many bikers or joggers today.  It was cool but not cold.  Perhaps they were gearing up for parties for the MLS Cup (Go Timbers!) or NFL games (the Eagles leading the Patriots?).   Perhaps it was the location in the open, near businesses and houses.  Still, there were pretty spots.  Jack sniffed like a madman as we walked.


This is strictly an out and back walk, unless you want to have a shuttle 15 or 20 miles away in Boring, where the trail ends.  We opted to turn around at a side street crossing the path. Two pups were coming in on the side street, and a bigger dog was headed toward us.  U turn.  It was far enough.  We took one last stop at a trailside bench.  Jack might have wondered why I didn’t sit there myself.  Perhaps when the place dries out a bit. Happy Sunday.



Willamette Valley Drought

Drier than a good martini

Drier than a good martini

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.