Monday’s Meander: Silver Falls State Park

Lower South Falls

I am still having trouble downloading photos from my aging iPhone (I dropped my good camera on another hike and it is lame now). Ah, well. Silver Falls State Park is a gorgeous place to visit and includes ten waterfalls. We hiked about 4.5 miles–much of it steeply uphill–and saw only three Saturday afternoon! I salvaged a few photographs, though some may be a bit out of focus. Well, apologies–we were moving most of the time for 3 hours so I snapped as I could. (I’ll perhaps post more as I can, including videos.)

South Falls

The river on the left is from the entrance to the park by nice lawn. But the second shot was 2/3 of the way through the hike–we were both sweaty at that point and a bit breathless so stopped for water. I’m trying to smile while taking deep breaths and slowing the heart rate, ha!

I had wanted to post a video from behind these falls with the sound effects nature provides–but it wouldn’t download from my darned iPhone. Instead, here’s a simple shot of South Falls from behind, where we stood in a cave-like spot, and could see that blue sky and forest. To the left is a picture just past the falling torrent; to the right, a shot from directly behind. The shallow opening in the rock wall over which the falls hammer downward was nicely cool, a bit damp from spray–and a wonderful vantage point.

Monday’s Meander: Wildness of Autumn

We knew it was soon to rain for days, so we chose one of two state parks nearby to enjoy a gentle hike last Saturday. I am in love with Pacific NW rainforests so often post about Oregon’s. This is Tryon State Natural Area, full of red alderbigleaf mapleDouglas-firWestern redcedar, and Western hemlock. It offer about 650 acres of second-growth forest, 8 miles of trails and as many bridges that span small Tryon Creek–and it thrives within our metropolitan area.

As I walked and hiked I thought about an interesting book I’ve been reading called Courting the Wild Twin by Martin Shaw, PhD, an expert on myth and fairy tales. He writes about how the wild twin experience helps us understand who we are and can become, our part in the history of humanity’s diverse richness and our natural surroundings–our home. Shaw invites us to be more acutely conscious, to listen to the wild calling of our “twin” which longs to meld with us, and can help us liberate ourselves from a more superficial, somnambulant state. He purports this helps us keep alive the wondering and searching needed for healing our world. He offers thoughtful stories and ideas, and surely we can use more of this to help.

I feel my “wild twin” calling me to creative action but also to nature’s expanses. I feel energies that run deep– so potent and vibrant. Magic.

May you find your way to joys of a forest–barring that, good peace for your week.

Monday’s Meanders: “Wishbone” Island

Mary S Young State Park

A major wind storm is stirred up– no rain, just warm, parched winds off the Cascade Mountains east of here. This is really not the usual. This high wind warning may last for a couple of days. A red flag warning is also up for fire danger, which is usual at this time. The gusts might reach 45-65 mph. An acrid haze of smoke from fires in our many forests covers all–the fires ar not close and we hope to keep it that way. I had to shut windows before writing, as my throat was getting sore, eyes burning. We live among very tall trees, near the top of an extinct volcano; here’s hoping nothing topples!

On a cheerier note, here is an array of photos from a recent day jaunt to Mary S. Young State Park, 128 peaceful acres along the Willamette River–and rather close to our place. I love the color in these, as the day was bright and hot. Many people were enjoying family water fun. The island was something we stumbled upon as we followed a path farther than usual on our mini-hike.

We were greeted with an abundance of flowers that favor bees and butterflies as we entered.

As we headed out, someone’ small dog, at left, seemed keen to follow.

It took only about 10-15 minutes to spot water and we followed a mostly rocky shoreline. The happy voices of folks big and small were sweet to the ears–and nature’s music, as well, of birds. There were small skittering creatures, four-legged and no-legged–a snake, slugs, fish–and so many birds and dragonflies and other bugs.

Leaving this stretch of river, a family skirted us as we moved away. (Many were not wearing mass–when near water they seem to abandon them, but we place our back on whenever we note people coming close. Rather safe than sorry…)

We followed a path we hadn’t taken before when visiting and were surprised where it led.

A very small, wishbone-shaped island! We do have many in the Willamette River, just have not been to this one. More sunbathers and swimmers lounged and gallivanted–and kids romped! There was a canal, I would guess to call it, around the island.

We crossed the metal bridge to find a ramshackle sign admonishing us to follow all rules. Then we continued to the other side, a quick trip through woods and brush.

Flip through the slide show to see more of what I saw as we checked things out and headed back to the other side again.

It was another very hot day in the 90s (Fahrenheit) so it was time to head home after an hour and a half exploring.

The way back was steeper at times but mostly flatter–still good exercise as we kept the pace up.

A satisfying day in the state park! I will end with another shot of that curious pop–this was a dog run area, it turns out. We all enjoy our outings as summer comes to a slow closing in the Pacific Northwest. But when these smoky winds and fires ease up, it will be much better again…Have a good week, everyone!

Monday’s Meanders: Salmon Creek, Late Summer

Salmon Creek, WA.

This Washington State recreation area, Salmon Creek Regional Park, is a place we return to at least once a season. Being only a 30-45 minute drive from our Portland suburb, it is an easy day trip. With over 375 acres of bottomlands, wetlands and forested hills, it also has a lovely greenway with three miles of mostly paved walkways. It is peaceful although well-utilized by many visitors. (We felt safe here, though people didn’t wear masks much, which our state of Oregon has mandated–and most people wear them outdoors, too, if there are groups of people or not enough room on narrower pathways to keep 6 ft. distanced.)

We start at Klineland Pond at the edge of lush acreage–one of the few in this area with many fun features for families–and then move on to more of nature’s delights. Families and groups of friends were having a great time out there. The scents of grilled food was enticing!

An area roped off; I have seen people fishing there. I imagine that house has a pretty view, if at times a noisy one.
Below, another part of the pond.
A view from a dirt trail in the woods above the pond.

Moving on, we made frequent stops creek-side–to enjoy the beauty and to stay cooler. It was closing in on 90 degrees Fahrenheit with no clouds.

As you can see, there were stretches with few to no people. Just sunshine, too-dry grasses and bushes. Trees set away from the water looked parched. This is fire season–fires are now often breaking out in the Pacific NW and California; one can imagine how fast this would burn–a sobering fact. It was very dusty and the air fairly crackled with dryness.

So, back to the creek and shadier areas. My water was getting low in my bottle–I need a bigger size I can carry comfortably. A visit to REI (outdoor gear) is due.

Marc debating whether or not there are any good rocks to find.

As I was snapping away, a family edged out from brush to wade with their grateful dog. I was feeling a bit envious–next time, I’ll come ready to take a dip, perhaps!

Pardon my turned back but I am hot and thinking: soon, a tall, super-chilled iced tea
Heron observing us observing it.

Back on the walkway, we headed for our car, waving to youthful skateboarders gliding along and stopping briefly by a women’s softball game–with a few folks watching. I felt for those athletes–but good for them!

After a last look about, the afternoon came to a pleasing end: off to find Marc a vanilla sweet cream cold brew and for me, an iced Passion Tango herbal tea. Heavenly day.

Monday’s Meanders: More Summer Hikes and Rambles

Willamette River, Oregon

I know–more rivers and woods, what’s the deal? Since travel is limited and close to home, that’s what I see most often in Oregon. (I promise to dig into photo archives if there’s nothing more noteworthy to share next time!) Over the week-end we did a lot, though–a visit to the more urban Willamette Park along our trusty Willamette River (which flows through the center of Portland); a good work out hiking trails at Tryon Creek State Natural Area; and a long peaceful meander through Tualatin Hills Nature Park. All of it was a pleasure, a fun prescriptive action that always fills and calms us.

First off: another park by the river. Lots of people enjoying the spot (looks sparse but I seldom photograph strangers) while reading, eating, visiting with friends or family, snoozing and, always, kayaking or other boating.

Note the houseboats along the far shore–we have many on our rivers.

After a short look around the smallish park, we headed to a favorite–Tryon Creek State natural Area.

This state park offers a 650-acre-plus area with second growth forests, located between Portland and city of Lake Oswego. Many creatures live here, not the least of which are cougars that sometimes wander into our nearby city. It is a 15 minute drive to this wonderland for me. There is much to enjoy with 8 miles of hiking trails, plus 3.5 miles of horse trails and a 3-mile paved bicycle trail. Additionally, there are easy access trails with viewing platforms for those who may require smoother paths, or use wheelchairs. There are lots of huge Douglas firs, Western red cedar and hemlock, Ponderosa pines, etc. , ferns, mosses and lichens galore–and often we find wildflowers. Never enough time to try to identify such wealth of nature.

This land belonged to several Native tribes/bands, including Clackamas Chinook, the Wasco-Wishram, the Willamette Tumwater, the Multnomah, and other Chinookan peoples and more of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

We took an ascendant winding horse trail and before long I realized I’d chosen one of the steepest paths back to our starting point. Horses were not to be seen this time–though they had left plenty of evidence of their passage–and it felt wilder as we kept on. It looked more lush than when I was last there. I carried dwindling water and my shirt grew damp; the forest was permeated by late day heat. I trudged on with knowledge that this was a great exercise, and the air released its sweet and loamy fragrances of forest. We hiked two hours altogether and were fine–only tired and sweaty.

The horse trail we climbed and climbed from a deep valley.

The next day we chose a milder outing, labor-wise, and walked a couple hours in Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a half hour or more from our place. It is a stone’s throw for bustling southwest Portland suburbia. There was something extraordinary about the honeyed light making those trees golden and bright. Perhaps it’s because there are more deciduous trees than I am used to, and sunlight suffused the acreage with larger patches of sky glimpsed.

There were a number of families so we zigzagged along side paths. There are wetlands, forests and streams with 5 miles of mostly flat trails on 222 acres. Plenty to observe and enjoy. We were especially taken with the many spiders at work–did not get a good enough shot this time. (I tried to capture one in a smaller gallery picture, below, showing branches curving in an arch–a web is faintly seen as a shimmery spot mid-picture.)

Since there are extensive wetlands with boardwalks in various places–handy, and protects a lot.

Pretty lily pondso full pf the broad leaves, could not see much water!

We circled back to the nature center which has resources and staff to answer questions in healthy times. It was a bit sad to see the nature center closed up tight, as it is with other such centers due to COVID-19, as well as severely decreased staff. Otherwise, it would be a lively scene with people attending any pictures, examining various specimens, sitting and chatting outdoors. But it is what it is.

We did try out a lens that produced a kaleidoscopic effect so we could gawk at tiny succulents and lichen rather psychedelically transformed.

Behind shuttered buildings was a peaceful spot, it being uncharacteristically empty of human activity. But the breezes were refreshing, the heat more gentle in the shadiness, and birds kept singing and chattering. There are some things still right and good in this world…

Marc took several photos of me–the light was good, setting perfect. It’s a bit odd to have two here but I thought I’d use one for an updated photo of this blog’s “About” page. If you have an opinion, please note below! I prefer outdoors shots of all people–and certainly it is my favorite place to be, year after year.

Back to an ordinary suburban life with all its clamor and the anxious squash of humanity–for now. I will be outdoors tomorrow, God willing! Every day I have is a day of more mystery and beauty, a day of learning, a day of gratitude. I sure hope you find your own natural haven and absorb all the good energy and interest it offers. We need such a sanctuary even more during these hard times.

Blessings on all.