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.
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 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.
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.