Monday’s Meanders: Walking an Aged (Suburban) Volcano/Giving Thanks

One view from Nansen Summit, Mt. Sylvania

Our travelling days are on pause, but we can walk daily into the embrace of nature within our neighborhood. If all trails were completed, we’d knock off a robust 8 miles. This is very hilly country with plenty of steeper ascents and descents. There are also several tributaries of creeks emptying into the Tualatin River and Willamette River and Oswego Lake. Walking carries us around/about an extinct volcano, our old-timer Mt. Sylvania. When we first moved out here, I was amazed every time out I discovered more paths that interconnected and took me pretty places. You can never get lost; the paths intertwine.

As a refresher for older readers and intro to new: Mountain Park is an award winning area of Lake Oswego, OR. designed in mid-to-late ’60s. It covers 200 acres of land–forest, riparian and wetland. And it culminates in the extinct volcano’s summit elevation at 975 ft. with panoramic views walking around the path. Well, that’s isn’t very high….but since Portland metro is in a valley, it is here. (Driving down to city center, my ears actually pop…a swift descent.)

I can’t take you to every park and greenspace today. But I’ve posted often about area trails. The photos here are recent–some taken today–and highlight parts of what I enjoy about living in this emerald paradise, on the volcano’s slopes. (Portland, FYI, has other volcanoes.) A majority of Mountain Park trails are paved and wide so it’s an easier time of it…especially appreciated during sodden winters with near-daily rains through spring–and handy for the mandate of social distancing, even outdoors. Let’s get walking.

I love the mossy rock walls along many paths.
This shot and the one below…show a part of
…the neighborhood’s largest greenspace, undergoing restoration and storm water management.
This view of another portion was taken a couple wks. ago–leaves were still hanging on more. Like taking a break here on a bench, wandering along the narrow tributary behind greenery.
Note the well-fed squirrel on the right of the wood pile. He looks…utterly stuffed.
The ubiquitous but pretty ivy…cannot keep it at bay for long.
A lovely park for dogs with their people. It is actually downhill to this fairly flat spot.
People leave painted rocks along the path for all to enjoy.
Glimpses of the Coast Mountains beyond foothills–1.5 hours from us is the Pacific Ocean.

Got to keep on moving! I pulled a leg muscle two weeks ago and it’s finally healing! It was tough to sit out the hiking I crave–state parks became more beloved this summer and fall. Now it doesn’t bother me to climb stairs and hills so I at least can relish faster, longer, more challenging walks again. Walking–and hiking– cures almost anything that ails me, keeps me wide awake to mysteries of this earth and the pleasures of movement. Marc caught me, below, as I crossed a favorite bridge.

We have several tunnels under streets for safe passage. Marc is making his way through one.
The other side–one for each direction.
I paused and considered this path. We like this climb up but it gets very muddy. Since it becomes quite steep, it is easy to slide back in spots . Waiting until it stops raining a couple days!
The view of the sunset beyond the living room window when we got back.

We were home in an hour, a common walk time. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our wintry neighborhood walks. It can seem overfamiliar at times, but I feel fortunate to have easy access to trails/pathways–I walk out our door, go uphill or downhill and take off. My long ago repaired heart has gotten even stronger since, according to my cardiologist, I am completing a kind of circuit training here–and longer, more arduous hikes in the country. Being 70 is pretty good–despite aches and twinges that come and go– as long as I can walk and hike nearly every day! It is that valued.

Looking forward: I hope to have time to write the post on Wednesday, as usual. But that depends on how my baking goes. Since we aren’t gathering our big family for Thanksgiving due to the state lockdown/risk of contracting the virus, I have baking plans to help make up for it. I’ll share the results with my adult children and grandkids on Thursday.

Well, be kind to one another, practice self care. Live in peace as much as possible. I am counting my blessings daily despite challenges. I know you will find yours, too. Despite losses and sorrows we must bear sooner or later, we keep on, kindle hope in any small way. It is better to live in good faith with gratitude–and I thank God for the breath to do it–than to give up and miss all the moments of splendor we can find or create.

PS I have an anniversary today: after ten years of WordPress posts, I still very much appreciate your presence. Thank you for being here, to partake of my life and to let me enjoy some of yours in return. I have gotten through many trying times and celebrated wonders and triumphs while creating and offering these stories of healing and hope. And I have had much fun participating in the blogging world! So many fascinating people living rich lives–and people overcoming huge odds and making the world a better place. From my heart to yours, do take good care. I sincerely hope you can feel the love for life and humanity that I mean to share with you.

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 Meander: Astoria’s Charms… with Smoke

We visited Cannon Beach at the Pacific Ocean, then took 101 north to Astoria, at the northwest tip of Oregon. Views leading into the city were a bit eerie and oddly mesmerizing to me. Fogginess mingled with light smoke from California and Oregon fires still burning south of us. These scenes feel painterly to me, and different than what I usually am able to photograph.

I always enjoy this deep water port town. The oldest town in Oregon, it was established in 1811. It grew along southern banks of thColumbia River which joins the Pacific there. Named for John Jacob Astor, the entrepreneur, his fur company was established here. I always meditate on the mysterious power of a huge volume of fresh water meeting such vastness of salt water–a melding of two potent forces. Fishing and canneries were prominent businesses there; a last cannery was closed by 1980. Fishing, however, remains important to the economy, as well as tourism for those interested in area history and the town’s placement.

Below, entering from the south side with its smoky, almost vintage, coloration as dusk fell. The Columbia was surprisingly, perhaps deceptively, peaceful. It holds mighty currents and depths.

Although the city is interesting–it boasts several historical museums, a bustling arts scene and good restaurants, about which I’ve posted before–I concentrated on Columbia River scenes as we walked by railway tracks. The faint smoke in the atmosphere–not too discernable to the nose– gives an added yellow-orange tinge here and there. A moody series of views.

The man below arrived in his bright boat at the dock and got off with his dog. They then had a game of catch the stick thrown in the water–a pleasant scene to witness! You can see here and in other shots the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects our two states, and which we have taken a few times to visit a few of Washington’s coastal areas. (It is different and less accessible much of the coastline.)

According to Wikipedia: “Opened 54 years ago in 1966, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.”

Hard-to-see seals on long docks farther out by ships were a raucous bunch!

It was a good end of another day out and about–hope you enjoyed it, as well! See you at “Wednesday’s Words” post.

Monday’s Meanders: September River Light, with Love

I’d love to share a slew of photos of my wonderful twin granddaughters, almost 18 months old and running about, giggling and squealing, gabbing their twin baby speak. We spent two happy hours yesterday in a pretty park. Alas, I am not allowed so on to today’s topic: my love of rivers.

On Sat. I embarked on a brisk walk along the Willamette River–often a route to explore. That day, voluminous cumulus clouds and warmer fall light were quite lovely. Fall has begun to come into its own. (We still have temperatures in mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit after days of needed soakers –great for firefighters to help contain remaining Oregon fires.) This last wave of heat will end; chill rain will dominate by end of October or early November. Winter, grey and damp, and yet not without its charms.

Above, the top photo reveals people gathering above the beach area. There are stairs leading down to a partly sandy stretch, accentuated by large rock formations along and in the river. During summer, scores of people come to swim, kayak, and various boating activities. Kayaks are rented out of the two blue crates at left side of the second photo–now closed up for the coming winter. I regret I didn’t rent one–each summer flies by and I just don’t get out there…next year! Being in almost any boat draws me.

I’ve shared photos of this area with lots of folks swimming and lounging–even during this summer of COVID-19. Everyone has craved more outdoors and the river, it seems. Now groups are on the wane, though boaters will long commandeer the waterway. Fishing remains popular.

Below, up the stairs and near the entrance of the area, stands an old iron furnace operated from the mid-1860 for about twenty years. It was the first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast and turned out 42, 000 tons of pig iron. Oregon Iron & Steel failed as a business after the 1893 financial crisis, one of the worst in U.S. history.

From here there are pathways–one dirt into the woods and another paved. We often take the paved one for a longer outing, as it connects to Old River Road where few cars go by and walkers enjoy a walking lane–and earnest bikers speed by.

The walking lane is delineated by the white line but this gentleman took to and owned the road–as many do in order to keep good social distance.

Below is a spot we have seen deer, and to the right is a glimpse of an old white house I covet…

I was on the lookout for more leafy color but that is yet to come. So it was time to wind up the walk, back where I started, feeling content and happy…

….but wait—-a last gaze at the serpentine, peaceful river as clouds bunch about treetops even if, lovestruck as I am, I’ll return soon enough.