Monday’s Meanders: Hark! To the Volcano!

Since most of the smoke from the terrible wildfires has dissipated for now, it is a joy to once more climb the hills, take in lungsful of fresh air and feast our eyes on the terrain. We undertook a Sunday outing at Mt. Tabor, a volcano in the city limits. Though still too dry, it was great to see the colors of life everywhere.

The Boring Lava Field, a 1-2 million years old volcanic zone, underlies Portland, OR. with 32 cinder vents and several small shield volcanoes. Portland metro area has four dormant volcanoes. Mt. Tabor, right in city limits, is not very high at 634 feet but there are still good views at top. (The towering, snow-domed Mt. Hood, 100 miles to the east of us, is on the U.S. short list of “very high threat” volcanoes. Though it hasn’t erupted for about 220 years, there was again activity in the mid-1850s; it is still monitored closely.)

A reservoir and the city below. This is a popular Fourth of July fireworks viewing spot.

Mt. Tabor has many old fir stands and other wooded areas, plus open meadows which embrace dirt and paved trails. There are three water reservoirs that a long while supplied drinking water but now are offline. These manmade lakes are still maintained for their attractive features and are a draw for visitors. Three main trails are marked; we took the Blue Trail, the longest loop at 3.31 miles. We meandered among shady trees, dry grassy meadows and on moderately demanding trails. Many other folks were reveling in blue skies and warm temperatures.

Lamp posts are located on the trails as they are open until midnight. Never have hiked that late!

Early fall cannot be denied with fallen leaves that crunched beneath our feet, the faintest cooler edge to some of the breeze. The earth smelled of fall!

Nearing the top, there are more open areas.

Please click for slideshow, below, to see the city and hills from the top.

Still near the top, the trail descends slowly to a children’s play area and a small amphitheater (not shown). This is very popular for family gatherings and picnics. There were three birthday or other parties in progress.

We headed further down the trail, then rested a bit on a slope where many were sunning and visiting. It was good to see so many people feeling peaceful and sociable–though there were those, ourselves included, who wore our masks much of the time.

Please click for a slideshow and enjoy groups relaxing–and pretty views of the water and beyond.

We wound up by the main reservoir which always intrigues me. It was a public water source for so long, yet it is lovelier that something so utilitarian–tranquil to look upon.

One last gaze over the lowest reservoir, below, and the city backdrop with foothills of the Coast Range, then home again. A perfect afternoon of gratitude for all we still have in Portland.

Monday's Meanders: Extinct Volcano, River and Woods

I had mentioned before that our area spreads about an extinct volcano, Mount Sylvania–one of several that provide enjoyable small “peak experiences” around Portland. This one is about 1000 feet. Nansen Summit (named for Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian diplomat, polar explorer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) is close enough to walk to–if you call trudging up a long, steep incline mere walking. The area is lushly green on the way and when at top, gratifying as when final views are embraced with wind and sunshine. The West Hills, Tualatin Valley can be seen. The more distant Coast Range is often clear enough to take in, as well as the Cascades. It was a bit smoggy or misty (take your pick; we do often have some foggy conditions) that day. Portland sprawls below the volcanic site.

We headed down the other side of the steep hill to look about, and turned this way and that to avoid residential areas with imposing homes since we like being in nature more. All persons we passed on foot–a couple dozen in an hour–were friendly as usual, if “socially distanced.” We were surprised so many were venturing out with the virus worry, but good to see as t hey stayed safely apart.

The previous day we enjoyed a familiar Willamette River walk. A creek or two also gurgle along as they seek to join the big waterway. Perhaps this is the last time we will be there for awhile; Governor Brown, following many others, has mandated today that we “stay at home.” We can still walk, run and hike in more open swaths of space and air but carefully, where there are fewer people…But Saturday there was no mandate and there were some groups gathered, to my surprise, especially young people who love the water. Of course, six feet apart is not always hard to accomplish outdoors–not on some water craft. We saw a fair number of lone fishermen and women, also.

Ignorance is bliss.
Flowers keep flowering everywhere, thank goodness.

Marc enjoying a view; me, taking a break before entering a city park. All in all, two happy walkabouts we got in over the week-end! It sure is true that fresh air and feet on the move are always good if possible. See you soon with my usual “Wednesday’s Words” post. Until then, be well. I am off for a shorter, chillier walk.

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Mount Tabor After Thanksgiving

 

Mt. Tabor hike 074
Photos © Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2017

So after all that other–the absent family,
the breathtaking near misses,
and such uncertainties carried in
the heart like burning sticks or
the mind with its curtain of denial
and, too, prayers resonant with gratitude–

we come for relief and climb the volcano,
sucking air between our teeth like
sustenance, visitor sunshine relieving
wintry chill, earth sheltering us
with no effort a day past the feasts.

We are kinetic with hope, trudging
and running and cycling, leaning
into drapery of pine branches and
the pendulum of no-time, a ticking
of joy rife inside life-pulsed veins.

No one curses or weeps beneath ancient trees
atop the long-sleeping cinder cone, once
so powerful it revised all contours of life.
We understand, have our own potent geology.
Each of us tethers our souls now fluent
with scarce purity, heart-mending moments,
exhilaration under wilder, sweeter skies.

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