Sunday, May 23, 2010

Angel's Rest Floral Splendor

Last Saturday the weatherman was predicting a nice, dry, warm sunny day.   I'd been wanting to take a hike in the Gorge - and I owed Bear a hike, since I had to leave him behind when I went to Tom McCall Point (dogs are not allowed there).  My friend Debbie had hiked Angel's Rest and told me that the larkspur flowers were out in force.  Hmmm..... lots of pretty flowers???   Well, my decision was made - Angel's Rest trail, here I come!

A larkspur bloom

And I was not disappointed!  I'd only hiked a short distance when I came upon a TON of larkspur growing alongside the trail.  The lens cap came off my camera, and I spent a good twenty minutes snapping away at those beautiful flowers.

The trailside flower garden!

I've hiked this trail many times, but I don't remember ever seeing so many flowers blooming along the lower portion of the trail.  Maybe it's just a good flower year.

A "tower of flower."

Warning - you're going to see lots of flower pics in this post.  It was hard to narrow down the photos to just a few.  So look away if you don't like photographs of pretty flowers!

I loved this photo most of all.  These flowers looked like they had two different shades of purple.

The Columbia River comes into view.

I finally tore myself away from the flower fields and resumed my hike.  I started climbing up and up. The trail climbs 1500 feet in 2.3 miles.  After about a mile, I reached a clearing and got my first glimpse of the Columbia River below.  The trail passes through an area that was burned in a 1991 forest fire.  The burned trees stand out like ghosts in an otherwise lush green area.

A dogwood tree!

In the middle of the old burned-out trees was a wild flowering dogwood tree!  It had large white flowers that were gorgeous.

Angel's Rest

Finally, Bear and I reached Angel's Rest.  Angel's Rest is a rocky outcrop that extends out like a balcony over the Gorge.  You get Columbia River views from three sides.  The views are always wonderful - that is why this hike is very popular on sunny, weekend days.

Here is the view looking east down the Gorge from the top of Angel's Rest.

And here's the view looking west towards Portland (you can see the smog!) from Angel's Rest.

This is the view from looking back down the ridge from Angel's Rest while sitting at the tip of the outcrop.

Bleeding heart flowers

I ate a quick snack, but didn't linger long at the Angel's Rest viewpoint.  There were a lot of people sitting around on the rocks, and I wanted a little more solitude.  I shouldered my pack, called to Bear, and we headed up the Foxglove Way trail.  This trail loops around above Angel's Rest.  You can hike up to Devil's Rest - a higher viewpoint, or you can make a loop return to the Angel's Rest trail.  I chose to do the loop.

Unidentifed pink flowers

The flowers were also great on the Foxglove Way trail.  There were bleeding hearts, and some thin tubular pink flowers that I could not identify.  I need to send a photo of them to Cody - he'll know their name!  Anyway, they sure were pretty flowers.

Bear poses on a talus slope

After taking the Foxglove loop, I reconnected with the Angel's Rest trail, and Bear and I headed back down.  By now it was afternoon, and there were hordes of people coming up the trail.  This trail is one of the easier and, hence, more popular of the Gorge trails.  It is always interesting to see who's coming up the trail.  You see all kinds of people from all walks of life.  Some are so unprepared!  They hike up in their flip flops with no food, jacket, or water.  I guess all the hiking I've done with my Mazama friends taught me that anything can happen out in the woods, and you should always be prepared.

Here's a million dollar view of the Columbia River as I make my way down.

A tired pup!

As I passed through the larkspur fields again, I stopped for a couple more photos.  Bear waited patiently and used the opportunity to take a breather.  He covered much more distance than I, running up and down the trail, and was ready to be done.

Spring is such a wonderful time in the Gorge!  Everything is green and lush and the flowers are in full bloom.  This hike reminds me why the Gorge is one of my favorite places in Oregon.

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