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Portland was it's usual rainy self. Hoping to escape some of the wet, I traveled to the eastern Columbia River Gorge. Rumor had it wildflowers were starting to bloom at Tom McCall Preserve. Time to check things out!
|Twisty roads of the Old Columbia River Hwy|
Tom McCall Preserve is just east of the town of Mosier. Located on a high plateau, this unique area boasts a spectacular display of early spring wildflowers and a diverse wildlife habitat. Tall basalt cliffs tower over impressive views of the Columbia River.
|This field was a mass of yellow|
From Mosier, the Old Columbia River Highway winds along the bluff-tops. I passed cute little farms and cherry orchards in full bloom. Newly-leafing trees and young spring grasses colored the hillsides an electric green.
|The Rowena Plateau|
This preserve has two official trails. One climbs steeply to the top of Tom McCall Point, offering glorious mountain views. The other is an flat, easy ramble along the lower plateau. Short on time, I opted for the second trail.
|Posts from an ancient fence|
The plateau trail wanders through a grassland that's famous for an abundance of spring wildflowers. Sadly, I'd arrived too soon. Although I spotted some yellow desert parsley dotting the landscape, most everything else was just getting started.
My path passed by a small pond, rimmed by gnarly oak trees. A field covered with tiny, yellow flowers caught my attention and garnered a photo session.
|Cliff overlooking the Columbia River|
After meandering by a second pond, the trail emerged to a cliff-edge viewpoint. The tall basalt walls of the Gorge rose from both sides of the river. The rocky layers alternating with green grassy slopes made interesting patterns. The Columbia River, brown and mighty, wove through the bluffs.
|Gnarled oak trees|
Traveling along the clifftops, I spotted a lone tree adorned with white fluffy flowers. Of course, I had to investigate.
Above river's edge, the wind was howling. Made photographing these white flowers very difficult when their branches wouldn't stay still. I patiently waited, camera in position, hoping for a break. I did manage to capture one half-decent shot. Later research in my wildflower guidebook identified these fluffy petals as serviceberry.
|Steep basalt cliffs|
Perched high on the plateau, I could see up and down both ends of the Gorge. A dark, heavy cloud hung in the western sky. It appeared to be moving my way. Thinking I was about to get wet, the camera was hastily packed away. But I got lucky. Only a few drops sprinkled my shoulders. Once the raincloud passed, my camera came back out again.
|Delicate pink flower|
Trail's end brought me to the edge of a rocky bluff. The landscape was dotted with yellow balsamroot flowers, just beginning to bloom. A huge hawk sailed above me. Mesmerized, I watched him glide along the cliffs below.
|Magnificent view at trail's end|
My vantage offered a fantastic view of the western Gorge. Perfect spot for a self portrait.
|Another balsamroot flower|
After lots of balsamroot shots (LOVE that flower!) I retraced my steps back through the grassy plain. Returning on the Old Columbia River Highway, I came upon this tumble-down barn nestled in a scenic valley. I couldn't resist stopping for a quick photo or two.
|Abandoned farm on the way home|
Even with limited time and not-so-stellar weather conditions, it was great to get outside and explore the Gorge with my camera.
Linking to: Share Your Cup Thursday and Weekly Top Shot.