Want wildflowers? Do I have a place for you!
|Single pink flower|
Check out the Angel's Rest Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Although I've hiked here many more times than I care to admit, a Memorial Day visit proved very flowerful (is that a word?).
|Tall trail sign|
Located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, it's the closest Gorge trail to Portland. This proximity and the fact that it's one of the shorter and easier of the Gorge hikes makes Angel's Rest a popular destination. Especially on a holiday weekend.
|Ferns, ferns everywhere!|
Knowing this, I got up early Memorial Day morn, hoping to beat the crowds. Arriving at the trailhead by 9 am, I was able to snag a coveted parking spot in the overflow lot. It was a lovely clear spring day, and the temps were mild. Not bad for late May in Oregon!
Since the Gorge is comprised of steep cliffs rising from the base of the Columbia River, most trails here involve lots of climbing. Although the trip to Angel's Rest does require some elevation gain, it's more moderate than most. Rising 1500 feet in a little over two miles, this trail winds through lovely Douglas Fir woods, past an old burned out forest, finally terminating atop a rocky bluff boasting killer views.
|Lush green forest|
I began my journey in a lush green forest, chock-full of leafy green bushes and prolific ferns. The woods gave off a most pleasant scent, a kind of mix combining fir, moist ground, and leafy vegetation. Living here, I've discovered the PNW forests have a distinct aroma that I've never noticed anywhere else. Being in these great woods, filling my lungs with these wonderful smells, always makes me feel right at home.
|Still some larkspur going strong|
It didn't take long before my first flower sighting. Although this trail is famous for prolific blooms of lovely purple larkspur, it was a lone wild iris that caught my eye. Since I'd never seen these particular flowers on this trail before, the camera came out immediatly.
A half mile later, the trail crosses a creek with tiny Coopey Falls roaring far below. In the adjacent wooded glen were huge patches of larkspur flowers. Although early May is normally prime time for these blooms, I still found a few that weren't totally shriveled up yet.
|Tons of lovely iris growing trailside|
Then the climbing began in earnest. Switchbacking up through the forest, I was treated to occasional patches of columbine, wild rose, larkspur, and some tiny pink flowers that I didn't know the name of.
|Columbia River view from on high|
I entered the ghostly bare trees of an old burn area. In 1991, a wildfire swept over these steep cliffs. Although destroying many trees, it did clear the forest floor of underbrush, allowing wildflowers to take hold, and created new viewpoints.
|Well fed trail friend|
Diving back into the forest, I again started to notice more wild irises. Progress ground to a halt and I spent the better part of a half hour clicking away with the camera. Pleased with my many shots, the camera got packed away so I could continue my climb.
|Bench with a view|
But....around the corner were more irises. And the higher I climbed, the more frequent the sightings became. Finally, rounding a corner, I came upon a huge patch of lovely purple blossoms covering an entire side of the trail!
|Perching on the edge of Angel's Rest|
Wowza! I'd hit the iris jackpot. Another massive photo session ensued. I'd never before seen wild irises on this trail - let alone such high numbers of them. I felt very lucky to hit at the height of their bloom.
After many, many more shots, I finally tore myself away. It was getting near lunchtime, and I wanted to make it to the top before stopping to eat. Besides, the world had begun to wake up, and I began to notice large numbers of people passing me. Time to get up top before things got too crowded.
|Lovely hues in this flower|
So I put the camera away, and hoofed it up the remaining half mile. The actual overlook of Angel's Rest is situated on a bare mesa. A small amount of climbing puts one on top of it's rocky outcrop. Then an easy walk brings you to the very edge of a tall, steep cliff.
And, oh the views! Westward, the Columbia River spreads out far below, with sights such as Crown Point, and if it's a clear day, the eastern suburbs of Portland. Sitting at the very edge of the rock outcrop, one can gaze down to I-84 and spot boats on the mighty Columbia.
|Another lovely iris|
I continued on past the bare mesa, into the woods. Just a short walk beyond, lies a sturdy bench perched on a nice vista offering first-row seats to more panoramic sights. Although by now, the summit area was fairly crowded with people, I was pleased to discover the bench unoccupied. Perfect spot for a quiet lunch!
|Ghost trees at burn area|
My silence didn't last long. A large group of people wandered by and, ignoring hiker etiquette, plopped themselves down around me without asking if they could share this spot.
It didn't take long before word got out to the area residents, and before I knew it, a couple of chipmunks came skittering from nearby bushes. Begging for handouts, the folks sitting next to me were happy to oblige. Although I don't approve of feeding wildlife, it did provide some nice photo ops of the little guys.
|One last iris - just because!|
Luckily, the group didn't stay long, and I was able to have a few minutes to myself enjoying this lovely viewpoint before heading back down.
The trip back was as delightful as my initial climb. I ended the day with a camera full of great flower pics and a relaxed, happy soul.
Nothing resets my attitude like a Gorge(ous) wildflower hike!
Sharing with: Weekly Top Shot and I Heart Macro. and Today's Flowers.