Little did I know it would be my last hike for nearly a month.
|Lovely, green woods|
As some of you may remember, in mid-June I had a little trouble with a pin in my right foot (full story here). Temporarily placed from an October bunion surgery, it had begun to migrate out of position.
Suffering with a sore foot all week, I waited until my Friday off to see the doc. After confirming that indeed the pin was moving, my doctor suggested I try a bunion pad to take pressure off the affected area. Hoping this pad would keep things in place, I decided to try it out on a hike. It was my day off after all - I didn't want to waste it sitting around home!
So after leaving the doctor's office, I grabbed my backpack and headed straight to Saddle Mountain.
|Switchback with a view|
Saddle Mountain is located 65 miles west of Portland, in Oregon's coast range. A mere 10 miles from the ocean, summit views stretch for miles in all directions. Each summer this treeless peak produces an incredible display of wildflowers. A well-used State Park and campground are located at it's base.
Leaving the sunny skies of Portland, I was disappointed at first when I saw the Coast Range cloaked in clouds. But - on the bright side - it would make temperatures much more bearable for hiking, and provide some great light for photographs.
|Colorful flower garden|
The flower show began soon after the half mile mark, when I spotted my first wild iris. While bent over trying to get a photo, a group of descending hikers informed me the best was yet to come.
|Looking towards Saddle Mtn summit|
And they were right! After the iris zone, I passed through an area thick with tall stalks of larkspur flowers. Purple blooms lined the trail - it was like walking through a floral tunnel. I'd never seen such a high concentration.
|Tiger lilies a-plenty|
I passed by so many different patches of color. There was brilliant orange columbine, pink wild onion, Indian paintbrush, tiny cheery yellow flowers. Every time I turned the corner, there was something else bright and wonderful.
|Incredible flower fields|
The trail to the top is steep. Gaining 1600 feet in a mere 2.5 miles, some sections are a sweaty slog. Due to overuse, path erosion has necessitated extensive repairs. Many portions of the trail are now rebuilt with rock wrapped in chicken wire. Not very fun to travel over, but it does keep the dirt in place.
|Windy path up the mountain|
The first mile and a half wound through lovely green forest. Gaps in the trees gave occasional views of the hills and valleys far below. After much climbing, the forest suddenly parted, providing a dramatic view of the summit ahead.
|There were fields of these lovely pink blooms!|
It was at these final summit meadows where the flower show really got going. The ground was covered with blooms of all different varieties.
|Rounding the bend|
Orange tiger lilies dotted the landscape. Pale pink frilly flowers bloomed in thick patches. An occasional wild iris rose above the grass. I'd never seen such a concentration of wildflowers! I tried hard to capture this incredible kaleidoscope of color, but my photos didn't do it justice.
It took quite awhile for me to travel the final half mile to the mountain's very top. Too many colorful distractions! But I finally reached Saddle Mountain's summit, and was surprised to have it all to myself.
|Saddle Mtn summit view|
All the way up, I'd been passed by a steady stream of hikers, both ascending and descending. Arriving at an empty summit was nothing short of astonishing. Enjoying the solitude, I soaked in the magnificent views while enjoying a snack.
|You could see for miles|
Parting clouds allowed glimpses of nearby ocean beaches. The adjacent mountains and forests spread out in all directions, clear cuts making ugly interruptions in the green landscape.
I spent a wonderful half hour by myself on the summit before another hiking party arrived. Taking this as my cue to leave, I swapped camera lenses and began the long trek down.
My trip up had been all about capturing landscapes. For my return trip, I'd attached my macro lens, intent on getting more detailed images. I hoped these flowers were ready for their close ups!
|Unknown pink flower|
So many wonderful wildflowers! I had trouble narrowing down my images, so here's a sampling for you to enjoy. The above pink flowers were everywhere. I'd never seen flowers like these before, and sadly had no idea of their name.
Lovely pink wild onion.
|Loved these white flowers|
These dainty white flowers grew in great abundance in one section of the meadow.
|Two-tone purple beauty|
Upon entering the forest once again, I spied these miniature two-tone purple penstemon blossoms.
Halfway down the mountain, my foot began to throb. This half mile marker was a most welcome sight! Arriving at my car, I was more than ready to remove my boots.
Hiking on a lame foot was probably not one of the smartest things I've ever done. Less than a week later, I'd be in my doctor's office having those pins removed. A rude interruption in my summer hiking plans, it would be several weeks before I'd be healed enough to hit the trails again.
But I don't regret my hike up Saddle Mountain. Seeing those amazing flower fields was totally worth it.
Sharing with: Scenic Weekends and Through My Lens