Thursday, July 22, 2021

Glorious Morning on Tom McCall Point

First a quick health update.  Monday's MRI revealed my brain abscess is almost gone.  Very good news!  The doc wants an additional week of iv antibiotics just to be sure the infection has totally disappeared.  I'm ok with that - I don't want this to ever happen again.  So finally there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Yahoo!

Pre-sunrise gorge view

Now on to today's blog post.  These photos are from an early May pre-sunrise visit I made to Tom McCall Point, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.  I'd come here a week prior, but only had time to wander around the lower Rowena Plateau before rendezvousing with a couple of friends to hike nearby Memaloose Hills. 


Colorful sky over Tom McCall Point

Despite an impossibly early wake up call, I managed to drag my sleepy self out of bed and arrived at my chosen sunrise destination with ample time until daybreak.  Wanting a different vantage point than previous trips, I walked out to a flat shelf below Tom McCall point that overlooked the Columbia River and eastern Gorge.

"Here comes the, do, do, do, do"

My lofty perch was a good one.  It provided a nice view of the sun as it rose over the hills of the Washington side.  I also was able to capture some pink-tinged, pre-sunrise clouds  hovering over the skies above Tom McCall Point behind me.

My sunrise spot

Tom McCall Point and the lower Rowena Plateau are owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy.  To protect this sensitive area, the Nature Conservancy has established many rules, including one that prohibits dogs (or any pets) on the trails.  There are signs prominently displayed at the trailheads that state this.  So you can imagine my dismay when, right after sunrise, I noticed two young female trail runners starting out on the Tom McCall trail accompanied by a large, unleashed dog.

Flower-lined trail

Don't me wrong - as a former dog owner who took her dog hiking, I love dogs and enjoy seeing them on the trails.  But I never considered taking my dog somewhere he wasn't allowed.  As the runners disappeared up the hill, I chastised myself for not speaking up.  Although I'm usually a non-confrontational person, this incident had my blood boiling.

Oodles of balsamroot!

After the women left, I gathered my gear and began concentrating on capturing some images of the fantastic wildflower display in the meadows immediately below Tom McCall Point.  Every year this area puts on a good show and this display was no exception.  Photographing the showy yellow balsamroot and purple lupine temporarily made me temporarily forget my ire.

Columbia River views

But....a half hour into my photo session I saw the ladies and their dog returning from their run.  They were heading right towards me.  I pondered the situation - should I say something?  Now was my chance.  Finally, with the women within earshot I summoned my courage and said "You know dogs aren't allowed on the trails here."  One woman, averting her eyes as she ran by, mumbled "I know."

Her response made me furious.  I don't remember exactly what I yelled as they retreated, but it was something like "Well, follow the rules then!"

Chocolate tiger lily

I'm sure those ladies expected they wouldn't see anyone at this early hour and thought they could get away with taking their dog.  Although my words probably won't change their behavior, I hope at least it makes them think twice next time they consider taking Fido someplace he's not allowed. 

A local deer family

Okay - rant over.  On to the main reason for this day's visit -  to see and photograph the famous wildflower bloom atop Tom McCall Point.

This meadow was especially colorful

Every year the top of this small hill blossoms into a colorfest of yellows, purples and oranges.  I climbed quickly, trying to minimize the photo stops.  But the wildflowers were many and the views fantastic so my uphill progress wasn't as speedy as I'd hoped.  Despite the early morning canine intrusion, I did spot a family of deer, complete with mama and two babies!  At least the dog hadn't scared them away.

Great Mt Hood view - before the clouds took over

Near the summit, I was treated to some drop-dead gorgeous views of Mt Hood.  Although clouds were swirling around the mountain, I was able to get several unobscured shots of Hood's perfect, white cone.

Flowers and mountain - it doesn't get any better!

The above image was my absolute favorite of the day!  I think you can see why.

Summit wildflower garden

Although I met a couple of early-riser hikers descending, upon reaching Tom McCall's summit, I was happy to discover I had it all to myself. 

One happy hiker

And Mt Hood stayed out of the clouds long enough for a proper summit selfie!

Great Gorge views to the west

The views up here were phenomenal.  The Columbia River and Gorge hills stretched out in both directions, all framed by acres of beautiful wildflowers.  Photo ops abounded!

The trek back down

You could even see the tip of Mt Adams, rising above the Washington side (notice it in the above photo?)

From the lower meadow

After spending an appropriate amount of time on top, capturing everything that caught my eye, I noticed the clouds starting to blot out the lovely Mt Hood view I'd been enjoying.  Good thing I'd hiked up here early.  The people who arrived later would miss out.

Nature's perfection

And miss they would!  As per most of the trails around here, the early riser gets the plum views and vacant paths.  Upon my descent, I encountered dozens of hikers.  Seems no one started before 9 am - and that's fine with me!

A fitting end to a great day!

Another wonderful spring wildflower expedition in the Columbia River Gorge.  Having been denied these places due to COVID closures last year, I was intent on making up for lost time.  I think I did pretty good that day!  Hope you enjoyed all the photos, and sorry for my rant.  :)

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  1. Stunning photos of the scenery, you were there at the right time. You should have gotten a photo of the women with the dog of got one of their number plate and the tell the authorises who look after the place. Maybe they could lay in wait for the to turn up and book them/Love the shots of Mt Hood

  2. ...good news, followed by out of this world images!

  3. Wow such lovely photos! Especially Mt Hood!! So glad you r brain abscess is almost gone...that is so scary. Take care!

  4. Unbelievable beauty! Good to hear you are well on your way to good health.

  5. Hello Linda,
    I am glad you are recovering so well and almost being released, great news! Your hike and the photos look beautiful. I love all the pretty wildflowers and views of the river and Mt Hood. Take care, have a happy weekend!

  6. These views are incredible, Linda. I also love dogs but find that some owners think the "rules" don't have to be followed. Dogs romping on fragile landscapes cause damage, not to mention the pee and poop left behind. I'm so glad you're feeling better.

  7. Your wildflower photos are always gorgeous. Always worth getting up that early to get the best shots. I never understand why people can't abide by the rules.

  8. Very nice photo views~balsam root flowers are my favorites when I was there a few years ago. Glad you were able to go out and have a good time, by yourself and that you are feeling better. I guess I missed reading an earlier post. I know you messed up an arm at one point. I look forward to taking photos in Alaska in a few weeks!
    No worries about you ranting about a dog that should not be on the trail. They may get messed up with a dog on a trail that wasn't to be there and then they would understand not to bring a dog . Rules are rules! Take care!

  9. Well, Tom McCall has a very nice point! There are many dog-owners who seem to think that the rules apply to everyone else but them.

  10. What a glorious morning...and what glorious good news that you are healing properly!

    Dog people that don't obey the rules are a pet peeve of mine. Good for you for speaking up.

    You really lucked out with the flowers this spring!

  11. The joy and exhileration of this amazing hike is expressed in each and every photo. Mt Hood and the yellow wildflowers is stunning. I guess your memory card was pretty full at the end of the day!

  12. Sorry, I forgot to say how thrilled I am that you are recovering so well.

  13. Gorgeous! Such beautiful photos.

  14. As always lovely shots and great tales. I'm glad you are doing better and hope you can make it home soon! I've had a heck of a time getting my stuff to feed to FB or anything else and zenfolio isn't helpful with blog feeds either. Booo... Sherry in MT


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