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|
|"Here comes the sun.....do, 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.
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.
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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