With no new snow, we ditched the skis for hiking boots and headed to our favorite spots close to home. We don't have to go far.
First stop, Catherine Creek, where the Grass Widows (Olsynium douglasii) are already out in abundance. Grass Widows are kind of the Northwest's version of bluebonnets.
They're the first ones out in late winter here in the Gorge. The term 'grass widow' was explained to me as 'a woman whose husband is away'. I found more colorful, albeit sexist, definitions on local photographer Chris Carvalho's website Lensjoy.
According to the British language expert Michael Quinion, one comes from historic use of the term "grass widow" to mean "an abandoned mistress or unmarried woman who had cohabited with several men." Perhaps these flowers symbolized the region's first settlers enjoying a moment of romantic impropriety in the gorge's lush fields. Another use refers to British colonists in India, whose wives often lived in hill stations in cool and green parts of the country, while their husbands worked in drier lowlands.I prefer to think it was more like homesteading women being left while the husbands were off doing 'other things'. By the way, Chris also has an exhibit at the Discovery Center in The Dalles, if you are ever in the neighborhood. The Gorge Discovery Center is a 'must see' and is a great place to take kids, too. But that's another story.
It was a spectacular day, with great views.
When we were done hiking both the riverside loop we took the trail up to what I call the OK Corral.
After a snack (including doggie biscuit for Brindle) we decided to stop at the Syncline on the way home. We pulled off at the Rowland Lake end of old hwy 8 instead of our usual starting point at Courtney Road. There were only two other cars. All the mountain bikers park at Courtney Road.
This Old Highway 8 section is closed to cars. Lloyd and Brindle could each have their own lane.
To get to this quiet place from the east end, we had to cross a waterfall. I am not good about heights and narrow pathways, but this one was doable.
Here is the damp, misty path.
And what it looks like when you dare to look down to Hwy 14 below.
I was glad to be safely on the other side.
The trail up from the old road gains you elevation quickly (ie, kind of steep but not too bad).
Our favorite waterfall and snack stop is not too far along.
This was the end of our first sunny day hike. Stay tuned for days two and three.