Some gardeners believe the first crocus in bloom is the official harbinger of spring. Other folks wait until the equinox. The local meteorologists contend spring occurs when the average daily temperature exceeds 50 degrees, the third week of February. For me, spring begins when I see the first wildflower. In mid-February I was successful. It is now official: The 12th of February was the first day of spring in 2012! Living north of the 45th parallel and north of Portland, Maine, I’m always amazed how temperate the climate is near the Portland area. Although, Milan, Italy and Bordeaux, France are also on the 45th parallel.
On the last day of friend Dan’s visit from Las Vegas, we drove to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint. The area is a Nature Preserve located between Mosier and The Dalles, Oregon. Basalt cliffs, oak grasslands and interesting trails make it a fun hiking area in the spring, and mid-winter too.
We headed north on a loop trail in the lower portion of the Reserve. While slowly descending the basalt plateau, several deer were spotted feeding ahead of me. Since the wind was in my face, they didn’t recognize my presence for quite some time. I even managed to sneak up on two of them in their beds, a difficult feat to accomplish with game animals that are hunted during the fall of each year. Indeed, I ended up spending an hour taking photos of the deer, ten in all. What fun! And, to add a little spice to the party, a few purple grasswidows were in bloom in the sunny sections. Joining the grasswidows were new shoots of grass. A fact the deer had figured out already. It was a very enjoyable 2.8 mile hike with 300 feet of elevation gain.