Oak savannah, grasslands, eastern Columbia River Gorge, hit-and-miss sunshine on southern-facing slopes, mid-March. Mix all the ingredients together and you have the makings for a wildflower extravaganza. Purple grass widows were in bloom by the hundreds as I readied my daypack at the Catherine Creek Trailhead. Hiking west of the creek, looking to gain 1,800 feet of elevation over the next few miles, little wildflowers were everywhere – – – salt-and-pepper parsley, small-flowered prairie stars, gold stars, desert parsley, Columbia desert parsley and western saxifrage.
As I gained elevation, the wildflowers soon disappeared and were replaced with a late winter snowstorm. Thankfully, it didn’t last long. Before I could enjoy a little sunshine with the wide-ranging views, a cold wind began blowing. There is truth to the old saying that the weather becomes very unsettled around the spring equinox. It still made for a nice outing with about seven miles of good exercise.