Whistling in the Winter Sunshine


The second weekend of the New Year I headed to the east side of the Columbia River Gorge to see if some colorful birds and mule deer could be spotted. My goal was to explore the Catherine Creek area in Washington about 65 miles from home. Like Coyote Wall, the area is a tilted basalt formation extending a few miles north of the Gorge, rising to around 2,300 feet above sea level.

It was a spectacular day – – – sunshine, little wind and temperatures in the mid to high-30’s.

I began hiking northeast from the parking area, following a rough trail through the grasslands. After walking a few hundred feet, I began hearing jays and other small birds. They always make my hikes much more enjoyable. Many times I am unable to spot them, but their chatter and pretty songs provide plenty of company.

Within one-third mile of the Trailhead, I found a footbridge over Catherine Creek. After crossing it, I continued to an old corral below a natural arch carved out of the basalt cliffs.

To the north, Catherine Creek cut a north-south deep canyon through the basalt. After reaching the top of the rimrock cliffs, I marvelled at the desert-like scenery to the east along the Columbia River. After enjoying the views I recrossed the footbridge and explored the area west of the creek, spotting bald eagles and many small songbirds. Then I crossed the road and did a short loop on a paved path past a small waterfall on Catherine Creek.

The trek made for a nice outing of roughly five miles with 900 feet of elevation gain.

Flock Feeder

Pygmy Nuthatch (Flock Feeder)

Natural Arch near Catherine Creek

Natural Arch near Catherine Creek

Majestic Bald Eagle

Majestic Bald Eagle

Sun-dappled trail leading by an old corral

Sun-dappled trail leading by an old corral

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Looking up the Columbia RIver toward Lyle

Looking up the Columbia RIver toward Lyle

Remnants of Rimrock Cliffs

Remnants of Rimrock Cliffs

Little pond by a White Oak

Little pond by a White Oak

White Oak above the rimrock cliffs

White Oak above the rimrock cliffs

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch with a tasty bug

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , , , , ,

4 comments

  1. Terrific photography, John. You do a great job with the birds. I’ll get out there soon.

    Like

  2. I hove the Juncos. Django should have one for a companion. Django with his Junco. Southern slave owners beware.

    Like

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