January Wildflowers above the 45th Parallel


It’s that time of the year. 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. On the last weekend of January I was successful.

It is now official: the first day of spring in 2016 has occurred!

That’s pretty amazing when you consider we live north of the 45th parallel. To put it in perspective, if you lived in the southern hemisphere, you would need to visit New Zealand’s South Island in Otago, the world’s southernmost wine region and home to very good pinot noirs. Probably no surprise given the high quality of pinot noirs from the Portland area.

The Catherine Creek area always makes for a fine hiking area on the east side of the Columbia River Gorge. It has basalt cliffs, oak grasslands, many blacktail deer, birds to photograph and interesting trails.

It’s also one of the best places to spot early wildflowers. And spot wildflowers I did – – – – three purple grass widows were beginning to bloom. They are a showy, but small, member of the iris family. In another week or so thousands will be in bloom alongside many other varieties of spring wildflowers.

Grass Widow

Grass Widow

Lenticular Cloud over Mt. Hood

Lenticular Cloud over Mt. Hood

Female Meadowlark

Female Western Meadowlark

Columnar Basalt forming the cliffs along Catherine Creek

Columnar Basalt forming the cliffs along Catherine Creek

Grass Widow ready to open

Grass Widow ready to open

Small pond along the trail

Small pond along the trail

Natural arch at Catherine Creek

Natural arch at Catherine Creek

Grass Widow

Grass Widow

Catherine Creek Crossing (foot plank shortly upstream)

Catherine Creek Crossing (foot plank shortly upstream)

Small waterfall on Catherine Creek

Small waterfall on Catherine Creek

 

 

 

Categories: Columbia River Gorge HikesTags: , ,

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