Finally, some well appreciated sunshine, and wild lilies too. The lyrical and distinctive song of meadowlarks punctuated the silence.
Groundhogs and Columbia ground squirrels basked in the sun. Green grass grew as far as the eye could see.
In a few more weeks the Columbia Hills will be covered in golden balsamroot and purple lupine. For now I am happy with purple grass widows, yellow bells (wild lilies), yellow buttercups, salt & pepper parsley and biscuit root.
I parked at a gate and began the hike to Stacker Butte in the wide open spaces of the east end of the Columbia River Gorge.
After ascending the maintenance road for 2 1/2 miles, I reached the 3,300-foot summit of Stacker Butte where an FAA tracking site is located.
The 360° views were spectacular, with the Columbia River stretching far to the east and rimrock canyons to the north.
I hiked westerly on the ridge to a microwave site and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. Soon it was time to take a slow hike back to the car.
Does a late-winter hike get any better?