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Posts Tagged ‘Rowena Dell’

Over the Hills

I am brain-tired tonight and can’t figure out how to insert a slide show of pictures, so you’ll have to click on this link: Webshots to view my photos.

We drove over the mountains to La Grande on Friday, stopping at Rowena Dell to hike and look at wildflowers. Sunday, on the way home, we stopped to look for morels. Mostly, we took photos.

About Rowena: When we first discovered this beautiful plateau, it was owned by the State of Oregon and was not part of the Tom McCall Preserve. Very few people parked at the overlook and fewer still hiked out on the trail up the ridge. We took our kids and dog out across the meadow, flew kites and picnicked (always careful: between poison oak, ticks and the possibility of rattlesnakes, one learns to tread softly).

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It’s a wind-blown site overlooking the Columbia River just east of The Dalles.

That was a very long time ago. The Nature Conservancy now owns this beautiful piece of land and hiking is restricted to the trails and no dogs are allowed. A lot of people park their cars at the overlook and wander up the trail: on Friday last, there was a steady stream of cars and hikers. It was hard to get any sweeping photos of the area without including a random hiker in the photo.

I can’t remember the last time Don & I stopped here. It was probably during our guide days, when we took people from our church on outdoor trips: I do remember taking a tour up in the old blue-and-white church bus and picnicking at the State Park on the Columbia River far below. Just stopping and enjoying the place on our own – that I can’t remember doing since the days when we could still fly kites out on the bluff.

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It is still as beautiful as ever, maybe more so since you can no longer walk out on the fragile flowers. The profusion of spring flowers is incredible.

We didn’t limit our weekend trip to Rowena. On our way home from La Grande, we pulled off on a Forest Service road atop Meacham Summit, hoping to find early morel mushrooms. The snow was still clinging to the ground in the shady spots  (a lot of cars were pulled off on the side of the road while mushroom pickers peeked and poked in hope).

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The glacier lilies and grass widows were blooming in profusion. But there were no morels. So we headed on west.

Out of Hermiston, we dropped down along the edge of the Columbia River. We kept seeing flowers along the median: purple, red, yellow. The red flowers were striking, but we were never in a good place to pull over and look to see what it was. But the other flowers… We pulled off on an access road so we could photograph the longleaf phlox and other flowers in bloom along the railroad right-of-way.

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Back on the road, we stayed true to I-84 until Hood River, when we turned south. We circled Mt Hood, heading toward our mushroom-hunting grounds (sorry, I can’t disclose our site, but it is located in the Mt. Hood National Forest).

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We didn’t hit a bonanza of morels, but we did find enough of the elusive little pine-cone shaped fungi to make dinner with.

Dipped the morels in eggs, rolled them in bread crumbs (or crushed Ritz crackers) and sautéed them in butter: yummy!!

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