Today's trip was to the Hood River area to see what wildflowers were blooming along the Historic Columbia River Highway and at Rowena Crest Viewpoint. If the clouds permitted, I might even get a glimpse of Mt. Hood. Leaving I84 at Mosier, the former US 30 winds through open fields, orchards, pasture and farmland. Many of the open fields were filled with white, blue, purple, and yellow wildflowers. I don't have a Washington wildflower manual, but I recognized California poppies (yellow/orange), daisies (white), and chicory (blue). I was disappointed when I got to Rowena Crest because there weren't as many wildflowers as I had hoped. Earlier in the spring, yellow balsam root and purple lupines are plentiful. The view from the crest was awesome. The Columbia River stretch out to the Dalles in the east with I84 hugging the banks. If you look over the stone wall historic US 30 winds down hill from the crest in a series of switchbacks. I walked out one of the trails along the edge of the cliff in hopes of finding some more wildflower, but it was more of the same brown grass and blue/purple chicory. I headed back to the car and drove down the switchbacks and caught a deer feeding on the brush.
I drove back to Hood River along I84 and exited onto OR 35, the Fruit Loop. This highway is a 35-mile scenic drive through the Hood River valley's orchards, forests, and farmlands. It's a little early for fresh fruit from the valley. The cherries looked like they were closest to being ready. I diverted from the main root to see what I could find on the back roads. I found a small lavender farm where the lavender was just beginning to bloom. Eventually I found myself on a narrow Forest Service road that looked like it was going no where except further into the Mt. Hood National Forest. After turning around, I was able to find a location with a reasonable view of Mt. Hood even though there was a partial cloud cover. After getting a few images of the mountain, I headed back to the KOA.
We are leaving the Columbia River Gorge area on Wednesday and moving off to the northeast. Stay tuned.