A Trail of My Own

Sunday morning almost always finds me in the Columbia Gorge, climbing one of my favorite trails to a summit where I can see the view spread out in front of me. It’s great exercise, and the peace and solitude are a great way to start the week.

Usually I get started at sunrise, because I like having the trail to myself. But a few Sundays ago I got a late start on a climb up to Indian Point. As I drove into the Herman Creek Campground, I was resigned to sharing the Nick Eaton Ridge trail with all the others who were out in this sunny morning.

But, what’s this? The entrance road is partially blocked and a sign says “Road Closed”.

There were no other cars around, but I decided to park my car at the park entrance and walk in to the trail head. Then my analytical nature switched on. WHY DOES IT SAY “CLOSED” WHEN IT’S ONLY PARTLY BLOCKED? I swung my trusty SUV around the barricade and drove up to the trail head. Here I found another hiker of like mind.

The campground was blocked off, but the parking at the trailhead was open. Good old Forest Service!

They shut down the camping, which takes the time and attention of a ranger, but left the trail open for us “take only pictures, leave only footprints” people.

Up the trail I went. And in a four hour round trip, I didn’t see a single person. My own private chunk of woods. At the summit, I took a minute to thank the guardian of the place. Then I scuttled down to the rock ridge at Indian Point. Along the way a haiku I’ve been working on fell into place.

Art or Graffiti?

The line between “art” and graffiti is a wavy one. One man’s inspiration can be the desecration of another’s property.

Sometimes, though, what we might call graffiti is so well executed, and with such technical competence and taste, that we have to open the door and let it into the Art club. In these instances, it’s as though the creator simply brought his or her own materials and appropriated someone else’s canvas.

I did Portland’s river walk a couple of weeks ago and kept my camera in my quick-draw holster. There’s a lot to see along the way.

In particular, I was charmed by this artist, who seems to call himself “Two Front”. His drawings are on the Cor-Ten steel pilings that anchor the walk on part of the East Bank Esplanade. They’ve done their rusting thing, just like they’re supposed to do, and offer a dramatic canvas.

Two Front was more than adequate to the task. Look at the strength and sureness of his line; nothing wasted, nothing more or less than what was absolutely necessary; as few lines as possible to convey a strong and mysterious sense of character.

I suspect we won’t see his work in a posh gallery any time soon. But take a walk along the Esplanade. You’ll get some exercise and fresh air, see some original art, and there’s no admission charge.


Hamilton Mountain has some interesting inhabitants I met one of them last week while hiking the North Ridge trail.

Bits falling off,
These last hundred years–
I’m down to my core,
But that’s enough to keep me standing
Here above Hardy Creek.

How long? I’m not good with numbers
But I was in my power when Tatoosh the Thunderer
Shook the gods on Table Mountain
Cast their stones into Big River
Made the dam the Peoples called
Bridge of the Gods.

Summers later, toothed steel
Cut down my children for men’s lodges.
The last of my sons taken, I watch.
A bent old man, they left me, unwanted.

There’s a grandson on the bank below.
Next season he’ll be taller than I,
Tall against the winds and snows
That fill the winter canyon.

His seed will be strong,
Enough to bring my family back.
They will sink their roots in the stream’s water
Below the steep hillside.

Each day I am diminished.
Time to let it go.