Each year my guys ask me how I would like to spend Mother's Day. This year my one request was to go on a hike. A hike at a very specific spot. I wanted to head up to Columbia Hills State Park. This state park is located in the east end of the Columbia Gorge on the Washington side. I had seen pictures from other friends' visits to this area, and it had been on my list of hikes I wanted to go on for a few years now.
These blooms are why you go on this hike! The bulk of this state park is a historic ranch that is covered with miles of trails. Along the trails you will find a multitude of wildflowers. Spring is the best time to visit, mid to late April may be ideal. Here you will find thousands of Balsamroot flowers and Lupine in bloom! There are of course many other wildflowers in bloom or near bloom, but the fields of yellow and purple flowers are spectacular.
The majority of the trails are through the open range land, but there is a section that is under the shade of these oak trees. Portions of the trail follow Eight-Mile Creek, which cuts through the state park.
Whenever I see Balsamroot flowers, I am reminded of our years spent in Spokane, Washington. When we moved to Spokane, these wildflowers could be found all over the area, and I had never seen them before. They are a welcome burst of color after a snowy winter. For me thoughts of Spokane also remind me of when our boys were babies. Both boys were born while we lived in Spokane. We really enjoyed the years spent there.
What these pictures cannot express to you is how incredibly windy this area was! The wind was blowing so strongly that you could hardly speak to the person walking right alongside you. However, the wind was welcome as it kept us cooled off from the hot sun.
We saw many clumps of this flower, which I believe is Hood's Phlox. I had brought along Wildflowers of the Columbia Gorge by Russ Jolley to help me identify various wildflowers we saw. We saw vines of Manroot, marah oreganus, along the hillsides, as well as flowers from the Buckwheat family. There were four or five other flowers we saw that had not bloomed out yet. I bet if you were to go back in a week or so, they would be in bloom.
You'll notice that there is not a single picture of my boys on these trails. They were there, I promise. They were just far ahead of my husband and I. They have become great hikers over the years. When they were younger, we had nicknamed them "Wait up Jack" and "Hurry up Alex" as one was always too far ahead and the other too far behind. Now I am the one always behind. Stopping to admire the view or take a picture of a flower to identify later. It's bittersweet to see how quickly they have each grown up and yet exciting at the same time. It's been a wonderful gift to be the mother of our two amazing boys.
Happy Mother's Day.