exploring the Clackamette Cove peninsula

peninsula cliff overlooking the Clackamas River

All this heat feels like summer! Friday evening after work, the housemate and I put on hiking shoes and Keens and explored the peninsular part of the Clackamas River separating the river from the Clackamette Cove offshoot. I'd walked partway along the path the weekend before in my Birkenstocks—snagging my favorite sundress on a blackberry thorn, boo!—but after seeing signs of several homeless camps right off the trail under the trees, I turned back, wary of walking alone when well off the main park trail and out of eyesight and maybe earshot of the park's regular bikers, joggers, and dog walkers.

It angers me that molestation is something I need to worry about as a female, regardless of the pepper spray carried on my key ring and the cell phone in my bag, but I do. Most all women do at a deep level that even sympathetic men will never understand.

abandoned camp, Clackamas River peninsula

abandoned firepit, with mail

peninsula trailhead, Clackamas River

The side trail to the peninsula off the paved river trail is hard to spot unless you've stumbled on it before. When the light's right, I often see large dark fish floating almost without moving near the surface of the yellow-green murk at the quiet eastern end of the cove near the peninsula trailhead. The light was too low and reflective Friday evening to see any fish, but we did spot a large blue heron perched on one of the old railway pilings on the other side of the cove and a cottontail rabbit sitting sideways on the trail, eyeing us and then darting off into the bushes when we moved closer.

early blackberries, Clackamas River

The blackberry blossoms are just starting to form green berries, but this will be a good blackberry picking spot come August. Vines line the trail on both sides for easy picking—assuming hikers manage to keep the trail unclogged.

The high central trail on the long, narrow peninsula branches off here and there where people have found spots to head down to the river on one side or the cove on the other. Near the end of the peninsula, Jeff took off on one of those forks and started scrambling down to the river, but the path was so steep my Keens couldn't grip, and there was nothing to hold onto except thorns and dirt. So because I didn't feel like sliding down—bump, bump, bump—to the river rocks on my rear end, we turned back.

mole hole

decomposed mole, inches from its hole

crawfish remains in plant pot, Clackamas River

patch of sweet peas (Lathyrus latifolius, a nonnative, invasive species)

On the way back down the trail, I stopped to inspect the decomposed corpse of the dead mole whose body I'd seen intact the weekend before. And I examined the remains of someone's crawfish meal stuffed into a plant pot. Then we picked a big bunch of perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius), a non-native and invasive species I feel no guilt about plucking.

Clackamette Cove

unknown wildflower, Clackamette Cove

Dusty and hot, we walked back to the main paved trail and then around the cove and down to the Clackamas River over by the River Resource Museum, the water cooling off and cleaning feet and hands. As I waded around on the river rocks, it was so gusty that my black felt hat blew off into the water; I retrieved it with a squeal and slopped it back onto my head, the drips feeling rather nice. We watched a couple guys throwing sticks into the river for their Black and Golden Labs to fetch out on the rocky bar. And we even saw a male duck raft down a little ripple in the shallows, on what Jeff called his "built-in inner tube."

I never know what I'll see down by the river. And that's the best part—all the tiny surprises.

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