Bird Count, guided hikes, eagle watching join New Year list of outdoor activities

Winter means bald eagle season in the Gorge, where sights like this are never far away.

Photo by Adam Lapierre.
Winter means bald eagle season in the Gorge, where sights like this are never far away.

Cold, yet active: that’s the forecast for the end of 2013 and the start of 2014, outdoors in the mid-Columbia Gorge.

Want to get out and about on or around New Year’s? Here are a few ideas for interesting things for people of all ages:

‘Memaloose Eagle Outing’

This benefit for Gorge Community Foundation happens Jan. 1, 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Memaloose Tasting Room, Highway 14, Lyle, Wash.

Visiting eagle expert Tim Pitz will be on hand and there will spotting scopes to look for birds.

In addition, there will be periodic bird walks along the lower Klickitat River and wine tasting and fine cheeses at the winery.

A $10 donation is requested. For details call 360-635-2887.

Annual Audubon Bird Count

Speaking of birds: Dec. 29 and Jan. 1 are the dates of local activities for the annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (so-called because takes place on or around Christmas). See details at the end of this story.

Highway Trail Walk:

For the third year in a row, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with America’s State Parks to offer free guided First Day Hikes in state parks across Oregon on Jan. 1, including the Mosier end of the Mark O. Hatfield trail, which links Hood River and Mosier.

The 2-mile hike goes from 10:30 a.m. to noon starting at Mark O. Hatfield East Trailhead on Rock Creek Road in Mosier. This is a paved, flat surface with a 500-foot elevation change.

Take in views of the Columbia River Gorge and learn about its history and geology. Look for eagles, osprey, hawks and deer.

The usual $5 day-use parking fee will be waived on Jan. 1 only.

These same details, along with directions to the park, are available on the Oregon State Parks website; go to

Please note: be prepared for possible icy conditions.

Participants should dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring water as well as a camera or binoculars for wildlife viewing. In case of inclement weather, the park should be contacted directly to find out about cancellation.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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