Archive for the ‘Waterfalls’ Category

Single-Image Monday? Perspective   4 comments

I was late getting back from a climb this weekend so have to apologize for no single-image Sunday post.  I always have believed, however, in the phrase “better late than never”.  This is a somewhat unusual perspective on Panther Creek Falls in SW Washington.  It was captured during the rainy-misty weather we had recently, weather which now seems like a distant memory as temperatures soar into the upper 90s.

Panther Creek Falls, Washington

Panther Creek Falls, Washington

Enjoy!  All my images are copyrighted and most (including this one) are not available for free download without my permission.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks for looking!

Tamanawas Falls   7 comments

Tamanawas Creek in Oregon's Cascade Mountains has a beautiful Native American name that befits the scenery it offers on a springtime hike.

Tamanawas Creek in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains has a beautiful Native American name that befits the scenery it offers on a springtime hike.

I recently took the first hike since I broke my ribs.  It was only about 4 miles, along a glorious stream east of Mount Hood called Cold Spring Creek (I like calling it Tamanawas Creek though).  The hike heads a short way down the East fork of Hood River and turns up the rollicking creek to Tamanawas Falls.  This is an American Indian name, but I’ve had trouble tracking down its meaning.  It’s a beautiful hike and a beautiful waterfall.

By the way, I hope you enjoy these images.  Just click on any of them to go to the main part of my website, where purchase is possible.  They’re not available for free download, sorry.  The versions here are much too small anyway, but purchase as print or download of high-res. versions is possible by going here.  Please contact me if you have any questions.  Thanks for your interest!

The beautiful stream course of East Fork Hood River during spring melt-off.

The beautiful stream course of East Fork Hood River during spring melt-off.

To get there drive from Portland to Hood River on I-84.  At this town, get off the freeway and head up the Hood River Valley on Highway 35.  You’ll pass beautiful apple and pear orchards (which bloom around Easter), and in nice weather you’ll have grand views of Mount Hood.  Soon the road begins to be crowded by the valley walls as it heads into forest toward the mountain.  Before you begin climbing you will see a sign for Sherwood Campground.  Look for the trailhead on the right.  There will likely be other cars there.

The East Fork Hood River is fed by numerous springs along its upper reaches.

The East Fork Hood River is fed by numerous springs along its upper reaches.

From the trailhead walk into the woods and cross the East Fork Hood River on a log bridge.  Come immediately to a T-junction and take a right.  In a half mile or so you’ll curve into the canyon, then soon come to another wooden bridge.  Cross this and turn left at another junction, heading up Cold Spring Creek.  Follow this all the way to the falls.  Return the way you came.

Ripples form patterns in a rare quiet eddy along the energetic East Fork Hood River in Oregon.

Ripples form patterns in a rare quiet eddy along the energetic East Fork Hood River in Oregon.

The snow had just recently melted off the trail when I was there a few days ago, so this was the first time I photographed the curtain-like cascade with leftover snow.  It added an extra challenge to the photography, since the white of the snow wanted to blow-out (over-expose) whenever I properly exposed for the darker moss.  The even darker basalt that the falls flows over is nearly impossible to expose perfectly, but I think it’s fine to allow those areas to go nearly black.  Let me know what you think!

Tamanawas Falls comes into view framed by large fir trees.

Tamanawas Falls comes into view framed by large fir trees.

The trail offers many opportunities for communing with the rapids and small waterfalls along the way.  I used a circular polarizer for these shots.  Combined with a fairly small aperture and the fact that the sun was by that time too low to shine into the canyon, this gave me the long exposures that result in the smooth silky water.  Most of the photos had exposures on the order of 2-5 seconds, a few much longer (15-20 seconds).

Tamanawas Falls is a pretty waterfall near Mount Hood, Oregon.  In April the falls hastens the snow's retreat.

Tamanawas Falls is a pretty waterfall near Mount Hood, Oregon. In April the falls hastens the snow’s retreat.

Beautiful pools and small waterfalls occur along the trail to Tamanawas Falls near Mount Hood, Oregon.

Beautiful pools and small waterfalls occur along the trail to Tamanawas Falls near Mount Hood, Oregon.

Awash in Waterfalls   9 comments

A little-known waterfall in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge requires much effort to reach, being set in a pristine and beautiful alcove not accessible by trail.

A little-known waterfall in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge requires much effort to reach, being set in a pristine and beautiful alcove not accessible by trail.

The waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest are both abundant and beautiful.  When I travel to other places in the world, and hear of a waterfall to check out, I always try to dial back my expectations so I’m not disappointed.  We are so spoiled around here.  Of course when we’re talking Angel or Victoria Falls, or even those in Yosemite closer to home, that’s different.  Those waterfalls are world-renowned for good reason.

Victoria Falls, which sits on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, is one of the world's great cascades.

Victoria Falls, which sits on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, is one of the world’s great cascades.

Waterfalls of the Gorge – Formation & Geology

The Columbia River Gorge, which slices through the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest along the border between Oregon and Washington, has an abundance of waterfalls.  In fact the Cascades were named for all these cascades along the length of the volcanic chain.  Most of the waterfalls in the Gorge are located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.  This is because the south side of the river faces north, and so is kept cooler and much wetter than the drier, south-facing Washington side.

Most Oregon waterfalls drop over basalt cliffs, such as Toketee on the North Umpqua River.  This is not surprising, since basalt is a very hard rock, prone to forming cliffs resistant to erosion.

Most Oregon waterfalls drop over volcanic basalt, such as Toketee on the North Umpqua River. This is not surprising, since basalt is a very hard rock, prone to forming cliffs resistant to erosion.

Why are there so many waterfalls here?  Well to start with the climate is wet.  The Columbia’s active and ancient down-cutting, combined with the fact that rocks on either side are very hard volcanic basalt, means that the smaller tributary valleys are left perched above the level of the Columbia.  The Missoula Floods, which were the biggest in world history as far as we know, raced through here more than 10,000 years ago.  These deluges scoured and further deepened the Gorge, helping to sculpt the steep sides down which the waterfalls tumble.

This geological setting has given us easy access to the waterfalls, a fact best illustrated by Multnomah Falls, which can be seen from Interstate 84.  Multnomah is Oregon’s highest cascade at 620 feet (189 meters) total, in two tiers.  Multnomah Creek is busy eroding the basalt of course, but its progress is much slower than the Columbia’s (which is also much older).  And so the cliff that the waterfall drops over stands very near to the creek’s mouth.  Realize that waterfalls erode their cliffs such that over time they move backward, upstream.

Multnomah Falls is Oregon's highest waterfall and one of its most popular tourist attractions.  Here it is in full flood.  The bridge crosses just above the lower cascade and a trail continues to the top of the tall upper cascade.

Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s highest waterfall and one of its most popular tourist attractions. Here it is in full flood. The bridge crosses just above the lower cascade and a trail continues to the top of the tall upper cascade.

There are some larger streams in the Columbia Gorge, such as Eagle Creek, that do not tumble over a tall cliff near their confluence with the Columbia River.  These streams are eroding softer formations, often following fractures or faults that make their jobs even easier.  They are larger streams because of this easier erosion, not the other way around.  Softer rock formations equals larger drainage basins and thus more water captured by the stream.

These side-gorges are not lacking waterfalls however, far from it.  One simply needs to hike up them to get to the cascades.  Your hike will have the added benefit of leaving behind the traffic noiset from he busy interstate.  You will generally be hiking through a narrow and lush gorge.  Eagle Creek, in fact, is one of the most stunning hikes of this type to be found in the world.

A small but beautiful waterfall called Faery Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

A small but beautiful waterfall called Faery Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

Off-the-Beaten-Track Waterfalls

Now on to this past weekend’s waterfall adventures.  I was on a mission not to visit and photograph those waterfalls with easy access, nor even those along one of the many trails in the Gorge.  My goal was to find at least one new waterfall, at least new for me.  Since I’ve hiked all through this area, that meant going off-trail.  With the recent wet weather, and also the new spring growth, I was in for some wet and messy travel through thick, slippery and potentially nasty brush and down logs.

The first hike was up McCord Creek to see if I could find some small cascades above beautiful Elowah Falls.  The going was pretty rough, and I decided to turn around in order to have the opportunity to visit both Upper McCord Creek Falls and Elowah Falls.  The two are actually so close together you can consider them to be two tiers of a single waterfall.  I could not get a unique angle on Upper McCord Creek Falls, so I”m not posting a picture of this one.  For Elowah, which is accessible by a trail, I wanted to get a good angle from near mid-point of the stream below the tall (220 feet) cascade.  It was raining and the flow was very high.  I got blasted with water from the falls when I passed it on the trail.  Then I clambored out onto a log to reach a mid-stream rock.  I set up there, but had a lot of trouble keeping my lens dry.  The resulting haze gives the picture a bit of a dreamy look, I think.  I will return to this spot when it’s not raining.

Elowah Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge drops into a lush alcove filled with mossy boulders.

Elowah Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge drops into a lush alcove filled with mossy boulders.

The second hike was up Moffett Creek, which enters just east of McCord.  Moffett Creek is a fun one to hike up, primarily because there is no trail.  This is best done in late summer when flows are low enough to wade up the creek where necessary.  This time of year is a different story.  I tried hiking up the creek to reach nearby Wahe Falls (also known as Moffett Crk. Falls).  But it quickly became obvious that the stream (which requires constant crossing) was flowing with too much power to negotiate the route safely.  I turned around and hiked up onto the side of the valley, following the Munra Point Trail.  I soon left the trail and started traversing up the side of the valley, aiming for where I thought the falls were.  It was steep, slippery and very tough going.

A forest of cedars surrounds the waterfall on Moffett Creek in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

A forest of cedars surrounds Wahe Falls on Moffett Creek in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

I was about to give up when I glimpsed the falls through the trees.  That gave me hope and I gutted out the last steep, thick section.  It’s an 80-foot single drop waterfall, seen by very few people (especially during spring flood).  There is a beautiful cedar tree near its base.  As per usual, it started raining steadily as I set up.  But I managed to get a couple good shots before calling it good.  It was near dark by the time I got out of there, soaking wet and muddy, but with a nice feeling of accomplishment.  There are more cascades further up Moffett Creek.  But that requires climbing gear, a partner or two, and lower water flows.  This is very rugged country.

Hope you enjoyed this illustrated primer on waterfalls.  I will post more waterfall photos on an irregular basis.  Just click on the pictures if you’re interested in prints or download rights.  You will need to click “add image to cart” and then make your choices.  Don’t worry, they won’t be added to your cart until you decide what you want.  The images are copyrighted and illegal to download for free, sorry.  Thanks for your interest, and thanks for reading!

Not a waterfall, but I needed a sunset shot to end this.  Crown Point and the Columbia River Gorge

Not a waterfall, but I needed a sunset shot to end this post! Crown Point and the Columbia River Gorge.

Eagle Creek & Punchbowl Falls   4 comments

Blue sky alert!  When you live in the Pacific Northwest and there’s been a grey roof hanging low over your head for months on end, it’s a little disconcerting when that roof is abruptly lifted to reveal nothing but blue above you.  All of a sudden you feel a little insecure, as if somebody just removed the roof of your house.  That’s what happened yesterday when our dreary weather broke and a clear & breezy day dawned.  I cured the unsettled feeling by going for a hike in the Columbia River Gorge, knowing that the moist stuff would be back soon.  I didn’t have to wait long; the clouds returned in force today.

The Eagle Creek trail crosses aptly named High Bridge.

The Eagle Creek trail crosses aptly named High Bridge.

Eagle Creek is one of the Gorge’s most popular hikes.  And so a free weekday represents a great opportunity to do the hike.  It can literally be mobbed on nice Spring weekends.  I corralled  my retired uncle and invited (forced?) him along.  He is not a photographer but is a great conversationalist (which is much more important).  Though patient he is also human.  I would not wish on anybody a hike with me and my endless dawdling with tripod and camera.  My uncle is patient, but he’s also human.  And so I forced myself to avoid photography until the return hike, at the verdant Punchbowl Falls.

Eagle Creek is a canyon hike only 40 minute’s drive from Portland, Oregon.  The trail heads up a side-canyon of the Columbia River, traversing cliffs with crazy drop-offs and passing spectacular waterfalls.  If you have a serious fear of heights, use this hike to challenge yourself to face it.  HA!  You thought I was going to say avoid this hike.  Not a chance!  Of course you have a fear of heights.  That’s just good sense.  Now don’t let it stop you.

The narrow gorge of Eagle Creek in Oregon is green in the wet winter season.

The narrow gorge of Eagle Creek in Oregon is green in the wet winter season.

A common day trip is to walk the 6 miles up to Tunnel Falls (where the trail passes through a tunnel behind a big waterfall!) and then return.  Just over two miles in you come to Punchbowl Falls.  There is a great view of the falls from the trail, and you can also scramble down a steep trail to a view at the lip.  None of these viewpoints will get you much more than snapshots or partial shots of the waterfall.

To get a really nice shot you have to be more creative.  There is a nice easy trail down to the creek (which is more like a river this time of year), but it leaves you downstream just out of view of the falls.  In summer’s low flows you can walk upstream, possibly not even getting your feet wet, to the alcove that holds the cascade.

Deep green Eagle Creek and Punchbowl Falls are accessed by a trail in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

Deep green Eagle Creek and Punchbowl Falls are accessed by a trail in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

But it is definitely not summer now, and the water is high.  So in order to get all but the top shot, I needed to wade up to my thighs in swift, achingly cold water.  I could not get too close to the falls, because of the fast water.  I’m willing to hike back to the trailhead with sodden, numb feet.  But I’m not into killing my camera and experiencing a near-drowning.  So the shot I got was not what I ultimately want for this place, but it is definitely a good start.  I might ultimately need a rubber raft.

All of my images are available for purchase in various formats, from download on up to large, framed and ready to hang.  Simply click on the image you’re interested in.  The versions here are too small for use, but in any case they are copyrighted and illegal to download without permission.  Thanks for your interest, and thanks for reading!

Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek in Oregon lies in a classic lush alcove.

Punchbowl Falls on Eagle Creek in Oregon lies in a classic lush alcove.

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