Chasm Brook Falls, Acadia National Park

Chasm Brook Falls

I’ve been visiting Acadia National Park for over 30 years and have lived close by for the last two and in all my visits I have never seen water in chasm brook. That experience changed recently.

I have been biking the carriage roads in Acadia National Park for many years. One of my favorite loops is the ‘Around the Mountain’ carriage trail, which goes directly over Chasm Bridge and Chasm Brook. I had ridden over this bridge at least a dozen times and had never seen water in the brook. After receiving lots of rain late during the week of December 13th, I decided to take my chances and see if there might be water flow in chasm brook.

Acadia National Park does not allow biking the miles of carriage trails in the winter, so my only option was to hike in. Grabbing some photography gear, a snack, some water, and warm clothes, I headed for the Giant Slide trail head on routes 3 and 198. The trail head is between Somesville and Northeast Harbor on the left side of the road. Parking is on the right. I hiked to the first carriage road and crossed over to continue. Not long after, the trail enters a gorge that probably does not have much water flow normally. Today the brook was in full flow and lots of ice on the boulders along the edges of the brook. It was completely spectacular and highly recommended, although it may be a bit underwhelming if there is no flow.

The trail finally intersects with the ‘around the mountain’ carriage trail. Here I turned left and walked about a mile until the road takes a hard left. Straight ahead and down a ravine in chasm brook. Although I could have followed the road for another .6 mile, it was shorter to follow the brook and I was up for exploring.

The water flow didn’t disappoint. I hung around for a while scouting spots and taking photographs. I jumped a large white tailed buck while on my way back. Great destination and great hike!

'chasm brook bridge', 'acadia national park', 'carriage roads'
Chasm Brook Bridge – Acadia National Park
'chasm brook falls', 'acadia national park', 'carriage roads'
Top of Chasm Brook Falls – Close Up
Chasm Brook Acadia National Park
Chasm Brook Falls

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Shin Brook Falls

Maine Wilderness Beauty

During a recent trip to South Branch Pond and Northern Baxter State Park, I took a side hike to beautiful Shin Brook Falls (Shin Falls). This awesome spot lies off route 159, about 4.9 miles north and west of Shin Pond Village, which lies east of Baxter State Park.

Getting There

About 4.9 miles north and west of Shin Pond Village you will find a dirt road on the left side of route 159. At the time of this writing, there was a wooden sign attached to a tree pointing the way to the falls. 

Follow the road for a short distance. There is sometimes water in the road, so a high clearance vehicle may be needed at times. If there is too much water to drive through, the parking area is not far so I would recommend walking. 

Park at the first widening of the dirt road on the left. Walk down the dirt road a couple hundred feet to a sign (maybe just a rock at times) to the falls.

The falls are less than 1/4 mile down the path. Walk until you hear the water rushing over the falls and you will find a trail heading down into a ravine to the bottom of the falls. Optionally, you can walk up the trail further to the top of the falls. When I was there some nice person/s had strung climbing ropes along the ravine trails to assist. The picture is not a good indicator the steepness of the trail. It is steep! Carrying a camera and tripod, I was thankful for the ropes.

Be sure to check out the smaller falls further up stream. Great spot that requires minimal effort. I would encourage anyone in the area to check it out.

Upper Falls

Main Falls

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On Neglecting

I know I have neglected this blog for many months. I wanted to provide an update as to why and assure all that many more posts will be forthcoming very soon.

Sometime in early 2017 the company I worked for was purchased by a venture capitalist group and the management of the company was absorbed by the larger group. I became frustrated with the new management and began searching (not rigorously) for new employment.

Now a little background story. Tammy, my spouse, and I were married in 1988 and spent our honeymoon hiking, biking, eating, etc. in and around Acadia National Park. I’m a life long Mainah and love Acadia NP. Over the following years we always returned to continue exploring the park and the surrounding areas. I remember commenting to her that I would love to live there, but being in the Information Technology field (I was an IP Engineer for a small telecommunications company), there weren’t many opportunities on Mount Desert Island (MDI). Other than telecommuting, the only real option would be to work for The Jackson Laboratory.

Now back to 2017. I had expressed my desire to work near Acadia NP with a colleague some time before and he informed me that there was an opening with The Jackson Laboratory for a Network Engineer posted on LinkedIn. During a night of frustrating maintenance work with other groups in the new company, I decided to apply. Long story a bit shorter, 4 months later at the end of July, I was working for the Lab as a Senior Network Engineer, I was living in a camper and commuting 180 miles on the weekends. I lived in a camper for 6 weeks, lived in a rented home for 4 months, then Tammy and I finally purchased a home in Tremont, ME on MDI and sold our previous home in South Paris, ME.

In about 9 months time Tammy and I moved 180 miles, I changed jobs, we purchased a home, we sold a home, we celebrated 30 years of marriage, and Tammy celebrated (??) her 50th birthday. Needless to say, we’ve been busy, life has changed dramatically, now back to exploring and updating this rag.

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Castle Trail – Mt. Jefferson

Castle Trail, Mt. Jefferson

I was on the road by 6:00AM, headed to the Castle Trail in Randolph, NH. The weather report was hot and muggy with a cold front moving in bringing potent, scattered thunderstorms. My best case plan was to make it up the Castle Trail, over the Castles, to the summit of Mt. Jefferson and back an undetermined route before really bad weather set in. As I drove through Gorham, NH toward Randolph, I could see a wall of black to the west hugging the slopes of the Northern Presidentials. I drove by the Appalachia parking area on route 2 seeing that it was packed to overflowing. Cars were parking on the edge of the highway. Not a good sign if you want solitude. I drove approximately 3 mile further to the Castle Trail parking lot on the left of route 2. I was the only one there. The sky looked ominous so I checked my cell phone for signal… none… I drove back toward Gorham until I had decent cell reception and checked the weather forecast at the Mt. Washington Observatory. Forecast was gusty winds, strong thunderstorms, possible hail. Increased chances as the day progressed. I decided that I would hike until the weather turned. My primary goal wasn’t to reach any peak today. I just wanted some exercise and solitude.

The Castle Trail

The trail begins on an old railroad bed, now snowmobile trail. Watch for signs as there is private property close by. It crosses under power transmission lines shortly where you can begin to hear the Israel River. I was surprised how much water was flowing considering how dry it had been this summer. Once across the ‘river’ (really a good sized brook), the trail parallels the river, meandering toward and away from it. This section is steadily uphill, but gradual and the trail bed is smooth. At 1.3 miles the Israel Ridge Trail diverges to the left while the Castle Trail heads straight on. For the next mile, the trail gets continuously steeper as it turns into a continuous stairway climb. Once above this first steep section, the trail smooths out and meanders for 1/2 mile, steadily uphill, along a wooded ridge. Along this section I began to get one of my symptoms that indicates a migraine coming on. In this case I was getting tunnel vision in my left eye. I came upon a tee intersection and had a decision to make. Continue on, turn around, or take a side trail. BTW, just before this intersection is a spot that looks like it could be used as a tent site in a pinch. Rooty, but flat. Looking at my map I could see that I was at the intersection with the Link Trails, just below the first Castle. Fog was settling in. It was getting breezy. I might have a full blown migraine in an hour or so. I decided that I would go left on the Link (the Fink) down into Castle Ravine (if you go right on the Link toward the Caps Ridge Trail, it’s called the Dink).

Castle Ravine

Immediately after going left at the Link intersection, the trail becomes narrow and STEEP (down). The trail is maintained well, but did not look like it received much traffic. As such there was a lot of moss and slippery spots. Pay attention if going down this trail! In about 1/2 mile the Link hits the bottom of the ravine and intersects with the Castle Ravine Trail. Just before the intersection are two or three great spots to set up camp. SIDE NOTE ON CAMPING: This area is within the White Mountain National Forest and as such you are not permitted to camp within 200′ of trails and streams.  I turned left at the intersection and headed downstream. I quickly came upon another camping spot right next to Castle Brook. Beautiful spot where I took the below picture:

Castle Brook 2 8.0 sec @ f11 49mm ISO 200

Castle Brook 2
8.0 sec @ f11 49mm ISO 200

Shortly downstream I came upon yet another camp site where I took this picture:

Castle Brook 1 2.0 sec @ f11 38mm ISO 50

Castle Brook 1
2.0 sec @ f11 38mm ISO 50

The Link Trail picks up again to the right and parallels the side of a ridge a bit under a mile, where it intersects with the Israel Ridge Trail and Cascade Ravine. Upstream and downstream from this intersection are the First and Second Cascades. I didn’t stop for pictures today as the sun had come out during my hike and would have created too many hot spots. Below are pictures from the last time I was at this spot:

First Cascade - Cascade Ravine

First Cascade – Cascade Ravine

Second Cascade - Cascade Ravine

Second Cascade – Cascade Ravine

I stayed on the Israel Ridge Trail paralleling Cascade Brook for about a mile where I once again came upon the intersection with the Castle Trail. On my was back to the parking lot I was enjoying the seclusion. Not more than 3 miles from one of the most visited areas in the White Mountains and I had not seen a single person all morning. No sooner did this thought pass through my mind when I met a group of four twenty somethings heading up the mountain. Still not bad. Back to the parking lot by 12:30 PM. Great morning hike!

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Baxter State Park in June

Baxter State Park in June

As is our annual ritual (mostly???), Tammy and I went back to BSP June 17 – 20. I wanted to get in to Chimney Pond during the longest days of the year. During the Summer Solstice, the sunrise points more directly into the Chimney Pond basin than at any other time of year and I thought it might be a good opportunity for sunrise pictures of the basin and mountain. We made reservations well in advance for a night at Chimney Pond, a night at Davis Pond and a final night back at Chimney Pond.

Day One – Chimney Pond

As always we were excited to get on the road and not be working on a Friday. We arrived at the BSP gate house before 10:00 AM and were on the trail at Roaring Brook Campground by 10:30. The hike from Roaring Brook Campground to Chimney Pond is a bit less than 3.5 miles and is pretty easy. Arriving at Chimney Pond by early afternoon, we found our assigned lean-to, unpacked, and ate lunch. The afternoon of day one was spent scouting morning photo locations, washing up, and getting our gear in order.

One potential plan was to do the classic circuit of the Knife’s Edge on our last day back at Chimney Pond. This route is typically hiked either up Cathedral Trail, over the Knife’s Edge, and down the Dudley Trail, or vice versa. Unfortunately there had been a land slide on the Dudley Trail over the winter/spring and it will be closed until 2018. This makes a day trip over the Knife’s Edge with Chimney Pond as the start/end impossible.

We found the black flies to be pretty bad this year, but we planned ahead and brought a no-see-um screen cloth that fit pretty well over the front of the lean-to. Some flies still got in, but it was livable. It would have been hell without the screening.

Chimney Pond Lean-To Bug Screen

Chimney Pond Lean-To Bug Screen

Day Two – Davis Pond

The next morning I was up before dawn and headed for the Chimney Pond outlet for pictures of the pond and mountain. Black flies were, once again, annoying, but not terrible. I was able to get in a few shots just before sunrise and a few with Baxter in the sun. Below are the two best.

Baxter Alpenglow .5 sec @ f 8.0 12mm ISO 100

Baxter Alpenglow
.5 sec @ f 8.0 12mm ISO 100

Baxter Sunrise 1.0 sec @ f 13 10 mm ISO 100

Baxter Sunrise
1.0 sec @ f 13 10 mm ISO 100

I woke Tam up after sunrise and had our standard breakfast of instant oatmeal, pop tarts, and coffee. We packed up and headed out for the Saddle Trail to the saddle between Baxter and Hamlin peaks. Going was slow with full packs, but the morning temperature was good and the bugs weren’t bad while we were moving. After an hour or so, we reached the top of the saddle and headed off for the North West Plateau. This section of trail has a bit of boulder scrambling, but isn’t difficult. In about a mile we reached Caribou Spring at the junction of the Hamlin Ridge and Howe Peak trails. The spring was running steady, but not as fast as I have seen in the past. I’m always amazed at the power of water pressure and how there can possible be flowing springs on mountain tops. We continued on the North West Plateau Trail and headed down to Davis Pond. We had come here in October of 2013. It was a wet Fall and the trail had fully flowing stream running down it. I said I would never come back, not only due to the trail conditions and steepness getting off the North West Plateau, but the trail from Davis Pond to Russell Pond was a slog in boggy water up to your knees. Well, we came back, but were not heading all the way to Russell Pond on this trip. As on our prior trip, there was running water in most of the trail and the last half mile or so was steep, steep, steep. It was daunting to think we would have to come back up this the next morning.

We made it to the Davis Pond lean-to in the early afternoon, dumped our gear, and immediately went to the pond to wash off the sweat and grim. There was a waterfall flowing down the back wall of the basin last time we were here and I was not sure if it flowed year ’round. It did not disappoint as it was fully flowing this day also. I wanted to go explore near it, but it was a long scramble away and unfortunately the black flies were horrendous. My original plan was to explore the larger Lake Cowles further down into the basin, but the black flies crapped on this plan too. We got back to the lean-to ASAP, put up the bug screen, and spent the rest of the day in relative comfort.

The next morning I, once again, got up before sunrise to snap a couple shots of the waterfall. We then ate our standard breakfast, packed up, and began our journey back to Chimney Pond.

Davis Pond Lean-To

Davis Pond Lean-To

Davis Pond Waterfall 1.5 sec @ f13 150mm ISO 50

Davis Pond Waterfall
1.5 sec @ f13 150mm ISO 50

Day Three – Back to Chimney Pond

Back the way we came to the North West Plateau. It was steep, steep, steep, again (obviously), but we took our time and it really wasn’t that bad. The wind was brisk on the plateau and we settled in behind some boulders to eat a quick snack. At this point we decided that we didn’t want to go back down the Saddle Trail with full packs as there is a lot of loose, granite sand. It is a landslid after all. Our final plan was to hike a bit longer to Hamlin Peak and go down the Hamlin Ridge Trail back to Chimney Pond.

Davis Pond to Northwest Plateau

Davis Pond to Northwest Plateau

Hamlin Peak

Hamlin Peak

Diapensia

Diapensia

We met a family on Hamlin Peak that were picking off the New England 4000 footers. We exchanged taking pictures for one another and off we went in opposite directions. We did the entire circuit of Hamlin, Baxter, and Pamola peaks in June of 2014. On that trip we ascended the Hamlin Ridge Trail with day packs. Today we were descending with full packs. It is a beautiful trail and I was able to appreciate it for the first half mile or so. After that we both just wanted to get to the bottom. Lots of ledge and boulder scrambling made for a difficult day with full packs, but we finally made our way back to Chimney Pond for our last night.

 

Below are some photos of our trip in June 2014

Katahdin Alpenglow 6-2014

Katahdin Alpenglow 6-2014

Katahdin Sunrise 6-2014

Katahdin Sunrise 6-2014

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Painted Hills – Day 5

Painted Hills

On day 5 we headed out early for the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument outside of Mitchell, Oregon, about 3.5 hours away. This would be our longest traveling day on our entire trip, but I had seen pictures of this area and I knew we had to get there. The overall plan was to hit the Blue Basin area first, if time permitted, and then hit the Painted Hills area before sunset. We set out early back toward Hood River and on to The Dalles. From there is was a south easterly trip through pretty mountainous terrain what was dry, yellow, and desert like. I’m not sure what this area is like in the Spring, but in Autumn it was dry, dry, dry.

We stopped at White River Falls State Park on the way to break up the trip. We could see the area a long ways away as all was dry with this small, green band of trees in the distances indicating the flow of the river. It was an interesting stop. We were the only ones there beside the Park caretaker. There used to be a power generation station here that was fed by a good sized steel pipe running from the upper area of the falls. Most was in disrepair, but the old station itself was pretty interesting with a lot of old machinery and graffiti.

White River Falls State Park Graffiti

White River Falls State Park Graffiti

White River Falls State Park Machinery

White River Falls State Park Machinery

We used my phone GPS on the way and decided to skip the Blue Basin, due to time restraints. We arrived at the Painted Hills a couple hours before sunset and noticed that my phone no longer had service (remember this, it’s important later). The Painted Hills Unit had four trail areas, none of them very long. We began a the Red Scar Knoll area and walked the short path around one of the red and yellow ‘hills’. It was very interesting, but it’s unfortunate that idiots had made foot prints in the side of the hill. The signs and all literature clearly state that walking the hills is forbidden, but there are always idiots that can’t seem to follow simple directions. Any markings take years, if not decades to fade away. The close up below provides an indication of what this soil looks like when dry.

Painted Hills - Red Scar Knoll

Painted Hills – Red Scar Knoll

Painted Hills Oatmeal

Painted Hills Oatmeal

We then moved on to the Painted Cove area where there is a walkway between some of the maroon red hills. I could imagine Mars looking something like this.

Painted Cove, Painted Hills, Oregon

Painted Cove Trail

Then on to the main event….. the Painted Hills Overlook. The trail is around 1/2 mile one way and we scoped all along for locations to photograph once the sun started setting. There were a few others shooting photos and some just enjoying the scenery, but I was surprised at how few people there were overall. We stayed until the sun began to set and we packed up after I was sure that the sky wasn’t going to cooperate with a spectacular display. The panorama below was the best shot of the overall area with a somewhat interesting sky.

Painted Hills

Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills

After packing up and knowing that my phone had no service, I decided to use my iPad for directions back to the hotel in Cascade Locks. My phone needs service for directions, but the program I use on my iPad (CoPilot) had the maps and directions built into the app. When we got back to the access road that would take us back to civilization, my iPad indicated that I should head in the opposite direction than we had arrived. I went wit the flow as the terrain looked spectacular. In hind sight, I think my iPad was set to take the shortest distance route, not the shortest time route, and we ended up travelling over 40 miles on dirt road that was through desolate, but spectacular Oregon wilderness. I’m glad we had a 4 wheel drive. It was late in the day and got darker the longer we drove. Tammy said that the darkness was a good thing for me as we were traveling on single lane, dirt roads that were on the edge of steep drop offs, which I could not see due to the darkness. Below is a map of the area we drove.

We were planning on grabbing a nice dinner somewhere on the way back to our hotel, but all of the towns we passed through were so small, most didn’t have gas stations or even a convenience store. We found a Wal Mart in Hood River and grabbed microwave sandwiches and beer to take back to the hotel. Long, late day, but sooo worth it. If you have to go out of your way to see the Painted Hills, do it. You won’t regret it.

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Eagle Creek – Columbia River Gorge – Day 4

Eagle Creek – Columbia River Gorge

We finally awoke to a beautiful, crisp morning. The peaks in the gorge were still cloud covered, but the Columbia river was clear and we could see the clearing skies heading East from Portland. This was the day we would hike all day. This was my main reason for planning our vacation in this area. We would hike Eagle Creek, the most popular hiking trail in the gorge, to and beyond Tunnel Falls. After an early breakfast, I packed my camera equipment and we grabbed some snacks and water for the hike. We drove to the main parking area for the Eagle Creek Trail #440. We did not park at the head of the trail as we were advised that there had been vehicle break-ins there in the past. By parking at the main parking lot we were adding 1/2 mile to the hike each way (about 14 miles round trip), but we were getting a little peace of mind. On our walk to the parking at the head of the trail we noticed an awful stench like rotting fish and guess what…. it was rotting fish. Salmon were spawning in the creek and many were dead and decomposing. The creek was full of huge salmon. I believe most were finished spawning, but some were still skipping through the shallows on their sides. We saw a heron looking ready to feed, but was not able to get any decent pictures.

Sunshine over the Gorge

Sunshine over the Gorge

Eagle Creek Salmon

Eagle Creek Salmon

The trail begins with a gradual incline on the left side of Eagle Creek heading upstream. It is cut into the side of the gorge wall almost from the beginning. As the trail continues it migrates up the side of the gorge wall and the width decreases. In some of the more dangerous areas there are cables hooked to the gorge wall for stability. The area was absolutely gorgeous and continued to impress the further we walked. As the trail moved away from the gorge into old growth forest, we reached Metlako Falls , the first of many, at around 1.5 miles. The falls can be viewed from a short side spur. There is one pretty good location to photograph although it requires a telephoto lens as the falls are about 1/4 mile away from the view point. At around 2 miles we reached a side trail leading to the bottom of the gorge and Lower Punchbowl Falls. We descended and received a head on view of Lower Punchbowl. Walking up the creek bed we rounded a corner and were face to face with Upper Punchbowl Falls. This is much more impressive than Lower and well worth the side trip to the bottom of the gorge. As we were about the head back up the side trail I noticed that there was a ‘trail’ of sorts right up the sheer side of the gorge. Knowing that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, I wanted to go this route. Tammy said, “Is it a trail?”. I said, “Of course it is.” I could see tread marks so that’s a trail right? Well, we make it to the top, but not without a lot of sweat and a re route or two. So… it was the shortest way to get out of the gorge, just not the easiest. Anyhow, our route out of the gorge landed us at a viewpoint over Upper Punchbowl. I decided that I’d take photos from this location on the way back as the falls were too back lit from the morning sun and by the time we made it back here in the afternoon, the sun would be behind the far wall of the gorge.

Eagle Creek Trail

Eagle Creek Trail

Eagle Creek Trail

Eagle Creek Trail

Metlako Falls

Metlako Falls

Upper Punchbowl Falls

Upper Punchbowl Falls

Off to High Bridge at 3.3 miles. This is the first crossing of the gorge and marks the beginning of permitted camping. The trail becomes wider, but in places it was 120 feet above the gorge floor! On the way we passed by the single drop of Loowit Falls on the opposite wall of the gorge. High Bridge was a little sketchy. It was sturdy, but it was very narrow and very high above the gorge. Made me a little uneasy. A few tenths of a mile later there are limited views of Skoonichuk Falls. The forest noticeably thins in this area and a sign indicates that there was a forest fire here in 1902. As we continue on, the trail gradually loses elevation until it again crosses the gorge at the appropriately named 4 1/2 mile bridge. This bridge is very different than High Bridge being only 4 feet above the creek. We met some folks here relaxing in the sunshine on the rocks in the creek.

Loowit Falls

Loowit Falls

High Bridge

High Bridge

After crossing at 4 1/2 mile bridge the trail meanders back into the forest and gains elevation as it pulls away from the creek. The trail passes more campsites with a particularly impressive one just off the trail to the left. Near this section the forest changes from evergreen to hardwood. The trail runs pretty straight for a while and after crossing a couple of talus slopes you come upon the area known as the “Potholes”. The trail here crosses over the top of basalt columns and is one of the coolest portions of the trail. As the trail began to narrow again I could hear the sound of rushing water. Continuing along I could catch glimpses of a waterfall behind the trees around a bend. We must be approaching Tunnel Falls! This is what we hiked 6+ miles for! We emerged from the forest and the falls were before us in their full glory! What a beaut! As we approached the falls and the tunnel behind, the trail became wetter and narrower. There were no handrails on the approach, but shortly after emerging from the tunnel, the handrail began again. I passed another hiker admiring the falls just past the narrowest part of the trail and set up to get a shot of Tammy emerging from the tunnel. It was awesome! After a quick photo shoot and a movie, we headed to our designated lunch spot another couple of tenths of a mile up the creek. The approach to Twister Falls (sometimes called Eagle Creek Falls) was the narrowest part of the entire hike and is often referred to as the “Vertigo Mile” for a reason. You are higher up and more exposed on this section than anywhere else on the hike. There was another couple eating lunch at the same spot, but there was plenty of room to get privacy if you wanted it. After a light lunch, some relaxation, and more photos, we headed back the way we came.

The Potholes

The Potholes

Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls

Twister Falls

Twister Falls

Twister Falls

Twister Falls

Broad Leaf Maple

Broad Leaf Maple

Upper Punchbowl Falls

Upper Punchbowl Falls

***************************

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Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood – Day 3

Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood

On Day 3 of our Oregon vacation we once again we arose to light drizzle with the promise of improvement later in the day. Over breakfast, we decided to attempt the 0.3 mile scramble into Oneonta Gorge. This one was on my bucket list, but there were some unknowns. There is a big log jam a short way into the gorge and I was not sure the difficulty of navigating it. There is also a spot where the gorge narrows and the water can get quite high. At periods of high water, this section requires swimming. We planned on getting wet, so wore sneakers and light pants that we wouldn’t mind getting wet. Keep in mind that this is Oregon in October and we had no idea how cold the water might be. We pulled into the parking area and followed the narrow trail down one side of the bridge crossing the gorge stream and headed out. A short distance up stream we encountered the log jam. We found that even though the logs were wet, they were not slippery due to the number of people frequenting this spot. We had to climb over, under, and through portions of the jam, but it was not difficult; just time consuming. Post log jam the walk was beautiful as the gorge walls rose up over our heads and the way became increasingly narrow. Within site of Lower Oneonta Falls and the head of the gorge, we encountered deep water. It reached my waist, but we were quickly through and once again on bare stones on the gorge floor. Luckily the water was not ice cold and we were quick to recover once out. There were only two others in the gorge really working the place with their cameras. Tammy helped me out with keeping my camera dry as there was a pretty steady drizzle coming on. I took photos for 20 minutes or so, before we decided to head back. Before hitting the road, we also stopped for a quick shoot at Horsetail Falls close by.
Be advised… the video is long, but browse through it, it’s pretty cool….
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Oneonta Gorge 8

Oneonta Gorge 8

Oneonta Gorge 2

Oneonta Gorge 2

Oneonta Botanical

Oneonta Botanical

Horsetail Falls HDR

Horsetail Falls HDR

With the sky still overcast, we headed up the Columbia River to the town of Hood River for lunch and brews at Full Sail Brewing Company. Awesome beer and great food! The sky was continuously improving with sun, patches of blue sky, and plenty of white, puffy clouds. The plan for the afternoon was to drive scenic route 35 to route 26 around Mt. Hood. Just outside of Hood River we began to pass fruit farms and orchards the likes of which I have never seen. There was every variety of apple and pear tree that you could imagine as well as high bush blueberry and grapes. Local farm stands were in abundance and we stopped at one to grab a couple of local pears and apples. As we continued into the back county the elevation continued to increase drastically. As we crept closer to Mt. Hood (of which we had yet to catch a glimpse) the clouds rolled in and light rain returned. We were to find that this was common. The Cascade range forces the moist Pacific air to drop its moisture on the West side of the mountain leaving the East side much drier. We stopped by Trillium Lake on the South West side of Mt. Hood, scouting for potential early morning locations to shoot. We also stopped by Sahale Falls. This one is easy to access by vehicle. As we had increased elevation significantly, it was pretty cold here. Continuing on, we stopped at the village of Government Camp for a gas up as stations were few and far between on this stretch of road. When we reached Zig Zag we hopped onto the LoLo Pass road (closed in winter) hoping for a scenic route back to Hood River. This road was paved for a long way and followed power lines up and over the pass. It eventually turned to a one lane dirt road with no junction signs. After miles of driving we finally ended up on paved road heading toward Lost Lake (portion of the drive here). I was hoping to scout here for morning shots as well, but I guess they named it Lost Lake for a reason. We found the access gate to the Lost Lake Resort, but all was gated. Driving around some of the roads close by, we never did get a view of the lake. As the afternoon wore on, we headed back to Hood River. On the way we turned off 35 and drove to Panorama Point. We finally got our first view of Mt. Hood.
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Mt Hood

Mt Hood

 

After a quick stop we headed for Big Horse Brew Pub. We grabbed a quick beer there, enjoying the unique setting on a side hill overlooking the town, then headed back ‘home’ to Cascade Locks. We hadn’t had any dinner yet, so back at Cascade Locks we located Thunder Island Brewing and enjoyed another beer and some so-so nachos. We had a bit of a time finding the place as it was after dark, and what eventually turned out to be the brewery looked like a town garage. Overhead doors were open with a small pay-as-you-go step up bar area. After this stop, we were ready to hit the hay. Short hike, road trip, and three breweries…. Busy day!
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Columbia River Gorge – Day 1 and 2

Columbia River Gorge

Day 1

We flew into Portland, Oregon via Alaska Airlines on a Saturday evening. After grabbing a rental at Avis (be aware that Avis is not in the airport terminal. You have to take a shuttle.) we headed for Cascade Locks about 45 minutes east. We arrived at the Best Western Plus in Cascade Locks, Oregon at about 10:00 in the evening. We were looking for a snack and beers. The concierge indicated that there was only one place in town that sold beer at that time of night…. the Cascade Inn down the street. Their kitchen would be closed, but they could do up deli sandwiches if we were so inclined. It took a few minutes to find the place even though it was within walking distance. It looked a little sketchy with an old local out front, obviously well into his night of drinking. From his looks a night of drinking is probably his norm. We walked into an old, run down bar with one pool table and half dozen video slot machines lined up against the wall. Looking for a beer, I asked the woman behind the bar what was on tap. They had three; Budweiser, Coors, and a local brew. Great selection (sarcasm) so we chose the local. In the mean time, a couple next to us was finishing up their order of 5 sides of mashed potatoes and gravy to go. I didn’t want to know what they were going to do with it when they got home. After a couple brews and a little discussion with locals (mostly just having fun listening to them) we headed back to our room for a well deserved rest.

Day 2

The next morning we awoke to pretty steady drizzle (no, drizzle isn’t some Snoop Dog term). We grabbed breakfast at the Bridgeside restaurant next door (included in the hotel fee), and decided to book a dinner cruise with Portland Spirit on a stern wheeler for dinner that evening. We then headed to a roadside waterfall not too far away on the Washington side of the Columbia River beyond Carson, WA. We found Panther Falls after a couple of turn arounds and when we finally found the short trail to the falls, we noticed in great big, blue letters in the middle of the road “FALLS”. Go figure. The falls were only a couple hundred yards from the road and they were spectacular! Our first outing of the trip and it surely did not disappoint. Tammy said that I was a little too excited, though not in those exact words….. I have a Kata rain cover for my camera to keep it waterproof. It works fairly well, but can be hard to focus if you like to shoot in manual as I do. After a little shuffling around to make it work well, I finally gave up and Tammy held it over the camera to keep water off it, while I continued shooting.

Panther Falls

Panther Falls

Panther Falls

Panther Falls

Since the sky was still a little threatening, we decided to spend the rest of the day going to a few of the road side waterfalls along the Columbia Gorge on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. Even on a dreary Sunday in bad weather, some of the locations including Multnomah Falls, were down right packed. Locations we hit:

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

Latourell Falls

 

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

 

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

Wahkeena Falls

 

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls - Keith

Multnomah Falls – Keith

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Quick Photography Note

Just a quick side note about our adventures and photographing locations. I have noticed that how photos are composed and post processed provides a photographer’s interpretation of the location. I am always amazed at the difference in what I think a location is going to look like based on photographs I have seen and how the locations looks in real life. Above at Multnomah Falls is a good example. The photos I have researched always reminded me of something out of ‘Lord of the Rings’ as I hope is represented in the top photo. The above photo is a shot that Tammy took of me shooting the falls; people wandering everywhere and no real good spots to shoot from. I was standing on a stone wall in order to get above everyone’s head. Hopefully the top photo invokes a better response than the above.

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After a quick shower back at the hotel we walked down town near the Marine Park to hop on the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler for our dinner cruise. We boarded just after 5:30 PM for a 6:00 PM departure. The boat was nice; built in nearby Hood River in the mid 1980’s. I was surprised that it only drafted 5 feet. Upon departure I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of the stern wheel drive. Even though it was still powered by a diesel engine, it produced nowhere near the vibration of a propeller drive. We had a couple of local brews with our dinner, which was average (the dinner… the brews were awesome). We cruised down stream under Bridge of the Gods to the Bonneville Dam, then turned around and headed up stream past Cascade Locks to Stevenson, WA. We then turned back to finish at our departure point at Cascade Locks. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset early on the cruise. Tammy thought it would have been better to cruise during the day, but I thought it was a perfect, relaxing ending to a busy day. Overall I thought it was a good value at $50.00 pp for dinner and two hour cruise.

Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods

Coumbia River Sunset

Coumbia River Sunset

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Nahmakanta Lake Adventure

Nahmakanta Lake

Tammy and I went to Nahmakanta Lake Camps over a long weekend. We had been planning this for a few weeks. I found out about the camps while hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness in the Katahdin region of Maine. While hiking the Appalachian trail along the edge of Nahmakanta Lake, my niece and I found ourselves on the top of Nesuntabunt Mountain overlooking the lake. We could see a beach, boats, and cabins at the North Western shore of the lake. When I got home from that trip, I researched the area and found the camps run by Don and Angel Hibbs. Contacting them through email I found a weekend that worked for both parties. The Hibbs offer a full service option with meals or a housekeeping only option where you provide your own food. We chose the housekeeping option as sometimes we like to keep to ourselves.

The camps can be reached north of Brownville, Maine on the road to Jo-Mary Campground or via the Kokadjo area north of Greenville, Maine. Be advised that both methods of access require driving on 30+/- miles of dirt road and if you choose the Kokadjo route, the road is worse, but there are no fees this direction. We chose the Jo-Mary option. Upon reaching the access road there is a check point where you are required to pay an entrance fee. There is also an exit fee. The Hibbs provide a discounted coupon when staying at their facilities. There are also an abundance of first come/first serve camp sites in the Jo-Mary Wilderness that may be of interest.

On our first day we arrived early in the day and hiked into Rainbow Stream Lean-to. This was my favorite section of the Hundred Mile Wilderness and I wanted Tammy to enjoy it. I fished a bit in the stream (catch and release, artificial lures only during this time of year) and made a lousy attempt at landing an 8″ brookie. After giving up on that I took some photographs of the stream while Tammy headed out along the trail. We reached the lean-to after a couple of miles and ate a snack for lunch. It is really a beautiful spot and a great place to use as a base for fishing some of the back country ponds. Just before we headed back, a couple of guys showed up on their way back from fishing Bear Pond. They were also staying at the camps and unfortunately had no luck this day. I had heard that there was a shorter access path to/from the lean-to, but was unsure where the path was and where it would end up, so we decided to back track the way we had come. Half way back, we ran into John Winter, my friend’s son who was finishing a North bound through hike of the AT. I thought that he might be in the area as I knew his projected completion date, but I was reasonably sure that he was further North on the trail and we had missed him. What an awesome experience to meet up with him and some of his trail buddies. We visited for the better part of an hour before they decided that they needed to make it to the shelter at a reasonable time. John wanted me to hang out at the shelter with them that night, but I had paid for a cabin with a wood stove for heat and didn’t want to give that up for a night in a lean-to. I know…. I’m getting old.

Rainbow Stream

Rainbow Stream

Rainbow Stream 2

Rainbow Stream 2

Trail to Rainbow Lean To

Trail to Rainbow Lean To

Rainbow Lean To

Rainbow Lean To

We made our way to the camps in the late afternoon and checked in with Angel. She showed us our cabin and went over all the details. It had a private, detached bathroom and shower, full kitchen, two beds, and a wood stove for heat. There are also canoes and kayaks that come with the cabin fee, and motor boats for an additional fee. We got our camp fire ready (right on the shore line) and started cooking dinner. It was so peaceful. No sounds of cars or trucks. No light other than the gas lamps in the cabins and the camp fires on the shore. Perfect!

Nesuntabunt Sunrise

Nesuntabunt Sunrise

The next morning we rose early, cooked breakfast, and I went to talk to Don about suggestions for fishing. I decided to try 6th Debsconeag pond as I had heard good things about the brook trout here. Don showed me the best places to fish and said that while the trout might not be plentiful, if I caught any they would be of descent size. Tammy and I grabbed a canoe and paddled about two miles down the lake to a spot indicated by a large, painted red spot on a boulder along the shore. Landing the canoe here, we unloaded, packed up and headed up a woods path about a mile to the pond. We were the only ones at the pond and I landed a 15″ brookie within the first 30 minutes. The landing included the normal stressed hilarics of Tammy trying to get the net to help me and me yelling “don’t stand up!”, “hurry up I’m gonna lose it!” Of course that was the only strike I got this day, but it was all worth it. The biggest fish I’ve ever caught on a fly rod!

Trout Slayer

Trout Slayer

After the hike back and paddling the two miles to the camps, we decided to explore a couple of the waterfalls in the area. Don suggested some falls along Pollywog stream in Pollywog gorge. I remember hiking the top of the gorge earlier in the year with my niece, but the edge was so wooded we could not see into the gorge. We drove directly to the outlet of Pollywog pond and took a short trail maintained by Don and his crew. The outlet of the pond flows directly into the gorge over a significant drop. A half mile or so further into the gorge is a better set of falls. The trail was fairly easy, but very steep getting down to the lower falls. It was a great afternoon hike.

Pollywog Gorge Upper Falls

Pollywog Gorge Upper Falls

Pollywog Gorge Lower Falls - Blue

Pollywog Gorge Lower Falls – Blue

Pollywog Gorge Lower Falls - Gold

Pollywog Gorge Lower Falls – Gold

We headed back to our cabin once again to cook dinner. Tammy made a superb linguine with garlic, lemon, mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc. I started the camp fire again and we drank some fine beer. One of the best was a pumpkin porter made by Red Hook out of Portsmouth, NH. The next morning I cooked breakfast with the addition of the trout caught the day before. It was perfect. I find that larger trout sometimes taste fishy (go figure), but this was clean and mild. So good! We packed everything up to get that out of the way and did some kayaking around the two inlets of Pollywog and Rainbow streams. Unfortunately we headed home shortly after. Great thanks to Don and Angel for the wonderful time. We will surely go back again.

 

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