Monthly Archives: November 2015

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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….
 –
 –
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.
 –
 –
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!
Posted in Uncategorized

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

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

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.

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

Posted in Uncategorized