Punch Bowl

Mythology tells us the Greek gods ate ambrosia and drank nectar, giving them strength and immortality. But what sort of vessel could contain such a potion? No mere cup suffices.

Like the fountain of youth, pursued by Ponce de Leon in the 1500’s, rumors of a restorative pool draws many to a location deep in the woods, some 40 miles east of Portland.  Unlike Ponce’s folly, this pool exists.

It’s an open secret. The beauty and relative ease of the trail attracts a crowd even on a weekday, when the sun is shining and adventures beckon.


The path parallels a river, sometimes moving deeper into the forest, and sometimes edging cliffs with a sheer drop.


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Regardless of whether you’re passing through a sylvan glade with a soft even path dappled in spots of sunlight, or white knuckling your way along a cliff wall, it’s good to remember that these are not the only worthwhile sights along the forest trail. Smaller things, things you might think inconsequential can be rewarding.



Two miles in (two and a half, if you park at the fish hatchery) I arrived at the lower falls. Just downstream of that is a lesser pool, a pool where mere mortals cavort about in glee.


Two large fallen tree trunks nearly spanned the river.  I walked out onto the one on the left to observe the jumpers.  Then further out on the tree, where the trunk narrowed and the water underneath grew in turbulence I sat down astraddle, scootched even further, and took in the views of the lower falls.


Returning to shore, I crossed a rocky river bank to the threshold of the upper falls. Here was the Punch Bowl, a natural container worthy even for the nectar of the Greek gods.

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Even the swimmers respected the sanctity of this pool. A sense of peace carried along with the low roar of the falling water and cares eroded away. And if I did not sip from the pool, it did not matter. Upon leaving the site I felt renewed, maybe not younger, but feeling as if my life had gained a few extra days.



Author: Dave Ply

See https://daveplyadventures.wordpress.com/about/

68 thoughts on “Punch Bowl”

  1. Beautiful pics of the punchbowl. We hiked around there last july, was a bit cold and foggy so no swimming. But i loved the hikes to Multmomah Falls and looping to the other falls just west of that one. A few others as well were hiked (punchbowl, horsetail, and one other one closer to Mt Hood). Amazing that all of that is so close to Portland.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Debbie. I was vacillating as to whether to do a b/w conversion on the waterfall, but then I tried using it to emulate some of the b/w filters in the now defunct NIK tools using my normal edit tool and I liked the result. Looks like it was a timely inspiration.


  3. Now I wonder how many Punch Bowls there are out there. One in Va, and another in Germany. You think the Greek gods stashed a few strategically so they wouldn’t;t have to travel too far for a recharge?

    And yeesh Dave: “sylvan glade with a soft even path dappled in spots of sunlight,” Great photographer AND a poet. Tone it down a bit for us mortal bloggers huh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Painfully purple prose? To overcome my natural tendency to write in an expository style, I use a little reminder thought to encourage a more visual approach: vivid. Perhaps I went a bit overboard. Nobody’s ever accused me of being a poet before.
      And yes, I think the gods were strategic in the distribution of their favorite watering holes – not unlike their mortal contemporaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmm gorgeous photos! I love the dappled light of the forest which you captured beautifully. would hate to be “white knuckling” along that cliff wall though, yikes! The pools look like a lot of fun. Natural pools are such a treat! ( No chlorine.)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was pleased with the dappled light shot too. Cameras don’t do dappled very well, often it just looks blown out or too dark. Warming up the color helped as well.


    1. Thanks, Robert. That B&W falls shot was a bit of a sleeper. I knew it had potential with the stacked rocks as a “mirror” of the falls – balance, perspective, and all that good stuff. The B&W gave a twist to a shot 100 other photographers have likely already done. I’m glad you, and other folks are enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Splendid photos, Dave! Ironically, the Punch Bowl is also a pub not far from my office near Heathrow, London. In fact my first thought upon reading this post’s title was “Hey, isn’t that the pub’s name?”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a lovely hike, beautifully evoked. Without the waterfall and pool, it could have been an Appalachian trail; the trees and paths reminded me very much of home (original home – in Pennsylvania).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Dave!

        Mind me asking what editor you use. I don’t edit a great deal (mostly from lack of knowledge). Be keen to learn the ropes; if you know any good books/tutorials

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi James. I use On1 Photo RAW 2017.5. It’s a good product, less expensive than Adobe, and they’re headquartered in my home town (Portland) so I’m happy to recommend them. If you’re really looking for inexpensive you can pick up an older version of the key part of the tool for free: https://www.on1.com/free/. They have lots of free training videos on their site, and an “On1 Plus” paid membership if you’d like more extensive training.

        It can be a little overwhelming, so initially I’d learn about histograms and doing tone enhancements; Black and White points to take full advantage of tonal range, and Shadows and Highlights to show or hide details in shadows and highlights. (Curves is an older, but still powerful version of the same thing.)

        After that it’s fine tuning if you want to go that far: contrast, sharpness, color, masking for targeted adjustments and a host of other effects.

        More info can be found on the web, and don’t forget your public library. I tend to use my PC for editing, but if you are cell phone camera oriented and want to do everything there a good app to try is Snapseed – you can do a lot of the same things there too. Experiment, and don’t expect to learn it all overnight.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Seclusion in nature can have a strange kind of sanctity to it. Looking at your captivating imagery — I would be tempted to believe in the ‘magical’ abilities of the pool. Makes me wonder if I’d want to take a sip of that water? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Stunning Dave. I feel Portland has gone up a few more rungs on my theoretical bucket list. Of course not having visited the US, there would a heck of a lot to cover. One day..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful photos. I really love those mossy-trees. I’d never seen them before coming to North America, but now I think they’ll always stick in my mind as being what you can expect near waterfalls in pretty evergreen forests.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. As always, your photos make me want to improve my own photo skills, and I’m grateful for that! When I finally come round to your neck of the woods I’m going to have a list of places to visit, graciously provided by your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That trail boggles my mind for all of its spectacularness. It has always scared me a little, too. The sheer number of drop-offs and ledges and whatnot. I just looked at your post with the astrophotography. You’re doing some wonderful shooting, Dave. Hope you’re cooling off a little, finally.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gorgeous photos of one of my favourite trails. I seem to always head out there in winter or early spring, and have not yet visited when the water is low enough to get a view of the falls from below. When the trail is this pretty, it’s hard to take a bad photo, but yours are exceptional.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crystal. It was one of my favorite trails too. Too bad it was at the center of last year’s gorge fires. I wonder when they’ll reopen the trail, and how long it’ll take to recover from the fire damage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was up there in early December, and they’d opened the scenic highway. We were able to hike the Wahkeena Falls trail, and the Angels Rest parking lot was full. Oneota Gorge is still closed, and I’m not sure about the trail above the bridge at Multnomah. So there’s progress…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. A magical place indeed. Unfortunately, about a year and a half ago (a month after the hike) some kid accidently started a fire with fireworks on that trail, and much of the gorge was devastated. Although some of the trails in the area have reopened, Punch Bowl is still closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

      So for the time being this post will be my only access to that magical place, and it’ll likely look quite different when I finally can see it again.

      You never know when something like this will happen. It puts a little more emphasis on enjoying things when we have the chance.


  13. Thanks for this glimpse at another one of Oregon’s treasures… may they forever remain so! I’m feeling a bit depressed because we’re seeing a lot of encroachment here in our little less traveled corner being ‘discovered’ by folks with money to ‘invest’ in wrecking the treasures that have remained until now! 🥴

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I haven’t actually been back to see the Punchbowl since I took these photos. It was ground zero for those massive fires we had in the gorge a few years back – some kid threw a firecracker on that trail that set the whole thing off. The trail was closed for a couple of years after that. I think it’s open now, but I suspect it’s not the same…


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