I admit it. I live in one of the more picturesque parts of the country.
So when a chance to do a photography workshop in the neighborhood popped up, it seemed like a no lose scenario. In addition to enjoying some of my favorite spots once again, it gave me a chance to share them with folks who by definition are big fans of beautiful landscapes. We gave ’em a taste of the region on the first day with a trip to Mount Hood, stopping at Timberline Lodge, and Trillium Lake.
Where did we go for day two of the workshop?
Originally, Mount Hood was to be the day two destination. But the forecast called for iffy weather that day, the sort that could completely hide a mountain. The shots we got the first day would not have been possible the second. But where to go for nice shots, despite mostly overcast skies and occasional rain?
As it turns out, those conditions are perfect for waterfalls and forests. Bright sunlight can blow out the whites in waterfalls, and creates harsh dappled shadows in forests that are difficult to expose correctly. Got a gray and gloomy day? No problem.
Need a waterfall? How about one with a 500 plus foot drop?
(Click on any photo for a larger view)
Welcome to the Columbia Gorge.
Located on the border between Washington and Oregon, the Columbia River carved a wide gorge through the region, with an assist from one or more cataclysmic floods at the end of the last ice age. You don’t want to be downstream when a huge ice dam breaks and the pent up lake bursts through.
These days the gorge is an important transit corridor, and a favorite playground for locals and tourists when they’re in the mood for something impressive.
Our first stop was at Chanticleer Point, site of the Portland Women’s Forum State Park. This gives a big picture look up the gorge, and across Crown Point.
Crown Point is the better known viewpoint. It’s hard to miss, being right on the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway and featuring the iconic Vista House.
The Vista House is about 30 miles east of Portland.
Not far beyond Crown Point is the aforementioned Multnomah Falls.
Multnomah Falls is really two falls. The main falls is a 550-foot drop, followed by a short run of river, then another 70-foot drop underneath the Benson Bridge.
This is not my first story of the gorge. If you’d like to explore it more, see more falls and more hikes, check out the Gorge-ous Views series, and my most popular post on Punch Bowl Falls. While the fires of 2017 adversely affected the gorge, parts of it are once again open for hikes. Alas, Punch Bowl is still closed, and as it was at ground zero for the fires it’s likely to be closed for the foreseeable future. Still, I wouldn’t let that stop you if you’re considering a visit to the gorge – it’s worth it.
While it would have been nice to dally, our time was limited. Our days started in the classroom and excursions didn’t begin until after lunch. And we had further to go.
Further, in this case, meant Panther Creek Falls. Further east, past Hood River, and across the Columbia River to the Washington side. It’s a favorite among local photographers. Located out in the middle of the woods, it’s the sort of place you have to go looking for.
I’ve written about Panther Creek before. There are more details there, including a fatality that caused more restricted access this time around. But that doesn’t make the spot any less moving.
It had already been a long day, and a longish drive back to Portland was in the offing. But if you have a long drive, it doesn’t hurt to have views like this one.
And as the day drew to a close and we neared Portland, another brief stop for a westerly look down the gorge showed clearing skies, and promise for the day to come.