Chapter 13 : Great expectations
Two days based in Portland to visit the Columbia River Gorge? Too short!! If you are planning a visit to this area and wish to take your time hiking and photographing the multitude of waterfalls here, plan longer. Our accommodation was located near Burnside in the eastern suburbs of Portland. This was still half an hour away from the start of the waterfall run. Some of our time was also unfortunatelyconsumed with finding a place to repair a flat tyre which a Les Schwab outlet did for us free of charge! Our plan on the first day was to visit a few of the closer waterfalls after Charlotte woke from her afternoon nap. As a travelling couple, Marianne and I used to be able to leave at the drop of a whim and be out the door in no time flat. These days, with the right amount of cajoling and giving in to Charlotte’s requests, we might take 30 minutes? A happier child in a car is still better than a grumpy one no matter what the non life-threatening agenda ! As such, we only made our way out at 3:30pm. On the first day we were able to visit Latourell falls and Multnomah falls which we accessed through the old highway and scenic drive (well recommended). At two years old, I can only be thankful that Charlotte still likes being in the carrier provided she is given enough distraction and stimulation. It seems that moving water works a treat 🙂
The walk to Latourell Falls is a short one. We approached from the park below the falls though there isn’t a dedicated parking lot. The main feature of these falls is the almost graffiti like lichen on the rocks and it’s basalt textures. Marianne shot the falls from a higher vantage point while I waded in the water with Charlotte (flowing water is a good distraction for her!)
Multnomah Falls is the ‘King’ of waterfalls in this area. The parking lots were full, visitors of all ages and agendas were present and it also happens to be the start of a great hike which we didn’t have time to do . Evening was a good time to photograph the falls as there were minimal sharp contrasts to contend with. After photographing these falls, we made our way back to Portland for a quick bite at a local Chinese restaurant. I might add a small note that if you haven’t eaten at Chinese restaurants in the USA, you’d be doing well to finish one menu item per person such is the size of the serves everywhere we went.
Chapter 14: Local knowledge
One of the highlights of the trip for me was meeting Tula Top, a local photographer who has an impressive portfolio of waterfalls in the region. Tula’s site is here : http://www.tulatopphotography.com . We had arranged to meet and hike for a day while Marianne did more ‘cosmopolitan’ things around Portland itself. After Multnomah, possibly the most photographed waterfall I have seen from the region is Punchbowl falls. I wanted to see this with my own eyes and Tula graciously obliged in playing host. As it was a beautiful day, an early start meant that we had the Eagle Creek trail nearly entirely to ourselves but as the day warmed, the crowds of hikers began to make their way up the creek.
Our first stop was at Metlako falls. From the top down perspective and view to its canyon I wonder if it is at all possible to wander up to its base?
After taking our time there, we pushed on to Punchbowl falls where we both witnessed some incredible lighting over the falls.Despite further falls tempting us further upstream, we decided to turn back and visit other falls in the area – the choice really made things difficult but by the time we arrived back at the parking lot, it was well after noon.
As time was limited, we chose one further fall to visit and that was Panther Creek falls north of the Columbia River. By this time, the afternoon sun was strong and there was no chance of any mists like we had seen earlier in the day which made photography difficult. It was interesting to talk to Tula and find out all sorts of things in common , none the least being that we were both physicians! By the end of the day, Marianne had arranged for our tire to be repaired (free of charge!) and we finished on a great note by having a delicious dinner at Ya Hala. We would meet Tula again later in the trip.
Chapter 15: Mad dashes
By now I must have mentioned the superb weather countless times in this series of blog posts? Originally we had no plans for our last morning in Portland but as I was feeding Charlotte breakfast, I took a look outside and saw fog! I am thankful that Marianne let me head off on another solo dash out to the gorge in the hope of getting some atmospheric type of shots which had been lacking in our trip’s images to date. The fog cleared about 10 minutes out of Portland on the highway! I chose Elowah falls , dashed up and down the path, spent 20 minutes in the stream before dashing back to Portland to finish packing. Our next destination at Mount Hood was only 1 hour away so we had some time to kill before leaving. It just so happened that for one reason or another, one of our tripod heads had become stuck whereby no horizontal panning was possible. Thankfully, camera stores in Portland were far better stocked than any in Adelaide and we were able to purchase a Benro ballhead during a brief sojourn into the CBD. Gitzo will be receiving a few ballheads from us for repairs when we get around to it! The GPS was set yet again, and it was time to head to our accommodation at Government Camp, Mount Hood.
Next Chapters: Hoodwinked!