Friday, December 27, 2013

The Bonus Day

During our mid-December cold snap, running water wasn't the only casualty.  An explosion and fire in an underground electrical vault left a nine-block area of downtown Portland without power.  Lucky me - this outage affected the building I work in.  Initially everyone was told that power would be restored within the day.  But one day stretched into another, and I ended up with two unexpected days off.

A helpful warning on the trail

The first day was spent catching up on Christmas shopping.  But when I learned there'd be a second day, I considered this a bonus.  And in my book, bonus days are not to be spend doing chores!  Knowing the Gorge was still frozen, I grabbed my camera, and headed back to check out some more waterfalls.

Bridal Veil Falls

The first stop in my bonus day trip was Bridal Veil Falls.  A short hike down a steep, switchbacking path leads visitors to a stunning viewpoint.  Although the day was much warmer than it had been during my first visit, I still encountered icy spots on the trail.  One person who came before me was nice enough to write a warning on the frost-covered path.

Icicles at the base of Bridal Veil Falls

Although some of the ice had now melted, Bridal Veil Falls was still mighty stunning.  A double cascade, with an upper and lower tier, the surrounding frosty vegetation made it look like a bridal gown's lacy train.

Partially frozen creek

And the icy creek below was just as scenic.

Frozen water sculptures

I spent more time taking pictures of the unique ice shapes in the creek.  There were some cool subjects!

Looking upriver towards the falls

But I didn't want to spend all my day here....there were other waterfalls to see.  After about an hour I headed back up the path.

Frosty downriver view

My plan was to hit Wahclella Falls next.  One of the few waterfalls I hadn't visited on my recent Fall Gorge Waterfall tour, I figured it was due.  But on the return trail from Bridal Veil Fall, I ran into a lady I knew.  She told me some friends had recommended Elowah Falls.  Apparently this waterfall in its frozen state was pretty amazing.

Icicles line the trail to Elowah Falls

So a change in plans!  I pointed my car toward Elowah Falls instead.  Hiking in, I got a glimpse of things to come, when I noticed these large icicles hanging over the trail. 

Icy Elowah Falls

As you may remember, I visited Elowah Falls earlier in November.  Well, what a difference a few weeks, and a few degrees drop in temperature makes!

Spray at Elowah Falls base makes interesting patterns

The entire rocky amphitheater was coated in white frost.  Huge icicles clung to cliffs high above.  The bridge below was coated in layers of ice.  And, best of all, in the area directly below the falls, was an enormous cone of bluish ice.

Below the "ice cone" at Elowah Fall's base

This cone at the fall's base looked like a big ice volcano.  Apparently, it had been growing throughout the week of freezing weather.  Each drop of water hitting the base helped create another layer of ice, building it higher.

The bridge was caked with ice

Although I wanted to get closer, one thing held me back.  The day's temperatures finally reached above the freezing point, and everything was melting.  Icicles intermittently came crashing down from the cliffs above.  Huge chunks of ice dislodged and hit the waterfall's base with a loud roar.  I didn't want to be anywhere nearby!

Another look at the "ice volcano"

Luckily, I could still get a nice view of the falls without risking my life.  Slipping on my trusty microspikes, I stepped out into the icy, white world.

Ice crusted fern

Elowah is a very tall waterfall.  At 289 feet, that's a lot of water dropping down.  As it falls, the spray travels a long ways.  The waterfall's influence line was very apparent - anywhere you saw white frosty ice.  And the misty droplets froze on everything - rocks, trees, leaves, even the ferns.

Admiring the view from the bridge

I ventured over to the ice-encased bridge and took in the views.  It was a great (but safe) place to observe the waterfall's bottom and get a close-up look at it's incredible icy cone.  It was also the perfect spot to capture a couple selfies!

Checking out the bridge icicles

By the next weekend, temperatures had warmed up above freezing, and much of the Gorge ice was on the melt.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to take another trip and see some more frozen waterfalls before they were gone.  Glad I spent my surprise day off on the trail, doing something fun.

Because that's what bonus days are for.

P.S.  You have until December 30th to enter my calendar giveaway.

Sharing with:  Weekly Top Shot.


  1. Once again beautiful shots Linda. With the bonus two days you certainly didn't waste them x

  2. Stunning shots of the falls, a day well spent.

  3. Those are awesome frozen waterfalls - especially on a bonus work-free day. Great shots!

  4. Love, love, love it! Did I say I love it? I doooo! Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a beautiful hike you had dear Linda. The ice and the waterfall look spectacular together :) looks like the power outage did bring some joy with the two days off! Glad you enjoyed the break . Have a good weekend ahead!

  6. A bonus day for you and a bonus day for us to get to see these amazing photos! I love all of the frozen fabulousness Linda! We have a Bridal Veil Falls here up Provo Canyon. Wondering if ours is frozen? Thanks for sharing. So glad you spend the day having fun!

  7. Your shots are so stunning! I've never seen ice like that before. Good for you for getting out in it. I probably would have wanted to stay at home! How nice to have a couple of unexpected days off work :)

  8. Breathtaking captures, Linda. What a wonderful way to spend your bonus day!

  9. Glad you have a sensible attitude to unexpected days off! And what epic ice - you do seem to do ice in a big way in the US. I have never seen coatings of ice like this in Scotland.
    Hope you're managing to get out to your heart's content in this holiday season - although perhaps you don't have the excess of holiday that I do. My place of work shuts completely for 2 weeks, and everyone is expected to stop.

  10. What perfect timing to be given days off! As always you've captured the beauty so well. I love the selfless, especially the 1st - below the ice cone.

  11. Fabulous! I love the way you used your second surprise-day off!

  12. Magnificent photography ~ time used so well and creatively ~ thanks, carol ^_^

  13. A perfect "bonus" day away from work! There was a large flood in April at my work and I was happy thinking we had the day off. But no - they decided that the large dumptruck could make it through and they got us into the office building - BOO!

  14. Hi! Nice bonus day,just fits for your photograph hiking trip. All of your photos are very cool. I have never seen frozen falls. Thanks for sharing. Wishing you a Happy New Year.

  15. Awesome shots, and this was a great Christmas gift to yourself, and also your readers. beautiful shots

  16. That ice fern was my favorite shot! WOW!! You put your day off to very good use.

  17. Wonderful pictures. I am a Portland native, that left the area in 1996. I miss Portland very much and enjoy blogs from my old home. My family still lives in the Portland and Hood River are so I do manage to get home about once a year.

    I am your newest follower. Have a good holiday.

    Everyday things in photos blog (Boise)

  18. These shots are incredible, Linda! I love how the slow shutter intensifies the ice. Nice work.


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