Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Hike Without the "Big Girl" Camera

Another dismal weekend weather forecast.  Rain....rain....and yet more rain.  And not only was it wet, temps were also very warm (which meant no skiing on the mountain).  What's an outdoor-loving girl to do?

Go hiking, of course!

Wahkeena Falls

Hey, I live in Oregon.  Newsflash - it rains here.  I wasn't about to let a little precip keep me indoors.  Wanting to test my newly-healed foot, I decided to try a hike with some moderate elevation gain.  And....if it also included waterfalls, so much the better!

The Wahkeena Trail to Multnomah Falls is one of my favorite Gorge hikes.  A 5.5 mile loop with 1600 feet of elevation gain, it fit nicely into my "get the foot back in hiking shape" plan.

Fairy Falls wide-angle view

It poured all day Saturday, and throughout Sunday morning.  Although the wet stuff appeared to be tapering off in time for my planned Sunday afternoon hike, I didn't want to take chances with my expensive DSLR (aka "Big Girl") camera.  A trek in the rain?  This looked like a job for my weather-sealed GoPro camera!

Columbia River peeps through the trees

Yep, I set out on a hike without my trusty "Big Girl" camera.  Something I hardly ever do, it felt as though a vital piece of gear was missing as I suited up at the trailhead.

First trillium!

But I had my GoPro.  Not only did it take amazing videos, it was also capable of super wide-angle photographs.  I looked forward to capturing entire waterfalls in one frame.  But as I climbed the trail to its first waterfall, a fat, gushing Wahkeena Falls, my battery indicator flashed red.  I'd forgotten to charge it the night before.  D'oh!

Shamrock-shaped leaves

A hike without photos?  Nooooo!!  Then, I remembered my cell phone.  I'd recently upgraded, and my new phone was supposed to have a pretty good camera.  Because I preferred to use my "real" cameras, I hadn't ever bothered trying the one on my phone. it would be called into service.

Mossy branches overhang the trail

Switching off the GoPro's screen, I dug through my backpack and fished out my phone.  I was delighted to discover, not only did the phone take decent shots, it also recorded video.  I captured a quick clip of Wahkeena Falls just to try it out.

Of course a trail sign photo!

Happy I'd be able to document my hike after all, I started my climb, switchbacking through the thick, mossy forest.  Although the weekend's heavy rain had swollen nearby creeks and waterfalls, no water fell from the sky. 

Multnomah Creek

I continued uphill, and took a short photo break at Fairy Falls, a delicate fan-shaped cascade.  Discovering a tiny bit of juice in the GoPro, I shot a quick couple wide-angle images of Fairy Falls in its mossy amphitheater.

Raging waters

From Fairy Falls, my climb continued.  The forest thinned out and briefly gave a few glimpses of the Columbia River far below.  Then it dived back into the woods, where I discovered some lovely white trilliums blooming.  First ones of the spring!

Finally, I topped out on a ridge, and followed it away from the Wahkeena Falls basin towards Multnomah Creek.  After a half mile, the trail began to wind down to Multnomah Creek.  One of my favorite parts of this hike, I love the thick mossy trees here, and the views of white rushing waters as the trail descends.  It intersected with the Larch Mountain trail, which then followed Multnomah Creek.

Mossy branches everywhere

Walking along Multnomah Creek was a delight.  Swollen by the weekend rainfall, it churned mightily.  I passed by two waterfalls, the first unnamed (at least to me).  The narrow trail came very close to the top of the first cascade - so near I hugged the opposite bank to avoid slipping into it's raging waters.  But I did whip out my phone and capture a video of this incredible sight.  It's not every day you hike next to the top of a waterfall!

Wiesendanger Falls

The trail gave hikers a little bit more space between the second waterfall.  This one, named Wiesendanger Falls, was churning mightily as I traveled by.  Downriver, the forest opened up, giving visitors better photographic opportunities.


The creek was really ripping through here.  It dashed over boulders and fallen trees, creating huge pockets of whitewater.  I tried to take more video but it didn't come close to capturing the experience of seeing it in person.

My trail passed by a rocky overhang

I passed by a rocky cliff overhanging the trail, where I discovered a plaque commemorating Wiesendanger Falls' namesake.  Past this rock face, was a cute mossy grotto, where the creek roared under a rock arch bridge.  Then, reaching the top of the Multnomah Falls, there was no place to go but down.

Plaque on the rock wall

And down I went!  Eleven switchbacks descend from Multnomah Falls' top to its base.  As I trekked down this steep path, I began to encounter hordes of people.

Multnomah Falls is the grand dame of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls.  Tumbling down 542 feet in two tiers, this gorgeous cascade attracts visitors by the thousands.  By the time I'd reached the Benson Bridge, suspended between the upper and lower falls, I was caught in a swarm of humanity.  Even crummy weather doesn't stop people from visiting.

Misty Benson Bridge

The sheer volume of water tumbling over Multnomah Falls created some impressive spray.  It felt as if it was raining.  Hoping to milk the last of its battery juice, I turned on my GoPro for one final video.  It's waterproof case was tailor made for the occasion.  Although I had to keep wiping droplets from the lens, I was able to get some decent footage.

Multnomah Falls

So that's the story of how I survived a hike armed with only a low-battery GoPro and my cell phone camera.  Although not up to my usual standards, I was able to get enough decent shots to complete a blog post (and hopefully entertain my readers!).  As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.

And my foot?  It did fantastic!  I'm so happy to be back hiking again.

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Weekly Top Shot.


  1. Linda, what a breathtaking tour!!! I enjoyed your gorgeous photos and your videos, and so lovely to hear the sound of the waterfalls in your videos. Fantastic post, thank you so much for sharing. :)

  2. your shots are amazing! so glad that you are a girl of my own heart and believe in hiking no matter what the weather. It is all gorgeous, just a little different perspective. Some of my best hikes ever have been in horrendous weather and fogs, etc. Love the one of Multnomah falls. I was there last year when we were doing our columbia river cruise, but the bridge was having some construction, so my view was not quite so cute.... Gorgeous shots! and what a wonderful place to hike!

  3. Glad that the foot is holding up better than the camera batteries. As a Welsh farmer enlightened me a long time ago - you can't have waterfalls without rain!

  4. Great post of an area I enjoy visiting as well. I have yet to go above Multnomah Falls. Last photo of falls is wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I nearly always recharge batteries once I return home. Take care!!!

  5. I quite often takem my Canon SX240 with me when I go out as it fits in my pocket, never used a gopro but then I don't have one. Ive used an Ipod and Nexus 9 tablet before now though. Awseom photos BTW

  6. Glad to hear you are back to full strength. Those shots of the waterfalls are indeed very good. I'm sure it is more to do with the photographer than the camera.

  7. Wonderful series.. Great captures.. Wow!
    A little rain never stops us PNW'ers. I waterproof my camera (big baggy creation thingy) and go!

  8. Good Morning, LInda! what a great hike. There are so many waterfalls to see in Oregon, they all look beautiful. I am glad you had your cell phone camera and the GoPro camera.. Great shots and videos. Have a happy Friday and weekend ahead!

  9. Beautiful photos and a a perfect hike, despite the rain. I visited Multnomah Falls years ago and have a very similar picture to your last one somewhere in my "archives". It was a spectacular sight.

  10. I've seen Multnomah Falls and it sure is a beauty. If you want things to be green you have to have rain! A lovely trip. Tom The Backroads Traveller

  11. I was wondering how your foot did, so I'm glad you included that last bit. That's fantastic, and your pictures were pretty darn wonderful, if you ask me. :-0

  12. Many pictures on my blog are taken with my iPhone, and they turn out so well. It's pretty amazing where technology has gone!

  13. You did gtreat without your Big Girl Camera! I think your Go Pro takes a really nice photo! Good to see the Falls, the last time we were there the Bridge was closed. Such a beautiful waterfall:)

  14. Fantastic! I love waterfalls and have visited a few there in OR. This was just a delight to see and I think your phone took some awesome shots.

  15. I enjoyed seeing these. Seems like anytime we've visited Multnomah we haven't made time for the hike up! Our paper says snow levels will drop to 2000' this weekend. I hope that's true. I might drive up to Mt. Hood on Sunday with my camera. I'll picture you on the slopes. :)

  16. And we are happy to have you back, battery less and all! Awesome that your foot is healed.

  17. Amazing shots. The trillium pic is a favourite. And the last one...WOW! I love the way you spend your time. My kind of outing!

  18. Thanks for the photo journal of your trip to the falls! Gorgeous images, no matter which camera you used.

  19. Amazing waterfalls, and net. Videos. You must have another waterfall around every corner out there!

  20. Glad your out and about again. I like the crooked branches hanging over the trail. Of course, the waterfalls are outstanding after all that rain.

  21. An amazing hike. So love all these watery scenes along the way and your ongoing commentary.

  22. I never get tired of the Multnomah Falls shot. We are going to go to Crater lake in the fall - and I am debating whether to fly into Portland...or San Jose (to have more time with an Aunt and Uncle)...difficult choice!

  23. So beautiful! We have relatives near Tacoma and it amazed me to see the things they do in the rain.

  24. hey you got some great shots. that moss on those trees is amazing. and the waterfalls are so beautiful, just imagine if it had not been raining.

  25. Before I saw, WOW, I should say I am glad your foot is better! The still photos are beautiful and on my iPad they are so clear and crisp. I'm glad you were able to capture the videos, the sound of the rushing water made me feel like I was there...but I would be hugging the side for sure, I'm not a fan of heights. I'm so glad I found your blog...I feel like I am right there too!

  26. LOVE all the rushing water!!! Giggled at your comment about hugging the side of the narrow path to avoid slipping into the water BUT still taking a photo. You are a TRUE photographer :)
    I hear we're drying out later this week and up to 70 or so---can't wait.
    Blessings, Aimee

  27. That is a spectacular waterfall and some excellent shots of it. Don't let a little rain stop your hikes!

  28. Stunning photos and videos.Best place to be during or after heavy rain is a waterfall trail along a gorge. Good choice of walk.

  29. Hi Linda,
    breathtaking scenery, everything pure nature, here in Germany you would with a lot of garbage in nature to live:-(
    the waterfalls are an absolute hammer. The Bridge at Multnomah Falls reminds me of the same country in the movie Lord of the Rings ....
    Those who make trips even with rain big fun;-))

    regards frank

  30. The best camera to have is the one you have with you! Nice shots.

    Strange as I may seem, I think walking in the rain can often be just as good, if not better, than in the heat!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  31. The waterfalls are gorgeous! I'm so glad your foot is doing well.

  32. Just discovered your blog and spent a few minutes enjoying your lovely photography. Oregon is one of my favorite photo locations. Such beautiful scenery to capture and share!! And I agree with Stewart about the Best camera!!!!

  33. Nice! Although I'm not a great photographer I hate being without a camera! Good for you for making it work. Glad there's some rain happening to help with the drought. Not much over here.

  34. I'm happy you're back hiking too - that's my favorite part of your blog. You got some great shots - love all that moss.

  35. Congrats on getting back out there, and surviving your maiden hike after foot surgery. Loved the story of your day, and the photos and videos.

  36. WOW! Such beautiful waterfalls all along that trail! I applaud your hiking so far and in increasing elevation. It sounds like your foot is completely healed! Multnomah Falls are gorgeous--I really hope to see them someday!

  37. Lovely scenery and a magnificent shot of the falls.

  38. What beautiful scenery! I'd love to stand on that bridge for a long while. I can almost hear the rushing water!

  39. Waterfalls, waterfalls, even if it is very far i try to reach them. But of course we don't have that much here in the country and we ride planes, cruise seas to reach some spectacular ones. Again i will tell you that you are so blessed and privileged to be living near awesome landscapes like you have. That last one is trully spectacular....Andrea/Kalantikan


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