Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Gorge(ous) Fall Afternoon

I've been messing with my readers lately, posting photos out of season (in the northern hemisphere anyway).  I'm almost caught up - just a couple more autumn adventures to share.  For this post, I present to you my annual Columbia River Gorge Fall photo safari!

In early November, autumn colors reach their peak in the Columbia River Gorge.  Although it's fantastic in any season, fall in the Gorge is absolutely spectacular.  Every year, I always make time for a daylong photo excursion to capture the show.

Gorge view from Crown Point

I started this latest Gorge trip climbing the twisty, curvy Columbia River Scenic Highway to it's most famous viewpoint - Crown Point.  Although this particular day was cloudy and threatened rain, a sunbreak timed perfectly to my arrival.

Vista House at Crown Point

Breathtaking Gorge views could be found in three directions.  The foliage below was a delightful mix of oranges, golds, and yellows, with a tiny bit of green thrown in.

Window close-up

I walked around the Vista House, a historic structure built on top of Crown Point that doubles as a visitor center.  It was originally built as comfort station and a memorial to the Oregon pioneers.  This lovely building was completely restored between 2000 and 2005.  And it's never looked better!

Crown Point view from Chanticleer Point

From Crown Point, I motored on a short distance to another jaw-dropping panorama at nearby Chanticleer Point.  The views here are even more stunning - one gets amazing photo ops of the Gorge  spread out below, with Crown Point front and center.  And, man oh man, were the fall colors fabulous!  It looked as if someone had taken a paintbrush to the cliffs below Crown Point.

Fall colors were perfect

This famous scene is a popular spot for photographers.  More images of the Columbia River Gorge are taken from this point than from anywhere else.  Countless postcards from Oregon showcase this very view.

Another photo of this spectacular panorama

One can never tire of scenes like these....I would've stayed much longer, but a sudden furious rain squall sent me running for my car.

Bridal Veil Trail

Time to head back the other direction, down the Historic Highway.  Next stop was Bridal Veil Falls trail.  Although it was still raining heavily as I pulled into it's parking lot, after a short 5 minute wait in my car, things started letting up. 

Colorful trees

The fall leaves here were so bright they practically glowed yellow.  So pretty, I was snapping photos from the parking lot!

Mossy woods below the falls

But I did tear myself away and ambled down the short half mile path to Bridal Veil Falls.  The nearby forest was magical - full of ferns and moss-covered trees.

Bridal Veil Falls

Sadly, about the time I reached Bridal Veil Falls, the sky decided to open up once again.  I managed a few mediocre shots of the waterfall before packing my camera away to protect it from the precip.

Lovely autumn woods

Not all was lost, the walk back up the trail was lovely.  A tunnel of gold framed by a scenic creek.

Railroad track in the Gorge

Some of the best leaf colors can be found adjacent to the railroad tracks that parallel the mighty Columbia River.  Of course, there are signs all over that warn against trespassing on the railroad right-of-way.  But.....no one was around.  And I just wanted to walk across the tracks for a couple of quick shots.....

Here comes a train!

I'd no sooner crossed the tracks and was happily snapping images when I heard a loud roar.  As I turned around, a freight train came thundering by, not ten feet away!

Trapped by the train

The train was traveling so fast, the wind it created nearly knocked me over.  My car was on the other side of the tracks, and I couldn't move any further away where I stood due to a large pond.  So I was stuck in my present spot until the train passed by.  I crouched down near the blackberry bushes, and willed it to hurry up.  And, while I was waiting, I did what any photographer would do, and snapped a couple shots of the train in action.

Autumn leaves

Although I dodged raindrops part of the day, and played tag with a freight train, it was still wonderful to get outside and capture the spectacular autumn show that is fall in the gorge(ous) Columbia River Gorge!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Eagle Creek Trail

Time to turn the calendar back to fall again....

(WARNING.....photo overload ahead!)

Backlit mossy tree

Yes, I continue to mess with the seasons - there's still a few autumn hikes to share.  Last November, taking advantage of a Friday off work, I decided to visit the most popular trail in the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Creek Trail.

Leaves, leaves everywhere!

I've hiked this trail numerous times, and blogged about it almost yearly.  This crown jewel pathway follows the fabulously scenic Eagle Creek, up a narrow cliff-lined gorge, past several lovely waterfalls.  The foliage is always lush and green, whether it be spring greenery or winter moss.

No leaves on trees, but lots of moss!

But in my opinion, fall is the best season to explore Eagle Creek.  In early November, the leaves display magnificent golds, oranges, and yellows.

Lone hanger-on

Lack of tree foliage highlights the thick moss that carpets everything.

Tiny cascade from the cliff

Although rain was forecast the day of my visit, I decided to go anyway.  Hiking in the rain is better than sitting home doing chores!

Ferns change color too

Besides, autumn hues photograph better in overcast light.

Not many leaves left on the trees

From the trailhead, I followed a wide, rocky path that paralleled rushing Eagle Creek.  But it didn't take long for the trail to diverge from the water's banks, steadily climbing a shelf blasted into the steep canyon walls.

Tall rocky cliff

As expected, fall colors were stunning.  Although a bit past prime, there was still plenty of beauty to photograph.  And photograph I did.

The trail hugs the cliff edge

Whether it was the last yellow leaves clinging to a tree, or the tall, mossy cliff faces towering above the forest, my camera found images to record.

Color spot

Golden wonderland

In some places, golden leaves created a magical tunnel through the forest.

Loved this old, gnarly branch

And gnarled, mossy tree branches stretched downward like an old man's hand.

Metlako Falls

A mile and half down the trail, I came upon the first waterfall, delicate Metlako Falls.  This cascade can only be viewed from a distant viewpoint.  Thank goodness for zoom lenses!

The bridge before it got taken out

Further down the trail, past Punchbowl Falls (due to thick foliage I wasn't able to get a decent photo, sorry!) I crossed the first sturdy footbridge spanning the deep canyon.  Little did I know that a month later, this bridge would be wiped out in a fierce December windstorm, rendering the trail impassable.

White, churning water

Crossing the bridge provided great views of the creek, far below.

Magic forest

Past the bridge, the forest thickened, and the splashes of color became more numerous.  Such a magical place! 

Another trailside cascade

Small waterfalls dripped down the adjacent rocky walls.

Loowit Falls

Although I'd escaped the predicted moisture thus far, as I was passing by Loowit Falls, my luck ran out.  Fat raindrops began to patter the ground.

Looking down on Eagle Creek

Time to turn around!  I'd traveled about 3.5 miles in - enough for a respectable day's ramble.  And the good thing about out and back hikes?  I'd see all this spectacular scenery a second time.

Hang onto the cable

One of the unique features of the Eagle Creek Trail are the stretches that have been created by blasting a shelf into rocky cliff walls.  This narrow ledge leads visitors through some of the steeper canyons.  To help timid hikers, there's cable handrails to cling onto.

Last of the leaves

Yes, it looks precarious in places, but I love the views from this lofty vantage.

Narrow ledge

About this time, the rain began in earnest.  I packed my camera away, and quickened the pace.

Looking downriver at a waterfall

But wonderful scenes such as these kept appearing around corners, tempting me to expose my camera to the elements. 

Dark forest

Rain or no rain, some things are just meant to be photographed.

Leaf and cable

Like this stray leaf clinging to a handrail cable.

Foggy return trip

Closer in to the trailhead, an eerie fog began to drift in the canyon. 

Narrow passage

Between the fog, and dramatic tall, drippy cliff faces, I'm afraid my poor camera got a dousing!

Rain and fog

But I captured so many great images, it was totally worth it.  It was difficult to decide which ones to include in this post!  (The reason for my earlier photo overload warning)  And no worries - my camera got a good wipe down once I reached the car.

Creek scene near trailhead

A fabulous way to spend a rainy, fall day!

Some of my other Eagle Creek posts can be found here and also here.

Sharing with:  Through My Lens

Sunday, March 20, 2016

First Day of Spring

Although the calendar says today's the first day of spring, things have been blooming in my corner of Oregon for a couple of weeks.


These daffodils in my front yard were the first to show off their bright yellow splendor.

Just last week, the tulips decided to join in the show.

Our pear tree, not wanting to be left out, decided to display it's blossoms too.

A pair of lovely red tulips unfurled their petals just yesterday.

As did some unknown purple flowers in my backyard (anyone know what these are??)

This morning's rainfall left its mark on my tulips, speckling them with droplets.

The one white daffodil in our front yard became very photogenic after the rainstorm.

I love tulips of all colors and am happy we have a yellow one in our garden.

These daffodils seem to be buddies.

Best of all, two days ago, I noticed my rhododendron bush sporting a few flowers.  Just yesterday, it erupted in a pink explosion.

I've been so busy skiing, I almost missed the annual spring flower show.  But today's rain on the mountain meant time at home to catch up on things.  What better way to celebrate the first day of spring?

Sharing with:  Through My Lens and image-in-ing and Life Thru the Lens