The rough winter weather of December continued into early January. When my first Thursday ski bus got cancelled due to high winds at the resort, I had to come up with an alternative plan (it was either that or go to work, and who wants to do that?)
Luckily, the ferocious winds and cold temps were good for something - making all the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge freeze. Since this phenomenon happens so seldom, I decided to take full photographic advantage of it.
I decided to hit up a couple waterfalls I'd missed in my early December waterfall photo jaunt. First on the list - the lovely Latourell Falls.
Luckily, Latourell Falls is right off the Historic Columbia River Highway. A short walk takes visitors to it's very base. And today it was an extremely icy base.
|Microspikes are necessary equipment|
Everything near the waterfall's splash pool was coated in a thick layer of ice, making walking super treacherous. Years ago I invested in a set of microspikes. These "shoe chains" gave wonderful traction, enabling me to get close to my photo subject.
|Interesting ice formations|
Waterfalls often create their own weather, and the temperature dropped considerably as I set up near Latourell Fall's base. Fumbling with frozen fingers, I attempted to fire off several shots of the glittering ice sculptures. But spray from the cascade started collecting on my camera and tripod, icing up everything. Plus I got cold real fast. After 10 minutes, I cried "uncle" and beat a hasty retreat to the car.
|Icy creek below Latourell Falls|
After blasting the heater for a good five minutes, I decided to make another attempt. Again, freezing water droplets collected on my lens. Although I tried desperately to keep my camera gear dry, it didn't take long before icy gear forced me back to the car once again.
|Icicles on the top|
On final attempt - this time I positioned myself a little bit farther from the spray zone. This time I was able to get some good images.
|Rounded ice formations|
One of the fascinating things about this waterfall was all the interesting ice shapes formed by the freezing water at it's base. Some of the formations looked like little rounded balls of ice.
|Mother Nature's sculptures|
|Water tank at Elowah Falls trailhead|
After spending way too much time at Latourell Falls, it was nearing noon and I knew I had to move on. So heading further down the road, I set my sights on another favorite cascade, gorgeous Elowah Falls.
Although this waterfall was my goal, an old water tank at the trailhead caught my attention and became a wonderful subject.
|Leaking water made lovely frozen creations|
Water draining from this tank had trickled over the adjacent forest floor, freezing into all kinds of interesting shapes.
Yeah, I spent way too much time trying to photograph it all! But do you blame me?
Finally I tore myself away, and headed down the 3/4 mile trail to Elowah Falls. This tall beauty drops from a high basalt cliff. The splash pool is located in an impressive rocky bowl. I've visited this waterfall in the winter before, and during periods of freezing weather a large cone of ice always forms at it's base.
|Ice cone at Elowah Falls base (in black and white)|
The ice cone was quite a sight! I wish there would've been some people nearby to add scale to my photos. It was definitely as tall as an average person - if not a bit higher. I converted this photo of Elowah Fall's cone into black and white and kind of like it.
|Elowah Falls and the bridge|
As with the previous waterfall, the base around Elowah was just as icy. But luckily, the wind didn't seem to be blowing as much, and my camera stayed drier.
|These ice formations look like melting wax|
Of course there were just as many unique ice formations around Elowah Falls. I particularly liked the above drippy shapes near the canyon's west wall. They kind of looked like melting candle wax.
And the stream below Elowah Falls looked especially beautiful with icy white rings around each rock.
|Final look at Elowah|
Tired feet and cold hands finally forced me to retreat back to my car. But not before I grabbed one final photo of Elowah Falls peeking through the trees.
|Icicles along the trail|
So much beauty! It's been a crazy winter weather-wise, but I can put up with the cold when it produces these breathtaking works of art.