Thursday, January 26, 2017

Frozen Waterfalls, Round Two

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?)

Latourell Falls

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.

Frozen branches

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.

Icy wonderland

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

All three times I set up at Latourell Falls, many groups of people wandered in, took a few photos, and quickly left.  A few photographers lingered for 5-10 minutes, but nobody stayed very long.  Not only were conditions dangerously slippery (and very few folks had traction devices) but the air was bitterly cold.

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.

Beautiful icicles

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.

Frozen branches

Yeah, I spent way too much time trying to photograph it all!  But do you blame me?

Elowah Falls

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.

Frozen creek

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.


  1. Wow, Linda! So much beauty! I love winter and I absolutely love this winter series!

  2. QOQ1 These are amzing shots of the froxen waterfalls.

  3. I am really cold right now after looking at all of these cool photos! Megan liked the "bubble" ice at Laturell Falls. I love that place. Not been to Elowah falls though. Glad you made it through it all safe and thanks for sharing your journeys in the snow and ice! You are brave to be out in all that mess! Hugs!

  4. Gorgeous captures. Wow! The falls are fantastic, as is the frozen creek.
    And I love your shoe chains. Clever idea.
    Great post, Linda!

  5. ...thanks for these frozen delights.

  6. Wow, wow,wow. Those ice formations and waterfalls are spectacular. You needed to be wearing your thermals in those temperatures.

  7. Cold, glorious, spectacular nature and a brave pro behind the camera lens. The snow cone is amazing. Love them all but 'Mother nature's Sculpture is my favourite.

  8. Wow, so amazing! You were very brave to hike here! I didn't even want to drive!

  9. My friends and I say, Trust Your Kahtoolas!when we cross sketchy ice. I swear I've spent more time in shoe chains this winter than out. Gorgeous photos!

  10. Wow the ice formations are very cool in more ways than one! Great shots, and I like your spikes:)

  11. Boy, those are some spectacular ice pictures! Well done!

  12. Oh my gosh these were just amazing and so beautiful. Thank you!

  13. Stunning images! The one of melting wax also makes me think of formations inside a cave.

    Isn't mother nature awesome!

  14. Such awesome winter beauty - I bet you needed those spikes on your shoes to get there.

  15. Wow! That is just so spectacular and something that I just can't envisage without your wonderful photos to prove it. Nature is just so amazing. Thank you for sharing your world with us all.

  16. Cracking ice cascades. We normally get storms and heavy snowfalls here by now but it's been unusually dry, snow-less and calm for ages. Ski resorts here are pulling their hair out. Mid winter and hardly a drop of snow all season. Then a big dump midweek which melted within days.

  17. I couldn't deal with winter without my microspikes! Beautiful pictures.

  18. Great shots - I'd always go out rather than to work!

    Sorry about slow reply - I have been in New Zealand (where we saw some distant snow!) and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. Hello, what a beautiful walk. The frozen falls, icicles and round ice formations are all amazing. I am glad you had on the show chains. Looks cold but beautiful. Lovely collection of photos. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day and new week!

  20. Que maravilha de fotografias onde se pode ver bem o efeito do frio.
    Um abraço e bom Fevereiro.
    Andarilhar || Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa || Livros-Autografados

  21. Fantastic images. We never get weather that cold in the UK so great to see your shots, especially that "melting wax" one

  22. Photographing icy waterfalls is definitely on my bucket list now... these are amazing photographs! (And shoe spikes are on the Christmas list already.) Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  23. Wow! So beautiful and truly awesome.

  24. These are great Linda. So much beauty in all that ice. glad you had the spikes.


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