|A happy Pam at Latourell Falls|
But before flying south, I met up with my blogging pal, Pam from Nomadic Newfies. She was visiting Tacoma and drove down to Portland to see the Oregon coast and Columbia River Gorge. Pam asked if I'd be available to take her hiking in the Gorge. Of course I never pass up a chance to show off my beloved Gorge (even if a good portion of the Oregon side was still closed from last September's fire).
|Historic Highway bridge|
So one chilly Friday in early March, I picked Pam up from a park and ride lot in Vancouver, and headed back to the Oregon side. Although sadly most of the stunning waterfalls and trails on the Oregon side were closed due to fire damage, lovely Latourell Falls was one of the few that had recently reopened to the public (you may have seen my post from last December.)
|Looking upstream to the falls|
Latourell Falls is indeed one of the Gorge's great cascades. Plunging 249 feet over a high basalt cliff it's tall white curtain is sight to behold. I also love the unique neon yellow-green lichen that covers the rock on either side. A picture-perfect waterfall if there ever was one!
|Yup, it's a tall one!|
Of course, Pam thought so too, and we both proceeded to whip out our cameras for a copious photo session.
|Pam was grinning from ear to ear|
Then I directed Pam to the short trail that looped by the bottom of Latourell Falls. Despite heavy spray that drenched our cameras, she was grinning from ear to ear.
|Posing on the bridge below the falls|
We continued past the falls, following a lovely trail winding through a mossy forest. It passed underneath the Historic Columbia River Highway bridge before climbing up and crossing the highway itself.
|Eagle-eye Pam spotted these tiny mushrooms|
From my December visit, I remembered this trail then traversed steeply for a mile to Upper Latourell Falls. We took it slow, giving eagle-eye Pam time to spot a group of tiny mushrooms sprouting from a fallen log. She also found the season's first trillium bloom!
|She also spotted the season's first trillium|
This was the portion of the trail where my camera battery began dying on my last visit, so I took full advantage of fresh batteries to capture all the beautiful green forest scenes that I'd missed.
|Love these mossy woods|
The mossy woods lining upper Latourell creek were spectacular.
|Admiring the trees|
After coming upon Upper Latourell Falls, and admiring the churning two-tiered cascade, Pam and I returned to the parking area via a path on the creek's opposite banks.
|Upper Latourell Falls|
Some of the best views of Latourell Falls can be found from this return trail, although you have to play peek-a-boo through the trees. Good thing it was still winter, and the leaves were gone.
|Latourell falls plays peek-a-boo through the forest|
I've come to the conclusion that my new Fujifilm mirrorless camera doesn't like Latourell Falls. From my last visit, you may recall I had a string of bad luck (dropping the camera, losing a lens caps, low battery....) Well, as Pam and I were loading our gear into the car, I accidentally dropped my camera again. Sadly, my camera bag wasn't enough protection. I turned it on, tried to take a test photo, and got a "lens error" message. Ugh!
|Trying for that money shot|
Luckily, I had another lens with me, and when I put it on the camera both worked. So I knew only the lens had sustained damage, thankfully not the camera too. But the damaged lens was my go-to 18-55 mm, the one I used for 99% of my landscape shots.
|On the bridge to Bridal Veil Falls|
After a quick trip up to Crown Point to check out the Vista House, I took Pam down the short trail to Bridal Veil Falls. I didn't take very many photos here, as my 55-200 mm lens wasn't good at capturing wide-angle scenes. By this time it was also raining, and I didn't want to get my gear wet.
|Lovely mossy forest below the falls|
Of course no trip to the Gorge is complete without a visit to Multnomah Falls, the grand dame of all Columbia River Gorge waterfalls. I hadn't visited here since the fire, and was disappointed to see that the lower viewing platform was still fenced off. The only decent view of the falls was from the parking area across the freeway. (I learned they just opened the lower viewing area last weekend.....sorry Pam, you were three weeks too early!)
After a quick lunch in Cascade Locks, I drove Pam over the famed Bridge of the Gods into Washington state for our last waterfall destination - Rodney Falls. This waterfall is within the first mile of the Hamilton Mountain trail, and since I was still bummed about my broken lens (plus I've hiked trail this dozens of times), I left the photo taking to Pam.
|Trying to capture the rainbow and Rodney falls|
However, approaching the top of Rodney Falls, we got to see a cool rainbow arching out of the rocky cavern, known as the Pool of Winds. The water drops off a cliff and swirls around in this cavern before shooting out in a churning spray of wind and water. I couldn't resist a couple of cell phone photos of Pam sacrificing her camera for a shot of this amazing cascade.
|Some nice guy offered to take our photo!|
It was great to get together with Pam once again! So glad she was able to get "out west" to see some of my favorite places. Now I guess it's my turn to come visit her in Wisconsin.
If you want to see photos of all the places we visited, check out Pam's blog posts:
Upper Latourell Falls
From Vista House to Bridal Veil
Bridge of the Gods to Pool of Winds