Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gorsh! What a Gorgeous Gorge!

Oscar and I have visited Portland and the Columbia River Gorge several times, but only recently did we discover the Scenic Byway that runs parallel to the freeway.

Unfortunately we discovered it on an ugly, rainy, very cloudy, very foggy day, so our views of the gorge were extremely limited (fortunately we still saw lots of awesome waterfalls that day, which the rain only made better.) I insisted that we return to the Columbia River Gorge on a sunny day sometime.

We ended up coming down to go camping here on August 21st, and what stunning views beheld our eyes. Wow!!!

The above shots were taken here at Chanticleer Point,

though the Vista House at Crown Point featured above is the more popular lookout. This building also goes underground too, so it's a lot bigger than it looks.

The views from here were beautiful as well, but I actually preferred the view from Chanticleer Point where you can see the Vista House in the distance.

What's interesting is that we had not actually intended to come here. We wanted to spend a weekend hiking to the Enchanted Valley of 10,000 waterfalls in Olympic National Park.

We'd planned to go backpacking into the forest, 13 miles each way, to visit the beautiful Enchanted Valley. But when I looked it up online, I learned that a rock slide had blocked the road leading to the trailhead. If we still wanted to go there, we would need to walk an extra 6 miles of road each way. This would have required an extra day for us, which we didn't have since I needed to go back to Leavenworth on Tuesday.

 Oscar and I had been looking forward to taking that trip for several weeks, so when we found out we couldn't do the one we wanted, we still wanted to go somewhere beautiful. Since it would have taken us about 4 hours to drive into the area of Olympic National Park where we'd wanted to go, I suggested we drive 4 hours to the Columbia River Gorge. It was further in distance but we could get there faster since we'd be taking freeway the entire way, and there were several first come, first serve campgrounds.

 When we went into Oregon and were driving east, I enjoyed the views of the gorge on this delightfully sunny day (highs near 90 that day and lows in the 60's that night), and remembered that we should take the Columbia Gorge Scenic Byway.

It's just stunning! I have no regrets about coming here instead of Olympic National Park.

After we finished taking pictures of the gorge, we drove by Latourall Falls. Though we'd been there before, it was a bit foggy, and we thought it'd be nice to get a picture of the falls on a clear day. This falls was barely a trickle of the stunning waterfall we'd seen before (click this link and scroll down to the bottom pictures to see what it's like in Spring). This discouraged me a bit. Though I'm a waterfall lover, I didn't realize that they dried up so much in August. I'd assumed they were strongest in Spring and were weakest in early winter. I'd seen good waterfalls in the summer, so I figured that's when they'd be at about middle flow. But late summer is actually the lowest time of the year for water flow.

We'd planned on taking a hike to many waterfalls in Eagle Creek, and after the first waterfall, I was afraid all of the falls would be very weak. I didn't realize, though, that not all waterfalls have the same watershed. In my waterfall reference book (Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest by Gregory Plumb), he ranks the watersheds of all of his waterfalls from vsm(very small), sm(small), med(medium), and lg(large). Very small watershed falls are really only worth seeing in the spring when they're at their strongest, while large watersheds are great anytime of year unless there's been a long drought. The first falls we saw on this trip, Latourall falls, has a small watershed, which is why it didn't even seem like the falls we'd seen in the spring. The above falls, Starvation Creek Falls, is a pretty falls near Eagle Creek where we set up camp, but it is also has a small watershed, so I'd like to see it again in the Spring.

The above 2 waterfalls could also be found in this area. They are Cabin Creek Falls and Hole in the Wall Falls. Hole in the Wall falls is really nifty since you can see that it gets its name through the hole in the gorge wall that the falls come through. Cabin Creek Falls has a very small watershed and Hole in the Wall Falls has a small watershed.

We had some nice views of the gorge as we climbed through this hike.


Our last falls was Lancaster Falls, which wasn't bad considering it also had a very small watershed.

Supposedly there was another falls called Watson (or Wilson) Falls, but we never found it. It wasn't listed in our book, but there was a sign leading to it.

We drove a bit further down the gorge to the Columbia River Gorge hotel. Wah Gwin Gwin Falls is on the hotel property. It has a medium watershed, so it was still pretty cool to see even in dry time.

And before turning in we drove to Yeon State Park to see Elowah Falls. Though it has a small watershed, and I'd like to see it with greater water flow in the spring, it was still really beautiful.


It almost looked like an extremely tall shower. I loved the fingertip-like way it splashed down on these rocks.

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