Saturday, October 20, 2012

North Cascades National Park Trip Spring 2012

In late August of 2011, Oscar and I took the long way home from Leavenworth so that we could see North Cascades National Park. It was a beautiful day, and the views of Ross and Diablo lakes were amazing, but the waterfalls were pathetic little trickles. I told him I wanted to come back in the spring so I could see the waterfalls in all their glory. We took a road trip up in late June of this year (higher elevations equals later spring), and this time we viewed everything from west to east rather than east to west. Our first stop was pretty though distant Big Devil Falls.

I don't know if this one has a name, but this dam makes for a small but powerful waterfall.
Gorge Creek Falls is pretty cool, but it really needs a panoramic display to do it justice. Too bad we didn't get a camera with panorama abilities until a week after this trip.
I liked the multiple tiers of Ketchum Creek Falls.

Lake Diablo was as beautiful and windy as ever.

Last time, John Pierce Falls was a tiny trickle. It's still not fabulous, but it's decent. We took a little hike away from the highway to get closer to its main drop. We had to wade through a lot of bramble to get there. I was more impressed with the fact that we made it there than I was with the view once we arrived.

There were a few more small falls whose names we're unsure of.

Bebee Creek falls was pretty cool, but there was no real way to get closer to it's largest drop
We took a quick lunch break in the tiny, tiny town of Mazama before hiking up to beautiful Cedar Falls.

And we made our final stop at Ross Lake before heading back home the way we came. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Spring 2012 Road Trips and Hikes

We had a pretty decent spring this year, so I wanted to start my waterfalling early. Unfortunately I had not yet learned my lesson that wet periods for waterfalls aren't always during your typical spring months when they're at higher elevations. We drove 3 hours to see Clear Creek Falls near Mt Ranier in mid April, but there was far too much snow to see anything. The only thing we were actually able to get a decent shot of was Lava Creek Falls.

After being disappointed by that road trip, I wanted to go to the Columbia River Gorge where I knew all the waterfalls would be at lower elevations. We drove down the Washington side of the gorge this time to see something new. The waterfalls aren't quite as impressive as the ones on the Oregon side. I looked several of them up and found them to be decent swimming holes, though not particularly scenic waterfalls. But 2 in particular made it worth the trip. We drove as far as the "Bridge of the Gods," which crosses back into Oregon near Cascade Locks.

The two that are worth seeing are Hardy Falls (left) and Rodney Falls (right). If you hike up as high as possible to Rodney Falls, there's an area you can stick your head in and feel a massive rush of air. It's called "the Pool of Winds."

There's a pretty view of the gorge on the way back down the trail, but the electric lines are a total eyesore.

After we crossed the bridge, we decided to visit a few waterfalls we'd seen last August. Click here to see how dry they were then and compare them to how beautiful they are in the spring. This is Wah Gwin Gwin Falls on the  Columbia River Gorge hotel property. The pic above makes me look like there's a bridge on my head!

Above are Starvation Creek Falls, Hole in the Wall Falls and Cabin Creek Falls, and below is Lancaster Falls (I heard somewhere that Lancaster is actually a different falls you can't see from the hike, and that this one is actually called Wilson Falls, but I don't know if that's true). Much better than in August! The day started off rainy and nasty, but by this time the clouds were clearing and it actually ended up being pretty nice.

But the falls that made by far the biggest difference to see in the spring was Elowah Falls. Compare the left (April 2012) to the right (August 2011). You wouldn't even think it was the same waterfall!

This time around, we had a bit more time and were able to take the hike up to upper McCord Creek Falls (right). There's also a decent side view of Elowah falls (left) on the trail.

This shot with Oscar shows just how tall Elowah Falls is.
The nice days kept coming that spring, so we took another road trip up to Whidbey island and hiked along the Deception Pass beach.

Of course we also went up and took a few pics from the bridge. It's always gorgeous up there!

And after the dismal view from Mt Si I had the first time I hiked it (scroll to the bottom of this post to see my unlucky arrival time at the summit in October 2011), I wanted to do the hike again, and this time bring Oscar with me. We picked a great day for it too. Gorgeous!

We decided not to hike to the top of the haystack (right) since we heard it's a lot more dangerous, there was still snow on the trail, and there's not much better of a view than there is from the main summit.

I only saw this side of the mountain (left) during my first trip. I didn't realize you could hike on the rocks a bit higher to see a fuller view (right).
There's a slightly longer loop trail within that main trail that will take you to this view below. It doesn't add to what you've seen if you've already made it to the top, but if you're not up for that killer climb, this makes for a decent view too.