Saturday, August 17, 2013

Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway Water Falls

August 16, 2013
(More photos at

Darlene, Nora the Schnauzer and I spent two nights this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) at The Dalles, Ore., in order to tour the Columbia Gorge Historic Highway and photograph some of the more accessible waterfalls.
I specifically wanted to stop at the Women's Forum Overlook at the western end of the scenic route for a view of Crown Point and Vista House. I've seen many impressive photos of that view and wanted to record my own image of the scene.
The last time we made this tour,in 2010, I drove the Subaru into a curb at Latourelle Falls and put a threatening bulge in the right rear tire.
Fearing a flat at any minute, we held our breath for 25 miles or so, passing the view of Vista Point, into a Les Swaubs at Troutdale for, as it turned out, a new set of tires.
We dined there and drove back to The Dalles.
And a few weeks ago, we stayed two nights at The Dalles and spent a day at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum. On that trip, we dined at Spooky's Pizza. An Oriental salad with draft Black Butte Porter in a frosted glass made my day.
Actually, the prospect of masticating this succulent chow added spice to seeing the water falls.
As it turned out, we drove fewer than 250 miles, including stops of photograph large spiders on the sage bushes along the river (Pine Creek), and reached Spooky's for a late lunch.

Luck prevailed.
A vehicle left a slot beneath a shade tree, which allowed us to leave Nora in the car (with the windows down and plenty of water).
I had the beer and salad.
Darlene gnawed chicken wings and smacked her sweet lips.
Then we ventured six miles to the stunning Rowena Crest views of the horseshoe curved road and the Columbia River.

I drove another the 10 miles of the historic highway, which parallels the freeway, to Mosier with its tall Totem Poll.

We returned to The Dalles on the freeway, napped until I walked three minutes to Freddies and fetched chocolate brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries and Pike Place coffee for a snack.
We left the Super 8 before 8 a.m. on Wednesday. We stopped again at Rowena Crest and continued to Mosier. We saw one whitetail doe with a fawn, one bushy-tailed grey squirrel and an osprey with a foot-long fish gripped nose-first in its claws.   

The osprey sailed over the crest. It landed on an power pole a few hundred yards away. I rolled the truck slowly toward it, but it flew when I tried to aim the camera across the hood from the open door.
Incredibly, the hawk returned to another pole more than a mile from the previous stop. It flew again before I could get a shot.
From Mosier, I drove to the Ainsworth Park exit from I-84 and picked up the second historic highway section. Within a few minutes we reached a rest stop and then Horsetail Falls.
Nora and I strolled beneath the trees, and I framed images of the falls from several angles, usually with a very slow shutter speed.

As Nora and I walked from the truck to Multnomah Falls, we met a couple from Walla Walla. I followed Nora, who weaved among clutches of people, from the parking area for the .2-mile path to the scenic bridge below the top falls.

I drove half-a-mile to Wahkeena Falls to take another short trek with Nora to the plummeting water.

I drove 3.5 miles from Wahkeena to Bridal Veil Falls, one of my favorites. Nora and I hiked 500 feet down a winding ankle-straining rocky trail to the falls, a three-quarters of a mile round trip.

Then we strolled a half-mile loop on the plateau to an overlook of the Columbia River, passing vivid-red flowers on the way.

We paused briefly at Shepperd's Dell, and down to a miniature (comparatively?) falls.

We continued to LaTourell Falls, another favorite. Nora and I visited both viewpoints of the very tall falls. The bulging basalt cliff formations may be as interesting as the plunging water that dwarfed human figures near the pool.
Nora and I walked to the shade of the bulging cliff-side where the mist cooled my face and hands. And where I shielded the camera with my shirttail.

Finally, after negotiating a one-lane, road-work mess at Crown Point, we parked at the Women's Forum Overlook. Alas, a heavy haze, probably from wildfires, lay on the river. It nearly obscured Beacon Rock and left a gritty odor of smoke in the air.
Nevertheless, I snapped photos of Crown Point and Vista House.

On the way home from The Dalles the next day, with somewhat clearer air, I watched spiders again at Pine Creek. Then sneaked up on a painted turtle and a great white egret at the ponds below McNary Dam.

We didn't see all of the falls in the Gorge. We missed the impressive Oneonta Falls. Seeing it requires a 1.1-mile, one-hour hike, at least. And we didn't explore water falls on the Washington side of the Gorge, west of  The Dalles.
So, we may spend a couple of nights in The Dalles.
And don't forget Spooky's frosty draft Black Butte Porter with an Oriental Salad.

No comments: