Monday, May 30, 2016

Back to Trout Lake

This year was an unusual one at Trout Lake, because although we had the date marked off on the calendar, as we do every year, Dave had just started a new job (delivering lost luggage using our tow vehicle, the Flex), and he had to stay home and be on call. We considered just skipping it, but decided he could tow the trailer over there and leave me and it there for the weekend, while he went back home with the dogs.

So here we are with a couple of the neighbors for the weekend. The little silver one is mine. I had gotten it all prepared and tested at home, but the one thing I did not notice until I was here and living unplugged, was that my battery was dead! It wouldn't hold much of a charge for long. So it was ok for the lights, because they are LEDs and don't need much juice. A little tougher on the waterpump, because it is a power hog, but I can get by just fine without it by keeping a pitcher of water handy The fridge ran fine on propane. But it was pretty cold up there at night, and not having a heater was going to be a bummer. Luckily I had friends who brought over their generators and charged me back up to full every day, which was enough to get the heater running at night long enough to warm the place up, and I had a couple warm blankets too, so it wasn't bad at all.

The mountain was jaw-droppingly beautiful, as usual.

And there was this weird cloud that didn't even look real just hanging out that afternoon.

More happy Airstreams

No Airstream gathering is complete without flamingos

Jonathan was chopping wood...

So he could make campfire magic later. He's a fire wizard!

Then the musicians start gathering

And a fine time was had by all!

I never get tired of the view.

Magical clouds over 'Sleeping Beauty'

Stars over the mountain at night. So many stars I don't even know what I'm looking at. That's Cassiopeia over the mountain. I guess the skyglow is from Seattle? We're a long way from it, but it's in that direction.

More music. We never get tired of music.

The electronic devices come in handy when no one can remember the lyrics!

(not my trailer - that's Gail's trailer, which is very similar to mine)

The last morning. What a beautiful morning! Dave came back and hooked up our little trailer and we headed home. It was great to see everyone, as always, and we missed our friends who couldn't make it this year. Trout Lake is always the best kickoff anyone could want to the camping season.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Panther Falls and Falls Creek Falls (and Cave)

For my weekly outdoor adventure I decided to drag Dave along. For one thing, I hadn't forced him out into the woods lately, and I thought it would be good for him. For another thing, it was a LONG drive out to the woods, and I didn't want to be alone if I broke the Miata.

So we headed down Highway 14 to White Salmon, and headed north into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We had a guidebook, 'Curious Gorge', but in retrospect next time I'll bring some accurate maps. This wasn't like driving the old highway to Multnomah Falls. Forest roads are winding and poorly marked, and I was a bit worried we were going to get lost more than once! And it's not like someone is going to come along and help you find your way, there's not a lot of people out there in the middle of the week!

First stop: Panther Creek Falls.

I was told this is the most spectacular waterfall you've never heard of. There isn't even really a trailhead, just a wide spot of rutted dirt to park alongside the road. Then you walk back along the road about 50 ft and there's an arrow hand-spray painted on the road that says 'falls' - we almost missed it. Follow the little path there into the bushes, and suddenly you are walking on a lovely path through tall trees.

The path goes down to follow this stream a short distance, protected by a fence, and then to a viewing platform for this:

 It's difficult to capture how big this is! It's two streams flowing down this huge wall of rock.

 The streams that tumble down to the waterfall are pretty impressive on their own.

So that was a very short walk to a very spectacular waterfall. People told me if it wasn't located deep in the woods, everyone would be flocking to it. I agree!

 Next stop - Falls Creek Cave.

We didn't do much at Falls Creek Cave except look at it and change our minds about going any further. I think I would do this if I came with more people, but with just the two of us, if someone got hurt, it would be bad. We decided to hold off on this adventure.

Next stop: Falls Creek Falls

So, again, people told me this is the best waterfall in the Gorge (though it's quite a ways from the Gorge itself. They assured me it was worth it. It's a two mile hike in through a lovely forest along a river for much of the hike.

One neat feature, again - hard to capture in photos, was this section where you cross over a little stream coming down the hill, and the rocky area the water is coming out of is all covered in beautiful moss. It was really other-worldly.

The trail continued along past this neat rock wall all covered in moss and ferns

Finally we heard the falls, and looking up, way up, we caught sight of it - the upper falls. Seeing photos of it did not prepare me for how HUGE it was, and the spectacular roar of the water, and the rush of wind coming off of it. It was amazing!

Midweek hiking for the win! We had the viewpoint to ourselves.

Lunchtime, with a view!

Dave climbed down to the lower viewpoint to try and give a little more perspective. As he said, it looked like something you'd expect to see in the jungles of Peru or something!

Finally we headed back, and Dave took a picture of me crossing the bridge at the beginning of the trail. It was a great hike, and a spectacular waterfall.


Elowah Falls

No words, just pretty pictures for this one.

Elowah from Stephanie Roberts on Vimeo.


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Wahclella Falls / Toothrock

Another day, another adventure in the Gorge. I've lived here my whole life and never wandered out to these places before, it's great to finally be exploring them.

Wahclella Falls is at the end of a short 1 mile hike through a canyon surrounded by steep walls. It's an easy trail, and super popular. I went on a Saturday with one of the photography groups I hang out with.

When I got to the trailhead at 9:30 it was already full. It is a small trailhead. But there was parking on the road, so I parked there and walked back. The clouds were starting to clear and it was looking like a "blue sky - puffy cloud day" was in store.

As we walked along Tanner Creek there were some nice little waterfalls along the way, including Munra Falls, which I'll grab a pic of on the way back.

But eventually the trail slowly climbed it's way up until the water was far below.

Walking under cover of the forest.

Finally we broke out of the forest and crossed to the sunny side of the creek.

The walls of the canyon looked like old lava flows, with lots of basalt columns.

There were places where HUGE boulders had fallen down into the river. One of our fellow hikers said it happened back in the early 70's. These boulders are as big as a house!

Here is a closeup so you can see the guy standing on one of them in the picture above.

Finally we came to Wahclella Falls itself. It comes roaring out of a slot in the wall at the end of the canyon. Above it you can see a sliver of a little waterfall feeding into it.

And when you get to just the right spot in front of it you can see there is another waterfall further up the slot. Imagine how long the water has been flowing there to carve that slot!

Another feature very close to the falls was a place where water runs down off the rocks like a constant rain and trickles over this moss-covered wall. Almost impossible to get a good photo of, the water comes down over it like natural misters, and the moss wall twinkles from all the water running down over it. It's kind of magical that something like this exists at all.

After crawling all over the Falls area looking for great shots, we retreated back to the sunny side of the creek for lunch. 

I'm getting in the habit of taking pictures of my boots to show where I've been.

Finally we headed back, stopping for pictures along the way.

Tiny flowers!

Then we passed Munra Falls again.

It comes down a sloped rock wall, and the trail bridge goes right next to it. Makes it very difficult to photograph!

So that was a fun morning out. Since the hike was only two miles, I had energy for a bit more. When I returned to my car I decided to drive up to the Toothrock Trailhead and see what was there. It is a restored section of the historic highway only open for walkers and bikes. So I took a stroll there. Great views of the river and Bonneville Dam.

Beacon Rock!

I was walking down the trail wanting to see Toothrock. I figured it was something like Beacon Rock. Eventually I realized I was walking alongside it the whole way - it is a HUGE rock. The freeway goes through a tunnel THROUGH it. I walked about a mile before I figured it out. Then I walked back, and stopped for a snack and sat on the old highway rockwork and enjoyed the view of the gorge and the cars zipping down the freeway for a bit. 

It was a beautiful day!