Tanya and I recently returned from a 9-day trip to the Bend, Oregon area. While there, I’d hoped to get some shots of the nearby mountains and lakes. After several relatively clear days, during which I photographed at Smith Rock, wildfire smoke blew into the region. Some days were worse than others, but it did really put a damper on my plans. I was bummed, but figured it wasn’t the best time of year to photograph the mountains anyway because they has so little snow (South Sister had a decent amount, but Mount Bachelor was essentially bare). So instead, I spent most of my photography time shooting waterfalls and the Deschutes River where the smoke was much less of an issue.
Tumalo Creek is a tributary of the Deschutes River west of Bend. There are several scenic waterfalls on the creek, the best known being Tumalo Falls (note: Tumalo Falls, and indeed Tumalo Creek, is not located in Tumalo State Park). While the flow of Tumalo Creek is diminished by irrigation and water-supply diversions by the time the creek reaches the river, these diversions are all below the falls. And, being spring-fed, there is a good flow over the falls even in late summer.
There is an 8-mile loop trail that starts at Tumalo Falls and goes by six other waterfalls (or seven depending on how you count). Due to time, I did not do the entire loop, but rather did a 6-mile out-and-back hike to Middle Tumalo Falls, which also took me by Double Falls (which is really two different waterfalls, in my opinion).
Tumalo Falls is considered one of the most photogenic falls in the State of Oregon. The view is good from the lower viewpoint near the parking lot (which fills early during the summer; additional parking is further down the road, with an official overflow parking lot a mile or more from the falls), but you can also work your way upstream from the bridge over the creek just before the parking lot on an unofficial trail for a view with the creek in the foreground (the featured photo above). The North Fork Trail, which forms half of the aforementioned loop, leads to an upper viewpoint at the top of the falls about 1/4 mile from the parking lot.
Beyond the top of Tumalo Falls, the North Fork trail continues, leading to the very pretty Double Falls, about one mile from the trailhead. Double Falls is really three waterfalls, two close together and the other a couple hundred feet upstream. The viewpoint along the trail is above the creek, on the edge of a canyon, looking down on the falls. The upper portion of Double Falls is about 300 feet further up the trail.
A mile or so further is Middle Tumalo Falls. Here the view from the official viewpoint is somewhat obscured by trees. However, it is fairly easy to scramble down to creek level for a closer look. Be sure to pack your wide-angle lens for all three of these falls.
South of Bend there are several other waterfalls. The Deschutes River southwest of Bend has three waterfalls, only one of which, Benham Falls, is readily accessible. Benham Falls, which appears like more of a very steep rapid than a waterfall, is a mass of white water shooting through a bedrock chute. The main viewpoint gives the only decent view from below the falls. Above the falls, there are several spots to shoot the top of the falls and other rapids above the falls, both above the river and at river level. Though located down a rough dirt Forest Service Road, Benham Falls get a fair amount of visitation.
For a more truly off the beaten path waterfall, try Fall River Falls, located in La Pine State Park. The road to reach this waterfall is not even marked (see directions on Photohound). Though not particularly impressive, there is a great swimming hole below the falls, and Fall River above the falls is very scenic.
There are about a half dozen waterfalls on Paulina Creek in and adjacent to Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The most popular is Paulina Falls, an unusual twin waterfall in the Newberry volcano caldera. Further down the creek there are a number of waterfalls, most of which are accessible only by hiking. The excepting being McKay Crossing Falls, which is located at the McKay Crossing Campground.
You can access additional information and see addition photos of these waterfalls on the Photohound website.
Last week I took a 3-day trip to the Okanogan, searching for fall colors. I drove through the area in October four years ago, but had little time for photography. The trip last week was my chance to go back. Washington doesn’t have fall colors like the northeastern United States, but if you know where to look, you can still find color amongst the evergreens. Tanya and our dog, Benson, came along, and we stayed at an Airbnb house along the shore of Osoyoos Lake, near the town of Orville and just 3 miles from the Canadian border.
The Okanogan area is a great location to find Washington’s fall colors. Along the Okanogan and Similkameen Rivers, Osoyoos Lake, and many smaller lakes in the area, there are plentiful cottonwood trees which turn yellow and gold. (The featured photo above is of the Similkameen River.) Both west of the Okanogan River valley in the Cascade Mountains foothills and east of the valley in the Okanogan Highlands, there are yellow and orange aspens and tall yellow western larch trees. Sumac and other smaller shrubs provide a splash of red.
Below are several images from the trip. In case you are interested in exactly where these images where shot, I’ll be sharing the locations for some on Photohound. Or drop me an email and I can give you the locations.
Every November and December I try to edit the photos that I took for the year in preparation of sending them in for copyright registration. This gives me a good opportunity to find a few good images that I hadn’t really looked at or worked with earlier in the year. This year, I took a solo backpacking trip to High Camp on Mount Adams in late August. After I returned, I barely looked at the images I took because I was preparing for our trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone in September. So, with the year-end editing, I finally took a good look at the images from my Mount Adams trip and thought I’d post a few.
High Camp is located on the north side of Mount Adams inside the Mount Adams Wilderness Area. It is just shy of 7,000 feet in elevation and is about as high on the mountain you can go without a climber’s permit (required above 7,000 feet). Of course, the view of Mount Adams is fantastic, but it also has good views of Mount Saint Helens to the west and Mount Rainier to the north. High Camp is located at the edge of a large alpine meadow and great wildflower fields in August. This year, I was a bit late for the wildflower show. There were wildflower present, but it was definitely past the peak.
High Camp is a 10-mile roundtrip hike, via the Killen Creek Trail off of Forest Road 2329, with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet. Much of the elevation gain occurs in the final two miles, where the High Camp Trail branches off the Pacific Crest Trail. Though a popular spot, there are plenty of places to camp at High Camp. I picked a spot slightly sheltered by trees that still had a view of Adams to the front and Rainier to the back. The photos I’ve included with this post give a visual journey of a evening, night, and morning at High Camp.
You can read a little more about it and see a few more photos in my spot description of High Camp on Photohound.
After trying for about a year, I finally captured the shot of the full moon (or almost full moon) rising over Mount Rainier. I’ve discussed my various attempts at capturing this shot in several previous posts, including this one from August 2019 and this one from earlier this year. Using the Photographers Ephemeris, I calculated what days the nearly full moon will rise behind Mount Rainier from spots near to Tacoma. This happens every year in June, July, and August.
I say almost full moon because I wanted to capture the moon just before sunset, and on day of the actual full moon, it ususally rises after sunset. The shots here were taken two days before the official full moon. My other attempts, described below, were the day before the full moon.
Last August, I went to the Fox Island Bridge along with several friends to capture the rising moon. We did see the moon rise behind Rainier, but the clouds partially obscured the moon and the light on the mountain itself was not optimal. I went again last June and had similar results. In July, I again met two friends, this time at Dune Park in Tacoma. However, the mountain and the rising moon were not visible due to clouds (though I did get some other worthwhile shots).
Finally, last month I had success, as you can see from the shot above and those below. Once again I journeyed to Dune Park, and all the necessary elements for a successful shot fell into place. I had the added bonus of seeing a dolphin frolicking off the park’s shores – the first time I’ve ever seen a dolphin there. Were the shots worth waiting and planning over an entire year? You be the judge.
Last week, as part of the gradual easing of its stay-at-home order, Washington State opened up the majority of state parks for day-use only. Knowing that I was going into photography withdrawal, Tanya suggested we head out on a photo day. Even though the parks were open, it was suggested people stay local. Well, local is a relative term, and being a Westerner, I don’t mind driving several miles – in this case 200 miles one way. Is that local? It was still in the State of Washington and we didn’t need to stay overnight – that’s local to me.
So last Saturday we packed up a picnic and the camera gear and headed off to Sun Lakes – Dry Falls State Park. Why there? One, it has the raw beauty of the channeled scablands. But perhaps more importantly, I thought there wouldn’t be as many people there as in closer state parks. The weather was sunny and warm, and there was bound to be more than a few people out enjoying the state parks on this first weekend since the pandemic started that they were open. And while there were a fair number of people at the park, the park’s parking lots was not crowded – unlike the several hiking trailheads we passed on the way over the mountains that were overflowing with cars. In fact, the parking for the trail we took in Sun Lakes State Park only had one other car (out of four parking spots – so with us, it was half full; is that crowded?).
Sun Lakes State Park is located in the Grand Coulee. The park itself contains at least four lakes, and there are a number of other lakes further down the coulee. That gave this trip the added bonus of having a place to stop before reaching the park for me to fly my drone (drones are not allowed in Washington State Parks without a permit) while Tanya took Benson, our 8-month old, 102-pound Newfoundland, on his first swim. We picked a spot along Alkali Lake, and while Tanya and Benson frolicked in the water, I checked out Alkali Lake and Lake Lenore from the air.
Then it was on to Sun Lakes. The state park has a developed camping (closed) and day-use area on Park Lake with nice green grass and large shade trees. Instead of stopping there, we took the road to Deep Lake, which is developed with a small picnic area with natural vegetation and a boat launch. There were about 10 cars there and several dozen people swimming or fishing in the lake. So instead of taking the lakeside trail, we decided to take the Caribou Trail with climbs the hillside above the lake (not sure why it is named the Caribou Trail, caribou are definitely not native to this desert terrain).
Though I’ve been to Sun Lakes perhaps a dozen times before, I had never been to Deep Lake or on the Caribou Trail, so this was new territory to me. I knew the trail climbed above up toward the top of the coulee, but I didn’t know if it had a view of Deep Lake from up there. It is a relatively short trail, and the official trail ends when reaching the top of the cliffs. No view from there. So we kept walking on a faint unofficial trail, and then, eventually, set off cross country to find a view. And sure enough, we found a view of Deep Lake far below. We sat on the rocks, pulled out our water bottles, and drank in both water and scenery.
After shooting for 15 or 20 minutes, we headed back down the car. We don’t quite have our car setup organized well with the new dog yet. Trying to fit the dog and all the camera gear in the car along with food and drink (which must be separated from the dog) is a challenge. I decided to pack the camera backpack in a different spot after the hike, to be loaded after the dog got in. Unfortunately, after loading the dog, I forgot about the bag and started to back out onto the road only to run over something. You guessed it, my camera backpack!
Luckily, my camera was not in the pack, and a quick check didn’t show anything broken. We drove back to Deep Lake for our picnic dinner. There were a few less people, and we got a picnic table isolated from others. While eating, I checked out the gear in more detail. All the lens seemed to be working okay. However, there are cracks on a portion of the barrel of the Tamron 150-600 mm zoom. Also, the split neutral-density filter is history. Hopefully the lens can be repaired (currently the Tamron repair shop, which is in New York, is closed due to the pandemic).
After dinner, we drove over to Dry Falls Lake, which, not surprisingly, is located at the base of Dry Falls. It was an hour or so before sunset and the light on the cliffs of Dry Falls was particularly nice. The featured shot above is a 4-shot panorama of Dry Falls and Dry Falls Lake.
If you plan on making the trip out to Sun Lakes – Dry Falls State Park, be forewarned that the road to Dry Falls Lake is extremely rough. We did okay in our SUV, and I do think most regular passenger cars would make it, but some cars without much ground clearance could have difficulties. The road to Deep Lake is paved.
We left before sunset so we could get home before 11 pm. All in all, even with the the misadventure with my camera backpack, it was a good day. As always, I welcome your comments.