Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lighthouse Goals

I mentioned in a previous blog post that one of my goals is to see all of the lighthouses in Washington and Oregon. So far, I've seen one in Oregon and six in Washington. This past weekend, I was able to see three lighthouses in one day - two on Whidbey Island and one near where my friend Kimberly lives in Mukilteo.

Bush Point was the most difficult to photograph as it was sandwiched between houses in a residential area, and there was a sign about private property in front of the lighthouse. I stopped my car, hopped out, got two pictures on my phone and then left. 

The Mukilteo lighthouse is located in a park near the ferry terminal.

Admiralty Head was my favorite due to being able to go inside the lighthouse.

The other three lighthouses I've seen are Destruction Island, Point No Point, and West Point in Discovery Park. (Washington has some interesting names for things)

This is most likely as close as I'm ever getting to the Destruction Island lighthouse - by zooming in on it with my camera from Ruby Beach.

I stopped at Point No Point during a visit to Poulsbo. 

During my visits to Discovery Park, I always see the West Point lighthouse. 

I'm beginning to notice a common appearance between most of Washington's lighthouses. I'll have to see if there is any more variety after I see all 25 of them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Trail Report: Ebey's Landing

This past weekend I wasn't doing any traveling, but I still wanted to get out and do something active outside. I checked a few trip reports for my favorite hikes in the Cascades, but they're all still snow covered, so I decided to go out to Whidbey Island and do a hike that I saw posted on Facebook by The Seattle Times. It's called Ebey's Landing and it appealed to me because the trail went along the bluffs overlooking the ocean.

I picked up my friend Kimberly and we drove the 2 hours to get to Whidbey Island. It ended up being a gorgeous day - sunny with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The hike was stunning. The trail began at shore level and went up onto the bluffs between farmland and the ocean.

The hike is about 5 miles round trip, and for the second half the trail descends and you return to where you began by walking along the beach. Across the way, we could see the Olympic Peninsula.

I highly recommend this hike for anyone who visits Washington and wants to see some of the coast or visit one of the islands.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Trail Report: Eagle Creek & Punch Bowl Falls

For my second day in the Columbia River Gorge, I hiked on the Eagle Creek Trail to Punch Bowl Falls. This waterfall has been on my photography list for a while, but I found out that April was not the right time of year to get the shot I wanted. I would have liked to get a straight on shot of the waterfall from ground level, but doing so would have required wading into the stream and around the corner of the cliff wall in order to see the falls. I did take off my boots and socks and wander into the water, but it was too cold to stay in it for long and I couldn't get far enough to see any of the falls.

The falls were around the cliff wall on the left

I then went back up the trail to see if I could get a shot of the falls from above. There was a viewpoint, but a barrier and some foliage was in the way of getting a unobstructed photo. I'm not the type of person who goes around barriers since they're there for a reason, but I decided I didn't come all this way to not get a photo of the falls. So, I took off my pack and crawled under the barrier with just my camera. There was a short incline to carefully walk down in order to reach a small flat section at the edge of the cliff. I wasn't thrilled about going down there, but after I did it once I was okay with going back and forth between my pack and the ledge to switch out lenses.

There is a sign near the barrier that says no cliff jumping or diving into the pool below. I think doing something like that would be terrifying, since the ledge is about 80 feet up and because I would think anyone jumping would hit the rocks at the bottom of the pool if the water wasn't deep enough. It's certainly not something I would ever want to do.

The hike to Punch Bowl Falls was only 4 miles round trip. The trail getting there was one of the coolest trails I've been on. It follows Eagle Creek, starting at the same level as the water and gradually gaining elevation until it's high above the water. The trail winds along the cliffs with amazing views of the valley. It's one of those immense places that makes me realize how small I am. Everything about it was gorgeous - it was lush and green, with waterfalls flowing down the cliffs, wildflowers, and narrow, rocky pathways. I'd love to come back here and hike further along this trail to Tunnel Falls and maybe beyond that.

The trail went quite close to the edge of the cliffs

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trip Report: Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is an area known for its high concentration of waterfalls. There are over 90 on the Oregon side of the gorge, and one of the most famous falls is the 620 foot Multnomah Falls. As a result, this is an area that gets a lot of tourists. I've been to the Columbia River Gorge a couple times, but the only waterfall I'd managed to see was the falls at the back of Oneonta Gorge. Once you park somewhere, it's almost impossible to move your car to another location due to how crowded this area gets. I decided that I wanted to finally see a few other waterfalls in the area and my solution was to camp in the gorge so that I could walk to the falls instead of drive.

Multnomah Falls

I made a reservation at Ainsworth State Park. There are a few walk in tent sites, but the rest are RV sites (which also allow tents). The campground was nice - it was right off the interstate and easy to find, and I appreciated that there were showers. Most importantly, one of the gorge trails passed right by the campground, so I was able to hop on that trail and hike 2.4 miles to the first waterfall on my list.

I took this at the campground with my phone. Not the best quality, but it's creepy and I love it.

Side note: I picked a great weekend to visit, because I found out the Gorge Waterfalls 50k and 100k were happening that weekend. I hope to one day run an ultramarathon, and this is my dream race. I can't think of a more scenic place to run! I saw some of the runners on the trail between the campground and the first waterfall, and then I ended up stopping for about 10 minutes in another spot to let about 75 of the runners go by (I checked the race photos and I'm in about 15 of them, off the side of the trail letting runners pass). The runners were so inspiring! I wished I could ask them how I can be like them one day, haha. At the end of my day on the way back to the campground, I saw a few runners again. I was tired from hiking 18 miles, which is nothing compared to the 62 miles they were running that day! I have a long way to go and a lot of work ahead of me if I even want to attempt the 50k distance (31 miles) someday.

Hiking to the falls worked out well. I was able to see 10 of them, and except for the section where I passed by Multnomah Falls and the Multnomah Falls lodge and parking lot, the trails weren't crowded. This is actually the furthest distance I've ever hiked, and although I was tired at the end, I'm looking forward to doing more hikes of a longer distance.

My route and the order in which I saw the falls

The first waterfall I encountered was Horsetail Falls with a height of 176 feet. These falls can be seen from the Historic Columbia River Highway and there is a small parking area across the road. I had a hard time photographing these due to the spray and water getting on the lens. 

The second waterfall was Ponytail Falls (or Upper Horsetail Falls) at 88 feet. The trail goes behind these falls.

The third waterfall was Oneonta Falls. Honestly, I have no idea if this one is Upper, Middle, or Lower Oneonta Falls. Apparently there is disagreement about which falls are which. The falls I have seen in the past are the ones at the back of Oneonta Gorge. On this trail, I was above the falls I've seen in the past, and the falls I could see were the ones slightly before those. There was still a big chunk of snow next to the falls. 

The fourth waterfall was the famous Multnomah Falls at 620 feet! It was so tall! 

The fifth waterfall was Wahkeena Falls at 242 feet. There is a bridge that allows visitors to get a close view of the falls. 

The sixth waterfall was Fairy Falls at 30 feet. This one has been on my list for a long time and it's one of the most frequently photographed waterfalls in the state due to its appearance. It was a delight to photograph (and so easy - not much spray). I just need to improve my photography skills for next time.

The seventh waterfall was Ecola Falls at 55 feet. When I came to this one, I saw the top of it disappearing over the edge. It's the closest I've been to the top of a waterfall. For some reason, I didn't get a good shot of this one straight on, so I only have this view from the side.

The eighth waterfall was Wiesendanger Falls at 50 feet. This was difficult to photograph due to the direct overhead sunlight. Right after seeing it, there was a huge patch of snow covering the trail that someone had carved steps into. It worked, but I was not a fan of the snow steps because I felt like I was going to slip and end up sliding into the river below. After getting down those, there was an awesome overhang that the trail went under. 

The ninth waterfall was Triple Falls at 64 feet. The trail up to the viewpoint for these falls ended up being the steepest section of trail I'd been on all day. I guess it was a good thing that I saved the most difficult for last and could hike back to the campground afterwards. 

I ended up seeing a tenth fall that day. Latourell Falls was on my list but was several miles from the rest of the falls. After returning to the campground, I still had a few hours of daylight left, so I drove over to Latourell Falls. It could almost be seen from the parking area, and I walked down one trail so I could get a closer view. These falls were beautiful and I loved the basalt amphitheater and the colors surrounding the falls. They were difficult to photograph though due to the spray and because it started raining and I had to point my camera up to get the entire falls in, so I kept getting water droplets on the lens. I think these falls ended up being my favorite, and I definitely want to go back and take more photos during better weather and a different season. 

Blurry edges due to water on the lens

As always, I saw several other pretty areas and mini waterfalls along the way. 

One of my favorite sections of trail.