Saturday, June 25, 2011

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park

A gem sits at the 45th parallel, half way between the equator and the North Pole.  A few miles east of Silverton, Oregon, is Silver Falls State Park.  In the foothills of the Cascades, several streams have carved a canyon in the rock.  Into this canyon drops 7 larger waterfalls and numerous rivulets.  The two largest falls are North Falls and South Falls.  Both are similar in structure, with an undercut cliff face and a trail that goes behind the falls.  The similarity stops there.  South Falls is larger, but is more developed, with roads, fences, paved walkways, pedestrian bridges, and lots of people.  North Falls is set in the midst of the forest.

The trail curves into the undercut area behind the falls.

The view of the falls varies but is rewarding everywhere along the trail. 
I will take the natural setting of the North Falls over the activity at South Falls any day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The "other" Mount St Helens

Thirty-one years ago, one of the Cascades stratovolcanoes threw a temper tantrum.  Mount St Helens erupted, spewing ash and rock in a fan-shaped path of destruction that spread for 100 square miles to the north, east and west.  The slopes to the south were relatively untouched.

To the northwest, the Toutle River flows, to this day, clouded with ash.  To the southeast, the Lewis River runs clear, clean and cold over waterfalls.

The slopes of Mount St Helens are barren ash and rock on the north side.  The south side old growth forest shows the beauty that once existed all around the mountain.

Of course, with the high moisture levels that are present in the northwest forests, vegetation is lush and green.  Anything that sits still for long enough grows moss.

I moved along.

Even with nearly 2000 feet removed from the top of Mount St Helens, it towers above the surrounding mountains.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reminiscenses - Pacific Coast Highway

In the mid-2000's I drove the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to south of Big Sur.  I noticied that the bridges were all designed with the same basic concept - a reinforced concrete compression arch structure.  The design provides a graceful shape that supports the roadbed without any superstructure to obstruct the view.  This photo is from a slide and I believe was shot south of Big Sur.

Years later, in 2009 I drove the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon from Newport to northern California.  This shot was taken a few miles south of Newport, Oregon.

I was both pleased and surprised to see that the same design concept had been maintained for a distance spanning two states and nearly 1000 miles.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where's the mountain?

I spent a day searching for Mount Baker.  It is a stratovolcano, the most northerly of the Cascades stratovolcanoes in the lower 48.  And it is BIG, like the others.

I had seen it from a ferry on Puget Sound.  In this shot, it towers above the surrounding peaks.  I am looking northeasterly, so those jagged peaks to the left of Baker, about 2/3 the height of Baker, are to the northwest of Baker.  I searched for a route to get me close to Baker with some good views.  There appear to be two routes - one to the south and one to the north.  I will be on the one to the south in about a month, so I headed north.

The road there was beautiful to drive but, except for a few glimpses of the rounded top of Mount Baker, did not yield any views of the volcano.  Instead, it brought me past Nooksack Falls into those jagged peaks (wow - some foothills!) to the northwest of Baker.

So, where the heck's the mountain?  It is only the biggest object within more than a hundred miles, but I never saw it, even though the scenery was magnificent.  I suppose some things are seen most clearly with some distance...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

North Cascades cascades

The weather is clearing and warming, and I have been out and about.  Five days ago, I drove to Granite Falls.  While the water had some silt in it, the fury of the falls shredded that water, filling the air with its spray.  From the right angle with the sun at my back. a dramatic rainbow was revealed.

The spray had a secondary effect.  The land near the falls was covered with rich green ferns.

I took a road that was designed as a loop through the mountains.  The central portion was still closed by snow, but on the northern part of the loop, it paralleled a beautiful mountain stream.

There is a highway that crosses the southern part of North Cascades National Park.  I have only driven the western part so far, but I found this waterfall on it.

There is a road that takes one to the northern slopes of Mount Baker.  While one cannot see Mount Baker from this road (more on this in another post), the scenery is beautiful.  A short side trip took me to Nooksack Falls.  I don't know how high it is, but it is BIG.  It is also unusual in that the Falls exist at the junction of two rivers.  The larger, flowing westerly, drops into a ravine.  Perhaps 1/3 or 1/2 way up from the bottom, the second river, flowing northerly, joins in the drop.  My viewpoint was on the north edge of the drop.  I really wish I could have gotten to  the land near the base at the southeast junction, so that I could see the full drop and the junction of the two falls.  I had to content myself with a partial view of the upper portion of the main drop.  To get a true sense of the size of this, click on the image, then zoom in on the right corner (our left) of the lip of the falls to see the person standing there.