Monday, January 31, 2011

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, OregonIf you're like me and thousands of others, while driving on I-84 you struggle to catch a glimpse of Multnomah Falls, a well-known icon of Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge. Next time. Stop. Exit the freeway, park in the lot, take in the view, snap some photos and explore the scenery. You'll be glad you did.

The falls is split between the upper falls and lower falls. The total drop of the falls is about 620 feet making Multnomah Falls the tallest in Oregon. Cliff walls reveal the local geology exposed by floods.

As you might expect, higher volumes of water happen in winter and spring. Larch Mountain's underground springs are the continual source of the falls. 

Hike up the 1.2 mile trail to the top of the falls and you'll be treated to beautiful views of Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge. From there you can continue hiking to the top of Larch Mountain or take the Wahkeena Loop Trail. 

If you're lucky enough to live in the Northwest or able to visit often, visit Multnomah Falls at various times of year. Winter-Ice, Spring-Runoff, Summer-Refreshing, Fall-Colors. Next time you're driving the Columbia River Gorge, plan ahead, allow some time to stop.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Island of Time. Blue Basin, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Pulling into the parking lot at the Blue Basin trailhead I never guessed what we'd see on our hike let alone how hot it would be. Temperatures in this canyon terrain are often 20 degrees higher than nearby locations. It reminded me of the temps in Hells Canyon. 
Thankfully, we had water for our hike into Oregon's badlands.

Even in the heat, the hike was worth it. The colors, textures and formations of the canyon walls are fascinating. White. Tan. Brown. Chocolate. Gray. Green. Blue. Sprayed-on cement. Dried Mud. Incredible Inclines. Fossils of various plants and animal ancestors. Castle-esque hilltops. A glorious amphitheater.  Deep grooves mocking river beds. One section resembled a rock-ledge waterfall (see blue-green ledge in my photo).

I imagined a past with a vastly different terrain. I see a river coursing downhill. My thought was that this place had captured  "A River in Time."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Hill of a Different Color. Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

See what I mean? All of the sudden you drive around a bend and there it is. The Hill of a Different Color.

The only one in the immediate scenery with such dramatic, vivid color. Looks like a show-off.

The Painted Hills show signs of heavy erosion in their volcanic ash layers. This erosion has revealed the tones and hues of the claystones. Colors and intensity change with available light and moisture. Once you see these colors for yourself, you'll want to return at a different time of year.

The photos I took of the Painted Hills were taken in September.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Imagine driving through the Oregon "outback", lots of rocky terrain covering hills and deep valleys, sparse vegetation for miles, then the road you're on makes its way around the hillside and there in front of you are hills of a different color... the kind you've heard tell about. Painted hills. Semi-solid colors. Stripes and bands of red and gold. Some blotches of black. Broad strokes of dark green and mahogany and the shades of purple. "WOW!", you say. You wonder how much more color is underneath that rocky crust. Somehow the already exposed earth in all its magnificent colors with fascinating stories may not be enough for your curiosity. You still wonder how much more color is there.

Take in all that color and know that this was caused by volcanic episodes, dramatic heating and cooling, the deposits of minerals and of course, time. Ahh, time and Mother Nature. What a great combination of powers, creating some of the most interesting and spectacular art in the natural world.

Come see the gallery of the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Experience the colors and textures for yourself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sagebrush at Sheep Rock, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Sagebrush adds color to and thrives in the arid landscape of Oregon's high desert. Sheep Rock seen in the background is a prominent feature of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Sheep Rock Unit.

Besides many hiking trails and beautiful, other-worldly terrain, you'll find the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. Here you can learn about this area from the National Park Service employees or take a self-guided tour through the interpretive center. You can also look through a large window directly into a lab where scientists study this area's evolution.

Leave the freeways and main highways, take the backroads through oh-so-small towns to see this fascinating geology. The landscapes in this part of Oregon are vastly different and I think you'll be amazed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oregon, the way I see it...

Welcome to "Oregon, the way I see it...", my new blog. I hope you enjoy the photos I have taken of my home state and will visit often.

I love traveling the highways and back roads of Oregon and taking photos of some of the finest and most diverse scenery in the world. I produce a desktop calendar each year to share those images and promote Oregon, the state I love.

Have you ever driven a highway or back road simply to see where it takes you, then have been amazed at what the scenery revealed to you? Take a look around, see what's in my backyard.