Our trip across Stevens Pass ended just short of Leavenworth. We took a run along the river through Tumwater Canyon. Here the river sits in the bottom of the valley and the road runs alongside it. Plenty of nice views of the river as it winds its way downhill, some of which you can only see as you drive along the road because there is no space to stop. Other locations, though, do provide an area to allow you to pull off and wander around. Given how pretty it is, you are not alone in these places!
The river widens out in places and then narrows in to some rapids in others. On a sunny day with the fall foliage around, standing by the water and watching the swirling and tumbling flows is really relaxing. The noise of the water can drown out the traffic passing not far away and you can be quite mesmerized. If you don’t mind the close proximity to the traffic, you can also explore a little in each direction away from the parking and get some great new views of the river. You are either walking alongside the road or outside the barriers and close to the edge of the river so paying attention is a must!
One downside to the popularity of the place is that it is a bit tricky to avoid having lots of people in your shots. You can move away a little and have them out of sight. Alternatively, a little careful selection of your angles and shooting location and they can either be cropped out or cunningly concealed behind some other part of the scenery.
During our last trip to Kauai, I wrote about visiting Waimea Canyon, some of which you can find in the previous posts including here. This year we went back. We weren’t looking to do much hiking this time but instead just wanted to take in the lovely scenery. It is certainly a dramatic enough spot that you can get plenty of good stuff to see.
I did manage to get an aviation theme to this post though. We got to one of the overlook locations looking into the canyon and one of the tour helicopters was coming towards us. I grabbed a quick shot of the EC130 as it turned away. Plenty of other helicopters came by – a steady stream really – but they all took different routes. I guess it depends on your pilot as to what you get.
We got to the top of the canyon road and the overlook that gives views of the north coast of the island – normally. Not this day. The clouds were rolling in and obscuring the view to the north. Since we were right at the summit, the clouds bubbled up to the top and then dissipated almost immediately. You had cloud on one side and nothing on the other. Very cool!
For those of you following the posts closely – aren’t you all? – I previously reported on Waimea Canyon as seen from the ground, sometimes while wearing disintegrating hiking boots! I also mentioned that we were going back in a slightly faster form of transportation.
I have posted already about the article I was writing about MaunaLoa Helicopters, the company that we were using for our trip. I won’t duplicate much from the article – if you are interested, you can still see that piece here. Instead, I will just give you a selection of shots taken from the helicopter. We flew across the canyon later in the afternoon so the light was lower and a lot more attractive.
That time of day is also a time when clouds can start to build up so we did get some cloud cover as we flew in. However, that did not detract in any way from how amazing the place looked. Sometimes high overlooks provide a vantage point that doesn’t look too dissimilar from the view from a helicopter when you are flying in the canyon. However, I can assure you that the variety of views and the sights that are inaccessible from the road are one of the things that makes the flight so worthwhile. Having no doors only enhances the experience (and the photography!).
We spotted a number of locations we had seen previously. The rocky outcrop we came out onto was one we could see and the full falls that we had been near the top of were so much more impressive from this angle.
If money and time were no object, I would try this trip a number of times and at different times of day. There must be an ever changing variety of effects to see given the chance!
The Grand Canyon of the Pacific – that is one of the names that is given to Waimea Canyon on Kauai. It is a dramatic geological formation that runs through the middle of the island. The drive there is not a short one but it certainly is worthwhile. The scenery is dramatic and there are plenty of good locations close to the road from which to take it all in.
Over and above the easily accessible areas, there are plenty of hiking options available to take advantage of and, despite the fact the peak of the tourist season had passed, there were still a lot of people taking a walk through the wilds.
Our hiking activities did not necessarily go according to plan. We had picked a couple of trails that we wanted to explore, one before lunch and one after. We got to the first trail quite early as a result of starting out from the hotel promptly. There was an option to drive the first section if you had a 4×4 but we skipped that and trekked off. After the track ended and we were on the trail itself, we descended the hillside. All of this descending is one of those things you can’t help but be aware of when you know you are going to be coming back up the same way!
A little while later one of my boots suddenly felt like something was stuck on it. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Instead, the sole of the boot was coming away from the rest of the boot. No option but to turn around and head back to the car. The climb back up was just as I had imagined it would be. Meanwhile, the second boot was starting to disintegrate as well. These were boots I had owned for many years but hadn’t used for a while. I guess the material had aged and couldn’t hold together any longer. The separation of the sole got worse and we headed back up and one sole was gone by the time we reached the car and the other was almost done.
A change of shoes and we now went for a second effort. The time we had taken meant the sun was a bit higher in the sky and the temperature was a bit higher. We passed bits of the sole of my boots as we went and then got into new territory. Eventually we came out on an exposed area of rock with some excellent views of the surrounding canyon. A bit more of a descent and we came to the top of some waterfalls.
The return trip was a bit more effort than we were really ready for. The climb up was a steady effort but the higher sun was now making us a lot warmer. That, combined with having already made a round trip for part of the hike, meant we were feeling absolutely wiped out by the time the car came into welcome view. A short drive to a cafe and we ate and drank like we hadn’t seen food and drink for days! Needless to say, our enthusiasm for the second – harder – hike had waned and so we spent the rest of the time checking out overlooks closer to the road and enjoying the views from there.
Some of the overlooks had been bypassed on the way up but checking them out as we went back down the roads was very worthwhile. Some stunning scenery and some better views than from the very top of the canyon. We also watched a few of the touring helicopters which was part of our plan for the following day. I shall tell more about that in a coming post!