The North Cascades Highway crosses a bridge at Gorge Creek. We had stopped to go to a lookout point on the lake side of the highway and the trail to this point ran alongside the creek. As we headed back, I wanted to take a quick look from the bridge. I walked out a short distance and could see the creek below. I almost turned back at this point but, fortunately, I kept walking a bit further and suddenly a waterfall came into view. I could easily have missed it. Indeed, Nancy almost didn’t come out when I told her to come and have a look as she similarly thought she had seen all there was.
The falls were slightly tricky to photograph. The top section of the falls was the first to be seen as you walked out on to the bridge. The bottom section was obscured. As you walked out further, the bottom came in to view but the top started to become obscured. Getting the full scale of the falls in one shot is not really possible. While you are there, you appreciate it of course but it is not so easy to portray to someone remotely. With the shadow of the gorge as well, getting a shot meant dealing with a wide dynamic range. This would have been a good time to try a pano in HDR. The latest version of Lightroom has that functionality automated but it hadn’t come out when I was there and, to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered trying it!
Waterfalls seemed to be a popular part of our trip to Canada. We did a short hike to the Nairn Falls, a short drive north of Whistler. We chose a rainy day to make our walk but a combination of the right clothing and the tree cover the trails enjoyed for the majority of the walk meant this wasn’t a problem. The rain certainly didn’t hurt the amount of water flowing over the falls.
The falls themselves are in stages. The first section drops down into a gully which then reverses the flow out in the opposite direction. This flow seems to involve going under some rocks so floating objects like logs get stuck whirling around on the surface but never getting downstream. You can head down to a lower level to see more of the falls. The rocks down to this level were a bit slippery given how much it was raining but there are some handrails for old geezers like me to stabilize myself with. It was worth the trip. The bottom of the falls had some strong flows crashing down and they really got your attention.
The downside to exploring the falls was that you were out in the open and the heavens really seemed to deliver while we were there. Even with the rain gear on, there was only so long I wanted to be out there getting hammered on. I made the climb back up to the top. The interesting thing was how many people we saw on the trail out and back but how few seemed to explore the falls themselves. Maybe they didn’t want to get too wet in the rain or perhaps they didn’t realize how far down you could get. I’m glad I checked it all out.
I shared some photos from our visit to Snoqualmie Falls in this post. While I was there I did shoot a little video too. Here is a sample of that video since, with something like flowing water, stills don’t always give you quite the sense of the flow and power of the falls.
The Big Island has dramatically different characteristics as you move across it. As we took our trip on the helicopter to see the volcanic activity, we continued up the east side of the island which is considerably wetter than the west. There are dramatic valleys and high cliffs. The terrain looks impressive from the air but I imagine it looks even more amazing when you are on the ground. Our pilot described hiking around some of these valleys. Crossing one ridge is apparently a six hour hike and that is if you are not loaded down with too much gear!
We flew in to some of the valleys to have a look around. The ground towered above us on most sides and you really felt in awe of the geology around you. Everything is so large, images don’t even start to represent what we saw. We also came in to the highest falls on the island. The largest of these drop over 3,000’ down the sides of the mountains. We flew in to a corner where these falls were raining down. The shots are not special but I include them to try and give an impression of what was there. The scale is impossible to judge and I also had plenty of reflections from the cockpit glazing but here they are anyway.
We buzzed around a number of these valleys always surrounded by lush, steep slopes. This is not an area for the faint of heart. We then headed back towards the west up another valley climbing towards the ridge ahead of us. As we popped over this ridge the green foliage was almost instantly replaced by the dry, brown landscape we had originally come from. The transition was instant and rather surprising as, while climbing up, you had no idea what was ahead. Then it was a straight run back to our base.
Big Island is not short of waterfalls. The most well-known ones attract tourists like us who will drive to see them. However, so much of the island is not close to the roads and there are rivers and falls all through this area. Our pilot was a keen hiker and he showed us his favorite falls. Apparently this trip will be a full day hike to get you in and out again. I assume this includes some time to hang out and enjoy the falls once you get there.
If you are slightly less energetic, flying over the falls in a helicopter is a lot quicker to do and certainly doesn’t tire you out as much. The location certainly looked cool though and, from above, you get less of an immersive feeling. Judging by the river we saw on our way to the falls, there are plenty of cool sights to see on the way as well. You do need to be well prepared though. Forget cell phone coverage. You are on your own out there!
One of the more frustrating elements of photography is trying to convey the sense of scale. In the past I have had the conversation with people visiting Yosemite for the first time that everything they have seen of it in pictures will not prepare them for the scale of the real thing. Wide angle lenses can bring in a lot of the scenery but they also compress it in a way that reduces the impact. This is a lot more of a problem when dealing with something impressive in a confined space. Aira Force is one such example. Located on the north side of Ullswater, Aira Force is a series of waterfalls of differing sizes. There is one particularly large fall that is in a narrow cleft in the rocks.
A set of steep steps take you from the top of the rocks down to where the falls hit the water. Getting everything in a single shot of the falls needs a very wide angle on your lens. The downside of this is that it becomes harder to appreciate exactly what the shot is. You are looking down and the bottom becomes very small in the frame. It is hard to appreciate exactly how impressive the whole thing looks. If you get people in the shot that helps but they can be so small that they aren’t immediately obvious so the effect is diminished.
The falls themselves are great in person. You can walk down on one side, across the bottom and climb up the other side before crossing a bridge that runs over the top of the falls. The view looking down from the top is pretty cool too. You are just away from the edge so there is some detachment from the plunge the water takes. If you continue up the hill, there are further falls that the water undergoes as it comes down the hill. The way the water has cut through the rock results in some twists and turns on its way.
Plenty of people visit the main section of the fall but a lot less seemed bothered to go up the hill and see what else was there. They were the ones making a mistake because the whole thing was a really attractive sight to see.
We may have lived in Dublin for over six months now but, for some reason, we had yet to go and stretch our legs on Mt Diablo. Such a large mountain so close to us, it is hard to miss when you are in this area but we hadn’t got around to going there. It was time for a change and time to get a good hike in since we haven’t been out for a while.
Our hike started out in Clayton on the opposite side of the mountain from us. It wasn’t a terribly long hike since we haven’t exactly been keeping in shape. However, while it was only just under 6 miles, the terrain was a bit more interesting than we had expected. We certainly got some climbing in as well as some descents that had footing that took a little practice to master. The aim was to get to a trail that loops around some falls. We weren’t expecting to see anything at the falls since it has been a very dry winter but they were still flowing although not with any great force. The top of the valley provided a great view of the land below as well as the terrain around the falls and Mt Diablo above us.
It is hard to give a sense of scale in images like this. As I look at them, it reminds me of how cool it looks but also of how an image on the screed is no reflection of the grand vista I saw at the time. It was really lovely even if we were a bit hot and tired by the end of it. It will be interesting to see it at different times of year.