I’m not sure what it was that led to this but I happened to see Granite Falls on Google Maps one day. It is a small town about 45 minutes north of us which I will have seen the sign to on many occasions as I go up Route 9 but which I had never thought of previously. Needless to say, there are waterfalls in Granite Falls. I looked at some of the pictures on Google Maps and decided to check it out some time. We headed up one weekend to have a look.
Since it was just the beginning of Fall, there hadn’t been much rain recently. Consequently, the falls were not flowing very heavily. However, looking at the shaping of the rocks around the water, it was clear that the level can be much higher and the force of the water, substantial. The falls were in stages and, while there is a fish ladder alongside, some salmon were actually trying to leap up sections of the falls. They were infrequent so I never managed to catch one airborne with the camera.
We walked along the trails that runs the length of the falls. The cliffs on the other side are very steep and you are deep in a valley. It was difficult to really capture the scale of the place. However, I did resolve to wait for the weather to get worse and to have more run off from the mountains before making a return trip to see the falls in a more aggressive mood.
As you walk along the banks of the Avon heading towards the gorge, you are outside the locks that keep the water level up in the docks and in the tidal area. This used to be a popular location for boat to unload passengers and there are a number a jetties that have been built there. However, the traffic for these locations dried up a long time ago and they have fallen into disrepair over the years. The larger timber members are more resilient so you end up with these skeletal structures that are gradually collapsing. I wonder how many more years they shall survive or whether they will be deemed too dangerous and taken down before they can collapse.
Friday evening after work, the sun was out and, with the time having changed, it wasn’t getting dark too early. I decided to have a stroll down at Juanita Bay Park before going home. Of course, the camera came with me. Things were pretty quiet, and I was taking a few photos but decided it was time to head home. As I turned to walk back, I saw a friend of mine, Lee, walking towards me. I was about to greet him when he started running towards me and called out “otters”!
I turned around a pair of otters were swimming across the bay towards us. They came towards the little island area and climbed out on to the shore. It is a bit difficult to get a shot there, but I managed a few. They moved along the shore and then back into the water. They headed out to the middle of the bay. Clearly, they were planning on hunting so we gave them a little time. A short while later, one appeared on the surface with what looked like a fish.
Often, when the otters have a catch, they go to a buoy to eat it but, this time, they seemed to be heading back our way. I was hoping that they would come up on the beach to eat. Amazingly, that’s exactly what they did. However, it wasn’t a fish that they had caught. It was a duck of some sort. One of them had caught it and it didn’t seem interested in sharing too much. It proceeded to chomp down on its meal.
The sound of a otter’s teeth crunching the skull of a duck was hard to miss as it made it’s way through its meal. The second otter was keen to share but the first one would the carcass up and turn around to try and avoid the interloper. This was repeated several times. In due course, it decided it was done and just left the remains. I suspect some bits just aren’t that tasty. While I did get stills, the eating process was far more interesting as video, so I shot more of that. The feathers everywhere looked quite funny as they got stuck on the otter’s head while it ripped into the body.
The River Itchen runs through the center of Winchester and, just downstream of the old mill building, the water is very shallow. The river bed provides a good location for a lot of weed to grow and the ducks seemed to enjoy feeding on this weed. However, it did require a fair amount of effort on their parts as the current was flowing fast in the shallow areas. It was fun watching them either paddling furiously or bracing against the river bed while dipping their heads under water to feed. The water would sometimes roll up across their backs while they fought to stay in place. After watching this for a while, guess what I chose to have for dinner!
While looking at some shots of this otter swimming in Juanita Bay, I noticed it was breathing out through its nose and creating some bubbles in the water ahead of it. It seemed like a silly thing but of course will happen all of the time when they are swimming. However, I like the idea that it is being silly and doing it on purpose so let’s go with that instead.
A previous trip to Bellingham had included a walk in Whatcom Falls Park. At that time, I was quite interested in the shape of the falls and how the water had eroded the rock but there was a low flow of water that day. I wanted to go back at some point and see the falls with more water flowing over them. We headed up to have a stroll around the park and to see the falls again recently.
The water was certainly flowing more strongly. Plenty of people were out to see the falls in flow. I tried out the view from several different locations although avoided getting too adventurous. I didn’t fancy getting wet – or worse. I imagine that things could be even more powerful if the timing was just right after some stormy weather but it was still nice to see the water flowing so strongly.
A few years back, we made a trip across the North Cascades Highway and back across Stevens Pass. One of the stops on that route was Chelan Falls. I was hoping to get photos of the falls but they were hard to see and the sun was backlighting them anyway. I still had a post about it but there wasn’t a huge amount to show for it. Work recently took me to Chelan and I figured I would try finding another view on the falls after the conference day was done.
Looking at Google Maps, there was a road that ran alongside the gorge that the river was flowing through. This road was confusingly named Gorge Road! It was not a paved road but it was actually a very smooth dirt surface. What was more intimidating about it was that it had some very steep drop-offs at the edge with a long drop below them!
I was able to see some of the river areas from the road but, being so far above it, meant things were rather distant. I could also get an oblique view of the lower falls and the bridge across them. It was a lovely sunny late afternoon so a nice time to be out and about with the camera. It was also a bit warmer than on our side of the mountains so a good time to explore.
The hotel where my conference was taking place was down by the bottom of the lake in Chelan. I decided to have a stroll one evening and, as soon as I came out of the hotel, I saw signs for a Riverwalk. It wasn’t a long walk but it took me down one side of the river, over a bridge, back up the other side and then another bridge back to where I had started. There were a few people out and about but it was still pretty quiet.
There was a small park area along the river with a pavilion. I’m not sure what sort of events they hold there in the peak season but it would seem like a nice spot to hang out and watch performers doing their thing. They also had some elevated boardwalk sections. With the water level so low, these were a long way above the water but I imagine they are quite close when the water is at its peak.
They had installed some art work along one side of the river. There was a sculpture about wolves and salmon which related to Native American stories of why the lake doesn’t have salmon. They also had boards of the bodies in the solar system spaced out along the river in proportion to their distance from the sun. I imagine the whole area gets very busy during the summer but it was a nice spot to stroll while visiting in March!
Tokul Creek Gorge is the waterway that runs under the trestle at Tokul. With the heavy rains that had been falling in advance of my visit, the creek was flowing heavily. The trestle is a long way above the water so it was not easy to get a good look at it but I did try and get some shots. I also had a go at getting some video.
After a visit to a shop in Renton, I stopped by the airport to see what was going on. I was taking a walk along the trail alongside the Cedar River that runs parallel to the runway. As I headed back to the car, I heard a noisy bird making its presence felt. Looking up at a power line across the water, there was an osprey a short distance away. I didn’t have anything other than my phone with me so went back to the car to grab a long lens and to see if it would wait around for me.
Sadly, it didn’t appreciate the situation and had gone by the time I returned. However, the river was not empty. Tons of swallows were swooping along its length feasting on the bugs above the water. Looking along the river towards the bridge from the Boeing ramp, you could see loads of them at work. Getting photos of swallows is not easy. They move very fast and do not hold course for long so getting a track on them with a long lens and keeping it is tough. The 500mm is a challenge for this but it is what I had.
There were tons of failures but you don’t get to see these. I was surprised how often I managed to track one and that the camera did a really great job of getting a focus. There was a little predictability of the flight paths which did help but, even so, I was rather pleased with the results. Also, given that these are still heavily cropped, to get this sharp was quite a result.