Friday, February 27, 2009

Columbia River Gorge Dreams

I came across this article declaring that the hiking season in the Columbia River Gorge has officially begun. This is one place that is a waterfall lovers haven. And we still have yet to visit this place! I really can't wait visit this area and experience more of the Pacific Northwest than what little we've seen so far. Check out this excerpt from The Columbian...

Waterfalls hiking sampler

Wednesday, February 25 | 11:30 p.m.


Hikers take a break at a viewpoint of Triple Falls on Oneonta Creek on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. (ALLEN THOMAS/The Columbian)

DODSON, Ore. — Thankfully, February transitions to March this weekend. The process of getting winter behind us and spring at hand hastens.

And with the arrival of March, it is time to resume hiking. Nothing too strenuous and nothing too far from home.

Which leads us to the western end of the Columbia Gorge, where waterfalls and easy trails abound.

Here’s a waterfalls sampler: Six waterfalls in 7.3 miles split between two trails, no more than 700 feet of elevation gain, and easily accomplished in three to four hours.

The first trip combines Horsetail Falls trail No. 438 and Oneonta trail No. 424 in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area for a 4.3-mile semi-loop.

Head east on Interstate 84 in Portland and take exit 28 at Bridal Veil. Go east on the historic Columbia River Highway for 3.1 miles to Multnomah Falls, then another 2.5 miles and turn left into the parking lot for Horsetail Falls.

The 176-foot Horsetail Falls along the road is as far as many visitors here ever go.

But Horsetail Falls trail No. 438 begins just east of the waterfall, makes switchbacks up the slope, then curves left into the canyon above the falls.

Immediately, comes another falls in view, sometimes called Upper Horsetail Falls, but more commonly known as Ponytail Falls.

This falls is between 100 and 125 feet, according to author Gregory Plumb in his book "Waterfall Lover’s Guide Pacific Northwest.’’

Ponytail Falls shoot out over an overhanging ledge with the trail passing behind the falls. This perspective offers a chance at some interesting photography.

Horsetail Falls trail continues on, entering the canyon of Oneonta Creek and dropping to cross a bridge spanning the stream at 1.2 miles.

At a switchback just prior to the bridge is a superb view into narrow Onenota Gorge, a slot canyon only about 25 feet wide.

Just upstream from the bridge is a 60-foot falls on Oneonta Creek.

After crossing the creek, trail No. 438 ends in another 0.1 mile at its junction with Oneonta trail No. 424.

Turn left at this junction and climb gradually for 0.8 miles (2.1 total, so far) to Triple Falls, where three fingers of Oneonta Creek fall 100 to 135 feet.

Triple Falls is a worthy destination any day of the year. Portland author Doug Lorain says autumn may be the best time, when the big-leaf maples turn yellow and sprinkle the canyon with dabs of color.

The bridge across Oneonta Creek just upstream of Triple Falls has been removed due to rot.

Stan Hinatsu of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area office in Hood River saidmoney has been identified to replace the bridge.

It may be late summer before a contract gets prepared and issued to build a replacement bridge, he said.

To finish the trip, retrace the 0.8 miles back to the junction with Horsetail Falls trail No. 438, then bear left and stay on Oneonta trail No. 424 another 0.9 miles back to the old Columbia River Highway.

Turn right and walk along the road, passing through a restored tunnel near the crossing of Oneonta Creek, for 0.5 miles back to the Horsetail Falls parking lot. That brings the total distance to 4.3 miles.

The 125-foot tunnel through 200-foot-tall Oneonta Bluff was built in 1914, part of making Horsetail Falls and Oneonta Gorge a part of the historic highway.

In 1948, Oregon realigned the highway, and filled the tunnel was rock. It was reopened in 2006.

Elowah Falls — Once back at the car, continue east on the old highway, turn right on Frontage Road and follow the road to the parking lot on the right for John B. Yeon State Park.

The trail begins along an old and leaky water tank to the west of the parking lot. At the first junction, stay on the main trail to the left, climbing to a second junction at 0.2 miles.

At the second junction, take the right fork and climb into a huge basin with a view of 289-foot Elowah Falls. The trail here has been blasted into the side of the cliff and the metal guardrails add a welcome degree of safety.

Hikers arrive at Upper McCord Creek Falls at one mile from the trailhead. This twin falls drops 100 to 125 feet.

After enjoying Upper McCord Creek Falls, retrace the route back to the junction, turn right and drop 0.5 miles to a viewpoint of Elowah Falls.

One word of note: These two falls, especially Elowah, are well worth the hike, but don’t expect a lot of solitude. Noise from nearby Interstate 84 seems to funnel up the McCord Creek canyon.

To read the original article, click here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trashing Waterfalls

This article caught my attention recently. Apparently, someone decided to use waterfalls as a waste dumping ground to avoid costs of waste disposal. It wasn't until he was caught in the act did authorities realize the extent of the damage he had done. Anyways, here's the article from the South Wales Guardian:

Waste dumped at waterfalls
6:20am Wednesday 25th February 2009
AN UPPER Swansea Valley man was ordered to pay more than £7,700 and do 200 hours unpaid work after being caught dumping rubbish in one of the area’s top tourist spots.

Jeffrey Charles Rouse, from Coelbren, was also banned from driving for six months by Brecon magistrates after he admitted disposing and burying illegal waste at Henrhyd Waterfalls early last year.

The 57-year-old was seen by Environment Agency officers in February last year covering a pit filled with controlled waste, including wood, plastic and rubble.

The pit had previously been dug out and filled with the waste.

Further excavation of the pit, carried out as part of the investigation, found the full extent of the waste buried.

The pits contained primarily builders rubble, slate and bricks.

However, a pit excavated at the lower end of the site contained significant quantities of waste including carpets, wood, plastic and bin bags containing domestic waste.

Officers found that the different wastes were degrading in the soil causing heavily-polluted liquid to form.

This noxious liquid had the potential to cause significant damage to a nearby tributary of the Afon Tawe, the Nant Llech.

The Llech is an important spawning ground for brown trout, sewin and salmon.

The Environment Agency says that if the illegal activity had continued, the impact on the fish population in the Tawe, an important river for commercial and game fishermen, could have been severe.

Disposing of the waste, believed to have originated from a house and building clearance, in the pit was financially motivated.

Mr Rouse would have avoided disposal costs, depriving local companies from much needed income at a difficult time.

Lyn Richards, environmental crime team leader for Environment Agency Wales, said: “We believe that Rouse was aware that he was acting illegally.

“He knew the law but decided to risk prosecution to make an easy profit.

“But this penalty shows that crime doesn’t pay.

He added: “When we excavated the site we could not believe the amount of waste there.

“It had started to rot causing this horrible liquid, or leachate, to form.

“This leachate is extremely dangerous if it ends up in local rivers, harming fish and wildlife.

“The pits we found were only 20m away from the Nant Llech.”

Rouse was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,725 in costs by magistrates.

Read the original article here.

After reading this article, it appears that the culprit is putting the blame on the bad economy. And that got me wondering... Could this be happening elsewhere? Or even worse, would a corporation or some company with political ties would've gotten away with this?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Waterfall of the Week

Monday, February 23, 2009

Latest Travel Blog Entry Posted

As promised, I've posted up the travel story from this past weekend's day outing to the Lake Elsinore area featuring Tenaja Falls, Ortega Falls, as well calamities, experiences, musings, etc. that accompany our adventures. Check it out!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Pair Of Local Waterfalls Posted

Given that just under a week ago we've been hit by the strongest winter storm this season, we took advantage of the somewhat replenished drainages and went for a pair of local waterfalls that easily go dry. And after a rather long Saturday of touring the Cleveland National Forest near Lake Elsinore to see Tenaja Falls and Ortega Falls, they're now posted on the website.

I'm looking to post the corresponding travel blog for this day outing later this week. Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stories Behind Waterfall Names

I came across this blog, which details how eight of the world's most famous waterfalls got their names. Interestingly, we've visited all of the ones he mentions.

While there are some more stories and details regarding the names of some of these falls (like Sutherland Falls and Catarata Gocta), I definitely didn't know about the tid bits he talked about regarding Yosemite Falls, Niagara Falls, and Iguazu Falls among others.

Check it out and learn a little more about these marvelous attractions.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waterfall of the Week

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Swiss Waterfalls

The Jungfrau Region in the Swiss Alps is one of those places I've yet to visit yet I really really want to visit. For some reason, the scenery there reminds me a lot of Norway. The following article from the Guardian spells it out nicely...

Moving mountains
Anthony Lambert expericences the sun, solitude and sweet alpine air of the Lauterbrunnental

by Anthony Lambert

The Lauterbrunnental: above the Staubbach Falls, below one of the region’s many the hiking trails

Every hiker knows that feeling of deep pleasure when everything falls into place to provide a perfect day's walking. Glorious scenery, varied terrain, good paths with easy route finding, cool air, sunshine and - dare one say - not too many other people on the path. The beauty of walking in Switzerland, with more than 62,000km of paths, is that you can walk for hours without meeting anyone, despite its popularity.

For urban dwellers, the sense of solitude is part of the attraction of a place like the Upper Lauterbrunnental, an area of alpine farming and forest that was bought in the 1950s by the Swiss League for Nature Protection to conserve its natural savage beauty. In six hours of glorious walking, I met half a dozen people.

I caught the PostBus to the end of its route at Stechelberg, the last village in the valley of 72 waterfalls, and took a gravel track beside the Lütschine river, following the brown Unesco signs that mark themed trails (so well signposted, you can't get lost!). These have been created to introduce visitors to the value of this landscape - its mix of traditional agriculture and forestry working in harmony with nature, its flora and fauna, and points of natural historical interest.

A series of waterfalls flanks the path as it meanders between meadows and skirts the woods rising up the hillside above us. At Schürboden I passed the first station for the herdsmen who still move their cattle in stages from winter quarters in Stechelberg to the highest level in midsummer before reversing the process in autumn. The large wooden hut was put up in 1805 with a loft for storing cheeses, and its facade is decorated with a scene of the annual procession.

With frost still bleaching the colours of the ground, I walked steadily upwards in welcome shade thanks to the immense height of the valley walls. Sunlight picked out first one distant peak and then another, some still thick with snow. Stopping to look back I could admire the extraordinary location of Mürren, its buildings nudging the edge of a sheer precipice hundreds of metres high. Every so often I would pass a farm and its cluster of chalet barns, some protected against avalanche by roof-high banks of earth and rock on their vulnerable side.

The path continues through luxuriant woodland that seldom sees the sun, the ground thick with leaf litter and pine needles. Ferns grow from the decomposing wood of fallen trees or through deep carpets of moss. The purity of the air is reflected in great splashes of lime-green lichen.

Climbing again across the lower valley side, I almost lost the path until I saw a small flash of white and red on a rock, perfectly placed to reassure the walker. By the second herdsmen's station at Läger, in a large meadow surrounded by conifers and dappled patches of heather, I paused to enjoy the silence as I munched pastries and marvelled that natural forces could have created such beauty. The path was flanked by huge peach-coloured mushrooms sprouting through the grass as I dropped into a shady canyon down a twisting path that led to the third station at Im Tal. Back into the woods on the return, I took a detour to the Talbach falls. The noise of the falls was muffled until I breasted a rise and saw the sheer plume of water thundering into a bowl through an extraordinary ring of horizontal stone.

Emerging from the woods I saw a golden eagle circling, but our untrained eyes had failed to spot the ibex that also inhabit the higher rocky slopes of Lauterbrunnental. The sun was still filtering through the shading trees on to the garden terrace of Hotel Restaurant Stechelberg (00 41 33 855 2921), so I stopped for lunch, watching the hang-gliders ride the thermals above Mürren.

To read the original article from the UK Guardian, click here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Santa Barbara Travel Blog Entry Posted

I've posted the travel story corresponding to our quick Valentine's Day getaway to Santa Barbara (or as I'd like to say "Sandy Barber"). Check it out!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Added A Couple Of Santa Barbara Waterfalls

Like some people like chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentine's Day, we opted to go for Tangerines. Actually, it was more like Tangerine Falls (also known as West Fork Cold Springs Falls). The day before, we managed to visit Nojoqui Falls.

This was actually our little Valentine's Day trip and we chose the Santa Barbara area for this year's go around. And, well, we actually started the trip a day early so we wouldn't have to be subject to getting ripped off on a Valentine's Day dinner Saturday night and have a Friday night dinner instead.

The trip also involved a stroll in the Danish town of Solvang as well as a little bit of a stroll in Carpinteria. All in all, it was a pleasant trip, and I've also managed to upload the latest excursions on the website.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Waterfall of the Week

With Valentine's Day happening this week, I thought I'd throw this in...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Posted Updates From Malibu

The website is now updated with material gained from our little spontaneous escape to Malibu last Sunday. Included are a pair of new waterfalls in the Southern California region (namely Escondido Falls and La Jolla Canyon Falls) as well as a travel story entry. Check it out!

Victorian Fires in Australia

Something you're probably hearing a lot about these days is the wildfires in Victoria, Australia. Having experienced the latest episode of wildfires in the Southern California area (i.e. Sylmar, Montecito, and Yorba Linda/Anaheim Hills) back in November, I can envision the scene going on down under, but the death toll there is over 170 people and counting so clearly there's more seriousness to their situation than what we had.

While listening to Australian radio (Triple J), I heard familiar towns like Marysville, Kingslake, and Beechworth mentioned. Such towns were engulfed in the inferno and they also happened to be waterfall spots that we had visited. I can't help but feel for the people who have lost lives as well as their homes.

All this is yet another reminder of how climate change is drying temperate and subtropical regions (the Los Angeles basin is under similar conditions) and could be a warning for all of us to clean up our act or else see more of this (or worse). It's conceivable that the Western US from California to Washington could become like the Sahara based on the expanding tropics according to the New Scientist.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Relaxing Day Trip to Malibu

After a pretty relaxing day out in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Malibu area, we're back to report that we had ourselves a nice time in nice (albeit breezy and cool) weather. In fact, my brother called us and said it was still pouring rain back at my parents' place. Just goes to show you how dramatically different the weather can be in the Los Angeles basin alone!

Anyways, we managed to bag Escondido Canyon Falls and La Jolla Canyon Falls. Escondido Falls was pleasant, but the scramble to the upper waterfall was unsuccessful. As for the 2nd waterfall, it was our second time going there. And despite the rain storm, the falls was still dry!!! I don't believe this falls ever flows unless you have a year like the record rains of 2005. Otherwise, this one isn't flowing...

We'll update the website in the next couple days to capture all this (and perhaps add a new local travel blog entry) of this rather spontaneous yet rewarding day out.

Taking Advantage Of The Rain

Well, I decided with the recent heavy and consistent rains since Thursday, we might as well capitalize on some local waterfalls that are sure to be revived. So we got the family out (mom and dad included) to head to the Santa Monica Mountains today. It's all rather spontaneous and it actually looked like we might not be able to make it due to heavy rains in the eastern half of the basin.

However, in looking at the weather observations on the internet (oh the joy of technology), it looked like the Santa Monica Mountains hadn't seen precipitation since last night. So with that and some corroborating webcam photos as well as radar and visible satellite photos, we've decided to just go for it before the weekend's over.

We'll keep you posted on how this trip turns out...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reviving A Dry Waterfall

This article caught my eye as it talks about how a local artist wants to revive a waterfall that hadn't been flowing since the Ice Ages. I have reservations about messing with Mother Nature, but it's a very intriguing idea (if successful) and I wonder if this might end up setting a precedent of other waterfalls that have gone dry either by human intervention, climate change, or geologically dead from the past. Here's the article by the Columbia Basin Herald Online.

Reviving Dry Falls proposed as tourist attraction

Soap Lake artist proposes smaller version

Posted: Friday, Feb 06, 2009 - 04:06:31 pm PST

By Lynne Lynch
Herald staff writer

COULEE CITY — Although water hasn’t flowed over Dry Falls since the Ice Age, Soap Lake artist Brent Blake wants to bring the sight back on a smaller scale with a modest waterfall.

Dry Falls, about 20 miles north of Soap Lake, the site of a former waterfall, is a 3.5 mile wide hole carved out by the Ice Age Floods, according to the Dry Falls story presented at the nearby state Parks and Recreation visitor center.

During the floods, water flowed over the basalt cliffs 400 feet below, creating the chain of Sun Lakes. The falls were originally four times larger than Niagara Falls.

Years later, the site continues to attract tourists. In 2007, 51,206 people came through the Dry Falls Visitor Center, said agency spokesperson Virginia Painter.

But Blake wants to draw more tourists and business by creating a new falls to coordinate with the Ice Age Floods Institute, which also promotes the Ice Age Floods.


Blake’s no stranger to new ideas, as he came up with the concept of creating the giant Lava Lite to sit in downtown Soap Lake as a tourist attraction.

The lamp never came to fruition due to design issues, but Target Corporation heard about his idea and sent a 50-foot hanging mechanical Lava Lamp replica to Soap Lake.

The hanging lamp is in the care of Soap Lake city officials and needs to be repaired and assembled.

His newest idea entails creating a waterfall much smaller than the original Dry Falls, so water wouldn’t cascade over the entire 3.5 miles of the cliff as it did long ago.

Nonetheless, “It’s an idea that brings tourists and dollars to the region,” Blake says.

There are existing elements in the area currently part of irrigation and water control at nearby Dry Falls Dam located at the south end of Banks Lake.

“It’s seems logical water can be circulated from the top or the bottom,” Blake explained.

The work would have to be done so equipment isn’t visible. He admits there are engineering issues that need to be studied as well as speaking to the appropriate agencies and landowners. Estimates also need to be tabulated.

He recently presented his idea to the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway Committee and a group of locals near Ephrata. Their reactions were positive.

“That’s what waterfalls do,” he says. “They create an incredibly positive response.”

If the falls were recreated, he believes the new attraction would result in tourists visiting other businesses on their way to Dry Falls.

Also, tourists are known to use Snoqualmie Falls, Multnomah Falls, Victoria Falls and similar locations for weddings, concerts and other events, Blake stated.

Mick Qualls of Ephrata listened to Blake’s presentation with about 20 other people recently and said he is in favor of the idea.

“We all are amazed at what he does,” Qualls said. “He’s a visionary. We were in shock a little bit.”

Qualls said comments during the presentation ranged from, “that’s beautiful,” to “a great idea,” to “there’s no way you’ll get water out of Banks Lake.”

The chance of removing water from the Columbia River is zero, unless it’s returned to the irrigation system, Qualls noted.

But what Blake has drawn is “absolutely easy,” Qualls says. “You are recreating what Mother Nature did millions of years ago.”

You can read the original article and post your opinions here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Waterfall of the Week

Sunday, February 1, 2009

World's Tallest Waterfalls List Posted

For those of you who have followed the World of Waterfalls website, you might be well aware of my aversion to get into those "World's Tallest Waterfalls" lists because of the various inconsistencies, subjectiveness, and misinformation that's out there. So I always take such lists with a grain of salt and care more about scenic allure than statistics.

Nonetheless, I finally caved into the inquiries and demands to put out such a list of Top 10 Tallest Waterfalls in the World. But before you have a field day picking apart our list(s), we've put a couple of twists. First of all, the lists are based only on the waterfalls that we've personally visited. Second, if you're observant, you might notice I used the plural form of list. That's because there are two main criteria for "tallest" waterfalls that we've used - a) tallest in terms of cumulative height and b) tallest in terms of highest free leap.

So check them out and see what you think (after you're done watching the Super Bowl perhaps). I'm sure I've opened up Pandora's box for some serious debate on this topic...