I’m F-A-L-L-L-L-L-L-I-NG

Multnomah Falls

Back in Oregon, we rest for a couple of days in Troutdale and revisit the Columbia Gorge before returning to Port Orford for several weeks and then heading down to Thousand Palms, California.

Today we head to Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot-tall double tiered cascade just off Interstate 84.

Millions of years ago, volcanoes, glaciers, floods, and the uplifting Cascade Mountains formed the Columbia River Gorge. Massive floods from the last Ice Age scoured out the Gorge, creating the Multnomah Falls which were literally left hanging there. (plaque at Falls)

As liquid basalt from volcanoes transformed into rock, the resulting rock formations were dependent upon their environment and cooling rate.  Three types of basalt can be found in the rock layers behind the Falls.

Pillow Basalt results from the encounter of basalt flows with water which causes immediate solidification and creates “bubbles” or “pillows” of various sized rocks. (plaque at Falls)

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Entablature Basalt is the result of relatively fast cooling lava that fractures into irregular patterns and joints. (plaque at Falls)

Columnar Basalt forms when lava cools slowly and fractures to create 5-6-sided crystals. It is usually found underneath entabulature basalt. (plaque at Falls) The picture below shows examples of columnar basalt behind Latourell Falls in the Columbia Gorge.

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The powerful cascading waters constantly erode the softer layers of rock below and behind the Multnomah Falls, creating a plunge pool and cave. The upper tier recedes faster than the lower falls.


A short walk from the parking area leads to the best view of the Falls.

Another several hundred feet up a paved trail takes you to Benson Bridge which spans the first tier’s misty base. Looking up you can see the full 542-foot height of the top tier. Looking down you overlook the 69-foot drop of the lower tier. (oregon.com)

Benson Bridge is named for Simon Benson, a Portland businessman who owned the Falls in the early 1900s. Upon his death he bequeathed the Falls to the City of Portland which later transferred ownership to the USDA Forest Service. (oregon.com)

A trail continues past the 45-foot-long bridge for another mile to ascend an elevation of another 785 feet to reach yet another incline 100 feet above the Falls. The trail then descends to an observation deck overlooking the edge of the Falls. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

This is as close as I could get to the falling water. There’s no view of the drop, so I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed. Gee, if I had known this before trudging up a mile of 14 switchbacks, I might have reconsidered the hike! Not really…

But our plan was to hike further for another .8 miles to visit 3 more falls before turning back.

This small cascade slightly upstream from the upper tier of the Falls is called Little Multnomah.

From the observation deck you get a bird’s eye view of the Columbia River and across from it, Washington State.

As we ascend the trail from the observation deck, I am fascinated by these tree roots.

Instead of heading back and returning to Benson Bridge and the base of the Falls, we continue along the southeast trail beyond.

We encounter these examples of Entablature Basalt rocks beside us as we walk along the trail. Relatively fast cooling lava fractures into irregular patterns and joints forming entablature basalt.

We cross the scenic Multnomah Creek.

We continue hiking parallel to the Creek.

We encounter Dutchman Falls, the colloquial name for this waterfall that dashes down a wide basalt ledge of Multnomah Creek. (waterfallsnorthwest.com)

Onward…

This is an interesting stretch on the trail.

After researching the name for Dutchman Falls, I discover that this precarious basalt overhang just upstream from the Falls is called Dutchman Tunnel.

Multnomah Creek washed out a large semicircular cave from underneath a lava flow. In 1915 trail builders constructed a stone-walled trail through this cave.

A plaque honoring Forest Service Ranger Albert Wiesendanger rests on a wall of the overhang.

Next, we arrive at Wiesendanger Falls named after Albert Wiesendanger who lived from 1893-1989. For more than 71 years he worked in professional forestry and fire prevention jobs that spanned a lifetime career.  Albert worked 39 years with the USDA Forest Service in the Portland, Oregon regional office and in the Mt. Hood National Forest. He then “retired” to another 32 years as executive secretary for Keep Oregon Green Association, a privately funded organization with the objective of preventing people-caused fires in this timber state. (worldforestry.org)

The trail ascends onto 4 switchbacks.  But first I turn around and take this picture.

Less than 10 minutes later we pass Ecola Falls.

According to waterfallsnorthwest.com, the most prominent feature of this waterfall is the ambiguity of its name. At first Ecola Falls were grouped with the downstream Wiesendanger Falls and listed as one waterfall, often called Double Falls. Later publications listed Ecola as Hidden Falls because of it’s hard to see position and the fact that the Forest Service had recently placed a plaque marking Wiesendanger Falls by name in the late 1990s. Today the Forest Service officially recognizes these falls as Ecola, the Chinook word for whale.

We continue hiking along the Multnomah Creek.

We reach another switchback and these trail signs, after hiking more than .75 miles from the top of Multnomah Falls. It’s time to turn back.


The views on the way back…

As we return to the base of Multnomah Falls, I am half tempted to tell people that the best views of the Falls are from below.

As we make our final descent back to the viewing area at the base of the Multnomah Falls, I look up and capture the blue sky peeking through this umbrella of leaves branching off its trunk hugged by moss.

The Other Side of the River

image Highway 14 in Washington

We leave Bonneville Dam, traveling east, and in 4 miles cross into Washington over the Bridge of the Gods. The Pacific Crest Trail also crosses the Columbia River here.

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Today it is a steel truss cantilever bridge built in 1926 and further elevated in 1940.

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Native Pacific Northwest cultures tell tales of a natural stone bridge crossing the river, connecting people’s from the north and south. (plaque at scenic view)

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Geologists confirm this story with modern dating techniques. In 1450 a large landslide, originating from Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak, sent a huge amount of debris south into the Columbia River, creating a natural damn across the river. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

Eventually the river currents eroded the dam/bridge producing whitewater rapids later named, the Cascades. William Clark describes these rapids:

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The Legend of the Bridge of the Gods (as retold by the Klickitat Native Americans)

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The chief of all gods, Saghalie, and his 2 sons traveled down the Columbia River in search of a place to live. Upon finding the perfect place, the brothers squabbled over who would settle where. To solve the dispute, the father took up his bow and shot one arrow to the north and one to the south. Now both brothers had a place to settle. 

Saghalie then built a bridge connecting the 2 settlements so the brothers could get together periodically. He named the bridge, Tanmahawis, the Bridge of the Gods.

Peace reigned until both brothers fell in love with the same beautiful maiden who could not choose between them. As the brothers fought over her, the earth shook so violently that the bridge collapsed into the river and produced the Cascade Rapids encountered by Lewis and Clark. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


So, now I invite you to sit back and enjoy the view, from my passenger’s seat, of the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge.

Gorgeous views…

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A train…

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Tunnels…

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Kiteboarding…

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Recognize the mountain to the east?

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We cross the White Salmon Bridge

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and re-enter Oregon at Hood River.

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Something’s Fishy Here

image Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery

Fish are an important natural resource of the Pacific Northwest and the goal of the Bonneville Dam is to keep as many fish alive as possible.

Juvenile fish, or fingerlings, migrating downstream to the ocean can use the spillway as a water slide.

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We observe about six sea lions riding the waves searching for a meal.

A second choice is the channel bypass pipe. The third option is made up of rotating guidance screens that divert the young fish around the dam.

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The overall survival rate for juvenile fish migrating downstream at BonnevillevDam is 96%. (US Army Corps of Engineers brochure)

For fish traveling upstream fish ladders simulate the waterfalls and pools found in natural streams.

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Pools are formed by cross barriers, called weirs, that form steps set in a ramp leading up and around the dam. The weirs have openings along the bottom to allow the fish to swim easily from one stair step to the next. (US Army Corps of Engineers brochure)

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The upper portion of this fish way leads to an inclined series of vertical slots and eddy-like pools. (plaque at site)

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As fish near the top of the fish way they pass the counting station where workers have been counting and recording the various species moving up the ladder since 1938. (US Army Corps of Engineers brochure)

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Migrating fish moving through the fish ladders can be viewed through underwater windows.

Look closely for the black and white shadows I captured.

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These long, skinny snakelike creatures attached to the viewing windows are lamprey going up river to spawn between June and October. They struggle upstream thrashing their long bodies against the swift water currents. Using the suction of their oral disc, they naturally attach themselves to a rock to rest. However, as these guys navigate through the fish ladders of the dam, they have to attach themselves to the viewing window to rest. (US Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District)

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As we leave the dam and backtrack to I-84, we realize we are actually on Bradford Island and have bisected Robins Island and have a Fish Hatchery to yet explore.

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Bonneville is one of the oldest fish hatcheries in Oregon. It opened in 1909.

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Visitors are encouraged to pick up a self-guided tour brochure and follow the fish markers painted on the path.

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The process begins during September, October, and November. In the spawning room, workers collect adult salmon, count and sort them by species and sex, collect the eggs and sperm, and finally fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs then incubate. When the eggs develop into a newly hatched fry, up to 1″ in length, the small fry are placed in an outdoor rearing pond. When a fry becomes a fingerling, a one-year-old, and smolts, turns silver, they are ready to migrate to the ocean. Smolts are released into a pipeline that empties into a creek, then the river, and finally the Pacific Ocean.

Since we are not visiting during salmon season, however, there are sturgeon and trout ponds for the year round enjoyment of visitors like us.

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Fish pellets, purchased from vending machines to feed the hungry trout, help maintain the grounds of the Bonneville Fish Hatchery.

Bonneville Lock and Dam

image A damn nice place to visit!

On our way to the Bridge of the Gods, we notice a National Historic marker and decide to explore the Bonneville Lock and Dam.

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Built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this was the first federal lock and dam on the Columbia-Snake Inland  Waterway which stretches for 465 miles from the Pacific Ocean to Lewiston, Idaho.

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Construction began in 1933, providing jobs during the Great Depression. FDR dedicated the facility in 1937.

The Lock and Dam are named after Army Captain Benjamin Bonneville who led an exploration to Oregon and charted extensive sections of what is now known as the Oregon Trail. (US Army Corps of Engineers brochure)

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From 1941 to 2000 the turbine above helped produce enough hydropower for over 25,000 homes. During the Great Depression it created jobs. During World War II it supplied power to build aircraft and ships.

In order to protect the dam from attack during the war, armed guards stood in a “pill box” such as the one below. (plaques at site)

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As the energy needs of the northwest grew, a second powerhouse was built between 1974 and 1981. The original powerhouse is located on the Oregon shore.

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The second powerhouse is located on the Washington shore.

The spillway controls the amount of water released from the dam and regulates the water height. And yes, fish can survive the ride. ( Learn more about the fish in my next post.)

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Notice how quickly the spill waters calm down.

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The lock is necessary for transportation.

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It allows ships to move cargo up river, eliminating the need to portage goods through the Cascades Rapids. Lewis and Clark had to portage around this impasse in 1805.

From 1878 to 1896 the Cascade Locks were built to make River navigation safer. Before the locks pioneers were forced to  take the steep and dangerous route across Barlow Road or raft down the treacherous River. However, with the completion of the Bonneville Dam, the rising waters it created caused the submersion of these locks. (cascadelocks.net)

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The Bonneville Lock of 1938 was the largest-single lift lock in the world but it could only hold 2 barges and a tugboat at one time. As river traffic increased, newer dams were added up river and were equipped with larger lock chambers. The original Bonneville Lock

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was replaced in 1993.  Lockage time that used to take several hours was now reduced to less than 30 minutes as the new lock chamber could hold up to 5 barge-tows. (US Army Corps of Engineers brochure)

Shepperd’s Dell

image “In 1915 George Shepperd donated 11 acres and a waterfall to the public as a memorial to his wife. Used as his family’s place of worship, this beautiful state park is known as Shepperd’s Dell.” 

(from plaque at scenic view)

A short trail winds down to this 2-tier waterfall that is right off the highway.

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The waterfall peeks through the foliage on the way down, offering glimpses at different angles and reflecting the soft light of the setting sun.

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And then, right before I reach the falls, I look up and see another landmark, the Shepperd’s Dell bridge built in 1914.

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The air feels cool as I walk out to the falls. I am close enough to dip my toes in

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or jump over the edge!

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No stopped traffic. No hunting for a place to park. No crowds in the way…

What a peaceful way to end a truly beautiful day.

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Bridal Veil Falls

image And an Interpretive Trail

A bridge on the Columbia River Highway passes right over the falls. Two cascades along sharp rock faces resemble a flowing veil. A winding footpath and a bridge across a creek lead to the viewing area.

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Bridal Veil is also the name of a town with its own post office. It’s no wonder that many couples ship their wedding invitations here for the postmark. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


Native cultures have called the Gorge home for over 10,000 years. The Columbia River transported people through the mountains

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connecting coastal and plateau tribes for extensive trading in this area each summer.

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Lewis and Clark opened these western waters to settlers who started arriving in the mid 1800s. Gradually riverboats replaced canoes, roads replaced trails, and rails replaced covered wagons. (plaque on trail)

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As we return to the car, what looks like an apple falls off a tree in front of us.

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On closer inspection, I discover it’s a little pear, perfectly shaped but not ripe enough to eat.

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Across the highway is a B&B, part of the original Bridal Veil Lodge built in 1926, as a hotel, restaurant, and auto camp with cabins for tired travelers.

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Rooster Rock State Park

image Little did I know…

Along I-84 through the gorge there are several exits that directly enter a state park hugging the Columbia River. Rooster Rock State Park is one of these.

On our way back to Portland to pick up the RV we stop for a visit and to purchase an Oregon State Park Pass. We will be traveling the length of the coast in a week and there are tons of state parks off Highway 101.

I get out of the car and start taking pictures.

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Above, is a view of Vista House on Crown Point.

 

I capture the scene in front of me.

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I capture a scene to the west.

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I capture a scene to the east.

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I read the park plaque and learn about the Native Americans who used spears and dip nets to catch the yearly spawning salmon. I find out that Euro-Americans used fish wheels to scoop out salmon as early as 1879. Oregon banned fish wheels for economic and environmental reasons in 1926. The state of Washington followed in 1934.

I’m not clear as to why exactly fish wheels were banned. The more I try to find out the murkier my brain gets.

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Another plaque informs me that Lewis and Clark were here in 1805 and again in 1806.

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Apparently a high projecting rock was visible on the left-side or cargo-loading side of their ship.

And, according to a brochure I picked up from Oregon State Parks & Recreation where I purchased our yearly pass, Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery camped near a “high peak resembling a tower.”

I don’t notice a tall column of basalt anywhere. But I find a picture online.

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And then I get it… rooster rock!

According to en.m.wikipedia.org the column was originally named  “cock rock” because of its resemblance to a penis. The Chinook also recognized the rock’s phallic character and called it “iwash” in their jargon.

But wait, it gets better!

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Apparently the eastern portion of the park is a clothing-optional beach. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

One of Jeff’s famous lines is, “I should have brought my swim suit!” Today, he could have gone into the water without one. 😳