Cape Disappointment, Shore Acres State Park, Samuel Boardman Scenic Area, Gold Beach, Yaquina Head and Columbia River Gorge were all on the to-do list for this trip.
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Being from Florida, I associate the rain and storm season with the summer. The western coast of the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, is more of a wintertime season. There are several days in the winter when large 15-20 foot high swells coincide with high tides resulting in some amazing waves crashing on the shore at Cape Disappointment and Shore Acres State Park.
Cape Disappointment was the main target, and the forecast had it for January 10th. I flew to Portland on the 9th and headed out to the Cape before dawn the next day. I had seen photos of this event for years, but they are not the same as being there. It was a little foggy, but it was spectacular.
This closeup photo of one of the waves displays the beauty and the violence of Mother Nature. The small bay where these waves come into is not somewhere you would want to be in a boat. The waves toss huge logs around like toothpicks.
As a real bonus, the forecast had another day of high surf at Shore Acres State Park on the 12th. Again, I arrived early. The waves continued to build throughout the morning as the tide came in. Incoming waves would bounce back off the rocks, merge with another incoming wave to form waves that were of the 20 foot high variety and then crash on rocks with an incredible splash. You can see a fence on the rocks that gives you an idea of scale.
With the forecast of large waves over, I headed south to the Samuel Boardman Scenic Area. The sea stacks there have trees growing out of the tops of them, which add such a wonderful element compared to the ones without the trees. I had tried photographing there before, but heavy fog prevented me from capturing any images. There was a little less fog this time, and I was pleased with the results.
I had discovered an area several years ago with a footbridge over a small stream, but it was summer and there wasn’t any water flowing. With the winter rains, I was hoping for something much different. I couldn’t believe the difference. It’s a small scene, but the lush Oregon greenery surrounding the cascade is beautiful.
I headed north and decided to stop in Newport near the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. There was fog forecasted for the next morning, and I thought that could result in a nice image. When I got there, the fog was so thick I couldn’t see the lighthouse, but I got into position down on the rocky beach and waited for the fog to begin to clear. I was very happy with the combination of the long exposure on the water and the fog over the lighthouse.
I only had a couple of days left before I would have to head home, so I decided to see how the winter rains were affecting the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Much of the Gorge has been closed for several years due to the Eagle Creek Fire, but it has begun to re-open in spots.
The fog over Latourell Falls instantly grabbed my attention to photograph it from a position I had not before. At Wahclella Falls a mass of logs blocked the final section of the trail, that I assume were the result of recent storms. I carefully crawled over them. At first, I wasn’t sure about the logs in the pool at the base of the falls, but after looking at a variety of images taken, I like the one with the logs the best.
My final stop was at Panther Creek Falls just over the border in Washington. I had been here twice before in the summer, but there was less water flowing. I was hoping the winter rains would result in water flowing over the right side, which was something that has been on my list for a while. I was thrilled to arrive and find it flowing so well and can finally check this one off the list.
I’m not sure what is up next, but I hope to get back to the Desert Southwest. These days, a lot of factors come into play. You can see more photos in my galleries for the Pacific Coast and the Pacific Northwest.
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