Fallen boulders in Oregon: A journey through gorges and mountains 11



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There is a sign informing you about the 1995 crash, when a huge boulder, equal to a school bus filled with concrete, fell, smashed into a hundred pieces and injured 20, putting 13 in hospital. Why, only last year, another boulder fell and punched a hole straight through the concrete bridge on which we are now walking, which doubles as a viewing platform for the second highest constant fall in continental United States. Its name is Multnomah.

Early this morning, before breakfast, I’d slipped out while Lorraine was getting ready. Bridal Veil Falls was my goal, just a 7 minute walk from our accommodation in a rustic log cabin with the same name as the falls. Of course, it took me over a quarter of an hour, one does have to record where one goes after all.

The lovely little double fall would be a neat attraction anywhere in Australia but here it’s just run-of-the-mill. 

A short stroll down the road, more people come to see and get cards stamped at the local post office; the smallest, still functioning P.O. in all America. Apparently, it’s the place to post your wedding invitations from – Bridal Veil, think about it.

At Multnomah, there are 40 cars already there, their occupants all keen to see this 620 foot drop that ends up in the Columbia River nearby which is actually the reason so many falls are in this area because it has rent a massive gorge in the range of the volcanic Cascade Mountains and water tumbles off the disturbed landscape at every opportunity.

Multnomah Falls - black tailed deer (1) (640x424)

We head towards the bridge on a sealed path, entranced by the beauty of the forest. There’s witch’s hair, ragged, floral pixie and many other types of lichen clinging to wherever they can and cold brachythecium, tree, hanging wing and other mosses draped attractively over any decent deciduous tree they can find.

Multnomah Falls (8) (424x640)

But that’s only the beginning. Lorraine has decided we’re going to the top, climbing the basalt slope another 2km uphill on a path with 11 numbered switchbacks. Of course, there are pauses, one of which is caused by a grazing black tailed deer right beside the path, obviously fairly used to the steady stream of visitors. 

Multnomah Falls (69) (640x424)

You crest a ridge and then it’s downhill for a short way to where the falls go over. Needless to say, Lorraine doesn’t quite make it to the precipitous edge of the viewing point but we can both see the crowd that now is overflowing in the carpark way below.  It’s midweek on a shoulder season and there are probably five hundred people here already.

Multnomah Falls (76) (640x424)

When again we reach the bottom, the tourist shop is shoulder to shoulder and the fudge shop is doing a roaring trade. We shake our heads and drive back to nearby Wahkeena Falls. Here is another, albeit shorter, hike, to an unusual fall. It’s like a huge spout pouring out between green rocks finishing beside a tree that it’s dumped during some deluge past.  

Multnomah Falls (100) (640x424)

The cliffs dominate here and I find it quite attractive, as was the walk leading up to it and the picnic area at the bottom. Though it’s only 240 feet from top to bottom in stages, it’s still worth a look.

Then we’re heading south, past Seattle and the Chinese president, his 1,000 person entourage and the 600 police, en route to Eugene.

Wahkeena Falls (13) (424x640)

Wahkeena Falls (18) (640x424)

Share your thoughts below.

Ian Smith

I have written for 3 different motorcycling magazines, soccer publications and, latterly, travel. It has been apparent that I write and photograph from a different perspective to others and have a leaning towards humour as well. My next birthday will be my 70th (scary) but I still love bushwalking and photography and play golf once a week while dreaming about my next trip in my motorhome.

  1. The most spectacular gorges and ravines that I have ever seen were in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park near Armidale. We took a helicopter ride which is the only way to see it as the park is so rugged. It was a perfectly still day and the helicopter was able to fly down into the ravines. The maze of gorges and ravines stretched on into the distance. It was mind boggling. Of course photos don’t do it justice.

  2. I’ve been to Oregon many, many times.. Camped in some wonderful places… The Rogue and Umpqua rivers or Crater Lake are favorites..

  3. Steve and I went to Canada, Alaska and Hawaii last year and Maligne Canyon near Jasper was just spectacular, as well as the Waimea Canyon on Kauai in Hawaii. Here’s a photo looking along a small portion of Maligne Canyon.

  4. And another one of Maligne Canyon – just because one photo isn’t enough of this gorgeous part of the world 🙂

  5. And one of Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, just so it didn’t feel left out. Mark Twain called this the Grand Canyon of the Pacific and if you look closely you can see a waterfall in the far distance. There are so many more photos on my computer of canyons in so many gorgeous places around the world…

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