Friday, October 31, 2008

Packing The Wife's Luggage

A few weeks ago my wife traveled to the Columbia River Gorge to attend a conference so I tagged along for an opportunity to explore the area. I also served as my wife's luggage porter as she currently suffers from a shoulder aliment and finds it difficult to lift much in the way of dead weight. Now I mean not to imply that she packs similar to Mrs. Thurston Howell III of Gilligan's Island fame, but her baggage appeared more than sufficient for a two day trip.

Like many, I have pass through the Gorge numerous times traveling to and from Eastern Oregon for work, but I have never taken the time to explore the area and enjoy its beauty. The area was once home to large numbers of Native Americans who fished the mighty Columbia River for salmon. The waters surrounding Cascade Rapids and Cleo Falls near The Dalles were favorite places for the Native Americans to gather.

The region is also rich with the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 - 05 and stories of the countless pioneers who followed the Oregon Trail beginning in the 1840s.

The true length of the gorge could be debated for hours on end, but most agree that it is about eighty miles in length. While driving this distance from west to east, the annual precipitation drops from 36 to just less than 14 inches. With such a change in precipitation, the landscape changes dramatically in a relatively short distance. This just adds to the wonder and beauty of the Gorge.

I spent two days hiking and photographing places in the Gorge that I have wanted to visit for many years. The weather was less than cooperative but the rain clouds just added to the experience. My photos will hopefully give you the urge to one day come and explore this wonderland for yourself.

Nothing has changed the Columbia River more than the construction of the dams beginning in 1933. Pictured is the behemoth Bonneville Dam which is a major producer of electrical power.

Cascade Rapids and the area known as the Bridge of the Gods depicted in the early 1930s. Today, the rapids are submerged below the waters behind Bonneville Dam.

The Cascade Rapids were formed sometime in the 1700s when a massive landslide totally blocked the river. This massive land bridge became known as The Bridge of the Gods. The massive boulder pictured behind me is typical of those which entered the river. I estimated the boulder's height to be nearly ten feet and it was about 15 feet in both length and width. It must have made one heck of a noise when it came roaring down the mountain side.

At the west end of the Gorge in vicinity of the Bridge of the Gods, the forest are dominated by Douglas-fir and an occasional big leaf maple.

As you travel east from the Bridge of the Gods, the annual precipitation decreases rapidly and so do the trees and associated vegetation.

This picture was taken near the Gorge's east end and looking north towards The Dalles, OR. The annual precipitation drops to about 14 inches, thus tree growth is severely limited.

The following pictures are of the Stonehenge Memorial located near Maryhill, WA. The memorial was built in 1918 by entrepreneur Sam Hill to honor the men of Klickitat County killed during World War I. If you are interested in photographing shadows, be sure to visit the monument in the spring or fall when the angle of the sun is low.

While you are visiting Stonehenge, be sure to see the Maryhill Museum which was also built by Sam Hill. On display is one the best collections of Native American artifacts I have seen to date.

No comments: