Autumn colors along the creek at Elowah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
If I had to pick one waterfall that I thought epitomized the Columbia River Gorge it would be Elowah Falls.
As if created for a fairytale, the cold waters of McCord Creek spill over the basalt ledge in a sleek stream, with bright yellow lichen decorating the wall, providing eye candy on the cliff face and situated ever so perfectly in the frame to fill up the dead space. The water hits the plunge pool in a dense current, creating heavy spray that will absolutely drench you as you race across the footbridge near the base. The water cascades towards the Columbia River through a series of drops and pools, providing numerous compositional opportunities. Abundant moss and plenty of big leaf and vine maples make this falls a treat to visit any time of the year. The hike in is gentle and flanked by lush greens in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. Yeah, I guess you could say that this is probably my favorite waterfall in the gorge and it's only a beautiful 35 minute drive from the city of Portland.
In 2004 I had moved away for several years with the intent of returning to Oregon for the long haul. Having such a connection to this part of the country, I kept images of the area handy, one of which was a photo of Elowah Falls from this lower perspective. This was before I had been involved with landscape photography and I can't recall who had taken the photo, but it was a fond vision of the place that I loved and longed for. As such, I had always wanted to get a photo from this lower vantage that I was happy with. I have photographed it many times, but never felt like I captured that vision I had in my mind... the one that kept my mind on Oregon while I was away.
I feel like I've finally done so with this photo. It's a pretty standard take on an oft shot location, but it means something to me. I may have grown up in another state, but Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge have my heart. I absolutely love where I live and I feel extremely grateful and lucky to live here.
Photo © copyright by TJ Thorne.