The trail that leads to triple falls is one of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the Gorge. The trail leads you past four beautiful and very photogenic waterfalls, unbelievable views of the gorge and the Columbia River, old growth forest and parallels the creek that feeds the waterfalls. The best time to visit is between May and early July. This is the best time to catch the creeks at their highest level and the foliage is usually in full bloom. The wildflowers are also spectacular and some of the most widespread in the Pacific Northwest. However, since the weather can be unpredictable, sometimes the foliage can stay dormant well into June depending on the temperatures during spring. The photo that I posted is the most popular viewing area of the waterfall and you can really see just how awesome this part of the gorge really is. The creek climbs several miles past Triple Falls and the trail parallels the creek and offers millions of photo opportunities. I may sound bias but this part of the Pacific Northwest makes any other parts of the world look like a desert. To get this shot I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch. The viewing area is a very uneven and steep cliff so setting up your tripod can be tricky and only one person at a time can take this photo since it’s so narrow. I set the camera mode at shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 4 seconds. The aperture was at F-18, the ISO was at 100 and I adjusted the white balance to -0.7. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic view as possible, without having any vignetting. The day was mostly overcast and the sun was directly behind the waterfall. It was about 12:22pm but since the clouds were moving so fast I just waited for the best opportunity. If you plan on visiting and expect to get a photo of triple falls, without having dozens of people sitting along the waterfall, you may want to come during a weekday and a very overcast or rainy day since hikers like to sit just above the waterfall and take pictures. I was pretty fortunate to only have to wait for two hikers to eventually move away from the area before I could get to work. the elevation gain to triple falls is only about 600 feet but you could continue all the way to larch mountain if you’re up to the 6.5 mile hike. This is one hike that you will truly be glad you took and you can expect some of the most fantastic views of your life.
Unless you plan on wading out in a foot of frigid water to get this type of shot, I wouldn’t plan on making the trek until the water level starts to drop. The water level is so high that the rocky beach is almost completely underwater. I have never seen the water level in the gorge this high since I started hiking the gorge over 20 years ago. As you can see from this photo, Punchbowl Falls is beyond swelled. In order for me to get this shot I had to take off my socks and shoes and wade out in about a foot of water before I could get a clear shot. The water is moving pretty fast so you need to steady your tripod as firmly as possible and hope that it doesn’t move. In case I did lose my footing and found myself swimming in the frigid creek I made sure to leave my photography bag, with all of my other lenses, at the safety of the creeks edge. The creek was so cold that after about 30 minutes I completely lost feeling in both of my legs from the knees down. The pebbles and rocks that you are forced to stand on are pretty jagged and hard but once my feet became numb I lost all feeling and was forced to rely on my tripod to steady myself as I scrambled back to the edge. Next time I will bring my Teva’s so I don’t have this problem again. Though the vegetation is starting to spring there are still several plants that still haven’t bloomed as well as several of the old growth trees that have only just begun to show their buds. This created a challenge since I wanted to take advantage of the swelling creeks and waterfalls but not include any of the shots with the bare vegetation. The harsh winter and cool and rainy spring has really made it tough on the gorge this year. The wildflowers are even somewhat confused. Several of the flowers are growing along the high cliffs but most of the wildflowers that grow along the creeks are barely out. I chose this shot in order to show just how much water was thundering over the falls as well as ensure there were no bare branches. I was using my Canon T1i along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I made sure to use my tripod, bubble level and remote switch in order to avoid any camera shake. This was especially difficult since the tripod was in the middle of the fast moving creek. I attached my ND8, warming filter and CIR-PL so I could have the camera in Shutter Priority mode. The focal length was at 21mm and I had the shutter open for 5 seconds. The aperture was at F-13 and I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -0.7. I spent about 45 minutes in the creek so I had plenty of time to adjust the focal length and the shutter speed and white balance but I was forced to basically just adjust and shoot as quickly as possible. The morning and afternoon was overcast so the sky was perfectly covered and it never even tried to rain. The trees should start blooming within the next week so I hope that my next trip here will offer more color but still plenty of water.
The Collaborative Life Science Building (CLSB) is located on the South Waterfront district and is located in Portland, Oregon. Oregon Health and Science University and the Oregon University System have gotten together to bring a new facility to Portland State students in 2014. It seems like the construction of the building has taken over a decade to construct but considering the sheer size of the building as well as the fact that Portland’s newest bridge is just east of the project and will take pedestrians, buses and light rail directly through the building, it seems like the project has actually gone pretty quickly. The city also constructed an overpass between downtown Portland and smack dab along the South Waterfront and over to the CLSB and then eventually over the new bridge. The CLSB will offer opportunities for students from PSU, OHSU and Oregon State University to study together under one roof as well as trimet operating part of their hub from the building. Buses and light rail will pick up and drop off pedestrians from the building. The CLSB is being built on 19 acres of land that was donated by the Schnitzer family. Undergraduate students will be studying alongside scientists who will be conducting cutting-edge research. There will be over 185,000 square feet of education space as well as a 400 seat lecture hall. Other portions of the building, such as OHSU’s School of Dentistry will also be located in the building. The building will also be LEED certified and offer storm water management, ecoroofs and atrium heat recovery. The building will also offer hundreds of bike storing stations, which will make it more accessible for students and bike commuters. The entire stretch between the South Waterfront and downtown Portland is very pedestrian friendly and there has been a tremendous amount of money spent on constructing lots of pedestrian access throughout the entire area. The new bridge that is being constructed over the Willamette river and is only a few hundred feet from CLSB was recently named Tilikum Crossing and it will be getting plenty of traffic once it’s completed. The entire area surrounding the bridge and the CLSB is just about to explode with new pedestrian lanes, river access and other construction projects.