[/caption] The Lewis River offers several views of some of the most amazing and scenic waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. There are at least 5 waterfalls along the easy 7 mile round trip hiking trail, which is located along the Lewis River. There are also two other waterfalls that are worth a short trip from the main road. However, plan on getting up really early and getting home really late if you plan on making it a day trip. The drive is about 100 miles, one way, from Portland and even further from Seattle. The Lewis River Campground is just yards from the river and it’s worth staying in order to have more time to enjoy the outdoors. You can hear the water from your campsite and its also pretty peaceful and clean. I didn’t camp there but I noticed that there were hardly any campers and even less tourists since it’s so far out and only a few people know about this jewel. The entire trail follows along the river and there are several viewpoints available to view the waterfalls. However, some of the falls are hard to view due to the vegetation and the steepness of the canyon. There are a couple of beaches that allow you to stand in front of the falls and photograph them as well as go for a swim. I visited the Lewis River on 5/12/10 and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was using my Canon 18-55mm kit lens and I made sure to attach my ND8 and warming filter. The sunny skies made it challenging to leave the shutter open so I was only able to leave the shutter priority open for 2 seconds. That was enough to get the flow of the water and stop the movement just enough to create that wispy look. I was standing along one of the more popular viewing areas since the water was too high to hike along the river bank. I set the focal length at 24mm and adjusted the ISO to 100 and the white balance at -2 in order to reduce the exposure. My only place to hide from the direct sunlight was behind some trees. The waterfall was completely exposed to the sun. Due to my filter choices and settings, the aperture was at F-25. Plan on seeing some wildlife since you are likely to see some small herds of elk grazing in the meadows as well as seeing osprey and even bald eagle along the river as well as the lakes along your drive.
[/caption]It looks like summer is officially here. Nothing but clear blue skies and thundering rivers with cascading waterfalls dotting the Washington’s Lewis canyon. I’ve been wanting to hike the Lewis river trail for a while so I decided that mid May would be a good time to see the river swelled to it’s maximum. Each of the waterfalls cascading through the river were so high that it was flooding it’s banks and swallowing the lush neon green moss that usually protrudes out of the waterfalls. The water was moving so fast that I was forced to use a much faster shutter speed. The drive from Portland to the Lewis River is fairly long (100 miles one way) but it’s still a perfect day trip. Highway 503/90 are well maintained with only about 1 mile of gravel road to get to the park. I take this same highway whenever I’m going to the south flanks of Mt. St. Helen’s. Many sections of the trail were hit pretty hard by landslides during the rainy season which made parts of the trail fairly tricky. The forest service had a sign posting near the lower falls stating that the trail was closed at one of the many bridges that cross along several brooks and creeks. I decided to drive to the upper falls and work my way down to as far as the middle falls before driving back to the lower falls. The Lewis river was swelled to it’s fullest capacity. The waterfalls were thundering so fast that many of the smaller falls were overshadowed by water leaping over them and plunging to the other side. I was forced to set my shutter to as fast as 1/4 second due to the quickness of the falls. I witnessed several hawks cruising just above the river, probably hunting for trout. There were several catch and release trout signs posted so I’m assuming the fishing must be pretty good. To get this shot I had hiked just below the upper falls which has a really nice pool area with hundreds of drift wood resting on shore. I decided to get a shot with the blue sky in the background. I set the shutter speed at 1/4 second and the ISO at 100. Because the sun was so bright and it was so late in the day I ended up having to stack my filters in order to keep out the glare. I stacked my warming filter, ND8 and my CIR-PL and used my tripod. The F stop was at 10 and I intentionally under exposed the shot so I could bring out the blueness of the sky and the greens of the vegetation. I used my 18-55mm lens and set the focal length to 28mm. I highly recommend this hike. There are several waterfalls as well as small brooks and creeks that you cross over on small footbridges and there are several areas where the water is cascading down moss covered rocks. There is also an awesome trail called Big Creek trail just 10 miles west of the park. It’s a 2.5 mile trail that takes you to two huge waterfalls (Big Creek Falls at 125 feet and Hemlock Creek Falls 250 feet) and right to the edge of the Lewis Canyon with panoramic views of the area. Hemlock Creeks Falls are on the other side of the canyon so you will want a descent telephoto lens to get a closer shot. The other side is probably 2 miles or so.