Recent New and Latest Information
Benham Falls has been destroyed
January 24, 2009
The aftermath of the January floods is slowly being revealed as the low elevation snow starts to melt off. There was substantial damage to Canyon Creek Road #54 near Chelatchie - several huge landslides took out some really large chunks of the road. I don't know if they were before or after the turnoff to the Siouxon Creek trailhead (I'm assuming after). Roads 21 and 90 also suffered some damage in the GPNF.
But most shockingly was the damage that has been levied on FR 25 at Benham Creek between Randle and Elk Pass. Benham Creek has in the past been a thorn in the sides of the Forest Service maintenance crews. The bridge had completely washed out in 1998 or 1999 (don't remember which exactly) and it took them almost 3 years to rebuild it to a permanent state.
Benham Creek is NOT a large stream either, so for it to do this was an impressive feat. Well the storm in January seems to have thought the first washout wasn't bad enough. This time, the entire hill slid down, over the road, destroying the bridge and completely burying Benham Falls and its small, scenic gorge. You can check out the carnage on the GPNF website if you don't believe me, but if what I'm seeing in this picture is accurate - and based on the angle of the roadbed leading towards the slide, I'd say it is - Benham Falls no longer exists. Its not a huge loss as waterfalls goes, but it was pretty and its a shame to see any waterfall destroyed. I just hope that there isn't a more serious casualty elsewhere.
Waterfall Photography Workshops Poll
January 18, 2009
So I want to gauge interest in my offering of Waterfall Photography workshops this summer. I'm toying with the idea of offering one-day workshops in the Cascades where we will focus on teaching how to photograph streams and waterfalls. The possibility of multiple-day workshops also exists, but that may not happen until next year. You would be responsible for transporting yourself to a predetermined meeting location and we would carpool from there to shooting locations, shoot for most of the day and then discuss some post processing techniques either afterward or during mid day when the light might not be conducive to shooting. These will be paid workshops, but I haven't yet determined what the fee(s) would be. I'd appreciate it if anyone interested in even the slightest would answer the poll question on the home page so I can get an idea of whether this would be worth investing my time in.
Thus begins the annual 100 year flood. Again.
January 07, 2009
Forecasters are suggesting this one is going to be bad. The Cowlitz River is predicted to obliterate its record level at Randle but not at Packwood. This means there will probably be equally absurd amounts of water coming down the Muddy / Clear Forks as there is coming down the Cispus River and for those of you who paid attention, the Cispus drainage did not fair well during the 2005 floods. At the moment the Skykomish Gauge at Gold Bar is sitting over 53,000 cfs and the Snoqualmie below the falls is about to hit 50,000 cfs and we're only halfway into this thing according to the weather predictions. If you can make it to North Bend today or tomorrow, Snoqualmie, Twin and Weeks Falls ought to be quite the spectacle.
December 12, 2008
This is an advanced notice that I plan on doing some major database maintenance in the next month or two and there may be a period of a day or two when this site is unavailable.
Right now I've got separate databases for the Northwest Waterfall Survey and the World Waterfall Database. Because the data in NWS is going to be duplicated almost entirely on WWD, its easier for me to just maintain one source rather than have to copy and paste everything. This site won't be shut down, I will just need to point the database connections and SQL queries to the other database, but I will have to slice up my code a bit to do so.
I don't know exactly when I will be doing this, but I am getting close to the point where I will begin to fill the new WWD tables with content, so it'll likely happen before the end of January. I will post further warnings when its coming.
December 07, 2008
To those of you living basically anywhere from about Everett to as far south as Portland or maybe even Salem, you may have noticed the "words simply are incapable of explaining how awesome that was" sunset last night (12/5). The color itself was far and away among the absolute best I have ever seen, but the factor that really set it apart was the three stacks of huge lenticular clouds lofting above Mount Rainier (and apparently over Adams, Hood and maybe St. Helens as well).
Well I live about 10 minutes from downtown Seattle and I have a partial view of Rainier from my living room, so when I saw the clouds just sitting there, waiting to be photographed, I hurried over to Kerry Park, which provides maybe the epitomal view of Seattle, and set up to shoot sunset. I've seen some good ones in my life, but this may be the absolute best I've personally witnessed. I usually shoot landscapes, but I've wanted to shoot some cityscapes for a while now, and as many places in the wilderness I've been to have blown my mind, I think this image may be the shot I am to date most proud of. Just wanted to share it with my readers.
Missing Pictures and a boot covered in Fail
December 01, 2008
I just noticed I hadn't posted a picture of Benham Falls in the Iron Creek drainage in the Gifford Pinchot area from back in June, so that's now online. Weather today was pretty damn nice (had to be at least 55 degrees out) and since I'd been cooped up in my apartment for the last week for one reason or another, I had to try and do something.
Aaron Young went and found a path leading to the lofty upper waterfall on the unnamed stream feeding Suiattle Falls near Darrington, and that's one which been pestering me for a long time, so I had to take a stab at it. Well I somehow got in my head that Aaron told me that the trail he found was on the right side of the creek and not the left. So I started scrambling up the hillside, occasionally finding traces of wear that may have been caused by people. One or two flags here and there egged me on, but after nearly 1 1/2 hours of veggie-belaying up the mountainside, I noticed I had almost climbed ABOVE the whole waterfall and immediately knew I was on the wrong side of the creek. Dammit.
The resulting descent was much faster, however it involved many branches in the face, almost losing one of my boots to a hidden puddle of leather gobbling mud and wading through a thicket of blackberry bushes in order to get back to my car. So with the weather turning to crap for the foreseeable future, it looks like 2008 will be sending me off with a nice wet layer of Fail all over.
Not like its the first time.
November 16, 2008
This one wasn't terribly bad, but there has been some moderate damage in Mount Rainier National Park. The Carbon River Road is closed indefinitely outside of the park boundary (and are we really surprised?) due to an apparent 200 foot long washout of the width of the road and then some. The Nisqually Road is closed for another week so crews can shore up the road around Kautz Creek and divert it back into its former channel and away from the road.
Sounds like the worst damage might have been due to the Ohanapecosh River going apeshit (again), which damaged the suspension bridge at Grove of the Patriarchs and if it was that high, it may have ended up taking out the bridge above Ohanapecosh Falls again (though I don't know if it was ever replaced after the 2006 floods - pretty sure it was). Hopefully there aren't new logs pinned in the falls after the floods finally cleaned out the old ones.
Here we go again
November 12, 2008
Right on time, Washington's annual November 100 year flood is currently on. The Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park is currently closed because Kautz Creek is flowing 6 inches deep over the road (maybe it'll move itself back to its old streambed and spare blowing out the huge culverts they just installed a couple years ago).
The Skykomish River is currently sitting at 65,000 cfs at Gold Bar, which means Sunset and Eagle Falls are most likely moving at about 40,000 cfs at the moment, which I can't even fathom. South Fork of the Snoqulamie River is above 6500 cfs, so Twin Falls should be absolutely insane right now, Snoqualmie Falls itself may actually be inaccessible.
Unfortunately I can't get close enough to these things to go take pictures because the roads are all flooded well before the waterfalls. Plus I need new tires and I don't want to hydroplane off the side of the road.
Everyone pray to the weather gods that the roads and trails stay relatively intact this time.
Lava Canyon is Accessible again
November 08, 2008
Just found out that FR 83 on the south side of Mt. St. Helens has been repaired and is open all the way to its end at the Lava Canyon / Ape Canyon trailhead. The Lava Canyon Trail is said to be open as far as the suspension bridge but the Forest Service website still says the "river has shifted its course" and presumably that is why the trail is still closed beyond the bridge. I'm really not sure where the trail could have washed out due to the river shifting course in the canyon unless the river moved to the left below Middle Lava Canyon Falls such that it blew out the ladder (which I don't see happening anyway). Snow is falling pretty steadily at the higher elevations now anyway, so its only a matter of days, maybe two weeks at most, before 83 is closed for the season anyway. Lava Canyon is very high up on my hit list for next summer, so we'll find out after the snow melts.
Also for those of you paying attention, its been a wet couple of days in Western Washington. We're in the midst of our first major flood of the season and while I don't think any records are being shattered, the Snoqualmie River certainly got high, peaking at 28,300 cfs at the gauge below Snoqualmie Falls yesterday. Nowhere near its record levels though. In fact, exactly a year ago yesterday, it high 55,000 cfs. The record remains firmly established during the 1991 floods when it produced an astonishing 78,800 cfs. Thats basically half of the average volume of the Columbia River at the Tri Cities.
A Bipolar Day
November 05, 2008
I'm generally feeling pretty good right now. While I could have cared less who won the Governors race in Washington, I'm just tickled that Barrack Obama will be our next president. Nothing against McCain (everything against Palin), he's one of the few Republicans I would actually vote, but like so many out there, I feel that Obama is just a stronger leader. If nothing else, it'll be nice to have a president that sounds like he knows what hes doing.
But glom on top of that the fact that the Sound Transit Expansion proposition is passing with flying colors and Tim Eyman's "Traffic Congestion reduction" initiative was dealt the proverbial bitch slap just made my day. I'm in a bit of a state of shock that California actually agreed to ban Gay Marriage, as progressive of a state as they claim to be. I just don't get how people can so overwhelmingly support the first minority president then turn around and willingly choose to discriminate against another demographic.
Anyway, enough politics. The big downer now is that the hiking season is officially done. The snow level in the Cascades has dropped to 2500 feet in the last couple days and the snow is coming down hard now. Big storms are expected in the next couple days that will start bringing the rivers up and closing roads in the mountains, so waterfall hunting season is all but done for the year. I had maybe my best season yet, but yet again wasn't able to get to the big boys (Sulphide, Green Lake, Berdeen and Depot Creek) in the North Cascades. Of course I'll plan on making another attempt at at least some of those next year, but we'll see.
I did find a few holes I didn't realize I had left in my data and I got a handful of falls online today that had been left out over the last couple months of updating - one dating back to March even! Oh right, I completely forgot about Louis Creek too. My last major backpacking weekend of the year involved a horribly miscalculated attempt to get up on Butterfly Butte near Mt. Clark in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, and we bailed after the first night. But this did allow me to get to Louis Creek Falls, which stands at over 1700 feet tall and is quite impressive despite its small streamflow. Its not a hike most will be able to undertake - involving a brutal 8 mile hike (one way), but its worth it.
Right now I'm working on redesigning the World Waterfall Database for the most part, but I'm also going to get the Northwest Waterfall Blog moved over to Wordpress sometime in the next couple months, so soon you'll all be able to comment on my random babbling. Stay tuned.