6 of 40 photos

Guardian Spirit

Tamanawas Falls · Cold Spring Creek · Mt. Hood National Forest · Parkdale · Oregon · USA

As the trail meanders through a massive rockslide and rounds a bend in the gorge, the constant growl of Cold Spring Creek crescendoes to a thundering roar as 100-foot-tall Tamanawas Falls comes into glorious view. Tamanawas is the Chinook term for friendly or guardian spirit, the cataract ostensibly taking its name for its commanding yet calming presence on Mt. Hood’s eastern flank.

As soon as I laid eyes on the majestic falls and saw the towering plumes of spray produced by the swirling winds in the amphitheater, I resigned myself to a second unsuccessful photographic outting in as many days (at Burnt Lake the day prior)—there was just no getting close enough for an intimate portrait without drenching lens and lederhosen* before you could ever hope to get a shot off. Besides which, sunlight was spotlighting the top of the falls and left everything else in deep shadow, making an attempt at even an HDR composite a dicey proposition at best. This was my second visit to the falls, and I felt like I had some unfinished business (I’d like to think I’m a better photog now than I was this same time last year—tremendous thanks goes to the artists of RedBubble for that), but there was significantly less spray on that day that allowed for a much closer approach and much more intimate studies that I was hoping to have another go at. Disappointing, to say the least.

After a time, however, and just as we were set to embark for the trailhead after a short break, the sun moved on from zenith and began to illuminate the mist in radiant shafts of light as it filtered through the evergreens rimming the amphitheater’s cliff. I saw what was developing and waited until the falls was completely in shade, and this was our reward for lollygagging.

* No, I wasn’t wearing nor have I ever worn lederhosen, but I needed something starting with L for the alliteration. My apologies for the deception.
Guardian Spirit