Ramona Falls · Mt. Hood National Forest · Rhododendron · Oregon · USA
Clear blue skies, abundant sunshine, and 62 vehicles of all makes and models greeted us at the trailhead to Ramona Falls on a Saturday afternoon, and with a hike-friendly forecast in the 60s, who could blame us for joining the fray? But for the torturous anticipation of seeing Ramona herself, the trail is one of my favorites, being a relatively easy 1,000-foot gain distributed evenly over a 3-plus-mile jaunt. It begins on a dusty path flanked on either side by red alder, western red cedar, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock draped in old man's beard (Usnea longissima) rising from a forest floor carpeted with wavy-leaved cotton moss, kinnikinnick, and whimsical twinflower. After navigating on fallen logs over the silty Sandy River, the trail winds toward Sandy's Muddy Fork as lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock fortify in numbers. Finally, the trail careens toward Ramona Creek, where larger specimens of red cedar, Douglas-fir, and western hemlock offer welcome reprieve from a subalpine sun that can be callously unforgiving on hot summer days. At that point the dusty and rooty path gives way to a soft cushion of evergreen needles before a robust footbridge and the sound of a hundred rainsticks simultaneously turned upside down announces your arrival at the coolly shaded cathedral that Ramona calls home.
We spent a good and ridiculously quick four hours here, watching the sunlight filter through the high forest canopy above and train across the basalt walls like some slow-motion shadow puppet show. It was towards the tail end of our stay that the predictable rainbows crept up the walls high enough to lend themselves to capture. The challenge, as it always is with such a multifaceted falls as Ramona, is to keep some semblance of coherence and flow within the frame, all the while taking note of where the light is striking and where it's not. I'd like to say my approach is Jedi-master-level-methodical and that my virtual cutting room floor is fairly uncluttered, but neither situation is really the case. I always end up shooting a lot of shots of varying focal lengths and orientations and praying that I might come away with a handful of 'workable' images. I'm hoping this might be one.