Lancaster Falls · Wonder Creek · Mt. Defiance Trail #413 · Columbia River Gorge · Cascade Locks · Oregon · USA
The four waterfalls along the short but steep Lower Starvation Creek Loop Hike have long eluded my goal of portraying them in a manner befitting their beauty. They're generally a graceful set of falls (if one can overcome the abhorrent fact that Hole-In-The-Wall Falls is a man-made feature) beset in topography that challenges most photographic endeavors. (My talented buddy TJ Thorne is one of the select few that have been able to overcome these conditions with his spectacular shot of Starvation Creek Falls.)
As testament to this, the 20-foot cascade seen here where Wonder Creek traverses a crumbly section of the Mt. Defiance Trail is but a tiny fraction of Lancaster Falls' full height. Only by taking the scene in from some distance back or by scrambling up a crumbly, poison oak-lined talus slope to the left (which Justin Poe chanced on this day) does the true elegance of Lancaster's imposing 300-plus-foot height become apparent. I played it conservatively this time out, shelving the effort of the scramble for the greener Spring days to come and instead firing off a couple of shots from a pretty pedestrian vantage point. By sheer chance a bit of fog rolled in to provide a touch of atmosphere during this exposure, lending credence to the soggy conditions Justin, Steven Michael, Dawn Baker, Pat Dickerson, and I endured (*ahem*) on this prototypically wet Pacific Northwest day.
In true native Oregonian spirit, we scrapped plans for the steep loop hike and instead retraced our steps back to the parking lot, got into our warm and cozy vehicles, and high-tailed it back to Cascade Locks for lunch at Char Burger (except for Justin, who had to high-tail it back home due to some family commitments). There, we chewed the fat (literally and figuratively) for quite some time, a gentle rain pitter-pattering against the gigantic bay windowpanes overlooking the Bridge of the Gods and the Columbia River while Steven entranced and somehow amused us with his harrowing tale of how he survived a severe bout of sepsis touched off by some ant bites, along with an incredible string of inexcusable medical mishaps that ensued.
So while I didn't quite get the exercise I'd steeled myself for that day, my sides were aching nonetheless. Only Steven in his affable and aw-shucks manner could turn an otherwise frightening account of a near-death experience into an uproarious comedy of errors. Anyway, glad to be able to count you amongst the living, Steven. Next time maybe make sure you don't lay your sleeping bag across an angry ant trail, eh?