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Wednesday, December 6, 2017


The lodge at Multnomah Falls is open again — and that’s not fake news. But the lodge is about all that’s open. The route to the first viewpoint is screened off with a section of chain-link fence. This is the best shot I could get holding my camera up over my head to clear the fence. You can see the railing of the distant observation area in the lower right corner. Even as I stood behind the barrier, workers brought more fence to make sure that certain ‘gray areas’ of access were no longer open to interpretation.

The wind was hurtling westward down the gorge, and plastic chairs that may have earlier welcomed winter tourists’ butts were now stacked in compact piles, perhaps to avoid the prospect of flying furniture.

Tree limbs combed the sky for litter nits.

Already, it’s hard to be certain if one is looking at fire damage, or autumn’s annual tree stripping.

It’s so windy that some waterfalls stop falling.

The iridescent sheen of charcoal is the tell-tale signature of the fire.

The high ridges exposed to the wind bore the brunt of the flames.

At least some of the railing at the top observation platform appears to be intact.

Fire has rhymes and reasons that I don’t understand.

The same niche that protects the falls from today’s wind must also have provided some degree of aerodynamic shelter during the fire.

Click on images to view larger versions

Some of the burnt trees have been removed, and I suppose park personnel have taken steps to make the area look nice. But enough evidence remains to speculate that the lodge’s survival — is a surprise.

Artist's depiction of Eagle Creek Fire at Multnomah Lodge 09/05/17

Friday, December 1, 2017


A thin, icy, cloud painted crystals overnight onto chilly windshields

Till the morning’s faux summer-sun chased it into low places

Winter’s premature apparition melts in gullies, carved across sloping fields

Behold a golden diamond set in a blue dome of sky, quiet and still as if in permanent stasis

Until Winter’s specter fingers stretch forth, over brittle, golden-fields shivering

Birds bail out of the sky, as if some great dangerous tide is turning

I stand atop a deep cut scar, a canyon, a river’s ceaseless dithering

Gusting winds kick up a haze though no fire is left burning

This bird’s eye view reveals my path through history, those days of triple digits

The river, flashing cold blue grins, teases saying, “I still got your (pretty-good) fishing pole”

It seems unlikely that a river’s fits and starts, its endless fidgets

Would craft such nonsensical wondrous scenes — absent any goal

Though born of different mothers — those distant violent mounts, these carved out hills —

They put on similar fashions, they rock their gravity skirts

Strong gusts comb the blond stubble of this barren high desert, yet my nose fills

With juniper pollen, hints of sage — varieties of earthly dirts

This isolated house — it’s hearth — someone’s metaphor for heaven

Did it nurture its humans, or do tragic skeletons somewhere repose, without testament or will

I can see for miles and miles and not see one Seven Eleven

Or gas station for that matter, my sketchy gas gauge reading empty while slanted downhill

Those grasping spectral fingers from before

Dragging a cloud blanket behind me, to swaddle me in cold darkness

A crowd of fans are waving at the sun they adore

“We really love what you’ve done with these pressure gradients”, they confess

Winter seems certain to win this seasonal battle, yet one pinwheel yet strives

To blow the snow off the mountain (with picturesque backlighting)

The vanquished apparition rises from the valley again, as if with infinite lives

Who would have thought 23.5 degrees of tilt would guarantee forever fighting

Monday, November 6, 2017


South Falls from the canyon floor
I wish I could write poetry about the last warm, sunny days of autumn.  I’d try to explain how, despite the morning’s cold, I’ve worked up a little sweat hiking to the canyon floor, and now, coming to a standstill behind my tripod, I shiver as I wait and watch the Sun’s fingers prod and probe through the trees and mist, slowly — imperceptibly — prying their way into the shrouded canyon. The noon’s warmth is yet just a feeble promise. I am glad to start walking again.

South Falls from the canyon rim
The sun continues to rise in defiance of the autumn’s measured coup. Where the sun gazes, leaves burst into the colors of wildfire.

South Falls (detail)
Near the Silver Falls Lodge, a roofed enclosure shelters a small theater where a video loop tells its short story over and over to empty benches. It features a man who captained a canoe over the South Falls in a money making gambit. The camera’s vintage footage shows a close-up of his face and does a creditable job of preserving all the craziness in his oblivious smile as he sits in his hospital bed, mending all his broken bones.

South Falls (from the trail)
The waterfall makes background noise like the noise of a distant interstate, like some irrefutable subliminal conspiracy, and this never ending subtext whispers continually as the dawn reveals the trees undressing.

Yes. It's still South Falls
The trees look all innocent, as if they didn’t see the raccoons cavorting, or witness the bats dancing and the owls performing acrobatics.  The trees hold their limbs in perpetual shrugs. The possums play possum. The bears quietly bide their time, waiting for the right moment.

Yes, still.
Leaves become compost, moss thrives. Life and decay are juxtaposed and somehow, without human intervention, it all looks beautiful and verdant and smells like a pine forest. Oh why can’t it work like that in my shower?

A jungle setting fit for a fruit loop bird.

O.K. Pretty sure that's the last one.
The sun slices the world into warms and cools.

Atop the stairs to Lower South Falls
How lucky we are that we have trails to follow and from which we can branch off. How unfortunate that we don’t appreciate the cumulative efforts and compromises it took to make them.

Lower South Falls
Waterfalls:  Beautiful engines of destruction.

Silver Creek, South Fork
I don’t remember where I learned this photographer’s maxim, or even if it is one — I suppose it works as well for tenderfoots in cougar country. But it goes, “Don’t forget to look behind you.”

Silver Creek, South Fork
A long exposure reveals the paths that water chooses.

Lower North Falls
Having descended the Silver Creek South Fork, I realize I’m now ascending the Silver Creek North Fork — because how else to explain the change in direction of the water’s flow?

Double Falls
In horror movies, sometimes it is best not to show too much of the monster, too early.

Sometimes, a shy, partially dressed naked person is more provocative than an in-your-face completely naked person.

So too, it may be, that a visually obstructed waterfall may hold more mystery and beauty than an isolated waterfall. Here, I hope the trees add descriptive poetry with delicate calligraphy branches, or accentuate a point with pointers aflame in golden leaves.

Double Falls
The sun throws spotlights on the amphitheater stage.

Double Falls
In the background, the water whispers disparaging remarks to stoic rocks in a play that repeats through the eons.

On the canyon trail above, but not showing Drake Falls
Great beams of light search the valley floor, as if the sun ( at the last minute ) has forgotten something it needs to take on vacation into winter.

Middle North Falls
At this moment, the difference between cool and warm, summer and winter, vibrant life and still hibernation, all seems poised on the edge of a razor.

Middle North Falls
My long exposure seems to foreshadow a near future when time will be frozen.

Winter Falls
Winter Falls, vanquished in summer, lays its plans for the future by saturating the earth and filling the cracks in obstinate rocks where it waits patiently for freezing temperatures and its wedge-forming metamorphosis into solid matter.

North Falls
North Falls has made considerable headway in its efforts to ascend the North Fork...

Mr. T. braving seismic catastrophe to capture his images of North Falls 
…so much so that I am uneasy under the shelf of rock that even now seems over-extended.

Parting view of North Falls

The Narrative Image NAVIGATION AID

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