Columbia River Gorge Part 3: Beacon Rock 2

This is the last post on my Columbia River Gorge hikes earlier this month.  I visited waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, then crossed over to the Washington side and hiked up Beacon Rock.  All of these photos were taken from “the rock”.  But first, let me introduce you to a friend I met on the very top of the rock, 840-some feet above the river.

Beacon Rock - Chipmonk

Beacon Rock – Chipmonk

He was hoping I had some snacks to share with him.  But I know that feeding wild animals human junk food is harmful to them, and teaches them to rely on handouts instead of finding their own food in their natural environment. So we just looked at each other for a few seconds.  I must have taken 10 photos of him (I’m assuming it’s a male) but he darted around so fast that only this one turned out without him being a blur or in an odd pose.

Columbia Creek?

Columbia Creek?

As I looked down to the east of Beacon Rock, I saw this creek running parallel to the Columbia River.  I used my EF 70-200mm f/4L to get a little closer.  You can tell it’s winter by all the bare trees closer to the river. Up in the hills there are more evergreen trees.

Beacon Rock - Ledge

Beacon Rock – Ledge

When I visited Beacon Rock with my parents as a teenager, you could see 360 degrees around from the top.  Now the trees have grown up, and there really isn’t a clear view to the west.  When I started down, I noticed a mass of rocks jutting out past the trees.  So I ducked under the railing and made my way out onto them to see if I could get a clear westward shot.  If you notice, there is a tree branch on the right edge of the photo.  I had the slide out to that little patch of grass on the ledge to shoot around it.  One little slip and I’d fall several hundred feet straight down to certain death.

I started questioning my sanity.  “I have a wife and two little kids at home. If I kill myself trying to get a shot, who’s going to provide for them?”  Like I said in the previous post, I am not really scared of heights, but there is something incredibly overwhelming about being exposed on a cliff to all that open space. So I only took a couple photos out there and got my butt back to the trail!  Here they are:

Columbia River - from Beacon Rock

Columbia River – from Beacon Rock

Columbia River - from Beacon Rock

Columbia River – from Beacon Rock

I’ve taken better photos, so I’m not sure these were worth risking my life for, but it was an adventure anyway!  The second photo was tricky to process because shooting directly into the sun made for an extremely broad exposure latitude.  Very dark shadows and very bright sky.  I was able to get some detail from the trees, which were black shadow in the untouched RAW image. And I darkened the sky with a virtual graduated filter in software.

Hope you enjoy the photos.  I am planning another outing soon, but I have to plan around weather and a hectic work schedule.  No shortage of awesome places to visit, though, within a two-hour radius any direction I go.


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