The drive, the trail, the falls
The 249-foot fall can be seen from an overlook or you can walk less than a quarter mile to the bottom of the fall to view the basalt cliffs behind the fall. Moss covers parts of the cliff with black columns distinctly visible.
The drive out Old Columbia Hwy 30 takes you past the Vista House. Stop and take in the views. The misty mornings view eastward is a contrast to the westward view of a blue river.
At the right end of the parking lot, a trail takes you to bottom of the Latourell Fall. Be prepared for the mist, but this is the best view of the 249-foot waterfall.
There is a two-mile loop that takes you up the canyon to Upper Latourell Falls. If you continue across the wooden planked bridge at the base of the fall, you will cross under the Hwy 30 bridge and head to the park a quarter mile away. When you reach the park, you will see one sign on the loop trail.
I came upon several forks on the trail. They all get you to the same place. I picked the trail to the right and it headed up and back into the canyon. I have a saying from my youth – Always go right and you’ll never go left of wrong. When in doubt go right. It was 1.1 miles to the Upper Latourell Falls. Once out of the bottom of the gorge it gets less steep. On my walk up I saw a log that looked like it had been clawed on. I was reminded of a grizzly bear in Glacier National Park clawing at a log in our campground. I looked up to see the side of a large black-haired animal. I was startled briefly until the dog’s sweet face came into view. The owner heard my gasp and was concerned I was afraid of dogs. He was soft and easy to pet. I have seen many bears in my day and never had an issue, but I have never come across one on a steep trail. I never expect to see a bear in the gorge, but mountain lions are a possibility. I think I will start carrying my bear spray.
I continued on to Upper Latourell Falls. I heard the water flow increasing before I saw the falls. I saw the lower half of the falls and think that is the fall. As I cross the bridge near the base, I saw a second fall above the first. The higher fall was a wide flat fall crashing behind the rockface. The lower fall comes shooting out a small opening and crashed to the basin below. With the upper half of the fall in the sun and the lower half in the shade a photo is difficult to get.
Time to get my drone shot of the waterfall. I want to fly up the face of the falls and over the top. This should be a great video! I set up the drone, do the calibration and lift off. I move it over the small gorge and hit the ‘gas’. It dropped down a foot. WOAH! NO! I used the controller to tell the drone to go up. It did not go up and it was not responding. I told it to go sideways and moved it toward me. It goes up a little. Okay that worked, let me try again. I moved out into the gorge again and pushed up on the controller. It dropped again. Oh no. I need to get the drone on the ground. I got it close to the edge of the trail, reached out and grabbed it. It thinks its crashing and goes to full speed. It tried to go up as I grabbed it from below and pull it down. The propellers were going full speed as I turn off the drone. This was my first flight since my pine tree crash and 60-foot plunge to the ground. Further testing is needed.
The hike back along the opposite canyon wall was peaceful. A few more people were out now. I ran across another drone pilot with a Mavic. He was going to video the first fall with his drone. We got to the viewpoint just off the parking lot. There was no sign for the trail loop even thought the trail was well used. I would recommend the trail for almost anyone. It was a steep start, but once past that initial accent it was a nice walk back to the Upper Falls.
Once home, I get the drone set up for a test. Up … good, Over … good. The drone was working fine. My ability to fly needs work. I forgot how to fly. It has been a few months and I have less than 10 hours of flight time. User/Pilot error. I am glad and slightly sad I cannot buy a new drone.