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Pacific Northwest October 2020

In so many ways, we live in a remarkably dynamic and incredible country. We can bask in accomplishments as a nation: Classic Coke, the light bulb, once we even played golf on the Moon!

We also have access to the most diverse landscapes in the whole world. Within the span of 1 day in the U.S you can travel from rugged coastal landscapes to fertile plains to lush forest and towering mountain ranges.

An emblematic microcosm of this multi-faceted American landscape, the Pacific Northwest, land I had scarcely visited, beckoned. In due time, I planned out a road trip that would encompass the region’s mesmerizing valleys, its plethora of rivers, waterfalls, coastal seascapes, old-growth rain forests and even a couple of volcanoes!

Due to a brutal dry season, and the resultant robust wildfire season, it was only after some careful planning that I finally landed in Spokane, Washington to begin my journey. Located on the eastern side of the state, Spokane is the hub of the “Inland PNW.” Surrounded by semi-arid prairie steppe that reminded me of eastern Colorado, I got settled in to my digs for the next few days adjacent to Spokane’s John Finch Arboretum, a local staple since 1912, which I scoped out in the evening with the intention of shooting in the morning.

I headed into town and did a little bit of night photography!

Road to Progress

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Spokane Pavilion

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The next morning at the John Finch Arboretum, I found this little bench, a terrific thinking place under the most beautiful tree in the park. As an aside, the “most beautiful tree in the park” award probably changes every couple of days, as it contains hundreds of tree cultivars from Redbud to Redwood.

A Thinking Place

After checking out the park, I tossed my camera bag in the rental and headed east into Idaho—another state filled with unquestionable rugged beauty. It was my first time in the state. I had scoped out a small waterfall, the crux of the day’s exploration, up north on a tributary of the Coeur d’Alene River. It’s not a particularly huge scene, in terms of size- about 1/10 the size of some of the falls I planned on visiting on the trip.

However, the tranquility this spot offered, as I discovered after finally finding it- very much nestled away, secluded, and so peaceful…with a perfect blend of lush foliage, clean flowing water, and light softened by the old-growth forest that enshrouds the area—it was a truly unique place. I think that “Tranquil Solitude” is my favorite shot of the trip. I can almost feel the 1-inch-deep placid film of spring water running through my toes, again, as I look at this image.

Tranquil Seclusion

The Columbia River Gorge, next on the agenda, is sick. Dense, lush forests blanket the land that is interwoven with numerous brooks, creeks, streams, falls and canyons. Watch your step! Be careful where you U-turn…thankfully an exceedingly kind couple stopped by just a few minutes after I buried the rental’s wheel trying to whip it around on a logging road (I saw I really cool tree, see? It’s in the background.)

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I was told by fellow photographer John Weatherby (he has an insane Instagram game @whereisweatherby) to check out Falls Creek Falls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and, after a short hike, I saw why: what a spectacular little spot this is! Dual-level falls, full of thunderous energy that still left me with a sense of overall calm, alone in its spitting mist. The feeling of being right in the outpouring of a huge waterfall, to me, brings a unique sense of…correctness. It’s like, all of these natural elements have been in place, making small, incremental changes throughout geologic time…slowly…until everything came together like THIS, for this very moment, there’s nothing that can change, which makes me feel peaceful and grateful for the experience.

Falls Creek Falls

I noticed this spot on the hike up to the falls, and the lighting really softened in the evening, so I did some exploring on the way back. Accessible by a bit of bushwhacking and climbing over a log or two…the canopy of trees draped over the soft-spoken brook seemed to me a great place to enjoy some trail mix and do some slow-shutter work to accentuate the smooth components of the hidden waterscape.

Falls Creek

Falls Creek

One of the things I was looking forward to the most was the massive Panther Creek Falls. I generally try to harness the calm, flowing nature of waterfalls in my photographs-easy to do with this beautiful series of waterfalls, which remind me of the old adage about snowflakes…surely, there can’t be another exact one of these?

While it may instill a feeling of calm due to the long shutter, believe me, standing in the foot of this precipitous cascade will automatically instill a sense of Nature’s POWER, it’s akin to a whole mountainside falling down, in perpetuity.

Heightened Curiosity

The Inland Pacific Northwest, and the Columbia River Gorge were a definite change from the landscapes of Colorado and had a personality and a feel all their own. It felt like being in another country. From this point, I headed up towards the Olympic Peninsula to explore the beaches and rainforests and spend some time with my fiancé Amanda. I’ll share this experience in my next post!

Email me clark@wildernessexclusives.com to order prints or if you have any questions. Feel free to comment below! 


Cheers, 

Clark 

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