The Bridge to Beautiful

Pont du Parayre, Le Ruisseau d'Audiernes, Peyrusse le Roc, France

Pont du Parayre, Le Ruisseau d'Audiernes, Peyrusse le Roc, France. Meaning, "Bridge Parayre, The Stream of Audiernes, Peyrusse le Roc, France".

This is one of my personal favorite photos. Perhaps due to the emotion that I feel when I think of the day that I spent with friends getting this shot at such an historic culturally rich location, but certainly this little bridge had a lot to do with it.

The story behind the photo.

I was perusing the interwebs one day looking at medieval castles and stonework - Doesn’t everyone? - when I came across a rather primitive photo of an arched bridge in France. It was just a simple snapshot, but for some reason it captured me. I did some research and found out the location, as well as a few more photos.

In time I was fortunate to have been invited to France by my dear friend Frederique. (Truly one of the most beautiful and kind people that I've ever met, and an excellent photographer and guide.) During a conversation with her prior to travelling there we talked of photographic possibilities and I asked her about this bridge and if she knew where it was. She replied that she did indeed know where it was and that we would go there on my trip. I could hardly believe it and I got excited every time that I thought about it until the day that we arrived there.

It was a perfect day for the visit. We arrived early in the day after a drive through the beautiful south central French countryside in a soft rain. It's what I would expect for a January day in France, and not much different than a typical January day here in Oregon. The creek was full of water fortunately as it can dry up in the summer months. The foliage was sparse due to the time of the year, but the scene was wet and luscious.

The the village Peyrusse le Roc, founded around 767 AD, whose original name was Petrucia, was a substantial town with a population of around 3500 people at its peak, while today the little town has no more than a couple hundred residents. The town was supported by local silver and lead mines until they closed up around 1400. Abandoned and in ruins there, are no less than twelve impressive medieval stone structures including the ruins of the Notre-Dame-de-Laval Church, a 14th century king’s tomb, two amazing bell towers and several other incredible stone structures in various stages of ruin.

The ancient village was built on the side of a wooded canyon with fairly steep but negotiable pathways connecting each of its levels, structures and features with the main village being at the top. The trail itself being, most likely, older than the village itself, makes its way down to the creek where this little roman style arch bridge resides. The area surrounding the bridge has some faint rock ruins here and there that tell of a day when a small mill of some sort existed there, but this bridge stands alone as a testament to the skill of its skilled builder. The bridge itself shows no sign of collapse or structural weakness, but does show worn grooves in its roadbed rock indicating wear from countless carts, beasts of burden and the footfall of people travelling over it in the last thousand years.

As I stood there I leaned on the rock of this bridge and wondered if the bridge was a conduit of connection between the builder and I. I could visualize him standing there proud of his work, leaning against the same stone and wondering if some day, perhaps a thousand years in the future, if someone would take the time to think about him.

To visit a location such as this that’s so rich in such ancient human history was incredible to me. I feel this way every time that I’m in an historic location with such a rich cultural history. I have sat in the doorways of ancient Anasazi ruins in remote canyons in the American southwest and have had the same feelings of connection to those who had been there before me.

As it was, I was hesitant to leave this amazing place as I kept turning and looking back until I could no longer see this little bridge, but left feeling satisfied and happy.

Each year since then, over the last five years, I have pulled this photo out to try to, in some way, process it into the image that my mind and memory evokes of that day, but I hardly ever feel that I do it justice. I have a feeling that my exercise may be more a melancholy reminiscence than an exercise to perfect a photograph, but what artist should feel so lofty in their confidence to claim to be able to do nature or memories their justice anyhow, but why not make it a goal?

I will return to this location again someday. And when I do I will know just how to shoot it next time. Perhaps I won’t be so overcome in the experience of being there to not take the time to stop and be thorough and find that special comp, or to wait until the light is right. Perhaps then I’ll be able to claim that I’ve done this little bridge the justice that it deserves. Until then I’ll pull this photo out once a year and process it one more time, remembering that special day every time that I do and questioning the reason that I am.

A Christmas Cabin in The Woods

A Christmas Cabin in The Woods.

A Christmas Cabin in The Woods.

It was late in the day on the eve before Christmas Eve when I decided to drive up to the Little Zigzag River to get some fresh air and take a few photos of the creek in the snow. It was getting dark and I wasn't too pleased with the photos that I took there, but as I was driving back home I passed by this cabin in the forest. It was all lit up and it caught my eye. It was well into the Blue Hour when I stopped for this photo so the warmth of the interior lights contrasted well with the blue snow covered forest vignette.

It goes to show that when one sets his goals on something they ultimate goal may not have been achieved, but you usually get something for your effort.

Dew Drops in The Forest

Dew Drops in The Forest

"You're too close to the trees to see the forest." To which I reply, "Well, sometimes there's more to the forest than just the trees!" First I see a forest, then trees, then leaves, then bark, pine cones, moss, mushrooms, bugs, dew, grains of sand.

Landscape photographers in many cases have Ultra Wide Fever. The want to buy the widest lens that they can buy and include the whole forest sacrificing the complexity and beauty of the details.

Darlene and I were hiking back from a visit to Tamanawas falls when this leaf caught my eye. We stopped and switched our lenses to our macro gear and started shooting these amazing brown drops of water. Apparently a forest tea steeped from the dew from the morning and the juices of the maple leaf.

Sometimes one really should stop and savor the little things in life to be able to enjoy the big picture.

NIKON D350mmf/3.5 - 1/200 sec - ISO 1600. 

Taking Care of Our Forests

Eagle Creek Fire, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon - Charlie Riter Photo

Here on Mount Hood we are literally surrounded by forestlands. Our homes touch the edge of the Mount Hood National Forest and with increased recreational usage, and in light of the recent Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge, concerns about wildfires and overuse are increasing. Many people aren’t aware that our local village is less than 20 miles from the Columbia River Gorge and the Eagle Creek Fire boundaries. A wind in a different direction was the only thing that prevented that fire from becoming a direct concern to our community.

In this day and age recreation is increasingly becoming the purpose and primary use of the forest. The amount of people using trails and camping areas has increased dramatically on public lands especially in areas such the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area and the Mount Hood National Forest. Local and Federal governments are trying their best to develop and to promote these areas to increase the usage and with this increased usage comes an increase in the impact on these areas. This makes our personal responsibility to and the assumption of stewardship of these lands important. We can’t have the attitude that it’s just the outdoors and that it will grow back or that the government will just repair or rebuild it. We must take care of it or lose it.

Most all of those who are coming out to use the forests are prepared, capable and aware of the responsibility involved in the use of these public lands, but there’s also an increased chance of having someone that’s not aware making mistakes or bad decisions that could prove costly or dangerous. There are many people who haven’t had the opportunity to live or to be taught the outdoor experience during their childhood. We can’t assume that everyone that is visiting the forest is aware of responsible forest use.

Eagle Creek Fire, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon - Adrian Blair Photo
Eagle Creek Fire, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon - Adrian Blair Photo

There are some basics that anyone that’s going to spend time in the forest should be aware of. These basics should be understood by anyone that goes out into the forest to recreate. The US Forest Service website has a wealth of information such as this that can be used to raise your awareness or of that of your friends and family before they go to play. They call it Responsible Recreation.

Camp responsibly. Use existing campsites or use an area without vegetation if possible. Keep the site small to minimize your impact. Don’t chop down or into trees. Camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, streams or wetlands. Use biodegradable soap or plain just water to wash with.

Answering nature’s call. Human waste can cause all kinds of problems if it’s introduced into the water. When you must go find a place that’s at least 200 feet from any water source. Dig a hole at least 6-8 inches deep to bury human waste. Pack out your toilet paper etc. Carry ziplock backs for this purpose. It’s kinda icky, but you’ll get used to it.

Be fire safe. First and foremost check with the ranger station in the area that you will be about any fire restrictions. Have a shovel, axe and a bucket of water available before starting the fire. Use existing fire rings. Remove flammable material from a ten foot diameter area around the fire. Keep fires inside of the fire ring. Don’t feed large logs into the fire. Never leave a fire unattended. Keep fires small and bring your own firewood. If you must collect wood from around your camp collect downed and dry wood only. Extinguish your fire properly. Poor water slowly into the coals while stirring with your shovel until the area is cool to the touch. Do not bury the fire as it can smolder for days. Never bring fireworks into the forest no matter the conditions.

Keep the forest creatures wild. Don’t approach wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife. Keep your dog completely under your control or on a leash to keep wildlife safe.

Don’t erase the traces of America’s past. Archaeological and culturally significant sites are protected and must be preserved for future generations. Anyone disturbing such areas can be dealt a substantial penalty if caught.

Be considerate of others. This should be a given in this society but unfortunately some folks don’t consider how their action affect others. Be courteous on trails and in the backcountry. Yield to others on trails. Take breaks and make camps away from trails and others who may be wanting to experience the solitude of the area. Keep noises down and let nature's sounds and noises dominate.

And last but not least, don’t forget to take your camera.

It seems like a lot of do not do’s but trust that the do’s far outweigh the do not’s, so go out and enjoy the outdoors.

The photos for this article were provided by Adrian Blair of Adrian Blair Photography in Portland Oregon and Charlie Riter of Big Tree Photography in Hood River Oregon.

Panther Creek Falls Washington

Panther Creek Falls

Panther Creek Falls Washington during high water.

It was a great day to visit this waterfall. I had tried to drive to the trail two weeks prior and was stopped by fallen trees and unmelted snow. In the meantime the road had been cleared and so Darlene and I decided to drive up and give it a look. I'm glad that we did. With the high Spring runoff from the snow and the rain has made the creeks and waterfalls very full and powerful. This particular waterfall has areas to the right side of the normal fall that become a water curtain when the water becomes high. These were the conditions that I sought.

As I approached the falls the view through the trees was breathtaking as it appeared as a soft, bright diffused veil of water past shadows from the trees. When I broke through the trees and walked down to the water's edge the mist was soaking. I had to cover my gear to keep it reasonably dry. The rocks were very slippery and because I was down there alone didn't push my limits much.

The compositions from there are a little bit limited but conditions make a big difference, and this amazing curtain of water at the right side of the main falls, which is not there in normal water flow, was pretty incredible and made a unique photo for this location. The sun and the mist would play on each other as each one changed in time.

Just a quick word about photographing this location. Be aware that there's a viewing platform at the top of the falls that most folks view this scene from. The more adventurous and capable can take a steep and slippery slop to the bottom, but please beware if you attempt this, especially when it's wet.

 

A Cabin in The Woods

Mt Hood Cabin in The Woods

Could you feel comfortable in a cabin in the woods like this?

This is just one of the rustic early 20th Century cabins that are situated in the forest around Mount Hood. This particular cabin is in the little town of Rhododendron.

Located in the Mt Hood National Forest you are guaranteed that you won't have a condo built next door. A long term lease comes with the contract when one purchases a Forest Service Cabin.

This particular cabin was built in 1936 and was most likely board and batten construction. It still has the original stone fireplace thought to have been constructed by a local stoneworker George Pinner. Through the years an addition was built to the back which contains the kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom which increases the livability of this vintage cabin. The way that it's configured now it has a master bedroom and two lofts with beds.

The cabin is positioned above a year 'round creek the sound of which can be heard throughout the cabin. It has a deck, part of which is covered, that allows one to enjoy the view in any weather. It's accessible in the Winter and is within a short distance to the small town of Rhododendron and the village's store and restaurants, yet still removed from evidence of the hustle and bustle of the real world.

The cabin is also within a short walk to amazing hiking trails that take you deep within the Mt Hood Wilderness Area. It's also a short drive "up the hill" on Highway 26 to the ski resorts in the Winter or the high alpine hiking trails on Mount Hood.

In this busy world I'm sure that I could feel comfortable in a cabin in the woods like this.

Anyone that's looking to purchase a vacation cabin in or around the Mt Hood National Forest contact my friend Blythe Creek.

Contact me for your real estate photography needs.

Gateway to Cold Spring Creek

Cold Spring Creek

Gateway to Cold Spring Creek

I stand at the window to the light of the universe, the smell of the earth, the sound of a dynamic reality and the sight of beautiful, precious life.
 
This is only one of many spots to get a shot along Cold Spring Creek beside the trail to Tamanawas Falls, a 100 foot tall waterfall in the Mt Hood National Forest on the east side of Mount Hood. As an outfitter and guide, this is only one of the many creeks and waterfalls that I am able to take my clients to.
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