Palouse Falls in Winter

Winter cold has created huge icicles around the bowl of Palouse Falls.

No matter how you flip the photo, vertical or horizontal, Palouse Falls after a long cold spell is quite spectacular.

Winter cold has created huge icicles around the bowl of Palouse Falls.

It is a journey

From Bonney Lake to Palouse Falls – it is a journey – 251 miles – about 4 hours on a good day.

This, of course, was not a good day. It was the first week of March, crossing the Columbia Plateau in winter. The wind blowing from the north driving the snow into large drifts across the road.

We passed several cars freshly stranded in the ditch having spun out on some black or was it white ice.

A white knuckle drive it was. I thank my friend Bob for gripping the wheel to get us there and back.

Less than stellar results

Unfortunately, the results were not so great.

If I were just a tourist, I would be quite happy to add these photos to my list of places I’ve been, places I’ve seen. After all, it is a spectacular and infrequent site.

But I’m not just a tourist – at least that’s what I’d like to think. I prefer to think of myself as a Landscape Photographer. To me, these shots are not worth the pixels poked.

This is because of the shadow falling across the bowl. The edge of the shadow slices across the landscape. It divides the falls in half.

The shadow overpowers everything!

Avoiding the problem

We would have been much more successful with a little bit of planning.

Breaking out The Photographer’s Ephemeris would have quickly shown that the right time to shoot Palouse falls on this day, March 3, 2019, was between five and six o’clock. Just before sunset.

TPE Palouse Falls – March 3, 2019

This screenshot of their web app shows that the sun would be beaming down into the bowl between 17:04 and sunset at 17:41. Those orange rays converging on the pin at the base of the falls shows the times. (The dark blue ray marks moonset)

Driving Dilemma

We could have stayed through sunset and got the shot. We could have. Of course, there was the fact that we would then be on the road after dark. Did I mention the wind driving snowdrifts across the highway. The cars in the ditch.

We opted for the safer course and left. We were in crossing the Columbia River as Palouse Falls saw the last sun for the day.

A disappointing Northwest Moment – maybe next year.

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About Dave Scott

I have been hanging about the Pacific Northwest between Washington and British Columbia for most of my days. A brief sojurn to Quebec in my younger years, and another in Alberta not so many years ago are the only times when I have not called the Wet Coast my home.