Rappelling into Panther Creek Falls

 Teague standing in front of Panther Creek Falls.

Teague standing in front of Panther Creek Falls.

            It was actually Teague’s first day here in the Pacific Northwest when I decided to take him into the gorge. We were at first planning on going to the famous landmark waterfalls on the Oregon side, but decided against it after finding out how incredibly busy it was. Still probably a mistake skipping these locations given recent events causing so much needless destruction in the area…

            Anyways, we made the turn north instead to the Washington side to see if we could find some peace and quiet to enjoy one of the gems of the area. Waterfalls are certainly plentiful here in Oregon and Washington, but few are as gorgeous as Panther Creek Falls. A hidden spot not explored by many as it is out of the way, not heavily advertised, and difficult to get down to the base of.

            The drive in is on a narrow road that seems to go nowhere fast. You eventually get to a dirt lot that is on the right where you can park off the side of the road. You can then back track to the trail which you passed on the left a little before the dirt lot. It is a very short walk down to a wooden platform that is secured to the side of a cliff overlooking the waterfall itself. This doesn’t offer a great image or allow you to get to the base of the waterfall.

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            In order to get to the base of Panther Creek Falls, you have to descend down the very cliff the wooden platform is on. A rope is attached to a tree nearby which allows you to somewhat safely lower yourself down the rocky cliff about 20 or so feet. It isn’t entirely safe, though, as at least one person has died in recent years trying to climb the ledge.

            Being at the base of the Panther Creek Waterfall you can really absorb the stunning nature of this beast! It wraps around the area offering both an incredible spot with tons of awesome compositions as well as a challenging spot to photograph with all of the mist coming off the spray. I captured a few compositions with the sun streaking across the falls making for hot spots I didn’t like much. Teague climbed a fallen tree to shoot and I decided to take some photos of him up there, which turned out well. We then captured a couple more up the hill from the falls shooting a longer focal length to compress the foreground of Teague standing before the waterfall with the cascading water of the falls in the background. It really shows the scale of the place putting a human element in it.

            By this point, the sun had dipped below a ridge allowing us to capture images without being as challenged by the sun streaking through the image. The dynamic range of the scene was also tamed to the point of me being able to handle it with my Nikon D800.

            The hike out was easier than coming down as we could see the hand and foot holds better especially as inexperienced climbers with backpacks not designed for climbing. What an adventure and incredible way to kick off a week full of adventures!

 The portfolio piece I captured of Panther Creek Falls once the right conditions finally presented themselves.

The portfolio piece I captured of Panther Creek Falls once the right conditions finally presented themselves.