Yesterday evening I arrived in rain but for this morning clouds without rain is forecasted. I can remember a 1000 meter high hill somewhere overhere, providing a good viewing point for the surrounding landscape. I don’t expect nice colors because the sky will be covered completely, but you never know.
After doing some research on the internet, I think I have found it, Tiptoe Butte, about 40 minutes driving from here. The sun rises at 06:50, so I have to get in the car by 05:50.
As soon as I see it, I do recognize it. This is the hill that you can ascend via a spiraling road. It’s almost storming at the summit and the temperature is freezing cold. The surrounding hills are much lower, maybe only 30-40 meters high, are light brown colored with darker patches in between, most probably plowed areas. The sky is completely covered with clouds and after waiting for some time a little bit of color can be seen.
Then it starts darkening again. The sun has already risen above the horizon, but I can’t see it.
A bit later even, the clouds turn into an odd cool blue color. The wind is almost blowing me out of my socks and I decide to call it quits. There simply isn’t anything left worth photographing.
Back in the hotel I have to decide what I’m going to do. I would love to see Palouse Falls during a beautiful sunset, but I guess that’s not going to happen today. If I had a month overhere, I would easily like to hang around here for a couple of days, doing some reconnaissance in the area while looking for photogenic places that can turn into amazing photographs under the right light, but now I only have one week, that is a waste of time.
Within a one and a half hour period I check out literally hundreds of waterfalls searching for a couple of beauties. There are several database on the internet so that’s really easy. I also stumble upon the Painted Hills. The last time I didn’t even know about their existence. So that’s one thing I want to visit for sure. I have seen these in Utah/Arizona, but never before in Oregon. I had already found the Panther Creek Falls. Never seen before and it should be really beautiful.
I create an efficient schedule for the coming week with a total of 12 hours of travel time. That is quite reasonable and very well doable. Today I will drive to Carson first to pay Panther Creek Falls a visit and then further west for the Painted Hills.
After a couple of hours driving I pull over. On the road behind me I notice a coiled up dead snake, most probably overridden while warming up in the sun. So they are here after all. From the corner of my eye I suddenly detect movement, it’s alive! Now I have a closer look on the tracks I conclude that I have hit it myself. It’s about 60 cm long and heavily damaged. I better help it to the happy hunting grounds. Completely unnecessary to leave it suffering for a couple of hours or maybe even days. A couple of meters down the road I see a big stone.
Such a shame, I would rather have photographed it.
The village of Carson proves difficult to find. I kind of know where it is but not exactly. I don’t carry a detailed map and the gps doesn’t recognize it. After asking around I find out where to find it, but it will take many hours to get there. Suddenly something comes to mind. This morning I have analysed all the waterfalls in Oregon, but I had found Panther Creek Falls already yesterday. Washington also has a town called Carson and that is in the Columbia river area where lots of other waterfalls can be found. I realize that I’m pursuing the wrong Carson. If I continue I won’t have enough time to pay the Painted Hills a visit today.
Better to turn directly to the Painted Hills. Which are at least 4 hours driving away, but if I keep pressing I should be able to be there just before sunset.
In the end, I arrive only 10 minutes before sunset, but the whole sky is clouded, so not particularly beautiful colors.
On the way back I see a herd of deers that start feeding during twilight.
Maps, Charts & Downloads
GPS Map with color coded altitude information
Color coded distance/altitude chart
Download the original gpx file here.