Where Balloons Go to Die*

Upper Three Corners Falls I shot 360° panoramas at Three Corners Falls today, a set of four waterfalls along an officially unnamed creek outside of Stevenson, WA. The payoff was palpable, if I had any feeling left in my palps to sense it: four waterfalls, not the planned three, all in rapid succession (geographically speaking) along an untamed-since-loggers-last-had-it corridor on the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. I hoped to catch them on the girthier side of recent rains, and I think I succeeded. This might explain the mysterious fourth waterfall, a lightweight of 15 to 20 feet in height that preceded the more vertiginous Upper Corner Creek Falls.

The "hike," if I were to call it that, required about two hours of off-trail bushwhacking through dense forest. Water and Devil's club were everywhere, and a want for solid footing made for intimate encounters with both. I took many, many branches to the face and at least one tree trunk to the groin, which seems to be a discouraging trend during these excursions.

These photos are interactive. Click on them and drag your cursor to pan left, right, up or down. On a Mac, iPhone or iPad, standard gestures will also zoom in or out. For a bigger viewer, click View on Google Maps in the upper left corner. If you think you're nuts, get some of these.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=WyvAMR5cWZEAAAQpgX9pNw&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C325.29061396731527%2C%2C0%2C2.5706652577633804&w=560&h=315]Tributary of Rock Creek just south of Red Bluff Road

This is the view from the approximate trailhead. As you can see, the creek is the trail.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=eX7yBTjNPUEAAAQpg4CR_g&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C113.10363751841226%2C%2C0%2C33.653386709897454&w=560&h=315]On my ass above Middle Three Corners Falls

In order to reach the higher falls, however, you have to climb around the vertical drops. Here, I went way too high. Many of these rocks were loose, and all of them were covered in a coat of moss at times six to eight inches thick.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=NqVWpJce6n0AAAQphLeCyQ&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C185.6808%2C%2C0%2C0&w=560&h=315]Lower Three Corners Falls
[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=gKeOgKRS06wAAAQpgX9pNg&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C142.28022898089824%2C%2C0%2C20.358646762011574&w=560&h=315]Middle Three Corners Falls
[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=0GKfklNx7IoAAAQphPDZQQ&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C222.8844%2C%2C0%2C0&w=560&h=315]Mysterious unnamed falls
[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?layer=c&panoid=U-hsWGAwDhcAAAQphPDZQA&ie=UTF8&source=embed&output=svembed&cbp=13%2C203.06693367509035%2C%2C0%2C-16.605228809143355&w=560&h=315]Upper Three Corners Falls

In hike reports, Upper Three Corners Falls purported to be a perfect location for a panorama. It didn't disappoint, despite my belief that it was a triple-falls instead of a double-. I was surprised to find something this scenic in a part of the Northwest that's been pored over for destinations. I've heard, but never really acknowledged, that there are backwaters of the Gorge that feature even greater spectacle, places that few know about and fewer visit. I hope that this is an example of the costs and benefits. For example, has anyone scaled the rock face on the southern side of the Gorge? There's gotta be some cool stuff up there.

Anyone looking to follow in my footsteps, be forewarned: this isn't for the faint of heart. Be prepared for a physical challenge. Wear protective clothing—Gore-Tex or other durable rain gear will shield you from spikes, thorns, and other blood-letting barbs, not to mention moisture. In particular, wear durable gloves, because you'll want to keep four points on the ground in many places. Most importantly, go once, and never go back. I can't stress enough how destructive I was in getting from fall to fall, and how unavoidable it was to be destructive. You can stick to the creek, but you'll have to step out at different points, and higher-trafficked areas already bear signs of scarring this early in the season—heavy boot prints, flattened ferns, bare branches serendipitously scraped clean of moss. Soak it up the first time, because next year, people will know you've been there.

Other goodies:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkeKQBUVZC0]Slow motion video of Middle Three Corners Falls

A simple panorama of the twin falls at Upper Three Corners Falls.

* Not a figure of speech.