The Columbia Gorge
In my mind the Columbia Gorge runs, on the Oregon side, from the mouth of the Sandy River to the mouth of the Deschutes River, approximately 80 miles of a true natural scenic and geologic wonder. Geologically the gorge is defined by the Columbia River ripping through the Cascade Range at sea level elevation and doing so in the 25 mile space between two 11,000 foot snow capped peaks, Mt. Hood And Mt. Adams, the only sea level break in the Cascade range from Alaska to the tip of Baja. The Gorge is a combination of erosion and cataclysm working upon the Cascade Mountains. The Cascade range is uplifted from the subduction of crustal tectonic plates and the vulcanism created by the dowflowing of water and organic materials into molten core with that subduction. The Cascades further rim and contain, flow upon flow, the 3 mile deep enormous lava puddle known as the Columbia basalt flows to create the high Columbia Plateau. And then the incomprehensible Missoulian floods ripped through and cut the Gorge, as we know it today, in a repetitive series series of short cataclysmic events which, strung together, amount actually to just a handful of days. Stand anywhere in the Gorge and the evidence of immense, superhuman forces surrounds you.
To further the variation of forces, the rainfall drops from rainforest gloom at Cascade Locks to treeless desert east of The Dalles. And the wind rushes back and forth, reversing from summer to winter, in a futile attempt to balance the barometric pressures and temperature differences between the marine coastal and the interior continental weather.
I could go on. Each day driving though and around the Gorge is a wonder. I just try and have a camera handy and on a day when the sun and clouds and air are just right, I am rushing about trying to be everywhere at once.