Thursday, August 28, 2014

Visiting Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

Comet Falls amid the destruction of 2012.
While visiting Mount Rainier last week, I revisited one of my favorite waterfalls in the park - Comet Falls.  I have always held a special place for Comet and Spray Falls.
I hadn't visited this waterfall since the devastating slide of 2012 which closed the trail for an extended period of time.

As I climbed thru the trees and emerged into the open basin of Comet Falls, my heart sank.  Trees were sheared off below the trail, and the banks of Van Trump creek are littered with fallen trees and dead undergrowth, making a most unsightly foreground, and forming a barrier to accessing the creek for creative compositions down low.  It was a sad scene to decipher.  There was certainly some awesome forces at play here.

On previous visits, I had included the creek below the waterfall in my images, creating an interesting composition that wasn't just "another pretty waterfall".  You would really have to work for such a shot now, and I'm not sure you could entirely eliminate the devastation no matter how you composed the shot.

Comet Falls prior to the devastating slide.
Sporting a bad wheel, I was reluctant to try and negotiate all the downed trees to access the creek or work for a composition that didn't include the destruction.  From the scouting I did (including hiking several of the switchbacks up toward Van Trump Park), it didn't seem possible.

I've included a pre-slide image to the right.  It's an unorthodox composition, mind you.  Traditionally, photographers would only include the unobstructed double waterfall, which was easy to attain.  Such is no longer the case.

Hopefully, time will heal these wounds and Comet Falls will once again be a waterfall that photographers seek from far and wide.  It's deserving.  Just not today.

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