Palouse Falls frozen?

Surely not, but they do come to a stop through the magic of a camera's fisheye lens.



A fisheye lens turns a big smile from the view into the Palouse River canyon below the falls.


Plummeting water creates misty clouds below the falls.


Nora the Schnauzer hurries to meet other visitors to Palouse State Park.


Slanting winter sunlight causes long shadows.

An irksome rumor circulated in my domestic circle during the final freezing days of 2011. It claimed that Palouse Falls had frozen solid.


I scoffed, of course. Yet, my conduit insisted her source had seen a photo of the frozen falls.



A patronizing tone seldom benefits an adult discussion. It may cause cracked-ice mumbles to appear.

Not something I prefer.

And I blame the so-called frozen waterfall.

Palouse Falls State Park, about eight miles north of Lyons Ferry and the Snake River, via State Route 261, may be the most scenic and most often photographed tourist draw within 60 miles of Walla Walla.

Ancient floods left rough basalt buttes, cliffs, rugged river canyons and the waterfall that account for the park's widespread renown.

The waterfall has also been recently celebrated online after Tyler Bradt of Missoula, Mont., paddled a kayak over the 186-foot drop and into Internet glory.

Bradt made the dive in May or June of 2009 and achieved "world-record" recognition among today's white-water elite.

The Palouse plunge eclipsed an earlier kayak ride down the 127-foot Salto Belo Falls in Brazil by Pedro Olivia.

A video of Bradt's plunge appeared online in July of 2009. It appeared on YouTube in December of 2010 and apparently went "viral" after that.

Several kayak-plunge videos and stories presently appear on the Internet. To watch, type "World Record Kayak Plunge" in the Google search engine.

Bradt, by the way, survived the 3.7-second dive along with 2,000 cubic feet of roaring river with only a sprained wrist.

I watched the viral Palouse video. Dangerous and dumb came to mind.

I saw water falling for most of the 3.7-second dive. Nevertheless, the video spread like a flu epidemic through the unvaccinated.

But I digress.

Visiting Palouse Falls State Park in the winter can be fun, although the waterfall probably will not be frozen. Sheets or chunks of ice, however, may cling to the cliffs during cold spells.

Anyway, to soothe domestic feelings, I wheedled Darlene and Nora the Schnauzer into visiting the falls with me.

Alas, no ice. December's cheek-biting weather had given way to calm January days in the mid 60s.

Equipped with coffee and blueberry scones, we left Walla Walla before noon. I drove north on Harvey Shaw Road, Lyons Ferry Road and Highway 261.

After the turnoff to the park, three mule deer, including a four-point buck, crossed the gravel road. I didn't have the camera ready, so I missed the shot.


A Chevy pickup from Idaho waited at the park's fee-collecting kiosk. I didn't stop. We had a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicle pass on the dash.

Two other vehicles nosed into parking spaces, and a woman with a little girl and a dog stood at the large reader board.

Anxious to see the waterfall, I let Nora jump out unleashed. She dashed away to meet the girl. Leash in hand, I tottered after her while Darlene opened her book.

Finally organized and alert, I carried two lenses, a 17-70 mm zoom and an 8 mm fisheye, to the overlook.

I had great expectations for the fisheye lens. It should provide an unusual view of the canyon.

It certainly did.

The first image in the camera's LED monitor made me blink: A wide-grinning, grotesque Halloween mask.

It looked OK.

As Nora and I strolled along the railing, I captured more wide-grinning walleye pike's fisheye images from the cliffs and the waterfall to the narrow canyon's steep walls far downriver.

I also snapped a few regular photos with the zoom. Mostly, I used the fisheye as we meandered to the high overlook downstream and back along the paths on the bluffs above the waterfall and the river canyon.

I occasionally checked the LCD monitor's captured images.

Then, by golly, I got it!

Each image, each photo, froze the falls solid .


Had I missed the point?

Should I ask?


I decided to move on, as they say.

I shouldn't give credence to a silly rumor.

Contact Don Davis at More of Don's photos can be found online at


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