Lake Billy Chinook
I was in Portland to shoot Tigé's wake team the first week of August 2008, when an idea was tossed around about driving to the nearby Columbia River for some different scenery. Then someone in our group mentioned Lake Billy Chinook. I'd heard of the lake, but aside from that, I had no idea what it had to offer.
With a boat in tow, it turned out to be a three-hour drive over a mountainous and desolate route that included the edge of Mount Hood. At the end of a crooked path through miles of empty Native American reservation, we descended a rim into a large crack in the ground appropriately known as Crooked Canyon, also the site of Cove Palisades State Park. Not until we nearly reached the canyon bottom did the rich green lake come into view.
Like the rest of our crew, I've been fortunate to see hundreds of lakes, rivers and harbors during my career as a photographer. So it says something about the framework of Billy Chinook's scene that we would literally stop in wonder of the 500-foot canyon walls and be awed at the 400-foot waterfall in full flow a day after a hard summer rain. Down near Three Rivers Marina, we laid eyes on Mount Jefferson's snowcapped peak.
This was a Monday, and boat traffic was nil. I'm told weekends are another story on the lake. Yet I still have to believe that the average Oregon boater heads to the coast or to the Columbia and leaves Billy Chinook for another day. For a photographer, and a boater, it's the recipe for a can't-miss opportunity.
Overshadowed By: Columbia River, Crater Lake
If You Must Know: A huge remnant of basalt lava formed an island in what is now the lake canyon; it's one of the last ungrazed ecosystems of its kind in the country.
Most Popular Boats: Wakeboard boats and runabouts because of the day-excursion nature of the lake.