Leaving Del Norte on Tuesday, we had another long 200 mile drive to get up into Oregon. We were greeted by several rain showers just after crossing the border. It freshened up everything and made the drive a little more interesting. We arrived at Schwarz COE campground. We stayed here before and it is quite pleasant with a choice of sites along the river (which is actually the spillway for the large reservoir the campground sits at the base of), sites under trees and other in wide open areas. The campground is closing after this weekend so there were almost no other campers.
Wednesday, Sept. 8
We had to wait for the park attendants to show up for work so we could re-up our length of stay. For some bizarre reason, we were not allowed to sign up for more than 1 night this close to the closing date. But they relented and let us have our 3 days. It didn’t matter much today, because of lingering clouds from yesterdays rain keeping the light soft and even.
Getting to the first waterfall of the day involved navigating a number of forest roads leading into the deeper forest in the Willamette. Most of the trails to the many falls around here are quite short. I think the longest is just 4.5 miles, so we figured to do several today.Spirit Falls is at the end of a short, steep .3 mile hike down to a creek. As is always the case, getting there was most the fun. I am so attracted to the seeming visual chaos that is the rain forest, and the great trails here make it easy to stop and take it in. It is a challenge to make sense of it all, but compositions always seem to come together. Understandably, there wasn’t as much water running as in the spring, but we still had plenty to work with. Other than the sound of the falls, it was nearly silent and very still. Just a whisper of a breeze floated through from time to time. This worked out great for us because of the long exposures required for good depth of field in the images. We hiked out from Spirit Falls and moved on to Moon Falls. The sun had broken through by now and hotspots in the dark forest were becoming an issue. I tend to point the camera down and concentrate on small details.The forest was less interesting with sunlight burning holes in our pictures, so we made the hike to Moon Falls quick. This falls is situated kind of far back and we didn’t want to scramble over the damp rocks. All the heavier water action was happening much higher on the cliff, but it was all in too contrasty sunlight so I just made a couple of “we were there” images of the lower section and started back.Picard Falls was last on the list. It’s long wispy look makes it a “horsetail” fall. It was nestled into a cove in the cliff. The last shady spot in the area, it too would soon be in icky contrasty light. Just a couple of images here before we called it a day.
Upper Trestle and Brice Falls
Thursday, September 9Another early start today to get to our next 2 waterfalls. They are along Brice Creek. One is in Brice Creek. We started out for Upper Trestle Falls first because it involved a 2.6 mile hike on what we thought was a loop. Well, it was, but we managed to take the long loop, which added another 1.5 miles. Oops.The trail was listed as strenuous because of an unrelenting uphill trek along the contour of the hillside to the falls. Felt like maybe 500 ft rise, but that’s just a guess. Arriving though is a treat. We walked around one last curve and there was the falls, nestled into a cirque covered in ferns and moss. It spills over an overhang where we could actually walk underneath – just a trickle really, at this time of year. The footing was a little rough around the cirque, with lots of loose rocks and the slick path, so care had to be taken when setting up. Another challenge to photograph here with sunlight now spreading across the falls.Naturally, lots of vertical compositions were called for. Once under the falls, I played with what the water was doing. The sun was shining right on it and long exposures turned the water to a thin white veil. Looking up, I found a set of ferns backlit with the falls. We finished up and headed back. We obliviously missed our junction turnoff and by the time we realized it, found it would be shorter to do the extra mile and a half to a different trailhead down at the road, then walk back to the car. We still had enough energy, once back, to travel the short distance to the Brice Creek trailhead. This was just a short walk along the creek to some small falls and cascades. It was an easy stroll and we could just jump out on the rocks all along the way.
We will be stopping in Springfield to attend the opening at the Emerald Arts Center there. Then it’s over to Florence on the coast for a visit to one of our favorite spots.