I've always been in awe of water. It has such immense power, such a mighty presence, combined with a sense of beauty and peace. I'm sure I've written in the past about how much water reminds me of God. I come to it with a mix of awe, fear, love, respect, and wonder, much as I come to Him.
So it is no surprise that our journeys into nature often lead us to magnificent water sources. We first ventured out to Silver Falls back in the fall, and were thoroughly doused by both the falls and the rain. Even as we soaked in the impressive grandeur of the area, we were so cold and wet by the end that it was hard to really enjoy it all. Therefore, early in April we went back for another round. There was no sign of rain in the sky this time around, so we were able to make the most of our hike as we took in the sights.
While there is a five dollar parking fee at Silver Falls, I would highly recommend this hike to anyone. There are few places in the world where you can see so many spectacular waterfalls in one hike. There are at least ten falls on the hike, and each one of them is unique and amazing. While the trail can occasionally be treacherous, they are well cared for, and offer the opportunity to walk behind these mighty walls of water.
Unlike the popular and easy to get to Silver Falls, Oregon's Niagara Falls are well off the beaten path. I'd found information about them online months ago, but the first time we tried to find them we ended up driving in frustrated circles, which ultimately led us to discover an ATV road up in the mountains. We enjoyed our first drive on this random and isolated road so much, that a couple weekends ago we decided to drive up there again. This time, much to our surprise, we actually found signs for Niagara Falls, so we decided to try again.
I've spent a lot of time living in the country, and I've driven on more than my fair share of junky dirt roads, but the one leading to these falls takes the cake. We're talking pot holes bigger than our car. The first holes were so large and full of water I was pretty much certain we were going to get stuck. Fortunately, we pulled through, and continued for five miles over chunky rocks I kept praying would not pop our tires, and around countless massive car hungry pot holes. Mark was certain I had completely lost my mind and my way, but thankfully a Forest Service sign suddenly loomed before us stating that we had arrived at the parking lot, which basically means a muddy flat area next to the road.
It was already about 6:30 when we came to a stop, but we knew we weren't likely to ever brave that hideous road again, so we jumped out and headed down the dark and heavily forested path.
It was eerily silent as we made our way along the twisted trail. I heard a fly or two, but there oddly weren't even any birds around. I should mention that before we arrived we drove through a patch of snow at the top of the mountain, so maybe the birds were just too cold to sing up there. We also met a herd of Elk and a family of deer on the road. That doesn't happen often with the city driving we do every day, so it made the afternoon just that much more special.
Anyhow, we hurried down the trail for about ten or fifteen minutes and then the sound of water began to filter through the trees. The falls we came across were nice, but not very spectacular, and Mark wasn't sure all the trouble was going to be worth it. I just kept walking, and the booming began to grow louder until, at last, we glimpsed the real Oregon Niagara Falls in the distance.
We kept walking, and there were actually two falls down at the bottom of the trail.
In the end, he agreed that it was worth it after all. Obviously, we had to the place to ourselves, which made the finding even more special. There were tracks showing that someone had been there earlier in the day, but it's not a place most would venture for an evening hike :) We hurried back up the trail, and made it back to the car before it was too dark. I definitely was not looking forward to wending my way back through the pothole nightmare, but we made it to the main road before we were totally out of light, so that was a relief.
Just further proof that you never know what you'll end up finding when you wander around this big crazy world of ours. It's not quite as wild as finding a castle in the woods, like you can discover over in Europe, but still pretty cool.