Just as I glanced back up the trail, the feet of the fellow walking down it took off in a different direction than his mind intended and gravity played a cruel trick.
Ouch. Ice will do that to a guy.
Silver Falls State Park in Oregon is not a place where one just drops in for a couple hours. The place is cluttered with waterfalls, trails, and scenic views. On the main 7.2 mile loop trail, 10 waterfalls tempt the eyes.
But “just drop in” is exactly what I did with my wife and a couple friends last December. Our friends had a limited window to work with on the weekend, so we didn’t meet up on site until after 2 PM. In these latitudes at that time of the year the sun goes down around 5, so a proper hike around the loop was not in the photo cards.
Adding to the challenge, as we made our way from the overlook down the trail to the 177 foot South Falls there were patches of ice. Cleverly hidden with just a hint of sheen, they laid mini booby-traps for the unwary. Fortunately, there was a railing down that incline, so with care the passage could be made without a quick, undignified, painful visit to the ground. Even with the railing it was tricky.
There didn’t seem to be a rime or reason for the ice patches. Perhaps it was shaded areas – the temps were slightly above freezing but there seemed to be pockets of cold. Maybe it was the amount of breeze that did or didn’t hit a pocket. Closer to the falls, and as the trail followed behind it there was no ice, only a muddy trail and a cold spray.
Continuing beyond the falls the trail followed the river into the canyon.
On a normal day this would be the start of the trail in earnest, but we had limited daylight and wanted to check out at least one more falls. So, we doubled back up the trail, jumped in the car, and drove to North Falls.
There was rime or reason in that parking lot, at least plenty of rime. Presumably, breezes had blown spray from the falls although it was a good quarter mile away. The surface was slick but manageable, and once we got to the trail it was mostly good footing.
There was one spot though, just as the trail met up with the river where I was danged glad they put up a railing. No mere rime here, this was glaze ice and it would give an ice skater pause. (How many ice skaters do you know of that skate down a slope?)
Continuing down the trail, we arrived at Upper North Falls.
After spending a few minutes hanging out, enjoying the view, and firing off a few shots we headed back up the trail, rail skated up the glazed ice, and back to the parking lot. By this time the light was failing at being light and showing an inclination to be dark, so rather than heading off to the nearby main North Falls and risking the icy stairs we opted to call it a day.
I called this post A Silver Tease because by Silver Falls standards that’s all it is. Imagine eight more falls, ranging from 30 to 180 feet. Imagine a forest trail, mostly following a river but some on the canyon rim. Imagine trees, and ferns, and mosses, and all manner of forest goodies.
Perhaps someday I’ll return, and you will not have to imagine.
And as for that fellow that took the nasty fall as this post began, he was young and durable. Up he rose and off he went, perhaps bearing a few new bruises to his backside and his ego, but happy to go on and take in the beauty of the falls.