Thursday, May 24, 2018

North Fork - Happy Valley Trail & Tumalo Falls

May 19, 2018

The second hike while camping at Tumalo State Park combined Tumalo Falls and the Happy Valley trail.  One might think that Tumalo Falls would be at Tumalo State Park, but it is about a 17 mile drive from the state park.  So once again we headed out early, especially since the parking lot at the falls/trailhead is small.

When we arrived we took one of the last two spots still available in the parking lot (holds about 12 cars) and then hiked across the lot to the first viewpoint of Tumalo Falls.  Wow!!.

Tumalo Falls from lower viewpoint.  Upper viewpoint is just to left at top of falls -- see the wall?

Vertical view of all 90 feet of waterfall
After oooooing and ahhhhhing at the falls, we began hiking the North Fork trail up to the top of the falls where there was another viewpoint.  Most people hike this short quarter mile portion of the trail so they can see the falls closeup.  Only a few days earlier crews had repaired the platform since there was a crack found in it, so we proceeded with caution.

View from the upper viewing area

Looking over the top of Tumalo Falls
Having read about Tumalo Falls, statistics show that about 75% of people only view the falls and/or  hike this short trail portion to the top of the falls and then leave.  Only 1 out of every 4 people continue hiking the North Fork/Happy Valley trail which is another 3.75 miles one way from the top of the falls to Happy Valley.  If one does not have a dog along, there is an actual loop hike you can do that is about 8 miles long.  Either way, if you visit Tumalo Falls and are able, be sure to at least hike out to Happy Valley - you will be amazed.

Onward we go past Tumalo Falls
So we continued on the North Fork - Happy Valley trail which follows Tumalo Creek and came upon waterfall after waterfall that were roaring due to the snow melt.  It was amazing and beautiful.....we can't even begin to describe how incredible it was seeing all these waterfalls.  We probably saw at least a dozen waterfalls along our hike so here are a few pictures for your viewing.

Eventually we crossed the creek on a one-sided plank bridge (a first for us and Katie)  and began hitting patches of snow.  Yes, the frozen white stuff.  It wasn't too long after the bridge that we finally had to stop hiking and turn around since the trail was completely covered, but we got about 3 miles along on the trail.

Across the one-sided plank bridge we go

Snow across the trail close to where we turned around.
As we returned we got to view all the waterfalls again and began to run into a lot of hikers and backpackers.  We began to think that maybe those statistics were wrong, maybe a lot of people do hike this trail past the falls.  But then when we got to the parking lot we found that there were cars parked along the gravel road past the parking lot for about a half mile and more coming.  Being early paid off again and so did going the extra miles along the North Fork - Happy Valley trail as we were treated to some beautiful and incredible scenery that we won't soon forget.

Trekking Together
Glenn  & Carol

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Misery Ridge Loop (Smith Rock State Park)

May 18, 2018

On our recent camping  trip at Tumalo State Park (great campground!), we planned three hikes in the area.  Hike #1 was The Misery Ridge Loop located at Smith Rock State Park which is located in Terrabonne, Oregon, about a half hour drive away.

The name and arrow say it all!
Smith Rock SP is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and it didn't  take long to see why as we  pulled up into the visitor parking lot at 9:00 am.  As we hiked the Rim Rock Trail to the visitor center area, we took in the vast display of incredible rock formations with the Crooked River flowing through the park.  The sunlight on the rocks gives off different colors and it was easy to see why this park is one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

Welcome to one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon

Our first view from the Rim Rock trail.  The Crooked River trail is visible on far side of river. 
 At this point it was time to get serious about hiking as we headed down the Chute Trail that goes from the rim down to and across the Crooked River.  It was at this point that we got to look UP at the Misery Ridge Trail that would climb 1,400 feet in 0.86 miles -- yup, that is uphill!

Heading down the Chute trail and then across the Crooked river

Looking down the Misery Ridge trail at one of our "photo stops".

Looking up the Misery Ridge trail to another "step" segment
The steepness did not bother us as much as the periodic groupings of wooden steps that are spaced out just far enough to need more than one step but less than two.  There were numerous groupings of these steps along with switchbacks throughout the climb.  We stopped several times to take in the views (and catch our breath) till we reached the summit.  Here Katie lodged her protest of the uphill climb by laying down in the dirt - something she has never done while on a hike.

A view from the top!
We then hiked across the ridge and started our descent which was just as steep and included many switchbacks but thankfully no steps!  Monkey Face, one of the popular rock formations in the park, came into view and we eventually hiked within feet of it's base.  We watched a couple of rock climbers make it to the top of the monkey's head.

Monkey Face comes into view with Crooked River in the background

Close up of Monkey Face with two rock climbers nearing the summit.
Eventually we connected to the Mesa Verde trail and Crooked River trail to complete this 5.3 loop of hiking.  As we hiked the Crooked River trail portion we got to see the rock formations from the base looking up instead of from the rim.  Incredible beauty.

View along the Crooked River trail

Looking back from the trail at some rock formations.
By the time we finished our hike the park was getting very crowded and the sun was warming things up. There were many rock climbers  now starting their ascents and even a few bus loads of kids hiking and climbing at the park.  We were glad that we started our hike early in the day.

One last look before heading up the Chute trail to finish our hike.
If you are ever in the Bend area, be sure to make a trip up to Terrabonne and Smith Rock SP.  Even if you don't hike, take some time to take in all the beauty that is on display at one of Oregon's Seven Wonders.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lower Table Rock -- Two Rare Sightings

May 5, 2018

We decided to venture back to Lower Table Rock, after a hike there about a month ago, to see what wildflowers were still in bloom and to check on the Vernal Pools at the plateau. In addition to the normal hike, we were treated to a pair of rare sightings.

Time to hike a local favorite
Yes, there were swaths of Sea Blush, Camas, and Fiddlenecks along our hike to the plateau joined in at times by various other wildflowers like Cat's Ear, Larkspur, Lupine, and Desert Parsley.  However, as we went through the lower Oak Savannah area, our eyes caught something different in the middle of all the purple Camas blooms.  There, all by itself, was a white Camas.  We have seen white Shooting Stars and white Houndstongue on other hikes, but this was the first white Camas ever -- so beautiful.

Rare white Camas.  Purple Camas in background.
Then just a little further up the trail, a couple groups of hikers were stopped.  Out of breath?  Reconsidering their hike? Nope. Instead they were looking at a Great Horned Owl who (no pun intended) was still out on an oak branch despite it being late morning.  One of the observers was a co-worker of Glenn's and took some incredible pictures of the owl.  Thanks Sammie!!

Great Horned Owl hanging out at Lower Table Rock
Sammie also took a picture of a Blue Grey Gnatcatcher he saw at Lower Table Rock the same day  (we didn't see it) and shared a recent picture of a Burrowing Owl he saw at Agate Lake.  Beautiful creatures and beautiful pictures.  Thanks for sharing Sammie.

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher @ Lower Table Rock

Burrowing Owl @ Agate Lake

When we arrived at the plateau, only one vernal pool still had water, but it was loaded with tadpoles. We enjoyed the great views of snow covered Mt McLoughin and of course the Rogue Valley.   Even though it was a hike we have done many times, our hike today proves that you never know what rare sights you may encounter or miss.  So get out and explore....and keep your eyes open!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol