It is spring 2018 and after last years fires a new beginning. We only got one chance to drive Hwy 242 last year and didn’t stop at the falls. This year would be different. I had never gone up early enough in the spring to photograph the wild rhododendrons and that was one of my goals. I knew that in order to get to the falls I had to go over to the McKenzie Bridge side of Highway 242 and head east to the first gate. What I didn’t know was if the first gate at White Branch youth camp was open or not. If it was open we could drive to the trail head. If it was not we would have to hike up the old highway for 2 miles to the trail head. I was ok with both.
The day started out bright and sunny. I admit I was hoping for gray skies but was not going to complain. We got to the first gate and were greeted with an open gate. Yeah!!!
And because we got there within a half hour of the gate opening, maybe less. we got to park in a perfect spot.
And we were the only hikers there.
I have learned to take the short trail rather than the loop. if I want to see the falls, quickly. If you are going to just enjoy the hike I recommend you do the whole loop through the lava bed. The trail was good the sun was shining and I quickly realized that we were over dressed. It wasn’t cloudy and rainy. I planned for that. Along the highway going to the Falls trail head I noticed that the Rhododendrons were just blooming and so I was hopeful on the trail. Success. They were just opening up.
and surprise I found some Bear grass just starting to bloom as well
and new vine maple leaves everywhere.
The trail was in good condition and a pleasure to hike.
Soon we came upon the fork where the Upper falls and the Lower Falls trails split.
I chose the Lower Falls first. Part way along the trail to the falls is a not so well marked trail that drops down to the lower river bed. The water runs under the rocks and you can hear it but not see it. I prefer this trail as it is quiet, only the water, the birds, and the sound of the light wind rustling the leaves. This trail is not maintained and there are some large obstacles
But Ohhh So Worth It.
Soon you can hear the roar of the Lower Proxy falls and where the canyon opens up you can see the upper part of the falls filtered through the boughs of the Douglas fir trees.
I could have spent hours in just this location but we still had the other falls to get to and soon more people should be showing up. So we headed back up the trail to the fork and the Upper falls
This trail is short going over the moss covered lava beds. You can hear the roar of this water fall as well. First you see the big pool at the base of the falls, The trees have grown up and block the complete view of the falls so you either have to walk around the pool or walk up the steep side. Neither are easy. I chose to go up. and in the creek a bit.
and I worked on close ups
Soon Aurora alerted me that there were other people here and I decided to come down. My hiking partner decided to go around the pool and ended up slipping in the water. It was time to go.
We got back to the car and quickly changed out of one layer of clothing. The rain that I and expected didn’t happen during our hike, but the clouds were building and threatening. The decision was made since we were driving by why not stop off at Koosah falls.
The expected rain decided to visit but the hike was short. and I got a good shot or two.
The drive home and the expected rain came in with a vengeance. We were safe and dry. Let Mother Nature do her thing.