Friday, July 29, 2011

Shoshone and other Snake River Falls

Being the waterfall lover that I am, I was amazed to learn about the existence of Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, ID. Though I live in the Seattle area, I grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is only a few hours drive from Twin Falls. I couldn't believe that one of the most amazing waterfalls in the USA (and top rated in my "Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest" book) was only a short road trip away from my home town. We actually pass within 15 minutes of it every time we drive from Seattle to Salt Lake, and I insisted that we go there the next time we were planning on going back to visit family.

We knew it was going to be a tight squeeze to get there before dark, so we set off early on an extremely rainy day. Fortunately the sun came out once we got into Oregon. Unfortunately, we had a piece of our car fall down. It's the large plastic cover that protects the underside of the vehicle. We were delayed for about an hour since we had to buy zip ties and secure it back on ourselves.

We took a longer than usual route to get to Twin Falls since I wanted to explore Jump Creek Canyon in southwest Idaho. Here's the pretty canyon.

And Jump Creek Falls. I'm surprised by how low the water flow was since the waterfalls we saw later that day were much more intense. But it was still quite pretty.

We took the scenic byway towards Twin Falls so that we could see the falls of "Thousand Springs." These are some of the pretty lookouts we saw along our way.

We checked out upper and lower Salmon Falls. With a little hiking you can get better views, but we were already pushing the clock as it was and wanted to make sure we made it to Twin Falls with enough daylight to take pictures.

And here are the Thousand Springs Falls. I loved being able to see waterfall after waterfall as we drove through this pretty area.

We pulled into Shoshone Falls just before sunset. It was glorious! The spray was intense!

I love this pic we took of the canyon at sunset.

And I couldn't stop gawking at beautiful Shoshone Falls. It was absolutely stunning. If you come earlier in the day, the spray makes a constant rainbow across the canyon.

Even without the falls the area is still beautiful. Typically the falls are drained for irrigation purposes, but since 2011 has been such a snowy, rainy year for the Pacific Northwest, there's been no need to do so.

I did not want to leave, and probably wouldn't have if we'd been staying in the area and didn't still have 3 hours of driving to do.

I love these cute pics of Oscar and me with the falls background!

We kept taking pics even as it became darker and darker.

But finally we decided we should get going. I figured we still needed to see Twin Falls since we were in the city of "Twin Falls." Oscar was able to find a nighttime setting and actually get a decent picture. Once upon a time there were two falls like the one you see here, but the other one has been dammed. This one was still quite pretty, but it did pale in comparison to gorgeous Shoshone Falls!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Silver Falls State Park Trail of 10 Falls

The "Trail of 10 Falls" at Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, OR is by far the best hike I have ever done. I absolutely loved every minute we spent hiking through this beautiful area! Oscar's younger brother, Phillip, drove up to see us and come on the hike with us too. After two days of pouring rain we finally had some nice weather, and since we were there on April 5th, the falls were at their peak flow and looking gorgeous! There are a few uphill climbs to get closer views of 3 of the falls, but otherwise the hike is easy and very pleasant.

It's a loop hike, which is always a huge plus for me. I love being able to see new things and never having to repeat any part of a hike that I've already done. This hike delights the whole way through with 10 stunning waterfalls and beautiful foliage. It even takes you behind some of the waterfalls!

We started the hike from North Falls and went counter clockwise, but by the time we reached the second falls I was wishing I'd chosen the other direction. We hiked the same direction that the river flows, which meant that we couldn't see the falls until we were right next to them. I had to keep looking backwards after we passed the falls if I wanted to check them out from different angles. Had we started walking in the opposite direction of the river, we could have seen the falls from a distance as we walked and only had the views get better as we came closer. If I do this hike again (and I'm sure I will!), I'll make sure to start from South Falls and walk clockwise.

North Falls and South Falls are generally considered the two best waterfalls, which is convenient for those who aren't up for a hike since both can be accessed by vehicle. Here's a lovely view of North Falls, which was considerably more beautiful than when we'd seen it before. We'd visited the park briefly on our way back from Sacramento in October of 2010. It's pretty clear from this pic that the waterfall has one large drop and one small drop. In October, we could barely tell that there even was a small drop. It dries up almost completely.

It's about 1.5 miles before you encounter the next major falls, but especially in spring, there are several small falls to watch for as you walk.

Oscar and Phillip couldn't get enough of this gecko.

And finally we arrived at our second major falls - Twin Falls. The flow was so intense that you don't immediately notice two distinct falls. It's a bit more obvious in the pics the parks posts on their website.

Oscar and Phillip talked about how their dad would love to see a small falls like the one above and figure out how to recreate it in landscaping.

After another half mile we arrived at Middle North Falls. Gorgeous!!!

We could see that there was a pathway to walk behind the falls, but it was blocked off. I'm not surprised since it didn't look very safe. The waterfall was absolutely roaring! I could feel the ground shaking just from standing off to the side. Even if the trail had been open, I wouldn't have dared walk behind it unless I really wanted to be crushed from erosion.

About a quarter mile later we saw Drake Falls,

and the beauty kept coming as we continued along and found Double Falls. Lovely!

Lower North Falls was a bit further ahead and was filled with huge tree trunks. I wonder how long they'd been there.

We saw this pretty cascade as we kept hiking toward Lower South Falls. It was the most impressive of the unnamed waterfalls we saw.

Lower South Falls had a pathway that led us behind the falls. I made Oscar kiss me there so I could say I'd kissed someone behind a waterfall.

The beauty of these falls never ceased to amaze me!

And finally we made it to South Falls - the highlight of the park and the only falls we'd visited before on our trip in late October. Click here and compare the pics between South Falls in Spring and South Falls in Autumn.

The trail also leads behind the falls. It's beautiful to observe it from so many different angles.

It's just shimmering in this side pic!

On our way back to our starting point at North Falls, we hiked down a steep hill to see Winter Falls. It's pretty, but it paled in comparison to all of the falls we'd already seen.

Upper North Falls was the final waterfall we saw before we headed out. It's actually the only falls that's not part of the main loop trail, but it's well worth the extra .6 miles to see.

This was such a beautiful hike! In spite of the 9 miles I'd walked, I didn't want it to end. I'm so glad we took this trip out to Silverton, and I would love to go back again. If you're ever near Portland in the Spring or Summer, don't miss out on seeing these falls!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waterfalls of the Oneonta Gorge

In spite of having an audition at 7:00pm that evening, and in spite of it raining heavily all day long, Oscar and I couldn't resist the opportunity to see more Columbia Gorge waterfalls. Our first stop took us to lovely Wahkeena Falls.

We hiked the 1/4 mile up to the bridge to take a picture of the upper drop.

It was extremely difficult to do. The spray was crazy strong! Plus it was raining really hard. You can see from this pic that the bridge is completely soaked.

After getting chilled to the bone from this tiny hike, Oscar and I decided not to do the Triple Falls hike that we'd originally planned for the day. It was raining far too hard to justify hiking several miles. We looked in our book ("Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest" by Gregory Plumb) and saw that we could drive to Horsetail Falls if we continued west along the Columbia River highway.

We saw a signed outpost called "Oneonta Gorge," and a smaller sign nearby it indicating that it was 1 mile to the Horsetail Falls trail. Our book hadn't said we would need to hike to the falls, but we figured the book was wrong and that we could handle one mile. It turned out it was 1 mile to the Horsetail Falls trail (not the falls themselves), and then it was about 2 miles on the trail itself in order to get the falls. This small waterfall above is reached at about one mile, where the Horsetail Falls trail starts. We thought it was Horsetail Falls. We later found out it was actually Oneonta Falls.

In spite of the rain, we decided to continue along this hike since we were covered by so many trees that we weren't getting terribly cold, we both had raincoats on, and we were enjoying the hike.

We hiked a little further, and lo and behold, there was Triple Falls! We hadn't even realized we were on the Triple Falls trail. The rain had discouraged us from doing it, and then we ended up hiking to it by accident!

It was such a delightful surprise, and a beautiful set of 3 waterfalls!

We continued along the trail until we got to this bridge below, and then we met some people who told us that the first waterfall we'd seen was actually Oneonta Falls, not Horsetail Falls. They let us know that if we went back to that falls and continued the trail up the other side, we'd find both Ponytail Falls and Horsetail Falls, and that would lead us back to the highway. So it turned out that we could have just driven to Horsetail Falls, but we're glad we hiked to it since we got to see several other waterfalls along the way.

These are some pretty sights we saw along the way. Spring combined with hard rain led to water, water dripping and falling everywhere!

It was really nice to make it to Ponytail Falls. As we later found out, it's like a smaller version of Horsetail Falls (hence horse vs pony).

It was really cool to be able to walk behind it. That's something I also like about a few of the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, OR. You can read about those falls in my next post.

If it'd been a clear day we would have had a lovely view of the Columbia river gorge.

And finally we made it to Horsetail Falls, the original waterfall we were looking for. It was very pretty, and if I ever see it again, I'm sure I'll drive to it this time!

We walked back along the highway completely soaked from rain and waterfall spray.

We drove back along the highway passing both Shepperds Dell Falls and Coopey Falls. We were able to stop and take a picture of one falls, but there wasn't room enough to pull over and get a pic of the other one (though we did notice it as we drove by). I can't remember for sure which one was which, but I think this was Coopey Falls.

Our last falls of the day was Latourall Falls, and I'm sure glad we didn't miss it. It was gorgeous! It fell into a deep beautiful gorge and was easily accessible.

I changed out of my soaked raincoat when we got back to the car, but I couldn't get out of my soaked jeans. It's still a pretty cute pic of me with stunning Latourell in the background. I was a bit concerned about doing a hike in pouring rain on the same day as an audition, but I'm so glad we did it since the hike was lovely and the experience didn't hurt my performance at all. It actually helped me feel more relaxed (like I was on vacation), and I think that helped my performance. I didn't get the part, but my feedback from the judges was very positive. They basically said that I'd sung well, but ultimately the part I was auditioning for didn't fit my voice. They gave me some pointers to work on, and overall I felt like I'd left them with a good enough impression that they'd be happy to have me audition again.