Sunday, February 8, 2015

Waterfall Mania

I am a bit of a waterfall nut. I love them. I love seeing them, hearing them, and, most of all, sitting under them and breathing in the negative ions. Negative ions are air purifiers and mood enhancers. They certainly enhance my mood. So today, we drove a few miles up the road to two nearby waterfalls and breathed in those ions. ...Well, after hiking and pumping lots of air through our lungs. Waterfalls provide health benefits many ways.

The first waterfall is on the west fork of Yoncalla Creek and is easy to get to on a short well-maintained trail, maintained by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who own that area of the forest. At the beginning of the trail, a wood footbridge crosses a scenic little rivulet that was full today from our heavy rains.

The first view of the falls between trees on the trail is lovely.

Of course, I have to get closer to breathe those mood-enhancing negative ions... and take photos.

Johnny's photo of me taking a photo of the falls

my photo

Johnny's photo of me taking a closer photo of the falls. (I'm on the left, half way up)

my closer photo

 Zooming in more and more... while breathing those wonderful ions

Here's Johnny across the creek from the trail that goes up the main fork of Yoncalla Creek, toward a second waterfall. In summer, we can walk across the creek where he is standing to the trail visible on the left side.

But today, after our heavy rains, we had to hike back the same way we came to the van and drive up and around to the trail head.

The trail head

However, the trail does not take us to the second falls except a distant peek through the trees. It takes us down to the first falls, on the trail we could see from that previous photo across from Johnny.

Johnny took a photo of me at the end of the trail, below the first falls, across from where he had been standing.

To  see the upper falls, we had to peek through trees that will soon be covered with leaves.

So then we drove around to the other side of the falls where it is close to the road... horizontally close, not vertically. I hiked down a very steep and brushy bank to the creek, then hiked upstream to where I could see the falls without quite so many branches in front of me. To do that, I sat on a mossy log that was lying across the creek.

I did not hike to the base of the falls through the thick brush but the rushing creek below me surely had plenty of negative ions. Johnny was high up on the cliff below the parked van and motioned that he would drive around to the trail head so I could scramble my way back up to the trail we had come down before. At least, I thought that's what he meant. So I pulled myself up the nearly vertical hillside by holding onto sword ferns and whatever else didn't break off in my hands. And taking photos every so often of the waterfall I was leaving behind. Alas, I had managed to fog up my lens with all those water ions in the air.

Little by little, I scrambled upward until finally I reached the trail. I was a bit surprised that Johnny wasn't there to cheer me on. Well, I thought, he was probably waiting in the van at the top of the trail to take a picture of me triumphantly arriving at the road, wet, tired, but with a camera full of waterfall photos and lungs full of healthy negative ions.

But he wasn't there. And neither was the van. Maybe his signaling meant that he was driving home? No, no. He wouldn't do that. Would he? I started walking down the road. Pretty soon Johnny came driving up. He thought I would hit the road closer to the top of the waterfall instead of hiking to the trail. That would have meant an even more vertical climb over fallen trees and through stickery bushes. No thank you.

Johnny insisted that a short way from where the van had been parked, on the other side of the creek,  he had found a good view of the falls. I asked if he had taken a photo from there. He had. Here's his photo.

 I am glad I hiked down and got my photos of the normally-hidden waterfall.

 Johnny also zoomed in through the bushes at me perched on my log.

 In spite of all that hiking, it was still early afternoon so we drove back to Agency Creek Road and up to look for Dippers in the very swollen and muddy creek. Johnny found one on the cleaner-water swamp side of the road. I took a foggy-lens, blurry photo. You can see (if you look closely) the tiny claws at the end of its toes that allow it to cling to the bottom of fast moving streams. Dippers are amazing creatures. They live in icy cold water but never get cold or wet. They have super oil glands that keep their feathers dry. Maybe all that dipping up and down that they do keeps them warm, too.

And just think of all those negative ions they breathe day in and day out!

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