Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eagle Creek Trail

 
Third year optometry students are in school all year long, there is a summer semester of classes and clinic.  There hasn’t been much activity around campus since most of my classmates have headed home for our two week break before the fall.  I feel like I haven’t explored enough of the northwest since moving out here.  Time has passed so quickly that I only have two semesters left here in the Grove.  For my time off, I decided to do as many Oregon activities as I could.  A friend from class, Hayden, and I decided to hike Eagle Creek Trail in the Willamette Valley.

You can spend 2-3 days on Eagle Creek Trail; however we decided to do a day hike.  One thing to know about Oregon though, is despite the rain, it does really heat up in August.  Of course the day we decide to go hiking turned out to have temperatures of 94F +.

The first stop on the trail is called Punch Bowl Falls, which makes complete sense when you look at it.  Rumour has it that you can swim by the lower falls, we saw a tonne of people headed up the trail in bathing suits (which is good to know for next time).  You can see part of the bowl in this photo, look behind the leaves – Oregon is seriously the land of trees, I couldn't get a clear shot as hard as I tried.




What I loved so much about this trail is that there is always something amazing to look at.  Every few miles there is another waterfall!  One of my favourite things to look at is waterfalls, so this was a very exciting journey for me.  Each one looks distinct as well, so it’s really always a Kodak moment.



The trail is fairly narrow at many points along the way.  It winds around and up cliff sides and over a handful of log bridges.  At every point you can hear either the rush of an approaching waterfall or a trickling of the creek as it makes its way through the rocky gorge.  At some points there is a metal cable drilled into the side of the rock for you to hold, especially when the rocks beneath your feet are wet and slippery.  The views are immaculate, the sheer height of the trees and depth of the cliffs surrounding your every step makes you want to pause and stare.

We started our hike at about 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning.  The forest provided amazing shade for a lot of the trail.  It was disgustingly hot when we had to navigate over piles of rocks which had no shade from the sun, especially later in the afternoon.  Definitely get there early since the morning is a little cooler and the parking lot won’t be packed.



A lot of the day hikers return to the trailhead after a couple of miles.  I would highly recommend going all the way to Tunnel Falls at the very least.  This is a 6 mile hike there but is totally worth the view.  Just when it feels like you have walked forever, go a little father and you’ll hear the roar of the falls.  Then after you pass the very Super Mario like rocks (they almost look like tree stumps, the tops have been blasted off) that curve around a corner and up like steps – you’ll see the tunnel behind the falls inviting you to experience the cool mist as the water dives below.




After we crossed through the tunnel, we stood to take pictures and ended up meeting another hiking pair.  They convinced us that there was another waterfall half a mile ahead, so instead of turning back we decided to check it out since we needed to find a good lunch spot.  What a perfect lunch spot it turned out to be!  Here is Twister Falls, sometimes known as Eagle Creek Falls.  I like Twister better because when the two water sources meet, they do look like a twister as they fall below.



If you look to the left side of this photo, you can see part of the bank.  This is where we sat in the shade, pulled out our lunches, and enjoyed watching the soothing rapids wind their way down.   It was absolutely perfect as long as we disregard the nasty spiders that tried to join us.



Across from where we sat on the bank eating, there was a little pool of water.  It looked like the ideal place to go for a dip.  Fresh water was constantly running into it from higher ground, and forcing some out the other end.  The water was crystal clear and so tempting!  In the end we went with the responsible decision; we didn't cross the rapids.




The walk back quickly became torture.  We were absolutely exhausted already and the sun had heated everything up.  Halfway back Hayden ran out of water so we rationed my back up Arizona Iced Tea bottle I had filled last minute.  It actually gave a nice flavour to the water Hayden pointed out.  To make matters worse, Hayden twisted her foot on some rocks.  Thankfully there was no blood but she had explained to me earlier that every hike, it has never failed: she sprains at least one ankle.  She was a trooper though as we dragged ourselves back towards the trailhead.  Each time we saw the trail twist around a rock, I would say, “Oh it’s probably right around that corner”.  And it never was.

Once we finally made it back to the parking lot, we decided to make a short stop at the creek’s base to wash our swollen dirty feet.  I decided to wade around on the rocks for a bit.  They didn’t hurt at first, which I later realized was because my feet were so numb! 

I did however make an unusual discovery while looking into the clear water.  I looked down and saw a slice of salami, or perhaps pepperoni lying with the rocks.  Excited I told Hayden, who couldn’t help but be confused and then laugh at the ridiculousness.  So I reached down, fully prepared for a slimy piece of lunch meat to prove my finding.


Turned out, it was a regular, logical boring old rock.  I still really think it looks like salami!