This post is more aptly titled, “Blood, bruises, and bare feet.”
But more on that in a moment.
Since we only have a few more months living in Eugene before we move to Portland, we’re trying to knock out as many things as possible that are closer to Eugene. We’ve done quite a bit since moving here, so most of the stuff we have left to do is in the Cascades near Bend. It would be much more convenient to live in Bend for the summer so we could cut out a lot of driving time, but there’s this whole “I have a job” thing holding us back. So we’ll make do with early mornings and long drives.
We drove about 3 hours from Eugene to Tumalo Falls, just west of Bend. We were a bit overwhelmed when we got there because of the masses of people. Lucky for us, almost all of them appeared to be there just to visit the main waterfall, which you could see just a few steps away from the parking lot. A little heads up, there’s a $5 day-use fee unless you have a Northwest Recreation Pass (we bought one for $30 last year, and it has more than paid for itself at this point).
Anywho, our plan for the day was a 6.8-mile loop trail that runs along a bunch of waterfalls. It started at the viewpoint for Tumalo Falls, which was pretty spectacular. We left the crowds behind by simply walking uphill to the second viewpoint at the top of the waterfall.
From there, we continued on the North Fork Trail to see what seemed like endless waterfalls. And my goodness, that water was crystal clear.
Eventually, we reached the point where the trail was covered in snow and ice. (And I got a nice reminder that ice is slippery, as I wiped out a few times and slammed pretty solidly into the ground, which I’m sure will lead to some nice bruises this week.) I know we should be used to this by now, but we haven’t quite figured out when and where we should expect snow. Apparently we should’ve expected snow on this trail at the end of May. With the help of some other hikers’ footprints, and a fellow Kentuckian on the trail (!), we made our way over to where we were supposed to cross the creek. I had read that you needed to cross a fallen log to get to the second half of the loop trail, and it appeared we had a few options. First, we spotted this log, which went underwater about halfway across. That was a no go.
Then we came to this log, just upstream. The water was rushing over the log, but Eric braved it in his waterproof hiking shoes. My shoes are not waterproof (it’s time to replace those bad boys after 6 years of use), so I wasn’t interested in attempting it. Plus, my legs always get super shaky when I’m walking on a narrow log (there’s no daredevil in this girl), so I was a bit nervous to attempt it. We decided the best option would be to remove my shoes and socks, and ford the river barefoot. So I not-so-intelligently removed my shoes and socks before deciding where I should enter the water, which led to me walking around barefoot in mud, snow, and sticks (which led to a stumble and a slice across the knee). All the entrances to the water were pretty big drop offs that would have left me in the water mid-thigh, which didn’t sound too appealing.
Now, if we had put a bit more thought into this plan, we would have walked around the bend in the creek a bit to see if there were any better logs to cross before risking getting wet or walking barefoot through the snow. Eventually, we got around to that and found this perfect log, just a few minutes too late for my muddy, wet, cold feet.
We usually carry a small towel in our pack, which I don’t think we’ve ever actually had to use. Ironically, I took it out of our hiking pack a few days ago in an ill-fated moment of organization. Luckily, I learned that the benefit of wearing cushy socks is that you can dry your wet feet with the outside of your socks before putting the socks back on, with very little discomfort for the rest of the hike. Hoorah!
Unfortunately, the creek fording wasn’t even necessary. As soon as we reached the other side, we completely lost the trail. Everything was covered in snow, and there weren’t any trail markers to be found. We wandered in the direction the map seemed to show, but couldn’t find anything. After a bit of debate over whether or not to continue on a blind hike, we wound up turning around and returning the way we came.
So, lessons learned:
-Always expect snow.
-Pack a towel.
To explore Tumalo Falls for yourself, take Highway 97 in Bend to Revere Avenue. Follow Hill Street (which becomes Wall Street) for about a mile. Turn right on Franklin Avenue (which becomes Riverside Boulevard). Turn right on Tumalo Avenue, and continue for 9.8 miles (as it becomes Galveston Avenue and Skyliner Road). Cross a one-lane bridge and turn left on Road 4603 (a gravel road). Follow this to the parking area, which will probably be full, but parking is available on the sides of the gravel road.