Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Soggy Hardy Ridge

Yes, I live in the Pacific NW.  Yes, it rains a lot here.  Despite this, I still get disappointed when wet weather falls on the weekend.

But that doesn't stop me from getting in a hike.

Ridge trail junction (and still dry!)

That's why I have raingear!  (After spending all that $$, I don't want it languishing in a closet after all)

Foggy forest

So, despite the less-than-stellar forecast, I decided to make a mid-May trip up Hardy Ridge,   I'd heard the wildflowers were blooming and was dying to check it out.

Raindrop-speckled daisy

Although I left my house in dry conditions, it didn't take long for the rain to catch up.  Driving through the Gorge, it battered my car in windy sheets.  I began to have second thoughts..... Just how badly did I want to do this hike?


Bur the weather cleared up upon my arrival.  I quickly got my gear together and hit the trail, hoping to finish before things got wet again.

Bushes intrude on the trail

Of course it didn't take long for distractions to slow me down.  First, it was a lovely patch of white daisies.  Then some vibrant orange paintbrush.  The cloudy, wet conditions were perfect for photography!


Overcast skies made already bright colors pop.

Western wallflower

And the raindrops on petals and leaves made these lovely subjects even more interesting.

Vine maple leaves

I trudged uphill along an abandoned road for a couple of miles until it intersected with a proper trail.  This path zig-zagged steeply through a lush forest.  Near the top, I began to pass by colorful patches of wildflowers.


There was lupine, purple penstemon, yellow wallflowers and vivid orange paintbrush.

Trail through a flower garden

All were dripping moisture from the recent rainstorm.

Lots of color!

Nearing the first major trail junction, I began to notice droplets of water beading on my jacket.  It appeared the brief dry spell was ending. 

Wild roses

When hiking, I carry my DSLR camera in a fanny pack around my waist.  Since this fanny pack isn't waterproof, for today's hike I'd wrapped a large garbage bag around it.  Photography was kind of a chore, unwrapping the bag, taking the camera out, getting the shots, returning it, and repositioning the garbage bag.

Vibrant paintbrush

But when the rain started up, I was darn glad I'd brought that garbage bag.

Raindrops like look jewels

I managed to get a couple more shots of drippy leaves and blossoms before the rain began in earnest.

Drippy penstemon

Although my Canon 7D is fairly waterproof, I didn't want to risk damaging it.  So I wrapped that garbage bag good and tight around the fanny pack.  But the day's photography wasn't done yet - oh no.

No views today

Because I still had my little GoPro!  With it's waterproof case I could continue to record images of this foggy, wet day.

Finally reaching the ridge, I was disappointed to find it cloaked in heavy fog.  There would be no views today!  However, I was able to capture the weather on a short video.

Foggy ridgetop
Continuing on across the ridge, I passed ghostly forests.  As I came out into the first clearing the wind began to kick up.  Not only was it now rainy and foggy, it was now also windy.  Yup, pure misery!

It's getting thicker.....

Although I'd intended to hike all the way up to Phlox Point, about halfway across the ridge, I decided to turn around.  It was rainy, windy and cold.  My clothes were soaked from both the rain and from brushing against soggy vegetation.  My boots were so wet they squished when I took a step.  Huddling behind a small bush, I quickly gulped a bite of lunch.  Then, retracing my steps, I headed back down the ridge. 

I always like loop hikes, so on my return I followed the trail proper as it snaked through a dense forest.  About halfway down I passed by a large rock shaped like a boot that was perched on an old tree stump.  Supposedly a well-known local landmark, I snapped a couple of shots for posterity.

Ghostly forest

Then it was a long, wet downhill trudge to my car.  The rain began to fall heavily and everything on me that wasn't well covered got totally soaked.  Boy was I glad for that garbage bag protecting my camera!  For a cheap plastic bag, it performed admirably. 

After not seeing a soul all day (another advantage to hiking in bad weather) for the last two miles, I was followed by a couple and their dog.  Arriving at the trailhead, I joked that we were the only people crazy enough to be out here in this weather.

Soaked to the bone!

Once home, after a hot shower and dry clothes, it was time to view the photos from the day.  Although not great for hiking, the foggy wet weather produced superb lighting conditions.  I discovered many images I liked.  My wet hike had been vindicated - it was totally worth braving the inclimate weather! 

Moral of the story - don't let a little rain stop you from getting out on the trails.  You might just see something wonderful.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Silver Falls Spring

Never one to waste a precious Friday off, when my son's graduation mass coincided with a scheduled "flex" day from work, I took the opportunity to get in a morning hike at nearby Silver Falls State Park.

Rhodies blooming at the lodge

It was mid-May - perfect time to visit!  Wildflowers would be at peak bloom, and the waterfalls running full.


Parking my car near the South Lodge, the nearby woods were already showing off pink accents from blooming rhododendron bushes.  Things were off to a great start!

Green canyon reflection on the water

Walking down the paved path from the lodge, I was greeted with a superb view of South Falls.  This 177 foot tall beauty spills into a large, rocky amphitheater.  Lush, green foliage surrounded the area, its color reflecting in the splash pool below.

South Falls

My arrival was perfectly timed.  I got most of my South Falls photographs before the rising sun crested into the canyon.  Although it provided lovely back lighting on the forest, the contrast between shade and sun made conditions difficult for photography.  Time to move on!

Sunlight filters through the forest

So I ambled down the trail to the next waterfall.  The scenery was a pure delight.  My path followed lovely Silver Creek, which burbled between the dense forest, ultra-green with new leaves.

Lovely white flower

And I discovered lots of wildflowers blooming along its banks. 


Like delicate pink Corydalis and purple larkspur.

Larkspur were thick!

After a mile, the path began to switchback steeply downhill.  Rounding a sharp bend, Lower South Falls came into view.

Lower South Falls

Although its top was beginning to be illuminated by sunlight, most of this cascade was in shade.  As I set for some long exposure shots, my trusty 24-105 mm lens decided to poop out.

Silky fan

Arghh!  Equipment failure is so annoying!  Luckily, I'd packed a couple extra lenses and quickly switched to my 11-24 wide angle. 

Great view of Lower South Falls

This lens was actually perfect for fitting the entire waterfall in the frame.  I loved this view of Lower South Falls, looking up at its very top.  A similar image to this one, which won second place in a 2014 local photography contest.

Striped wildflowers

After spending a lot of time at Lower South Falls, trying for that perfect waterfall shot, I had a quick snack and continued towards the next cascade.

Bug on a bleeding heart

There were so many wildflowers along this portion of the trail!  Like these vibrant bleeding heart blossoms.  A little bug on one of the flowers even posed for me.

Ferns were prolific!

Not only flowers, the forest was thick with these deep green ferns. 

More unknown (but pretty) wildflowers

So many flowers, but sadly I couldn't identify many.  I really need to educate myself more on wildflower identification.

Sturdy bridge over the creek

Around 2 1/2 miles in, the trail crossed over Silver Creek on this very sturdy footbridge.

Double Falls

Not long after, a short side path led me to Double Falls.  An extremely tall, thin falls, I had to stretch my neck to see the entire length.  Good thing I had the wide angle lens on my camera!  Even with that, I could barely fit in both cascades. Can you see the other waterfall near the top?

Bottom of Double falls

I really loved how the very bottom of Double Falls fanned out into a series of smaller stairsteps, like the train on a bridal gown.

Rainbow at Middle North Falls

A short distance away, roared Middle North Falls.  One of my favorites, I hastened the pace, eager to revisit.  A side trail leads visitors directly behind its lacy curtain.  And - bonus - I spied a tiny rainbow in the creek below!

Middle North Falls

This year, our spring had been drier than normal.  Although it affected all the park's waterfalls, nowhere was this more apparent than at Middle North Falls.  Usually this cascade flows as a wide curtain across the entire basalt cliff.  But this year its output had been reduced to a single stream.

Lovely old-growth forest

By the time I'd passed by Middle North Falls, it was past noon, and the sunny skies had given way to hot temperatures.  The creek and waterfalls had cooled things down considerably.  But once I climbed out of the canyon, things got warm real quick.  Although my return trek was through a lovely old-growth forest, it was a hot hike.  The only saving grace is that it was short (1.5 miles) and I spied a patch of beautiful purple iris.

Wild iris

I returned to my car in plenty of time for the 4 o'clock mass.  My morning ramble fit perfectly into this busy day!

Although autumn is my favorite time to visit Silver Falls State Park, I was pleasantly surprised by the abundant spring beauty, and the number of wildflowers blooming here on this warm day in May.

Sharing with:  Floral Friday Fotos and Scenic Weekends

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Splashy Oregon Coast

Not quite done with my Oregon Coast recap!

One final post.....driving home from Bandon the following day, I took my time and revisited a couple of fave coastline spots.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Such as the Heceta Head Lighthouse, just north of Florence.  The most scenic lighthouse on the entire West Coast (IMHO).  An overlook directly off Hwy 101 provides photographers this iconic view.

Thor's Well

Then just a few miles further north, is the fabulous Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.  I spent lots of time here last year watching the waves pound this unique coastline.  Another stop was definitely in order.

Cook's Chasm and Spouting Horn

I didn't feel like hiking all the way down to water level, so this time I lingered on the overlook above.  A perfect place to take in all the wave action!

The tide was coming in fast and furious.  I had a great birds-eye view of famous "Thor's Well," a large circular opening in the rocky shoreline.  Incoming waves filled its void, then the water was dramatically sucked down with the outgoing sea.  A fascinating sight to see, I could've watched this cycle for hours.

Thar she blows!

Although Thor's Well was entertaining on its own, I was equally drawn to Cook's Chasm and it's famous "Spouting Horn."  With each incoming wave, seawater rushed down a narrow canyon.  An especially large wave would force water through an adjacent hole in the rock wall, until it sprayed up like a whale's spout.  Oh so fun to watch!  (And photograph too)

Big wave splash

Oh, it was a shame I had to go home....despite the noisy neighbors and warmer than usual weather, I'd had a great time exploring the Bandon area.  But I'd left this bit of paradise with fond memories and lots of photographs.

Now to catch up with all the fantastic wildflower hikes I've been doing lately!  :)

If you've missed any of my Spring 2016 Oregon Coast trip posts, here's all the links:

Weekend in Bandon
Fabulous Morning in Bandon
Cape Blanco Lighthouse and Another Sunset
Shore Acres State Park
The Best Sunset

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Best Sunset

(Continuing the recap of my late April trip to Bandon and the Southern Oregon coast....) 

My three days in Bandon had been full ones.  After spending a spectacular morning at Shore Acres State Park, I was pooped.  Back at my yurt, the weekend crowd had cleared out. Finally enjoying some peace and quiet, I was sorely tempted to skip tonight's beach trip.

Wild iris in evening light

But I'd come here to photograph the coast!  And I wasn't about to give my camera the night off.  So when evening rolled around, I gathered my gear and headed once more to Coquille Point, my favorite Bandon beach.

Bandon homes near the jetty

Instead of going directly to the Wizard's Hat and other well-know sea stacks, this time I decided to explore the opposite direction.  I strolled across a high cliff until I came to a fantastic viewpoint.  The Coquille River and it's jetty stretched out into the sea.  A long string of colorful beach homes lined the shore.  Warm light bathed everything. 

Blue waves

Today had been a hot one (unusual for April on the Oregon coast), but with the coming nightfall, temps were much more pleasant.  I lingered on the clifftop, enjoying the cool breezes and great views.


Then I meandered down to beach level.  The setting sun cast a pleasant glow on the sand.

Birds looking for food

I watched shorebirds skitter along the waterline, looking for their dinner.

The vast beach

The sand seemed to stretch out forever.  I loved the vastness of it all.

Rope swing on driftwood

I came upon a piece of driftwood that had gotten embedded in on of the larger shoreline rocks.  Someone had tied a rope around one end, and rigged a crude swing.

Foggy pink light

Eventually I ended up back at my favorite sunset beach.  Spying the seastack group where I'd photographed for the last two nights, I began to walk that way.

The show begins...

But I'd misjudged the time - sunset was happening now!

Orange-hued beach

Positioning myself beside a lone seastack, I grabbed my camera and began to shoot.  The setting sun illuminated the beach a soft tangerine color.

Sun reflection on the water

I thought the night's clear skies would give an uninteresting sunset.  I couldn't have been more wrong!

Slowly sinking

The sun produced such a intense shade of orange, the sky practically glowed.  It reflected in the water like a bright blaze.


A little shorebird stationed himself right in front of my viewfinder.  At first I was annoyed the bird wouldn't move.  But then I realized he added something to the scene.


I stayed put, clicking away, as the sun slowly dropped into the horizon.

Warm afterglow

The sun's final rays gave off a vibrant peach color in the sky, that reflected onto the ocean waves.

The sky remained orange for a long time after

As I packed up and began walking back to my car, the sky continued to exhibit a soft orange glow.  It silhouetted the offshore rocks beautifully.  Arriving at the parking lot, this vibrant color was still lingering on the horizon.  People had stopped in their tracks and were gazing in awe.  I stood by my car for another five minutes enjoying the show.  Such a lovely sunset, even Mother Nature didn't want it to end.

Bandon saved the best for last!

Yes, Bandon had saved the best for last.  A fitting end to a wonderful weekend on the Southern Oregon coast.

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Skywatch Friday