|Fall colors are here!|
But it was my last chance to hike for several months - a final opportunity to catch some fall colors. I just couldn't stay home. Rain be damned!
|Usual trailhead signage|
After pondering destination choices, I decided to visit a couple favorite trails on Mt. Hood's east side. Located in the mountain's rainshadow, I hoped this would guarantee a little drier weather. Not only offering spectacular scenery and fall colors, these treks also boasted a pair of lovely cascades. Yessiree, it was gonna be another waterfall Friday!
|A few larch trees|
I've found that when planning to hike the more popular trails, it pays to get up early. I rose at my normal weekday time, and instead of heading to work, pointed my car towards Mt. Hood. I arrived at Tamanawas Falls trailhead just a little after 8, second car in the lot.
|Scenic bridge crossing Cold Spring Creek|
I was delighted to have the trail to myself. From the parking area, I immediately crossed the East Fork of Hood River over a sturdy log bridge. For the next half mile, I meandered along its banks, taking in the green fir forest, accented with an occasional burst of yellow deciduous leaves.
At the first junction, I left the East Fork behind, climbing up a small ridge, with views looking over a cluster of golden larch trees. Shortly thereafter, I came upon a smaller log footbridge crossing Cold Spring Creek.
|Fallen leaves make cool patterns|
Besides the destination waterfall, this bridge was one of the most scenic spots of the trail. Cold Spring Creek gurgled merrily, framed by tall firs and mossy boulders.
From here on out, the trail paralleled the banks of Cold Spring Creek. The walk here was a pure delight. Golden leaves lined my path. Frothy rapids churned below. Huge mossy trees towered high above. Gorgeous!
|A closer look at the falls|
Besides the amazing natural beauty and waterfall at the end, this trail is also popular due to it's short length. From Cold Spring Creek, just over a mile of trekking will bring you to the base of 100-foot-high Tamanawas Falls.
The approach to the falls is dramatic. After crossing a huge rockslide at the base of some high basalt cliffs, the canyon narrowed. Rounding a forested corner, the trees suddenly thinned out, and there before me, framed by the canyon's end, Tamanawas Falls suddenly came into view.
|Hangin' out with the falls|
A truly stunning location. The falls spilled over the top of an ancient lava flow, creating a white curtain of water. The high basalt cliffs and adjacent green forest framed this cascade nicely. Although disappointed by a lack of fall colors, it still made a perfect photo subject.
|Color is everywhere!|
I hiked down slippery rocks, getting as close to the fall's base as I dared. Recent rainfall had the cascade roaring, and the spray forced me to keep my distance. Still, I set up my tripod and captured tons of shots, wiping water droplets off my lens in between takes.
After a lengthy photo session, I retreated into a stand of trees for a quick snack. While enjoying my cliff bar, I spotted a cluster of huge mushrooms - each as large as a salad plate. Besides the obvious waterfall, another photo subject!
|Wonderful, mossy Cold Spring Creek|
Although the base area here often gets crowded with hikers, I had the place to myself the entire time. It was nice to be able to take all the photos I wanted and not have to wait for people to move out of the way. I also enjoyed the silence. Some people don't understand why I like to hike by myself. Although I do enjoy sharing the experience with friends, there are times I crave the solitude of nature. Today was one of those days. Spending quiet time in a spectacular area does wonders for the attitude.
|Red leaf standout|
Darkening clouds in the sky finally convinced me it was time to head back. One of the great things about an out-and-back trek on such a fine trail was getting to see it all a second time. Although I stopped to photograph a few of the sights I'd missed, the return trip was much quicker.
|Nice creek views along the trail|
I didn't see a soul until I was almost back to my car. By then, half a dozen vehicles had crowded in, and I spotted three parties heading towards the first bridge. Being an early bird has it's rewards! I was glad I'd gotten my butt out of bed at o-dark-thirty.
Not only did I miss all the people, the rain held off the entire time. Although prepared to get wet, I was happy to be loading a dry backpack and coat into my car at hike's end.
But now it was barely noon - way too early to head home. Although the sky was threatening to pour, there was one more trail on today's agenda. After a quick lunch break, I drove further up the road to check out Umbrella Falls. Crossing my fingers, I hoped my luck would hold out long enough to beat the rain a second time.
Join me for my next post and see what happens!
P.S. To my faithful readers, I have comment word verification turned off in my blog settings, but that pesky box keeps showing up anyway. According to one of my blogging buddies (thanks Stewart M!) you can ignore the word verification and your comment will still post. I love reading all your comments, so please don't let that darned thing stop you from saying hello! :)
Sharing with: Outdoor Wednesday and Wednesday Around the World.