From Tamanawas Falls parking area, I drove a short distance up the highway to Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort. Along the ski area's entrance road was a trailhead providing access to several paths into Mt. Hood National Forest. One such trail led to lovely Umbrella Falls.
|Tiny wooden bridge|
While packing up for the day's second ramble, I could tell the weather was changing. Overhead clouds appeared thicker and darker, the air heavy with humidity. I'd have to hustle to beat the rain! Just in case, I made sure I had my rain jacket, and plenty of plastic bags.
|Lovely stairstepped Umbrella Falls|
The path to Umbrella Falls climbed steadily for about a mile before flattening out into a pretty alpine meadow. The grasses, now golden brown, made a fine contrast to adjacent green forests. I passed lots of gnarly old firs with interesting shaped burls (many looked like butt cheeks!)
|Close up of the tiers|
Moving quickly, I hoped to arrive at Umbrella Falls before the rain hit. That meant photo stops were few and far between. Although the trail stuck mostly to heavily treed forests, passing through one clearing, I thought I felt raindrops. Diving back into the woods, dense branches blocked any precip, and I rationalized it was all in my head. It wasn't until I popped out into another meadow and felt pitter-patters on my jacket that I realized the rain had already won this race.
At that point, I knew the falls weren't far, and decided to continue my trek. The rainfall wasn't very heavy, and thanks to thick fir branches covering the trail, I stayed dry most of the way. I'd almost arrived at my destination when Mother Nature decided to let loose.
|Fall colors and moving water|
What timing! I arrived at Umbrella Falls to a downpour. Luckily two large fir trees at the fall's base provided a nice shield from the deluge. Stowing my backpack safely under their branches, I set up my tripod and got to work.
|Creek under the bridge|
Throughout the hike in, I was disappointed by the lack of fall color in the woods and meadows. But arriving at Umbrella Falls, I hit the jackpot. Both sides of the waterfall were covered with multi-hued huckleberry bushes, in vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges. Downstream, gold and yellow foliage brightened the adjacent forest. Wowza!
|Amazing fall colors|
And then there was Umbrella Falls herself. Oh what a gorgeous cascade! Water sheeted down tiered rock formations, like a lacy bridal gown.
|Wonderful white streams|
Heavy rain made photography difficult. If I ventured out from under the tree's protective branches, my camera got drenched. I tried covering things with my raincoat, but it was hard to operate the shutter. I ended up mostly cowering under the trees, with short forays into the forest, where I'd snap a couple of pics, and dash back under cover to dry out the camera.
But with such a fabulous scenery, I wasn't giving up easily. Despite the rain, I kept trying anyway. For every good image, I got five others that were rain-speckled. But persistence paid off, and when I finally decided to quit, my memory card was almost full.
|Umbrella Falls surrounded by spectacular color|
I've visited Umbrella Falls plenty of times in the summer, but this was the first I'd ever seen it in the fall. If the leaf colors are always this fantastic, I think an autumn trip here will become a new tradition.
|Hiking back through Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort|
Finally, wet and cold, I knew it was time to head back. I stripped off my soaking wet soft shell and replaced it with a dry insulating layer and my rainjacket. Then I made sure everything inside my backpack was stored in plastic (ziplock bags for my phone, wallet, and camera, and a large garbage bag for everything else) People often ask why I carry such a large backpack. It's times like these I'm thankful to have extra clothes and gear.
|One of my favorite ski runs|
Valuables stowed, and dressed in rain gear, I headed down the trail. I had a choice of taking the same trail back to my car, or exploring a loop that circled through Mt. Hood Meadows ski area. Deciding I was as protected from the weather as possible, I opted for the loop.
I've never had so much fun hiking in the rain! The return trip was an absolute delight. I splashed through puddles, slid in the mud. Rain-saturated light made fall colors pop, and the scenery was outstanding. Trekking through the ski area boundary, I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite runs without snow.
In the midst of the final leg, I soberly realized this would be my last hike for several weeks. Resolving to enjoy these final miles to their fullest, I happily tromped along, breathing fir-scented air, and lingering over beautiful wooded scenery. As if on cue, the bunion in my right foot began to throb, affirming that my upcoming surgery was indeed the right decision.
|Wet hike today|
I arrived at my car, soaking wet, but happy as a clam. Changing into dry clothes, I drove all the way home in a torrential downpour. Although the rain didn't hold off for my second hike, I felt pretty badass for sticking it out anyway. Amazing photos of Umbrella Falls, and a fun return trip through the rain were the rewards.
Stats: 4.6 miles, 800 feet elevation gain
P.S. To my readers: I think I have the comment verification thingy fixed. Thanks to great advice from Mersad, (changing the comment preferences to "embedded") I was able to eliminate it. Hopefully none of you will have further problems commenting, but if you do, please email me. My email address is in the "contact me" section of my profile.
Sharing with: Weekly Top Shot and Our World Tuesday.