I'm very lucky to have not only my daughter, but also one of my brothers living in the outdoor recreation mecca that is Bend, Oregon.
I was ready to explore some "new to me" Central Oregon hiking trails, so the day after hiking in Smith Rock State Park my daughter and I picked up my brother Dale and headed south of Bend. Pulling out of my brother's driveway, we spied some of the locals taking a nap in a neighbor's front yard. The deer here are so used to humans, they don't even flinch for a crazy, camera-wielding lady.
|Paulina Creek Falls|
I really wanted to check out Lava Butte at Newberry National Volcanic Monument, but sadly we found it closed for the season. So further southward we drove, until Dale spotted a turn out for Paulina Lake. I'd heard there was a cool waterfall there - so quick change of plans!
|Lovely Paulina Creek|
An extremely long climb up a narrow Forest Service road finally led us to the parking area. We followed a short trail to an elegant, stone-walled observation platform perched on a deep canyon's rim. Paulina Creek Falls trickled over an impressive cliff, dropping 80 feet to the creek below.
|Lookin' for salmon|
Dale spotted a trail leading away from the viewing area, and we decided to see where it went. At first, it paralleled the creek above the falls, but soon climbed up a steep bank. The creek became farther and farther below us.
|Red salmon in the water|
Then my daughter spied something red in the water. It was a salmon! Dale and I craned our necks over the bank and began seeing several of the bright fish, valiantly swimming upstream to spawn.
|Spying more fishies|
Although I've lived in the Pacific NW for many years, this was my first time witnessing migrating salmon. And - of all places - in Central Oregon!
|Valiantly swimming upstream|
Continuing to follow the trail upstream, we saw more and more fish darting through the water. Finally, we came upon Paulina Lake's outlet. A road crossed above the outlet structure, and a small cascade gushed out below. Downstream of this structure floated dozens of salmon bodies, white with decay.
|Salmon final resting place|
Although I'm quite familiar with the salmon's life cycle, it was still sad to see so many dead fish. Unable make it through the outlet structure, their journey ended here.
|Not many fish could climb the lake's outlet|
My daughter, Dale and I hiked down to the river bank for a closer look. Peering at the lake's outfall, Dale noticed a fish trying to jump up it. Then we noticed another. And another.
Capturing this sight was a job for my GoPro! I held my little camera out, and tried to get as close as I dared. Of course, once the camera was switched on, the fish decided to take a break, and I stood for quite a few minutes before the salmon got over their shyness. But I was able to get some footage of the fish action - and I've shared it in the video above (please excuse my dorky comments!)
|Paulina Creek Falls from the canyon's other side|
After tiring of the fish jumpers, we followed the trail on the canyon's opposite rim, until emerging from the forest to a view of the falls again. This time we were across the canyon from the nice observation platform. Can you see it in the photo above? (Hint, it's to the right of the waterfall)
Returning on the same trail, my brother and I pondered where all the salmon had come from. They couldn't have swam upstream from very far - Paulina Creek Falls was too tall of a barrier. Maybe they swam downstream from the lake and lived out their lives in the creek above the falls? The many mysteries of nature....
|Mother-daughter photo op!|
Gloomy skies had been threatening rain all morning, and on our way back to our car, the clouds decided to let loose. Although I'd hoped to explore more of this area, the cold precip made lunch at a one of Bend's warm brewpubs more attractive!
But it was a fun outing, finding a new waterfall, and witnessing the salmon's circle of life.