Tumalo Falls, Part II, Monday, 7/25/17

In yesterday's post, I talked about all the waterfalls we saw, the many cascades on Tumalo Falls hike.  You have to know that each picture I posted was of a different falls ... I wasn't recycling the same picture from different angles!  We could get right next to some of them, as in, one false step and you could end up at the bottom!

The falls above were below us and we couldn't get close.
The falls below tumbled and splashed at my feet!

People love to build rock cairns, as you can see.  One person can start the pile and others will come along to add their two cents worth.  That's what Jimmy is doing.  We've never before seen so many piles in one place, many with intricate designs.  Fun to check 'em out.

I saw tiny golden Pinedrops emerging beside the trail.

This is called Double Falls.
One incredible view after another!

I spied several of these, um, puffball-looking thingees just off the trail, apparently some kind of rock-hard fungus.  It looked like a biological soil crust alongside the trail, the kind you shouldn't tread on or it's ruined for years.  The path itself is nothing but light brown powder.  Every foot step sent powdered soil onto our shoes and sox and ankles.  On the downhill, we spread apart by ten-to-fifteen feet to avoid "eating" each other's dust.

We climbed through fir, spruce and pine forest.  At some points, we could inhale the fresh piney fragrance, and it smelled wonderful.  Following the North Fork and Middle Fork of Tumalo Creek was especially nice for many reasons, not the least of which was the "instant air conditioning" the closer we were to each.

After our four-mile climb, we made it to our destination -- Happy Valley.  We sprayed with Deet (not my favorite thing to do) because skeeters were bothersome.  Otherwise, the valley was serene, alive with hundreds of California Tortiseshell butterflies, and wildflowers.  Not sure if it was mating season for the butterflies.  When I approached the creek, a mass of them rose and flew about me, which was very cool.  They'd been "puddling." 

Wildflowers galore.  Some of these I'd never seen and can't identify.

Red Indian Paintbrush and a violet wild orchid added color.

The prevalent flower in Happy Valley's meadow was white Cow Parsley.
I thought the meadow was beautiful

We crossed log bridges over wetland areas in a few places.  Jimmy and Sheila are heading down to the trailhead.  At each of these low spots we saw different wildflowers and slapped at skeeters.  Much of the trail is shaded, a terrific feature on a hot summer's day.  Another reason the trail is so popular.  

As we made our way down, I stopped to look at Tumalo Creek below and the cars lined up far beyond the parking lot.  Many people only come to see the grand Tumalo Falls and leave; that falls is worth a glimpse.  Throw in all the other falls, and it was an awesome experience.

The three of us were hot and tired and pooped when we got to the car.  Even Sheila!  Four miles up, four miles down.  With hugs and many thanks, we left Sheila.  Back at Tergel, we couldn't wait to shower off trail dust.  After showering, Jimmy plopped on the bed with ice on his knee, and was asleep in seconds!  (He's less than three months post-op on his knee replacement.)  I joined him not long afterward.  We earned a nap!

We packed up Tergel and made ready to leave Bend in the morning.  How fortunate for us that we got to see and spend time with three groups of Oregon friends.  It's been a grand trip so far.


Tour de Waterfalls ... Monday, 7/25/17

Sheila proposed the header for this post, knowing that I would be writing about our fabulous hike.  I suppose I could also say Tour de Chutes or Cascades, as either would apply. She wanted to take us hiking while we were in Bend, and we were all for it.  She suggested both the hike and the day and, Boy Howdy, she did well!

I looked it up:  The exact origin of the word Tumalo isn't known.  It may have been Tumallowa, which is said to mean icy water -- a fitting adjective considering Tumalo Creek is fed by glacial melt.  Jimmy and I both stuck our fingers in the creek and we concur. Presumably the falls were named after the creek.

Located roughly 20 miles west of the City of Bend, we drove up into picturesque national forest territory.  Right from the parking lot was a terrific view (below) of Tumalo Falls ... and this was the first of many outstanding viewpoints.  Jimmy is the picture-picker for each post, and he was hard pressed to pick the best of the best this time, because the entire hike was one picture postcard.

This grande falls plunges 89 feet,
the tallest and most impressive fall on Tumalo Creek.

Here's a plein air painter, attempting his interpretation of the falls.

We got to the park early -- 9am/ish, beating the crowd and the heat.  Good thing, as it's one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the Bend area.  Trailhead elevation is 5,000', and we would trek to Happy Valley at 6,050', with an elevation gain of over a thousand feet.  I'll give you the real stat:  Four miles up, four miles down -- 8 miles round trip.  The beauty of it was the water.  We followed both the North Fork and the Middle Fork of Tumalo Creek, meaning we listened to cascading water almost 100% of the time.

Yes, it was LOUD. 

We stumbled across this impressive rock cairn wonderland.  I accidentally knocked a rock off that big dude I'm standing next to and I was terrified the dang thing would fall apart at or on top my feet.  It didn't, so I added a new one (wiping brow!).  On our return, lots of kids and adults were at the same spot, making new or adding to, like I did.

I didn't get the straight skinny on exactly how many waterfalls there are.  Some said six, others say seven, one I read reported nine.  The roaring cascade alerted us to a falls before we saw it, and each one was as superb as the next.  Many of them have names, but I gave up trying to figure out which was which.  No matter -- just enjoy.

Me, Jimmy, and Sheila.  We met a few hardy trekkers at this point; later on, we met a slew of people Out and About on the trail.  By the time we returned to the parking lot around 2pm, cars were parked on the dirt road for a half mile!

The path was easy and very, very dusty.
We'd rate the hike as moderate because of the elevation gain.  

The log footbridge crossing of Middle Fork.  We're still going uphill.

Looking up the creek (so to speak) from the footbridge.

Tree hugger!

We're not the type of people who are blasΓ© around waterfalls.  As we look back at our ten days on the road, we're amazed that much of it involved water:  Headwaters, white water, and waterfalls.  Every day on or near the water has been a real delight.  These falls, tho, really are icing on an already fancy cake.  Such beauty!

California Tortoiseshell butterflies were EVERYWHERE!

Our destination was Happy Valley, and we made it.  We stopped a lot to take in the views, and take pictures (mainly just to catch our breath, huff-puff) on our way, but we were might happy to see this valley.  It was time to rest, get off our feet for a minute or two, eat our sandwiches.  Listening to the creek near our feet, of course.  Jimmy and Sheila chillin', above, while I wander in the meadow.

I'll leave the hike at this point, and publish Part II tomorrow.
Believe it or not, there's more!


Old Mill District in Bend, Sun 7/23/17

Here we are meeting up with another buddy from our Himalayas trek (in October 2015) -- Sheila, who lives in Bend, Oregon.  Jimmy and I parked Tergel at the Bend Elks Lodge, and thank goodness they provide electric hookups ... otherwise, we'd be cooked in this heat without A/C. Of course, it's a dry heat, as they say, but -- whew! -- try to stay in a motor home without A/C when it's 94 degrees outside!  Good luck!

Sheila is a traveler and an avid hiker.  Bend is the perfect place for people like her who enjoy the outdoors and want to be playing in it, one way or another.  The Deschutes River, which originates in Little Lava Lake SW of Bend and flows north to the Columbia River, is a major contributor toward Bend activities.  The nearby mountains are another.

Sunday morning, we met at her beautiful home overlooking the river, and set out on foot for a Bend EXplore, aiming at the Old Mission District.  Much of the walk followed the river and it was gratifying to see so many families Out and About on a glorious (but warm) Sunday afternoon.

A blue-blue-blue sky decorated with mare's tails -- what a pretty sight.

When Jimmy and I hove into town Saturday, we drove Smartie downtown for a look-see.  A UCI sanctioned pro bicycle race was just beginning.  We hung around the barriers to watch riders whiz past us in a peloton several times, and then we quit!  Walking a bit, we discovered the ice cream shop above, and stepped in for some oh-so-cool and yummy cones.  We passed the shop again on our walk with Sheila, hence the photo today.

Those three iconic towering stacks in the Old Mill District are evidence of the lumber companies that basically built Bend.  The mills are long gone, but their legacy lingers on.

We hiked along the Deschutes River Trail, which, when completed, will be a 19-mile mixed use public trail.  This is a level, wide gravel path paralleling the river, and it is well used. Parks and Rec people did a great job planting the verge with colorful flowers and shrubs. All-in-all, it's a real plus for the residents and out-of-towners like us.

Part of the fun of walking on the path is watching all the water craft plying the river, mostly small individual rafts, SUP's, and a few kayaks.  The swift river teemed with people on top of the water.  Oh, and look at the snow-topped Sisters watching over the whole area!

Hmmm, some guys preferred sitting IN the cool water!

Or maybe hitching a ride!

The Deschutes is dammed in a couple of places.  Water from this dam is tri-tiered.  On the right is a fish chute (out of sight), middle is a "surfing wave" with a guy surfing, and on the left (below) is where the rafts, etc., float ashore to a take-out point.  I'm not sure what this is called, but you get the idea.  Very smart.

We walked past the house where this guy lives.  Greg Gifford, the Rock Guy, displays his whimsical rock creations outside.  Really cute stuff.  For sale, too.

Graceful Weeping Willows, so pleasing to the eye.
And I always appreciate their abundant shade.

Another type of dam on the Deschutes.

After we'd hiked our little feet off (in the wrong shoes, sorry to say), Sheila drove us on a tour of Bend, including homes high on a ridge overlooking the city.  Whoa, nice!  As an aside, I think I'll mention here that Sheila was the only other person who climbed with us to the Tiger's Nest in Bhutan ... and we were hard put to keep up with her!  Anyway, we debated about where and what to eat for dinner and settled on happy hour at Chi.  Sitting under the trees on the patio with a cooling breeze, we ordered from the small plates menu and filled ourselves up with various delicious dishes.  What an easy, fun, and pleasant dinner!  Tomorrow we have more planned, depending on how loud our dogs are talking!


Nice to see friends! Friday, 7-21-17

Having been invited up Oregon-way by our Grants Pass friends, I thought it would be nice to see if any of our Himalayas-journey friends living in Oregon might want to get together. Since we're already Facebook friends, it was easy to give them a heads-up, inquire if they'd be in town, and might want to grab a cuppa coffee, share a bite to eat or even don our hikers to traipse a trail.  Lucky us ... Mary and Bob were in town and even suggested a neat hike.  Jimmy and I were boondocked at the Valley River Mall in Eugene, and Mary and Bob lived just down the street, kinda.  A little walk at Sweet Creek Falls and lunch following on Friday.  They'd pick us up at 9.  Win-win.

These two pics, above and below, I took at Delta Ponds, by the Willamette River.
Top is Teasel, still in bloom, with busy bee, and Great Blue Heron below.

Well now, we haven't seen Mary and Bob since our wonderful Himalayas trip in October 2015.  Two really nice features of many Road Scholar trips is their small group size and the friendliness of your fellow travelers.  We came from all over the US to travel and explore the Mountain Kingdoms of the Himalayas, and most of us bonded, so to speak.  

Today Bob drove us to Sweet Creek Falls, approx 45 miles west of Eugene, and a very scenic drive through some mighty pretty country.  The trail is roughly three miles R/T.  Sweet Creek Falls is more than just one drop ... it's a dozen small waterfalls!  Cascading over boulders, Sweet Creek is tucked into what seemed like a rain forest canyon, everything was that green.  I could hear birds chirping, but couldn't locate any in the treed canopy.  The vigorous creek drowned out most sound.

Ferns!  So many fern varieties!
We saw lots of Maidenhair Ferns, as above.

The weather was pleasant, sunny and warm, but my overshirt felt right.

No camera could entirely capture Sweet Creek Falls' astonishing beauty.

Jimmy's favorite picture πŸ’ πŸ’— πŸ’–

Most of the time we followed a narrow foot path on land, but we encountered two catwalks bolted to the canyon walls.  Elevation gain was negligible, about 350', but the trail could be tricky for footing with roots and rocks.  Four-foot-thick Douglas fir trees towered above the creekside Alder and Bigleaf Maple, with gray-green moss draping from every branch.  Friday was a good choice to hike here and our fairly early arrival meant we beat the crowds.  

We saw a lot of small flowers, low growers, some even Bob (who knows his botany) couldn't identify.  I don't know what this tiny flower above is.  I forgot to ask Bob.

Hiking up toward the last waterfall we could get to.

I love this photo of Mary and Bob.  I hope they like it, as well.

After posing here, we continued up to the high viewpoint.

There's quite a cascade dropping down behind the rocks in the foreground.  I stepped over the barrier to get this picture, but didn't go where the rocks were wet.  This is as far as we could go.  And, let me tell you, it was worth every step!

Jimmy is on the correct side of the fence!

About this time, two kidlets arrived with their Mom.  The kids shrieked and hollered, dipped toes in and ran back to the rocks.  Soon, one splashed in, and hauled out just as fast.  Then, the other one followed suit.  You can't imagine how cold the water was!  Later, in the car on the way to lunch, Mary and I reminisced about how we adored being in the water as kids, and wouldn't come out till our lips were blue and our fingers wrinkled! Maybe those two will carry memories like these.

Lots of Yellow Monkeyflower.

Thank you, Mary and Bob, for leading us to this beautiful spot.  The air was cool and refreshing on an otherwise hot summer day.  I can't remember the name of the Chinese restaurant where we ate lunch, but we enjoyed that, too.  Fact is, we ate our leftovers for dinner tonight!  It was great seeing you guys again.  I hope you'll come visit us in California.

Till next time ....