Posted by: kerryl29 | September 14, 2015

Day 12: The Trail of Ten Falls

I had gotten my feet wet–figuratively speaking–at Silver Falls State Park on Day 11, having visited South Falls and Lower South Falls.  On Day 12, I arose very early and arrived at the North Falls access area a bit before 7 AM; mine was the only car in the trailhead parking lot.  Upper North Falls was about 1/2 mile up a spur trail.  Everything else was down the Trail of Ten Falls–at varying distances.  I decided to start with Upper North Falls and then spend the rest of the day working my way downstream.

It was gray and chilly, but with virtually no wind when I set out for Upper North Falls–more or less perfect conditions for waterfall photography.  Along the trail on the way to the waterfall I spotted countless numbers of wildflowers and made a note to photograph a few as the day wore on.

Upper North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Upper North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Upper North Falls is the only waterfall in Silver Falls State Park where access to the stream below the falls is relatively easy–key word:  relatively.  All of the rocks along the bed of the stream were indescribably slippery.  I was exceptionally cautious as I maneuvered my way around the base of the creek to investigate possible compositions; taking a tumble at this location would have been particularly unpleasant.  I left my backpack on a bench where the trail met the stream; the extra weight made balancing myself on the treacherous rocks much more difficult than it needed to be.  Extricating myself from these shooting spots, as I prepared to move from place to place, was every bit as difficult as reaching them in the first instance.

Upper North Falls Black & White, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Upper North Falls Black & White, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

My caution paid off; I didn’t fall, though I thought I might on an occasion or two.

I finished at Upper North Falls and made my way downstream on the Trail of Ten Falls, stopping briefly to photograph an unnamed cascade that caught my attention.

North Fork Silver Creek, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Fork Silver Creek, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Gradually, I made my way to North Falls, a tall plunge of a waterfall with numerous compositional possibilities.

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

As is the case at South Falls and Lower South Falls, the trail bends around and behind the waterfall at North Falls, allowing for the inclusion of part of the “cave” that’s cut into the rock that makes up the cliff facing along this part of the North Fork of Silver Creek.

Behind North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Behind North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The trail emerges on the other side of the creek and opens up what I regard as the most interesting views of North Falls.

North Falls Black & White, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls Black & White, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The Trail of Ten Falls descends from North Falls, following alongside the creek itself.  Near the point where the trail bottoms out, a broad bed of wildflowers lies and I stopped for a bit of time to photograph some of them.

Corydalis Intimate, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Corydalis Intimate, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Wild Bleeding Hearts Intimate, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Wild Bleeding Hearts Intimate, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Wild Bleeding Hearts & Shamrocks, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Wild Bleeding Hearts & Shamrocks, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

In addition to the details on the ground, the trail passes numerous interesting moss-covered trees, mostly broadleaf maples, but some conifers as well.

Mossy Trees, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Mossy Trees, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Many of these trees were reminiscent of specimens I’d seen at the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park in Washington years earlier and on trees in locations along the Oregon Coast earlier on this trip.

Mossy Evergreen, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Mossy Evergreen, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Mossy Broadleaf Maples, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Mossy Broadleaf Maples, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The next waterfall along the trail was Twin Falls.  I looked and looked at this cataract but simply couldn’t find a pleasing perspective from which to photograph it.  The viewing area, which wouldn’t be particularly flattering to the waterfall under the very best of circumstances, was heavily overgrown with trees and bushes and there was no really good visual access from anywhere along the trail.

So I moved on to the next waterfall–Middle North Falls.  This was another tall, plunging drop of water.

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

A trail spur leads behind the falls and again provides a wide variety of perspectives for photography.

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

A return to the Trail of Ten Falls provides an upstream perspective.

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Middle North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Along the way, the opportunity exists to photograph the creek itself, mainly from aerial perspectives well above creek level.

North Fork Silver Creek Rapids, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Fork Silver Creek Rapids, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Fork Silver Creek, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Fork Silver Creek, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The next waterfall along the trail was Drake Falls.  Photographing Drake was a challenge.  There was really only one spot to photograph the waterfall and it did not provide anything approaching a clear view.  Several branches from trees on the creek bank below this shooting location were in the way.  I came very close to moving on, but I finally found a composition that I liked.  Due to depth of field limitations, pulling this shot together required adopting a focus stacking approach, which was tricky to execute because there was a bit of a breeze–probably generated as a function of the waterfall itself.  It took me several attempts to successfully execute all of the shots necessary to put the final version together.

Drake Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Drake Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

The next stop on the trail was Double Falls, on a short spur off the main trail.  It was very breezy in the side canyon in which Double Falls is located, so I had to get creative about obtaining sharp images.  I climbed up on a small rocky shelf to the left of the trail to obtain the perspective you see below.

Double Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Double Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Much as was the case with Drake Falls, I decided to use an interceding element–in this case, a sinewy maple tree–as part of the composition for another photo.

Double Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Double Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Back on the main trail, I stopped again to photograph another nameless cascade on Silver Creek.

North Fork Silver Creek Cascade, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

North Fork Silver Creek Cascade, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

I made my way to the waterfall farthest downstream on the North Branch of Silver Creek on my agenda this day–Lower North Falls.  Head on perspectives were limited, but I’m not a fan of settling for head ons of waterfalls anyway.  I’m almost always looking for other elements to include, thereby incorporating the waterfall in a broader environment.  The lush forest surrounding Lower North Falls gave me the framing subject matter I was looking for.

Lower North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Lower North Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

There was one waterfall–Winter Falls–left for me to visit and it was back upstream and on a spur that required an additional hike of about 1.5 miles.  I was getting pretty tired by this time.  It was roughly 3 PM–I’d been out on the trail for approximately eight hours by now and had done about eight miles of hiking.  In addition to the sheer distance of the day’s hiking, there was a tremendous amount of variable elevation change.  I also think that I was beginning to feel the cumulative effects of the trip, this being my 12th consecutive day in the field.  At the end of the journey, I estimated that I’d hiked approximately 100 miles–most of it with a full pack–over those 12 days.  Most of that hiking had involved either considerable elevation change or walking on sand.  While there’s nothing epic about that mileage total, or the conditions in which they’d been experienced, I determined that I must have been approaching my limit.  That’s what my shoulders, which were becoming increasingly annoyed every time I slung the pack over them, were telling me, at any rate.)  I was still facing about four more miles of hiking just to experience Winter Falls and successfully return to the trailhead, so I decided to get on with it.  (That’s another sign, incidentally, that indicates that I’m approaching the end of my rope:  when the overarching sense is to “get on with it” rather than looking forward to experiencing something.)

I got to Winter Falls and sized it up.  There weren’t many viable perspectives available and for the first time that day, I resorted to going with an ultrawide lens.

Winter Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Winter Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

My parting shot was one more image including some of the moss-covered trees along the Winter Falls trail spur.

Mossy Trees, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

Mossy Trees, Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

I made it back to the trailhead at roughly 5 PM.  There were still more than three hours of daylight left and I was weighing the possibility of heading back out with a macro lens to attempt some closeups of wildflowers when it started to pour.  It was the first time on the entire trip that I’d seen any rain at all.  In a matter of less than a minute, everything was absolutely drenched.  The downpour continued for nearly 10 minutes and then it slowed–but didn’t stop.  I was waiting things out inside the car, but when it became clear that the rain wasn’t going to stop any time soon, I decided to head back to Silverton.  I’d been at the park, at this point, for more than 10 hours and I’d had the opportunity to cover all of the waterfalls over two days in the park.  Besides, given how I’d been feeling physically on the last leg of the afternoon’s experience, it was probably time to call it a day, after 10 continuous hours of hiking and photographing.

That effectively brought the trip to an end.  I took care of my packing that evening and was able to make a leisurely drive back to Portland the following morning for my return flight to Chicago.

With very few exceptions (the lack of fog and the anticipated lack of flowering rhododendrons in the redwoods region being the most prominent), I consider the experience to have been a highly successful one.  I’d had the opportunity to visit numerous places at length, most of which I’d never seen before, and the chance to photograph along the southern Oregon and northern California coasts (mostly) without dealing with the ravages of the marine layer allowed me to scratch an itch that had been festering for nearly six years.  If the lack of fog in the redwoods was the price I had to pay for a lack of obscuration on the coast, it was well worth it.

I hope you enjoyed my account of my time in Oregon and California.  The day after this article posts I’ll be boarding a flight to Calgary for my second autumn experience in the Canadian Rockies in as many years.  I’ll produce an account of that trip beginning some time after I return to the Midwest on the final day of September.

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Responses

  1. You had quite a day and were rewarded with some beautiful images.

    • Thanks very much!

  2. Beautiful!! So peaceful and serene. The pictures made me feel like I was there.

    • Thanks! Glad to hear that the images had that effect.

  3. Lovely shots!

  4. Absolutely beautiful…well worth the hiking. I am definitely going to go back to Silver Falls SP because there is so much to see.

    • Thanks, Ellen. I have no doubt that you’d enjoy a full day (or two) at Silver Falls.

  5. Fantastico, ogni tuo post è un vero gioiello, sia per foto che per notizie!!
    Ciao, Patrizia

    • Grazie mille!

  6. Truly outstanding photos, Kerry. I’m gobsmacked! 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Frank!

  7. There is something that is so healing in a emerald green forest. Love the waterfall and flower images.

  8. Well written and good pics as well


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