Friday, January 20, 2017

Icy Silver Falls Adventure

Hey Hey... What's up.  Two posts in one month.  Can you believe it?  This is what happens when I set aside time to edit my own photos.  (All photos in this blog post are copyrighted by Jodi Stilp Photography LLC.)

One day on winter break 2016  the kids (plus two friends) and I went on an Adventure Day.  It's such a rare treat to have a full day with all four kids.  Even during breaks, the high schoolers have sports practices that get in the way of being able to just go off the grid for a day.  

We chose Silver Falls State Park, an Oregon rainforest gem just a little over an hour from our house, as our destination.  There's a 7.2 mile Trail of Ten Falls loop that takes hikers "above, behind and around 10 stunning waterfalls.  The moderate hike includes 800 feet of elevation gain on paved and unpaved trails."  We've hiked the entire trail before and it is so fun, but no one felt like going on a big exercise excursion.  We all felt more like exploring and playing. The beauty of Silver Falls State Park is that you can see a lot of these waterfalls without hiking the entire loop as long as you have a car.  Our plan was to park in the different lots, hike to the easily accessible waterfalls, then drive to the next one to continue exploring.

The Willamette Valley has had unusually wintery weather so far this year. Going into this hike we'd already had two snow days due to snow/ice. Cold air was trapped in the valley floor creating much colder (than our usually moderate) winter temperatures and freezing any moisture into black ice on the roads. 

I put my blinker on to turn into the North Falls parking lot, hit a patch of black ice and drifted into the (thankfully) empty parking lot.  It was ICY - in the parking lot and in multiple spots on the trail.  We passed an older gentleman sitting on the stairs heading down to the North Falls.  He had slipped and fallen, but insisted that he wasn't injured and was just collecting himself to try to safely return to his car.  It was a good reminder to go slow and be careful.
the North Falls
We gingerly picked our way down the stairs and the trail to the beautiful North Falls, then hiked into the cave behind it.  It is pretty spectacular to be standing behind a waterfall - the roar of the rushing water filling your ears, mist from the spray getting you wet.  It was COLD, but so worth it.
behind North Falls


When we got back to the parking lot, the girls sat in the car to warm up and eat lunch while Grant and I took a quick detour to view the Upper North Falls. 
Upper North Falls 
We drove to the South Falls parking lot and started round two of exploring.  A blanket of fog hung over the forest, lingering above the mist of the waterfall.  It was cold and wintery and lovely, but then.. Out of nowhere, rays of light  started piercing the fog, illuminating the forest above the waterfall.  It was like nothing I have ever seen.  I can't believe God put on such a show for us AND that I had my real camera with me.  It was a photographer's dream.
copyright Jodi Stilp Photography LLC
copyright Jodi Stilp Photography LLC
copyright Jodi Stilp Photography LLC
Tiny hikers.
Hiking toward South Falls
The play between dark/shadows. Light and fog was spectacular.
Our hiking crew: my four plus Livy and Saige.
I am in love with Oregon's tall trees
Isn't this tree cool?
The fog/mist/sunlight was almost like smoke.
fog burning off
I love them. 
Paigey hiking into the sunshine.
We slid down the trail and behind the South Waterfall, but the wind was blowing the spray from the waterfall all over us and it was cold so we didn't linger long.  We tried to hike to the Lower South Falls but that staircase was also covered in ice.  It wasn't worth the risk to try to descend so we called it a day and headed back to the car.  

Grant and I had a snowball throwing contest before we all piled into the car, cranked the heat, and stopped at Dutch Bros. for warm drinks.  While we were at Dutch, Grant ran into the Dollar Tree to buy hair beads and rubber bands.  He's been bugging me for months to braid his hair like Lil' Yachty - a rapper.  Since we had the time, I said yes.  When we got home, we spent the next 2.5 hours braiding his hair so he could match Lil' Yachty.  He looked "pretty dope" and had a fun time shaking his head around so the beads would smack together.

These kids and their friends are the bomb.  I adore raising middle school and high schoolers.  Thank you Jesus for such a fun adventure day and for keeping us safe on the ice. I'm already looking forward to the next Adventure Day.

#silverfallsstatepark #hiking #hikingadventures #adventuredays 

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