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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Travelogue: Silver Falls

There is an undeniable connection between humans and nature. Unmolested greenery, the sounds of a free-flowing brook, and chirps of an unknown bird rustling among the leaves of a tree comfort a soul that feels tired in the concrete jungles of civilization sometimes. I know I have forgotten the skills to survive in the wilderness thousands of years ago. But those who manage to do it for pleasure or for pain- come out with the wisdom that we need very basic things to survive: a hunting knife, the knowledge of fire, and the ability to climb trees for safe shelter at night. 

It may be several moons before I go on a jungle safari in Africa or South America, but I can quench my thirst with what is available around me. On my recent trip to Oregon, I discovered Silver Falls State Park, which has 10 waterfalls. Road construction on our way to the park included single lane closures with pilot cars chaperoning visitors to follow them through the dusty road. It was a sigh of relief when we saw concrete road again. The Northern Falls appeared first, but the real beauty was the South Falls. The volume of water had diminished in Silver Creek with the onset of dry months and swimming was not allowed owing to hazardous conditions. We hiked for couple of hours around South Falls trail. The trailhead that begins at South Falls takes about 5 hours to reach North Falls (about 6.9 miles). 

A temperate rainforest has charms of its own. The unabashed verdancy invites you to explore it more intimately. I surrendered and felt lost among the lushness as I walked on the trail spellbound, my will to see the waterfall more closely growing stronger with each step. Soon, the naked overhang of rocks was above me- I touched the ceiling that had patches of brown rocks (probably Iron deposits) on the black basalt bed. The mist from the waterfall moistened my face, and I felt hypnotized as I looked where the water hit and created a plunge pool.





There were several gaping holes, called ‘erosional chimneys’ formed by continual enlargement of cracks and fissures under the attack of ice and percolating water. * I looked up the chimneys and wondered what might creep out of it. I imagined that with some effort I could actually crawl up one of those- but fortunately, my companion is more pragmatic than I am and wouldn't have allowed it. I saw a bench, dedicated to the memory of one Michael Summers. It said ‘We miss our walks with you.’ I imagined a family walking together on this beautiful trail- what a wonderful way to remember someone!


We progressed past the South Falls trail and towards the Twin falls. The forest got quieter and the trail narrower as we walked by the stream. SG said that maybe we return to the trailhead before wandering too far. “Maybe next time’’ I thought while I looked around still dazed by the curious things around me.
Suggested further reading :
Oregon State Park link
Oregon geology link *
Silver Falls Trail map link

3 comments:

sangram said...

An exquisite narrative of what I could not have even put in words even I visited South America or Africa.
You description of experiencing the wilderness is justified with the beautiful expressions in your language and this can only evolve if you have truly felt nature and its many facets through your clinical vision. Even though we covered a miniscule of what south falls had to offer, I could revisit nature every time through your words.

Aparna Kar said...

We covered most of South Falls, but hiking to North Falls would have been a half marathon. I think it was a good call.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely told, we could feel like we visited with you all these sites... Excellent narrative style. Bravo! With this, You could turn a simple "trip to a food store" into an attractive adventure/story. Cheers