It was a gloomy Sunday spur of the moment trip up to Tumalo Falls. It was a decision made, versus spelunking, my thoughts are that we save the cave adventures for hot Summer days instead. It stays cold in the caves year round.
Heading out, I knew we would see a waterfall, a pretty one t’boot, but I never imagined just how huge and glorious this one would be. Being only 15 miles from home, but taking just over 30 minutes to get there because the last 10 or so miles are gravel roads leading up to the falls, the anticipation was heightened.
When we hit the gravel road, the rain started and I felt as if I was suddenly transported into a filming for Twilight. The weather here in Central Oregon is not quite was I was expecting, waking most mornings feeling as I’m in Washington State. The forest around Tumalo Falls was completely burned in what has been named the 1979 Bridge Creek Fire, so I’m sure the rains are welcomed and helpful as we near the Summer months.
Pulling into the parking lot near the trailhead, we find a tiny stream and of course, my son has to inspect it while I do lady things; gather my phone, hide my purse, and so on. I walk behind my Jeep and look ahead and there it is, Tumalo Falls. I call to my son still intrigued by the stream, “Did you see it? It’s right there and it’s huge!” We scurry up to the first viewpoint in awe to catch our first glimpse at her beauty.
After getting our fill of the lower level view, not planning on spending the day out there, we see the sign that points to the top of the 97 foot falls that fall over a basalt ledge; 1/4 miles to viewpoint. Well shit, let’s go! With that said, as we take a few steps around the corner, we see that this trail is also straight up! Ha! 51ish Florida girl here, still acclimating to the elevation (honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever acclimate to elevation), hesitates and thinks maybe I should sit this one out and let my boy run rampid in the forest to the falls. Of course, that didn’t happen. He’s the best hiking buddy ever. Always encouraging, he reassures me that I got this. And I did “got this”. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be [still not easy though, my calves and thighs were screaming a little bit, both up and down the trail]. No pain, no gain, and no gorgeous view. This is my life now, I must conquer [and stop overthinking].
Hiking tip for middle aged ladies trying to learn how to hike #1: If you stop to take pictures, you don’t look like you can’t handle it, stop and catch your breath and take as many damn pictures as you need to.
Now, onward and upward! I see the top, I see the rails, I see one of nature’s most beautiful creations pouring down from the heavens. I feel a bit of skip in my step now as we get closer and closer to the top.
We did it, we are at the top now and have plenty of viewing spots to take in the magic that surrounds us. The falls are loud, angry sounding almost. Coming from Florida, it sounds similar to heavy rain during a tropical storm, or the brutal waves on the ocean during a hurricane, but magnified by a thousand. You have to speak loudly to your hiking buddy to hear.
This area has so much to teach me, and I have so much to learn, but I believe the falls stem from the melting of snow from the Cascade mountains and these falls will only get better as the snow continues to melt.
I learned after the hike that there is a trail that goes beneath the falls. This will be happening, and soon, so stay tuned.
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