The weather was near perfect – very cold around 22-25 degrees – the sun was going to shine, and the day before the cascade foothills were dusted with snow. A lower elevation hike was the answer, so off to Silver Falls State Park for a good 15m hike with camera strapped in. The park gates (South Falls) opens at 8am, and I did not know before getting there that the North Falls parking lot is NOT gated for even earlier hiking. Parking permit (day use) is required either daily or annual.
I left home at 6am to get there early enough to be completely ready when they opened the gate. I was not prepared for the early morning moon set and sun rise cruising up i-5.
The park ranger was a couple of minutes early and we chatted about the day expected and he told me the best place to park and to watch out for deer. I didn’t see any deer, and the largest animal i saw the entire day was a pileated woodpecker. Regardless, i was the first person in the parking lot and was on the trail before another car showed up
The hike itself did not have a plan really as the ice situation was not fully known … I just kept hiking and following the signs and taking pictures. There is sufficient space in the park to get a really good hike in, but one must be prepared to visit sections that are mostly ignored. The backcountry section (along Perimeter Trail) that I traversed was 3 different ages of reforestation with some quite old.
The waterfalls were like a fantasy world of water, ice and sounds.
The waterfall pics were taken at two different times – the first was very early before other people and the second set around noon with more vertical light and too many people. Only 1 group of 3 people wore micro-spikes, yet the ice in at least 2 places was dangerous and sketchy; i would not have done those sections without trekking poles (my micro-spikes never left my pack).
Other than the waterfalls, the rocks in the rivers were just amazing as they collected ice into different shapes.
The icicles were also something unique as every drop of water or spray was soon frozen if it sat still in the 20s temperatures.
If you are yet convinced about how cold and icy it was, take a look at the pics taken from behind waterfalls and especially the one of the wall with about an inch of ice … this section was very sketchy to traverse even with the wall there.
Probably 2/3 of the hike were in snow and ice, and most of it I was the first human footprint of the day.