Day 3/6

Salmon Creek Falls

For several days now I have been thinking about a particular waterfall that I photographed for the first time in 2007, but I can’t remember where I have seen it exactly. At home I might have the information, but I can’t reach it from here.

For me, this is the most photogenic waterfall I have ever seen and I would like to visit it again. For a long time I have been wanting to show a couple of beautiful prints in my house but making a choice proves difficult. I have so many, but which of them are really the best? Furthermore, it kind of determines the atmosphere in the house. It all just has to fit together one way or the other.

This for sure is one I want in my house. The first time, I photographed it with my first digital camera and now with better equipment and better techniques, it should be possible to improve on it and at least get one that better fits large prints. I only shot one composition at the time, because it started to rain really hard. Think it’s the strongest composition but others should be possible.

Who knows, maybe I can surprise myself, but I have to find it first. I can’t even remember whether it was in Washington or in Oregon. Again I start going through all the waterfalls in Oregon alphabetically, because I do have a strong feeling it was there. After one and a half hours I’m at the ‘p’ (there are really many of them here), and I have seen a couple of them with the word ‘Creek’ in it. This sounds familiar, I almost know for sure that that word was part of the name of the waterfall I’m looking for. Googling for ‘waterfalls oregon creek’ delivers…. my very own photograph hahaha.

Salmon Creek Falls it was indeed, close to Oakridge. Beautiful! That’s the first one I’m going to visit.

I have the name of the little road where it should be and a route description, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. Today it’s raining again, but the light is perfect for waterfalls. I only need a few minutes for the rain to stop. I’m feeling very happy and depart immediately!

On my way I notice a sign for Salt Creek Falls. The name sounds familiar but I have no visuals in my mind. For a few seconds I think about including that one too, but it’s raining really hard now so I let it go. Maybe later.

Salmon Creek Falls is located closed to Oakridge. I have to drive the Salmon Hatchery Road and from there follow the Salmon Road for 7 miles. The first road I have found swiftly, but I can’t find the turn-off to the second. The road is only a couple of miles long and soon I reach the end and that road has a different name. I retrace my steps to check whether I have missed it. Almost at the beginning is a fishing hatchery, where they breed salmon and trout. Can’t remember seeing that the last time. Maybe this has replaced the road I’m looking for?

The only other turn-off goes uphill and crosses a railtrack. Here, a couple of men are working. I ask them for the waterfall but none of them knows anything about it. I try the GPS and it seems to know the road. I follow the directions and end up at the road I have been already but that is not the Salmon Rd. I end up in Oak Ridge and that for sure is not right.

Back to the hatchery then and ask. It’s still raining very hard but I worry about that later. I stop at a small building with the name office but that’s locked. There is also a museum that is open but no one there either.

Not knowing how to continue I notice a trail. Can’t imagine but the waterfall could be there. I follow the trail for about 20 minutes and encounter a sign with Salmon Road which is closed. Hmmm, is this private property now and the waterfall out of reach? That would be Really Pity with capitals. I have to find someone overhere. I just have find that thing. I’m so close now. Giving up is not on option, not for this one.

A bit further I notice a girl standing by her car with a dog. I raise my hand and she waits for me before going inside. On my question whether she knows the waterfall she has to think. Yes a small waterfall is half a mile from here and a bigger one about 7 miles further. Nope it’s a small waterfall, so that must be the one. Happy that I’m finally going to find it I return to the forsest to follow Salmon Rd. After 10 minutes I find a small bridge with a kind of sluice-gate underneath. The water drops about half a meter here. She shouldn’t have meant this one, with a small waterfall? In doubt I continue for a while. It’s still raining really hard. The trail turns away from the stream into the forest and I can’t imagine that it will end up in a waterfall within a few hundred meters. I decide to turn back. Soon, a car is approaching and I ask for the waterfall. It is indeed the one that’s 7 miles further that I’m after. I can follow this trail but it’s also possible to go by car. It turns out to be the road the gps was indicating earlier, but then to the right instead of to the left. It runs along the creek so that seems to be ok.

After a while I see a sign for Salmon Creek Campground. Should this be the spot? I do not recognize it. The road is closed so I have to walk. Soon I find a waterfall, but it is not the one I’m looking for. Damn! I continue a bit further along the creek and then I notice a narrow stream of water running down between the trees. This just looks like… I continue for a couple of steps and see more of these water streams through the trees and then I recognize this part of the foret and I see the waterfall. FOUND IT, THIS IS THE ONE! WHOOHOO. Finally. Was a bit afraid that I would be unable to find it. I remember that it was difficult to find the previous time as well.

It has become completely dry and I start shooting immediately. It looks the same as before, two streams, lots of moss and a couple of stones where the water is dropping on. I try a couple of different compositions and it starts pooring down again.

First the classic composition I have shot before.

Salmon Creek Falls, Oregon

Followed by an overview of the stream and a lot more of the vicinity of the waterfall. It’s not that tall at all, about 5 meters I guess.

Salmon Creek Falls, Oregon

A bit to the left is another handsome rock in the water, that can be squeezed in.

Salmon Creek Falls, Oregon

I return to the car and wait. At first I want to continue but then it occurs to me that I haven’t shot any video clips yet. After a while it’s dry again and I return to the falls.

Salmon Creek Falls, Oregon
Salmon Creek Falls, Oregon

Not long after shooting the video clips and a couple of close-ups it starts raining again. Ok now it’s enough. I would have loved to try a few compositions from the left but I’m equally happy. Now I still have a reason to return some time when I own even better equipment.

After driving for a couple of hours I first arrange for a hotel and then enter the forest to try and find two other waterfalls some 50 kilometers away. The forest is really nice and makes me think about New-Zealand. I follow the route, but end up in a fork unexpectedly. The first waterfall should have been after the 4th bridge, but I don’t know if this was the 3rd or 4th bridge. I turn right first and follow this track for a couple of kilometers but that turns bad rather quickly. With the punctured tires of a couple of weeks ago in the back of my mind I decide to turn around. I try the left turnoff from the fork for the other waterfall but here also the routedescription doesn’t match with what I see. Everything fits up to a certain point and then it stops. For one of the waterfalls I have to walk through the forest for a couple of kilometers and it has become quite late meanwhile. Within one and a half hours darkness will have fallen.

I better stop and return to my hotel. Things can only go wrong if I push further now. Halfway I stop for a photo of a beautiful tree that’s completely covered with moss. I had seen it on my way in already.

Bryce Creek, Oregon

An hour later I’m back in my hotel.

Maps, Charts & Downloads

GPS Map with color coded altitude information

Color coded distance/altitude chart

Color coded distance/altitude chart, Washington & Oregon Autumn 2013, Day 03

Download the original gpx file here.