Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Silver Creek Falls State Park, 03-19-11

Warning: Long post alert!
A week or so ago Ron and I took a hike at Silver Falls State Park. Warm summer afternoons will find hundreds of people hiking at the park. It's a constant battle of passing slow hikers...usually in groups, and bumping past oncoming hikers. Not exactly a peaceful forest experience. Take a hike on a cool, wet afternoon, and you'll find far fewer hikers.

The hike is called the Trail of Ten Falls. On this day we will visit 6 of the 10 falls, and be treated to a number of unofficial falls running off the slopes of the canyon.

South Falls is probably the most visited of all the falls. It's close to the day use area, and can be viewed without hiking down the canyon. The trail goes behind the falls, but we opt to take the foot bridge for the better view. An aside, my co-worker claims to have repelled over South Falls (and came up short on rope). 
South Falls, 177 ft.

Canyon Trail
Off we go down the trail and to a series of stairs taking us deeper into the canyon. The next fall is Lower South Falls. Plan to get wet. The trail goes behind the falls Refreshing in the summer, a bit brisk in early spring.
Stairs and more stairs
Lower South Falls, 93 ft.
Hiking behind the fall
Once past the falls there is an option to return to the day use area or continue on. We continue on to what is one of my favorite sections of the trail.
Lower North Falls, 30 ft.
Following a short spur trail we come to the largest falls in the park.
Double Falls, 178 ft.
Back to the main trail...
Drake Falls, 27 ft.
Middle North Falls, 106 ft.
 We follow another spur trail down to Middle North Falls. Ron took the photo above of Middle North Falls, and it turned out much better than the one I took!
Sign to the right: Trail Closed
Hmmm...Wonder what's back here!
Behind the fall
We return to the main trail and hike a little farther to the next intersection at another bridge. Here is another option to climb up to the canyon rim trail and return to the parking lot. I've done the rim trail, and don't find it all that enjoyable compared to hiking in the canyon along the creek. We decide instead to return the way we came.

We've had nice weather so far, but the dark clouds have rolled in and the rain finally catches us.
The rain catches us...lovely outfit!
Hiking out of the canyon is a climb up about 4 switchbacks, followed by a flat, pleasant jaunt back to the day use area. Total hike: a little over 5 1/2 miles.
Switchbacks out of the canyon
We pay a visit to the little gift shop set up by "Friends of Silver Falls Park". This is new, since my last visit. Afterwords, it's lunch at the old lodge. It used to be that they just served a few snacks, but now they have sanwiches as well. We fuel up before heading down the road. Look what's falling when we get back to the car.
At the parking lot...
Just down the road....
...and a few minutes later.
We had briefly considered taking the bikes, but since we've been surprised by bad weather on past visits to the park, we thought better of it. Good thing we drove. Later we will see a rider outside of Salem. At least someone got a ride in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Little Ride one Sunny Afternoon

This was from a couple Fridays ago. Wrote it up and didn't ever post it.
This was one of those rides most riders would hate. I rarely made it above the speed limit, but rather puttered along, looking for something to photograph. Riding with blue skies has become a rare treat.
Everywhere I look, blue skies.
 Requisite mirror reflection photo silliness.
We traveled the back roads north of Albany and out towards Buena Vista.
The very muddy Luckiamute River
The bridge made a convenient camera support, so self portrait time
Stopped by the boat ramp at Buena Vista to see how the Willamette River looked and to take a peek at the ferry repairs.
Beautiful day along the river. No ferry.
In the summer we often kayak starting at the Buena Vista ferry. We start on the opposite bank from where I took this photo,  paddle upstream, cross the Willamette, then paddle up the Luckiamute River until we run aground. It's a nice afternoon paddle trip, and a good work out, fighting the current to move upstream.

Looking down the road toward the ferry landing.
 No ferry crossing today!
The ferry is always closed in winter, but this year the ferry and landing are being updated. I didn't wander close enough to see what actual work has been done. Looks like a good spot for a u-turn gone bad.

Where did you ride this weekend?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Three years ago today I rode my first motorcycle - one small duck walk across the parking lot, one giant leap...oh wait...someone already used that one...sort of

Happy anniversary to me. It's been a great three years!

Okay, enough of that and on to my lame little jacket review.

I hate bulky, heavy coats. I haven't owned a winter coat for years. Hate them, but if I'm going to ride a motorcycle I'd better have a jacket that's up to the job. My first jacket was a Tourmaster Flex.

Tourmaster Flex
The Flex has a textile outer shell with mesh underneath, and comes with a quilted liner. This has been my warmest jacket and my coolest, suitable for temps from the low 20s F up to the 90s F. The downside of covering a wide range of temperatures is fit. With all layers added it's heavy and restricts arm movement. As a mesh it's very comfortable, but almost too loose. It has snap adjustments to help with fit. It’s listed as water resistant, not waterproof, which seems strange to me. Why make a jacket to cover such a range of conditions then not make it waterproof? That being said, I’ve ridden with it in the rain and have never gotten wet. I suppose it takes a while to get through all those layers. It’s a little baggy around the torso, but the forearm of the sleeves are tight on me. Using this jacket with my heated liner makes a very tight fit in the sleeves. The cuffs have a zipper that inhibits opening the cuff wide when putting on gloves. Then the cuffs don’t want to fasten tight enough to seal well. The elbow pads hang a little low on me, and they can pinch at times.

I like the concept of the Flex, cold to hot in one jacket, but I’m looking for a suitable replacement with better fit and comfort. More on that later.

Tourmaster Trinity
I bought the Trinity in a bigger size so I could add layers in winter. There would be no adding layers in the Flex. It's too tight in the sleeves. The trinity is about 2 sizes too big for me now. It’s waterproof, though I’ve gotten wet in it once when rain got up under the sleeves. It's not as warm as the Flex. The textile material is lighter and lets in more air, but If I add a wind layer under the jacket that seems to help. Because it's big, its comfortable, and I can move my arms pretty well. That loose fit also may be why I feel more air getting in.

The neckline has a flap that is supposed to velcro shut, but with a buff or the neck of my heated liner up, the flap won’t fasten and generally manages to get in the way of everything, tangling in the strap of my helmet or velcro-ing itself to my helmet liner.

I don't like the bulky cargo pockets. It takes both hands to work the zipper, and I like pockets that I can easily slip my hands into. None of these issues are deal breakers but, the jacket is too big for me these days (I was heavier when I bought it). I'll probably keep it as a back up coat, and as a jacket for our daughter when she wants to go for a ride.

First Gear Mesh.
This was a “fun” purchase. It was on clearance for cheap. Pink is a love-hate color. Some women wont’ be caught dead in pink, others will do the whole pink ensemble thing. I can do a little pink if it's not over done. I was okay with a pink jacket when I had a silver helmet. Now that I have a pink, flowery helmet, it seems over the top to add a pink jacket. Silly I know, but that’s how it is.

Leaving the color issue behind, the jacket itself is a perfect fit. Padding stays where it belongs, and nothing is too tight or too baggy. Cuffs are comfortable as is the neckline, and it has nice simple pockets that open easily with one hand. For fit and comfort this is my favorite.

The jacket comes with a waterproof/windproof inner liner that doesn’t quite cover the front along the zipper. I have other liners to use, so it’s no big deal, but I don’t think the supplied liner would be completely waterproof. If you find one cheap enough, it makes a nice summer jacket for when the sun is guaranteed to shine. It comes in other colors.

I have a new jacket added to the closet.  Oy, what a gear whore!! More on that (the jacket that is) in another post.

Be safe out there