Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Silver Falls & Grove of the Patriarchs

Silver Falls

 One of the viewing points is out on the rocks overlooking the falls

Silver Falls is noted for its beautiful blue green water.


 Silver Falls

 Each week we have gone to a beautiful place to enjoy walks in the woods and the grandeur of nature.  This week was no exception as we headed to the Ohanapecosh area of Rainier National Park and the Silver Falls Loop Trail then continuing on to the Grove of the Patriarchs .  It was raining for part of the drive and I feared we would end up wet through and through.  Fortunately the rain stopped and we all enjoyed a wonderful day outdoors. 

There were two main objectives for this particular hiking day.  The first was to see Silver Falls.  Since the Grove of the Patriarchs was only about 1 mile further it became the secondary goal.  The distance is 5.5 miles to see both and return to the starting point.  The path does go up and down for probably a 400 ft change in elevation.  There was an option to return on the opposite side of the river going through the forest instead of returning the same way we approached the falls alongside the river.  Most of the group chose to return along the river.

 Are we there yet?  The signs tell how far and which way to what.

The trail is medium width so two people can walk side by side in most places.  Only when climbing up does it get narrow.  Several small streams with cascading falls along the way have wooden footbridges.  The surface of the trail is dirt with some needles from the large trees, also the usual roots and rocks to watch out for and not trip over.  

One of several small streams

Once again we saw several wildflowers.  Some like the Blue Eyed Mary were so small it would be easy to miss if we were not diligently looking for something.  The find of the day for me was the Bear-grass.  This one pictured below had just started to bloom while others farther down the hillside were either in full bloom or beginning to fade.



 Blue Eyed Mary


Eight trees growing on a nurse log.

A nurse log is a tree that has fallen down many years ago and is rotting on the forest floor.  The tiny seeds land in the rotting stump or tree and start to grow using the nutrients from the older now dead tree.  This one was unusual for its size and the number of large trees now growing on it.

There is a splendid suspension bridge over the river that swayed and rocked but seemed sturdy enough.  A sign recommended only one person at a time use the bridge.  I do not know if I would have gone over it had the bridge been higher off the ground. 

Another of many small streams that cross the trail and have wooden footbridges. 

The trail winds up and down, sometimes close to the edge of a drop off so every once and awhile there will be some of these wooden safety fences.

 One of several wooden bridges over the river that had good views of the falls.

The Grove of the Patriarchs is a loop trail that is mostly a boardwalk through some of the oldest trees in the forest.  Many of these trees have lived a thousand years or more.

 Bob by an ancient Douglas Fir tree

Me by the oldest and largest cedar in the grove.

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