Oct 15 - North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor

The Umpqua River is one of the principle rivers of Oregon, draining a large area of southern Oregon and dumping into the Pacific Ocean at Reedsport. Today we explored a portion of the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River Corridor from near Roseburg and stretching eastward about 40 miles. State Highway 138, the main highway between Roseburg and the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, follows the North Umpqua through this area.

We did three different hikes today, the first to Deadline Falls, the second to Susan Creek Falls, and the third to Fall Creek Falls. Flashes of sunlight between clouds combined with the dark dense forest (and a bit of exertion thrown in) had us shedding layers to cool off... then adding layers to warm up... then shedding again, etc. all afternoon. Overall though, the day was perfect for short hikes like these.

The hike back to Fall Creek Falls was an ascending mile that took us through a narrow slit in a basalt rock wall, (we jokingly referred to as a "fat man filter"), through a valley strewn with boulders covered with a thick carpet of moss, a path wet and slippery in places, and only two sounds -- either flowing bubbling water or complete silence. Let me explain.

still able to slip through the "fat man filter"
 Our path followed the creek upstream toward the falls. Near our starting point at the bottom, the sound of flowing water was obvious. And at the falls, near the top, we could easily hear and see water coming over the falls, gathering in a pool beneath it, and rushing off downhill. But in the middle of our almost mile hike in, the sound quit... nothing... total silence. We couldn't help but notice. What happened to the water? We were in a narrow canyon and couldn't see any obvious point where the creek could be diverted out of the canyon. I feel confident, considering the size of the narrow steep-walled and rugged canyon, that if water was flowing anywhere over the surface we'd be able to hear it.

We even walked off the path and into the dry creek bed where it was accessible. It was obvious that water had flowed here in some considerable volume in the not too distant past... like, probably this past Spring. But walking from one side of the bottom of the canyon to the other side, (it wasn't far... maybe less than 100 feet) there was no flowing water at that point.

The only plausible explanation we could come up with was that the creek had found a porous spot in the creek bed where the water could flow into an underground stream of sorts. Something along the lines of a natural culvert or drain tile, probably filled with rubble but porous enough to allow creek water to flow for some distance underground before re-emerging into the creek further down the hill.

There was no authority or ranger around to question about this, so we're left with what we saw and the hypothesis we came up with to explain it. It was the big mystery of the day.

More photos from our day are contained in an online album. Check them out if you have a chance.


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