After Portland, we had to head southeast. It was either going to be the usual east to Mt. Hood and south or south to Salem and east. I lobbied for the latter. That would give us the chance to return to Silver Falls State Park for the first time in 15 years.
In those 15 years we started our family, rediscovered a love of the outdoors, and began letterboxing. All without Amy's grandfather who passed just before we were married. His ashes were scattered at Silver Falls and we'd been meaning to return, but never had.
When we arrived after a several hour drive the kids exploded from the car. Sometimes I think a long car ride to the trailhead is a blessing. They're so ready to get out and move it's hard to keep up with them. Of course, if the drive is too long we miss that magic source of energy and the kids are lethargic getting on the trail. That's when the chocolate comes out.
Letterboxing has been almost as good as chocolate in getting the kids to make tracks. We picked a short loop of just a couple of miles that had several letterboxes on it for the kids and a couple big waterfalls for me and Amy. The kids became big fans of the waterfalls when they heard we'd be walking behind them and they might get a little spray on a hot day.
To be honest, we were there at the wrong time. The water levels were too low. But the kids? They didn't care. Their mouths hung open when we passed behind the first waterfall. Then they forgot all about the heat and dust on the trail (and I forgot about the crowds) when we passed behind the second falls.
Along the way we found the letterboxes and finished with a long, dry, hot walk back along ridge. Ugh. There are more than 10 waterfalls in the park, but we had only time for the two closest. We should probably have reversed the route, starting north on the Maple Ridge trail, visiting the Lower South Falls, then south to the... uh... South Falls. Then it would only have been a short climb to the visitor center and ice cream.
Even though we wanted to get to the east side early, we made time for ice cream. No matter how long the hike, how good or bad the weather, there's always time for ice cream.
With the kids fueled up and my hiking itch (temporarily) scratched we headed east to Redmond where even more adventures awaited us. (Wow. That sounds overly dramatic.)