Sunday, May 29, 2016

Challenging Hike to Marion Falls in Marion Forks, Oregon on Hwy 22

Our first hike of the year!

It was Memorial Day weekend and we both had Saturday off together! I didn't have any editing projects to work on and we didn't have to go to Albany. We got up early and went to Bend for breakfast and grocery shopping. When we got home, we decided to change our clothes and head for a hike picked this one. I'm glad he did because it was an amazing waterfall, but wowzers it was a doozy to get to. 

This is the trailhead sign. You need to fill out a permit, but this isn't the pay station. 

We found the hike in a book called Bend, Overall. It's not really near Bend, but whatever. No one is keeping score here. The hike was supposed to be just over 5 miles, but we didn't do the full hike. If we had followed the hike in the book, we would have gotten to see one more lake and one more water, but we opted out after we saw the first waterfall. If you're new to the blog, you might not know that I'm a 263 pound, 40 year old woman. I've been doing this whole fitness journey since about January of 2014. It's my latest go at this losing weight thing.  I've tried it before and lost some, but then gained it back. One of the reasons I want to stick with it this time is so I can get outside and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Hikes like this are my reason for wanting to get in shape. I don't care if I'm skinny. I just want to be strong enough to make it to places that other people don't get to so I can take pictures of things. Ultimately, I'd love to create my own lines of calendars and write a book to help people like me find places to hike. I'm getting off topic, but I think it's important to talk about this before I get into the particulars of this hike. 

Not really sure why there were two trailhead signs, but there were. 

Our version of this hike was about four miles. What the book doesn't mention is that we started off going uphill right away. I am never a fan of hikes that start off going up hill. I like to warm up a bit before I start climbing a mountain. It wasn't a steep incline or anything, but it was pretty much two miles up hill. There were a couple parts where it leveled out a little bit and even a couple spots where we got to go downhill for about five seconds. We took a lot of breaks! The terrain was mostly soft packed dirt. It wasn't really hard and it wasn't super sandy. There were plenty of rocks along the path. After awhile, we got into a lava flow area and the path was pretty much all rock. There were a few "river crossings" along the way. They were about a foot wide and we just stepped over. We didn't have to actually go through the water. They weren't really rivers. They were pretty much snow melt run off I think. Later in the summer, they might all be dry. 

Eventually, you hit Lake Ann. It's a pretty small lake as far as lakes go, but it's still plenty big enough for a bunch of people to be out there floating around. Some people were on the shore fishing. Several people along the trail had fishing poles and one guy said that he had heard from people at work that there was great fishing in the area. We're not sure if he was referring to Ann Lake or Marion Lake though. 

The book we had said that there was a junction and in the path and we needed to count 213 steps after the junction and then find a faint path. The first "junction" we came to was a trail off to he left that went along Ann Lake. We weren't sure if that was the junction in question or not, but we hadn't hit 1.6 miles yet which is where the alleged junction should have been so we kept going. At about 1.6 miles, we ran into what was obviously the junction in question. There was a sign post indicating Marion Lake was straight, and the Marion Outlet was to the right. We took the Outlet because that's what the book said. After 213 steps, we hadn't found anything that looked like a trail. I thought that we should keep going since I was assuming our stride would be shorter than a person who was more physically fit than us and we were going uphill so our steps were shorter than normal. We found it about 230 steps. The book indicated that it was a faint trail and difficult to see. Maybe someone made it more obvious after the author was there, but we found it fairly obvious. However, it might not have been so obvious had we not been looking for it since we had gone past our 213 steps. Anyway, I've included a picture of what to look for between 213 and 250 steps depending on your stride. 

This is what you're looking for between 213 and 250 steps from the junction.

Okay so then we followed this not so well used trail. There were several trees down so we had to go over them or around them whichever was appropriate at the time. This is the kind of hiking that hubby likes. I'm okay with it as long as he's in the lead since I get lost easily. He had me in the lead though. I'm usually in the front for a couple reasons. The main reason is just habit from the old days when I was the out of shape one. He had me go in front so I could set my own pace. I like being in the front because people can't sneak up on me from behind since hubby is there to protect me. I'm super rambly today with my posts! 

I love the textures in this tree. Check out the perfect circle growth rings in the center! 

Anyway.......We just sort of followed the "path" until we got to the waterfall. You're on top of the falls at this point. So once your on the rocky thing above the falls, if you go up to the right a bit, you can see what looks like at one time might have been a path. It's narrow and it's steep! The book referred to it as a 3 minute scramble. It took us longer than three minutes to get down. So we thought we were at the bottom, but it turns out, we were in between the two sets of falls so we could see the upper falls and the pool, but we couldn't see the lower falls. The upper falls was gorgeous and the trail to it was scary enough so we opted to bail on the lower falls and come back another day. I can't wait to go back, but it will probably have to wait until next spring and we'll just have to hope we don't have a drought this winter. There was a ton of water coming over the upper falls and I'm sure the lower falls was absolutely gorgeous! I'm wish we had one of those drone cameras so we could have flown it down and gotten to see it without having to hike down to it! That's so going on my Christmas list! 

This is the lava flow that I mentioned somewhere.
The "three minute" scramble down to the waterfall, was the second scariest hiking experience we have ever had. I honestly wasn't sure if we were going to make it out of there because it was pretty dang steep and it was pretty slippery in spots. I'm not really sure what possessed me to actually go down there! The only hiking experience that was scarier than this was the time I slipped on the snow pile we were crossing and I almost went over the edge of a mountain. I most likely would have died had I gone over. I don't think I would have died if I had slid down on this since there were enough trees around me, I think something would have stopped my descent. (Back to rambling again.)

This is Ann Lake. It looks small in this picture, but it's only about half of the lake.

Getting out was actually easier than getting down into that area. We stopped a couple times, but we made it out without incident. The funny part though is at one point, I said to hubby that I thought we were almost out and he said we still had like 2/3 to go. I'm like, "Okay. I must just have a bad concept of time." So then we get up further and take another break. I recognize the super steep part we started our descent at and I tell him he just needs to get to the top of that steep part and we're good. He's like, "No, we're like halfway." I'm like, "Okay. Just keep going." He gets to the top of the steep part and he shouts back that it's the top. So, it really wasn't that bad getting out. It was bad, but not that bad. I don't really recommend anyone going down there unless you're in shape and have hiking poles. We made it, but it was stupid and could have resulted in a helicopter evac. It didn't, but that doesn't mean it was a good idea to go down in there. 

Here is the bear grass that I mentioned at some point. 

We thought that we just needed to get out of that section and we'd be going back down hill again, but apparently this stretch was uphill both ways because we were going uphill again! We finally got back to the part close to the Outlet trail and went back downhill again. From there, it was pretty much downhill until we got to the car. It was the longest exit of my life! I don't really know why, but this was never flipping ending getting out. We didn't stop very many times, but we didn't do our normal 3MPH pace on the way out either. Neither one of us had the leg strength to be hauling butt getting out of there. By the time we got to the car, I was soooooo ready to just go home! 

Here is a picture of a rhody that I mentioned at some point. They all seemed to be this color. I'm not sure if others bushes are different varieties that just hadn't bloomed yet.

Overall Thoughts

I loved the waterfall that we saw and Lake Ann was great too. Next time, we'll make it to Marion Lake and hopefully get to see the lower falls as well. There is also another waterfall about a mile down the road from this one. We'll stop by and see that one next time too. If I had known it was so much uphill from the start, it might not have seemed so tedious. There wasn't a whole lot to look at along the trail. You can only take so many pictures of broken trees, giant root systems and tree ring patters. We went on May 29th. The rhododendrons were just starting to bloom. There was also some bear grass. I would imagine that the trail gets absolutely gorgeous once all the rhododendrons are blooming. The place was pretty busy. The parking lot isn't that big, but there is a big grassy space before the parking lot that is easy enough to park in. We had to walk about a 10th of a mile from where we parked to get tot he trailhead and it was all uphill which meant it was all downhill to the car! YAY! 

How to Get There

Take Marion Lake Road in Marion Forks, Oregon. It's pretty much across the street from Marion Forks Restaurant which was closed when we got done with the hike. Otherwise, we would have stopped there for dinner, and I would have written review about that! I'm going to start writing reviews about restaurants at some point. So go down the road about 4.3 miles. The third waterfall that I mentioned earlier is on this same road. As you're heading to the Marion Lake Trailhead, there's a green gate to the right off the road a bit about 3.3 miles from HWY 22. The book didn't really say how far past the gate it was until the waterfall, but the book is usually vague. It's highly annoying. 

This is the junction you're looking for. Head to the right and count out your 213 to 250 steps depending upon your stride. 


There is a vault toilet set up at the trailhead. Ann Lake did not have a restroom. I'm not sure if anything is set up a Marion Lake. 

Fee Parking Area

You have to pay to park here. It's $5.00 a day or you can use the NW Forest Pass. It appeared that there was a pay station at this location. It's not at the trailhead though. Before you get to the parking area,there's a station that appeared to be the fee station. We didn't stop though since we had a NW Forest Pass already. 

This is one of the giant root systems that I mentioned. Both of us love to look at the roots of the trees that have fallen over. It's amazing how something with all of those roots holding it in can just topple over. They even pull the rocks out of the ground when they go over. 

`Polar M400 Screen Shots

Here are the screen shots from the Polar M400 Heart rate monitor and GPS watch. I found more things to screen shot! How exciting! The stats are a bit messed up because I forgot to hit stop until we had driven about 3/4 of a mile away so my max speed is a wee bit out of wack. I definitely did not walk 25.6 MPH. The elevation is out of wack partially for the same reason. We went up and then came down so the up and down should be the same, but there's an extra 300 feet down since we were driving back to hwy 22. I'm not sure that I believe the 1520 feet ascent though. The book seemed to think it was closer to like 700ish feet of elevation. It felt more like 700 to us. I'm not sure if it got out of wack because we lost the GPS while going down to the waterfall. I was really interested in seeing the elevation map for this one, I thought I would be able to see the steep descent to the waterfall and ascent out, but it's not showing it. There is a giant dip, but that's when it lost signal I think. I know we didn't go all the way down to sea level. 

It was interesting seeing the topographical map. I hadn't noticed that on the app before. The green hiker symbol is where we parked the car. Everything to the right is the hike. Everything to the left is driving out. 

This is the screen I'm used to seeing with the ma view. I wish I had gotten Marion Lake all the way in the picture so you could see the size different between Ann Lake and Marion Lake. 

If you've been to this spot before, please drop a comment below and let me know what you thought about the experience. 

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