Sahalie Falls Reverie

Sentinel pines offer a glimpse from down the trail, looking back up into the spray of Sahalie Fall’s terminal pool. Cold, unrunnable whitewater cascades westward, carving out the McKenzie River valley as it rushes to join the Willamette River, the Columbia River, the Pacific Ocean.

Two or three months into The Great Hunker, a forest escape was plotted. The Willamette National Forest a couple hours east of home called to us – and apparently many others, as the trail-head parking lot was crowded with other escapees. The goal was Sahalie Falls, one of the two points where groundwater surfaces to magestic effect, creating the headwaters of the McKenzie River on the western slope of the foothills of the Cascades. Snow melt on red and black lava fields and in Clear Lake filters downward, flowing in the subsurface for a couple years before surfacing at Sahalie Falls.

I might be wrong, but I think the water goes beneath again, surfacing at Tamolitch Pool, a blue gem of inviting clarity and deathly cold. Hikers are lured to their drowning deaths regularly, to the sadness of locals tired of the news stories of arduous rescues miles town trails packed hard with the footsteps of greenhorns marching to danger they don’t grock.

Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) blooms beside a spring that flows into a short stream subsumed by the nearby McKenzie River.

A stellar trail runs along the river here, making a loop – apparently. Eschewing my young companions’ pace and earnestness in the face of the steep hike, I quickly faded behind them under the ruse of taking photographs. I didn’t want to be alone at home, but I sure wanted some expansive, pine-scented alone-time in the forest!

Stepping off the footpath to powder my nose, I was thrilled to discover a graveled service road! Ha! From a hike to a ladylike stroll! The narrow road led to the Koosah Falls parking lot and restroom, which I would have totally missed from the riverside trail.

As if an easy path before me wasn’t enough, another discovery awaited – a spring forming at the foot of a basaltic slope across from the parking area! Skunk cabbage bloomed in the boggier places, and a light rain made the spring’s surface dance with splashy, momentary domes of wetness. The ponded springwater flowed, like everything else capable of any sort of fluidity, westward into the forest, rushing as if late for a date with the McKenzie River. Perhaps at this elevation the river is eager to increase her flow, her girth, the momentum of the unstoppable push to the ocean, and makes demands of tributaries to not dawdle?

Author: Photos by Martha McReynolds Jr.

A Local Love Story Martha McReynolds Jr. grew up in Creswell, Oregon, left as a young adult & returned years later, only to finally fall in love with her hometown! Martha’s nature photography is an expression of her appreciation of our shared terrestrial world, & her portraiture a means by which to show others how beautiful they look to her. Woman plus camera plus something indefinable but visible make up the formula for Martha’s imagery. A close view, vibrant blossoms, your smile, & the opportunity to share her vision are key elements of Martha’s imagery. The artist sincerely hopes her images bring you peace, enjoyment & inspiration. Offerings o Original Photography o Creative Portraiture o Group Directory/Badges o Celebration of Life Slide Show/Printed Materials o Commercial Space Décor¬¬ Lease/Sales o Marketing Imagery o Informal Event Wandering Photographer o Special projects welcomed!

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