It was the Saturday a week prior to the eclipse. My dog, Barley, and I hopped in the Jeep for a pleasant 32-mile drive to go running on the Alsea Falls trail system. The August sky offered a brief respite from a heatwave, the gray overcast a cool and welcomed comfort. I drove passed the old-timey Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, took a left on Highway 99 West for 10 miles of some of my favorite farm views in the state, and hung another left up Alpine Road just beyond the tiny town of Monroe.
I encountered one detour, which took us down the Kyle, Coon and Bellfountain back roads, allowing me to see more countryside vignettes, like the quaint Sweet Earth Vineyards tasting room. I made a mental note to come back soon for a tasting.
Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” blared through the speakers as we made our way up the final winding miles of the forested foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, eventually arriving at the Alsea Falls Recreation Site and ready for a 3-mile hike in the forest.
I attached Barley’s water bottle to his harness, and we were off.
At the entrance, a sign indicates the trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps. Barley and I said our thanks before hitting the trail. A bridge across the South Fork of Alsea River seemed like a nice place to snap a picture, but Barley wanted to keep going.
The namesake Alsea Falls, the first of two cascades, is an easy walk from the parking lot. The second waterfall, the gorgeous Green Peak Falls, is another 1.5 miles away at Peak Creek.
An aspect of exploring Oregon trails that’s often overlooked is getting to interact with fellow adventurers. In my experience, hikers, campers, and day trippers are some of the kindest folks around. I suspect a few campers, judging by license plates, had traveled a very long way to make nature there home for the days leading up to the eclipse. I was inspired by the families hiking in packs, with babies, toddlers and grandparents too.
There was even a sweet wedding I had just missed, the waterfall a beautiful backdrop to the ceremony. Someone from the wedding party created an aisle bordered by rocks. How fitting that near the romantic waterfall, I found a heart-shaped rock.