Anyways, we shot up here for a few hours and I wanted to check out Elowah. I hadn’t been there in 2-3 years, so it was time for a visit. By the time I was at dip down point, it was roughly 12pm/ The light was horrid, HOWEVER clouds were throwing me a bone and masking the sun, if for only 45 seconds at a time.
I got down to the creek, a bit downstream from the main spot where a lot of people shoot this falls. I didn’t like what I was seeing, and was contemplating just leaving. No point in taking photos I will never use or do anything with. If I want “memory photos”, that is what my phone is for 🙂
So i took a single image, just to see what time it was. Brian and I were going to meet at the truck at 1pm or so, and the time was 12:20ish, so I had some time to play. As I was walking creekside, I slipped on a rock, and had a helping full of boulder. My camera and lens went flying (tripod mounted and no lens cap on, how I roll), and I new right away my shoulder was dislocated.
I tried to get it back into socket – even pulling a Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 4 – where Jet Li works him on the pier. The power of movie magic. It didn’t work for me. So here I am creek side with one good arm to use, and in pain. I tore an ACL totally off years ago, and worked through that pain (horrible pain), but this was 10 times worse. Remember I am down about 20-30 feet from the trail, down a boot path.
When I went to put the camera in my bag, the memory card door was open, and I thought it was toast. Nope. This thing is like a timex. Takes a licking and keeps on clicking. The lens hood isn’t pretty and has marks on the hood, but still works as new.
So after maybe 20 minutes of mustering up the strength to crawl out of here, I get up to the trail. I looked like I was one of the actors from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I was walking hunched over with my right hand almost dragging the ground. By chance, when I got to the fork in the trail, I saw Brian. By this time, I was in bad shape. Luckily there were some of the nicest people helping out. On my way down, when I would let people pass me on the trail (coming the opposite way – hiking ettiquete :)), I would give a friendly hello. No ONE said anything to me. Kinda weird.
So after 5 hours of my shoulder being dislocated, they had to put me under to get it back into socket. Crazy. I am afraid to see the Dr. bill. Ofcourse I think the place I went to was out of network, but whatever. The Emergency Room crew was by far the nicest people I have ever met. If you live on the west side of the Portland Metro area, the new Hillsboro Keizer hospital is the place to go!
anyways, I may be out of commission for a while. I fractured my shoulder in 2 spots and may need surgery. Out of all the crazy adventures and risks I have taken, I injure my self at F%$king Elowah. 🙂
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Well my friends, this falls deserves the deets. I know the word “remote” gets thrown around for street cred, but this place is no fuckin joke. Wassen Creek is the most remote place on the Oregon Coast, and possibly Oregon (that has a destination like this worthwhile visiting). For years, it was endangered of getting logged, much like Opal Creek was. In November of 2013, it passed protection from voters. It will remain wild! There has been no wildfire in here for I bet 150 years. Undergrowth is ridiculous.
The “main” route to this place calls for a minimum of 8 hours. However, my good buddy
Brian and I tried another way. Wrong idea. We planned on camping one night. We left the dip in point at 2:45pm and by 8:30pm, we had only gotten half way to the falls – maybe 1.5 miles in. The next day we broke down camp and left at 8am and didn’t reach the falls until a little after 10am. The lighting wasn’t the best, and the water was maybe 2 feet higher than any of the photos I had seen of this place, but was still magical nonetheless. Visiting a place that maybe less than 15 people a year see is really an experience.
We left the falls a little after noon and a few bad calls later, we were camping again on a creek. It is disheartening to go 3 hours and gain 700 feet of elevation in trail less forest to reach acres and acres of huckleberries, rotten trees, and a ton of rhodys out of the blue – to the point we were crawling on all fours for 100 yards. With a 40lb Gregory Baltoro 75 litre bag. Yes I need to re-evaluate my gear 🙂 We made a decision at 7pm to head back down the 700 hard ass feet in elevation we had worked for hours to gain, to get water (which we were super low on), and to try to get sleep.
We reached the creek in which it took us 2.5 hours to reach the first day. We actually were super lucky to find the location we camped at, as flat ground is non existent in this area, literally. I had to use my emergency blanket, and I had a Marmot down vest, pants and a 30 degree down bag. It was 39 degrees, but I was set up on the only level ground, 6 inches from the creek. We both were. Photos will be posted on my blog.
Now before I left, we were smart and let people know where we were going. We left on a Sunday and I worked on Tuesday at 8am. I have to say that REI is the BEST place to work – not just saying that because of the discounts. They were in contact with the sherifs office all day, and a special thanks to my wonderful wife, who started the whole “chain reaction”. I told her if I wasn’t back by midnight on Monday, to call it in. Same thing I told several people at work.
So when we left camp at 8am, I knew it was bad. The problem with this place is that the GPS only works maybe 50% of the time. Creek level, you are better off finding a money tree than getting a satellite feed. When we reached an “opening” in the tree line, it would “update” our track. So while we were checking where we needed to go, it would suddenly move our position. Yes, I had a topo map as well.
After 5 hours of super hard conditions, we came up maybe 10 feet from the truck! We were both super exhausted, low on water but high on spirits! We did hear a heli fly over maybe 40 minutes before we reached the summit.
Would I visit this falls again? I actually would. This area is super amazing, and I would love to visit in fall. In total, it took us 21 hours of action to reach this spot, and I would guess 2900 feet of brutal elevation gain to reach this place – all with 30-40 lbs on gear on our backs each.
I present to you the Devil’s Staircase.
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