We were ready to see more of this beautiful State, having reported the abandoned tent to the authorities (read about our strange experiences here), and were making our way to the coastal town of Coos Bay. Highway 138, aptly named, “The Umpqua Scenic Byway”, has a trail of waterfalls that anyone traveling this road should definitely take the time to see.
We had wanted to hike Mt. Bailey, as this is my maiden name and would have been a fitting hike, but we never saw a sign directing us to the trailhead and cell service was non-existent. We came upon Diamond Lake with a general bait and tackle store, and decided we would get some ice for our coolers and inquire about the Mt. Bailey trailhead.
Immediately after parking the van, we were engulfed in a cloud of, what looked to be, mosquitoes as big as sparrows! Making a mad dash to the store, we tried to hold our breath so we wouldn’t inhale these buzzing insects. When we asked the employee, “What the heck were those bugs?!?!”, he told us they were some sort of non-biting fly, that had just hatched and would only be swarming like that for a few days. What a relief!!
Phil told the nice man that we had been looking for the Mt. Bailey trailhead and the store employee informed us that the Forest Service doesn’t do such a great job of posting signs. He thought the road to the trail was most likely impassable with all of the snow they had gotten that winter. We explained how we had some confusion finding trails and scenic places because of this lack of information, and he nodded his head in understanding.
Either the State doesn’t have the money for signs, or they just don’t want the intrusion from non-locals. I was inclined to think the former, because every rural area we passed through, looked to be in decline. There were many deteriorating, abandoned buildings, both commercial and residential. We found out later that drug use is rampant in these areas where jobs are in short supply. To make matters worse, a beetle infestation is causing many of the lodge-pole pines to die, setting the stage for all-consuming forest fires. My heart was heavy when I thought about this very sad situation for the wilderness areas of Oregon.
As we traveled further, the beauty of the surrounding forests and mountains soon quelled the somberness of Oregon’s faltering economy, and we found ourselves on an impromptu tour of four amazing waterfalls.
What a wonderful day spent walking through the lush, green forests, taking in the gorgeous views and mesmerizing sounds of Oregon’s waterfalls. The last two falls had quite a bit of climbing and stairs involved, so we felt like we had gotten our fair share of exercise.
The drive west was SO beautiful along the North Umpqua River!! We stopped at a scenic overlook close to Eagle Rock, climbed down the steep embankment to the river’s edge and were stunned by the spectacular view of the river and surrounding, rocky cliffs. Absolutely breathtaking!!
One week of traveling, camping, and sightseeing and we were almost to the Pacific Coast! Oregon has so many natural treasures, and we had really only begun to scratch the surface. Someday, Oregon… we’ll be back for further exploration of your dark and mysterious, forested mountains! 😀
Next stop, Coos Bay and the Oregon Coast!