Sheets of wind-driven rain pounded the roof and sides of our little trailer, perched on a hillside near Florence, Oregon. We were snug and warm inside, but our mood matched the gloom. This downpour was as welcome as a house cat under the bird feeder.
The next morning showed us the error of our disposition. We ventured out, toward Mapleton on Highway 126, across the Suislaw River bridge and right onto Sweet Creek Road. Our destination was the Homestead Trailhead, marked with a sign "Sweet Creek Trail," about 10 miles up the road. We arrived, got out of the truck and were greeted by the roar of water funneling down the creek. All that water raining down yesterday? It seems to have made its way to the creek.
We followed a varied thrush as it hopped and fluttered up the rocky banks to the gorge, where we hugged the cliff edges on bridges bolted to the canyon wall. A tremendous volume of water cascaded over rocks and ledges in a beautiful display, possibly only rivaled by the population of spring wildflowers. Raindrops sparkled rainbow colors in the occasional sunlight.
After just more than a mile, a trail zigzags up to a viewing platform only a few feet from the falls, where today the spray made photography, or even a good look, impossible. We trekked back down and stared across to the other side of the falls, where the main trail continues. Evidently, at some times of the year it is possible to cross the creek. That was not happening today.
We backtracked to the truck and drove to the Wagon Road Trailhead, 1.3 miles farther up the road. The best falls view is .8 miles down this trail at another viewing platform. The trail also drops down to the creek crossing we saw earlier, but the view there is mediocre.
We also hiked eastbound on the upper portion of the trail, a much quieter stretch where we could actually hear the excited song of winter wren. A sign along this stretch reminded us that we were traversing an old wagon road used by the creek's namesake, Zarah Sweet and his family. I imagine those pioneers got caught in a few of those soaking rains--with much less shelter. I hope they also could enjoy the sight of the creek at high water.