The Devil’s Staircase Scouting Trip

We finally got around to going to The Devil's Staircase.  Maybe next time we'll actually make it there.

In Oregon's Coast Range, there's a waterfall off the beaten path called The Devil's Staircase.  Here's a link to a short bit on it:  Devil's Staircase - Oregon Field Guide

The video there gives a fair view of what we encountered, to a certain extent.  I watched that video again the other night and thought it was interesting comparing it to our experience.  A few scenes were very familiar, though when they edited it, their trek wasn't shown in order.  Some scenes from the very beginning of the hike were mixed with scenes which we never made it to.  We brought along an older GPS that didn't get reception but the newer one never lost it.  And for all the talk about it being the last wild hike in Oregon and people get lost in there and all that, we had intermittent cell reception at the trail head.

The road is a bit rough and very overgrown at times, but I've been on worse.  This trip was with a Ford Explorer, which did okay.

"Hi, I'd like to order a pizza.  Do you deliver?"  Hearing a text message ding at the trailhead was pretty funny.

Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey and I decided to make the trek.  We had a fairly good idea where we needed to go and how to do it, but as happens in the Coast Range, plans change and it's never your choice.  The road we wanted to take was blocked by a gate.  Actually, two of the roads were.  The bad news is that this cost us a solid hour of hiking.  The good news is that it saved us a solid hour of hiking.

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate."

A boy and his dog.  I've been on a few adventures with Quinn and he's a heckuva dog.

Once on the trail, we reached a forked path...and proceeded to chose the wrong one.  The trail we chose was mushy and took us down to the base of a ridge into a dry seasonal creek filled with salmonberry brush, which are like blackberry bushes, only taller, stiffer, and covered more densely with thorns.  And by "filled", I don't mean, "Hey, look at those bushes down there."  No, it's more along the lines of, "Geez, is there solid ground down there or is the entire Earth made of salmonberry?"

"Why, yes. Yes it is. The entire Earth is actually made of salmon berry."

After about an hour and a half of hiking in weather which seamlessly switched between "Wet" and "Wetter", we had only made it about 1/5 of the distance we needed to get to our destination.  What's important about the Coast Range is you have to watch the watch.  By the young time of 12:30 or so, we realized we needed to head back because we just were not going to be able to get to where we wanted to go and back to the car in time.  So, we headed back.

We did have some fun though.

While we didn't make the big goal of getting to the waterfall, (we did only take this as a scouting trip) it was a good learning experience and we had a fun time.  The trip did have a casualty, however.

The last good picture my Nikon will take.  I do believe the blue Nikon has kicked the bucket.  Too much moisture seems to be the cause of death. It is the one I dropped in Parker Creek months earlier.  Though it recovered from that, the experience almost certainly lowered its tolerance for water.  The LCD screen is unreadable and it's nearly impossible to snap a picture.

On top of all that, we got lost at least twice coming home.  The Smith River is pretty, but if you ever find yourself in the area, make sure not to pay attention to the giant upside down sign at the 3-way intersection.  Like always, though, the good comes with the bad.  While being lost, we stumbled across a barred owl which was in the road and then flew to a tree next to the SUV.

We thought at the time it was a spotted owl, but the picture makes it out to be a barred owl.  It sat in the tree, nervously fidgeting to see what we'd do.  All we ended up doing was driving a bit further up the road, nearly getting stuck, turning around, and then getting lost one more time.

One thought on The Devil’s Staircase Scouting Trip

  1. What a nice way to spend the day. Have you ever gotten to the Devil's Staircase? And when I read 'Jeremiah', I immediately thought of Jeremiah Johnson. =) I've wondered about cameras and the moisture. Is there something you can do about it, to save future cameras? Or do waterproof cameras work as well? Thanks for the story and pics, T. Becca

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