When Wanderlust Strikes, Pt. 2: Tunnel Falls, Oregon

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself. ” — Unknown

With about two hours of sleep the night before, we had no idea what was coming our way when we decided to make the trek to one of thee most amazing waterfalls yet!

If you haven’t already done so, check out Part #1 of this trip to find out why we were so sleep deprived and how this trip even came to be =)

Yaaawn.

It was 12 PM when we headed back to our campground after exploring Oneonta Gorge. We did not have the slightest idea where we would go to next. Lucky for us (my sister, my boyfriend, and myself) I had been keeping a list of places I wanted to visit sometime in my lifetime… haha. And it was even sorted by state! Darn you, wanderlust!

Our campground was a random spot we found before we even headed to Oneonta Gorge. Most campgrounds were already full that morning, so we had pulled into whichever spot was open. Fast forward several hours, there we were, changing into dry clothes and figuring out our next step!

Yaaawn.

I heard about Tunnel Falls earlier this year, and it looked like a dream! So as I looked through my long list under “Oregon”, I was secretly hoping it was a car ride away from our campground.

Yaaawn…What campground is this anyway? Ah, Eagle Creek Campground.

Had I read correctly? The Eagle Creek trailhead started right off our campground, and guess which waterfall was on Eagle Creek trail? Yup — Tunnel Falls! I think I may have thanked all the universe stars aligning for us at that very moment.

But boy, were we in for one hell of an adventure! Miscalculated time? Night hiking? Sleep deprivation? Wrong shoes? Swollen feet for the rest of the week? Accidental nude beach encounters the next day? Yes. You name it! This trip made it happen. But that did not erase how happy I was that we fell in the path of this gorgeous waterfall!

Do you remember the last time the stars aligned for you at just the right time?  What splendid surprises! I love when it happens =)

Below are photos and blurbs from this adventure. Hope you enjoy and are inspired to get outside for a weekend (or even a day) to recharge on Vitamin N! <3

Love and Adventure,

Denise

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EAGLE CREEK TRAIL to PUNCHBOWL FALLS & TUNNEL FALLS

The Eagle Creek trailhead starts off the campground road, near a suspension bridge. One of the waterfalls also on my list was Punchbowl Falls, which was located at the 2 mile mark on the trail…and then there was Tunnel Falls at the 6 mile mark.

Twelve miles roundtrip? Easy! After doing the Goat Lake hike back in July for 9.4 miles roundtrip, I was feeling pretty confident. Goat Lake was very steep, so this moderate trail sounded easy. At around 1:30 PM and despite the lack of sleep, off we went! We were far too excited to feel any sort of tiredness, and planned on stopping at Punchbowl Falls for some rest.

This is the view from the trail. Beautiful greenery!

The trail is along the cliff, and there is wire railing for you to hold on. You know…just in case.

My sis! Despite being accident-prone, this little gal was a real trooper <3

Random fact: I purchased my first DSLR camera just in time for this weekend. I had no idea how to use it, and I had no idea how much space on my SD card each photo was taking! Long story short, I was learning while having to to minimize the amount of photos I took…which is OK with me! More now time. However, you are now stuck with a mix of crappy photos =) like this one…

After an easy 2 mile hike…

And around the corner, thee Punchbowl! Is this not gorgeous? But on a hot day, the water is still freezing cold!

Resting here for about an hour was a bad idea. Every inch of my body was yelling at me to call it a day. The lack of sleep was finally hitting us all — full force. I realized this hike was going to be FAR from easy…

Though I really wanted to head back to camp, the one person I thought would be 100% ready to go back (my accident-prone sis) was the one who encouraged us to keep walking. We’re already here. We might as well keep going, said the sis.

And so we listened.

The hike lead us through beautiful gorges. You can’t tell, but the walls on this gorge were pretty tall.

Side note: I wore Nikes. The worst idea for this rocky trail. I felt every jagged rock on my feet. Ouch. I finally understood why my hiking shoes (at home) had souls so stiff and hard.

The hike felt like it lasted forever. FOREVER! Side note: Probably a good idea to track your distance. We did not. When I thought we were getting close, we weren’t. Every passing hiker kept saying, “just another hour”.

An hour later — nothing. Another hiker, another hour. Another hour — nada! Gah!

At about 5:30 PM, Tunnel Falls and all its beauty finally greeted us! The joy? INDESCRIBABLE!

The tunnel, and the reason for its name. How amazing?!

Words cannot express how magical this place felt.

TunnelGoPro, you truly are a HERO! While my DSLR and phone were in my bag to avoid moisture, you were here to document it all — water and all. I LOVE YOU, GoPro!!!

Falls(5)

Unfortunately because of time, we could only spend a few minutes here. By the way, there is a campground right before reaching the fall. Pretty cool if you came prepared to stay the night!

Not us. Down the mountain we went! But first…

We had to make a pit stop to not only eat (pack plenty food!), but also cool down at a nearby creek.

Sis on point! :-D

And before we knew it, the sun was setting. Yikes! I was starting to get concerned.

Spy a waterfall? =) Random fall on the way back down.

We did not get out of the mountain until 9:30 PM. This happened to us on a previous hike, except we didn’t get out the mountain until 11 PM. So, we normally carry flashlights now. On this night I was very thankful that we did!

I have no more photos for you, haha. Sorry! I was more worried about getting down the mountain without losing my sister down a cliff, and I didn’t think to photograph the beautiful full moon that was shining so bright.

What an unforgettable night…and what great sleep! That night in our tent, I may or may not have had wonderful dreams of that waterfall, with flower crowns and ferries, unicorns and one big smiling full moon….

—————————————————————————–

***The next day on Sunday, my feet were KILLING! Body sore, feet sore, mind sore. Ha! All we wanted to do was spend the day relaxed, so we packed and drove in search of a place we could swim.

We stumbled across Rooster Rock State Park. A park with a swimming area right off the highway? Heck yes!

Surprise! We were greeted by very happy, naked butt cheeks =) Nowhere did we read it was a nude beach before paying the entrance state park fee.

Oh well, we stayed! And we also stayed clothed. Haha. I did not want to be rude and take photos of naked strangers, but this place was pretty cool. The water was so shallow, and people were literally walking across the water to the nearby little island. Naked. Sweeet! And yes, I must admit that I was envious of everyone looking so naked and completely FREE! <3

Photo from Foursquare. Check out the link for other random photos: https://foursquare.com/v/rooster-rock-state-park/4b662e1bf964a520d1172be3/photos

And with all that being said, thank you for staying til the end! For whatever strange reason my feet were so SWOLLEN the following Monday, all through the week. What the heck?! The hike was not terrible, but I apparently wore the wrong shoes. There is a reason for hiking shoes….which I own. Ha!

Until next time, my friends! Happy adventuring! <3

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One response to “When Wanderlust Strikes, Pt. 2: Tunnel Falls, Oregon

  1. Pingback: When Wanderlust Strikes, Pt. 1: Oneonta Gorge, Oregon | Of Wildest Heart·

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