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Posts Tagged ‘James G. Swan’

Monday, 9 October 2017

My first reference that there was a falls on the Palix River was from this book written by a naturalist who lived on the Willapa Bay in the early 1850s. He wrote extensively of the local region.  On pages 41 and 42 he wrote of an outing he took up the ‘Palux’ River to see the falls which tumbled some 200 feet down a series of cataracts.

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I followed the course of the river system on google maps and found two white features that could be waterfalls. I cross-checked and these marks didn’t show on Bing maps. I decided that next time I went boating, I would to drag a little boat up the riverbed and see if these were the falls.

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At the top center are two white shapes with two logs between for scale.

After my trip, I did a search to fill out the narrative and found few references and only one engraving about any waterfalls on the Palix Rivers.

There is a thread on an Oregon Hikers club page entitled; “What happened to the “Falls of the Palux River?” 

Bryan Swan wrote on the thread in 2008 “…on the North Fork of the Palix about 2/3 of a mile above tidewater there are six or seven very clearly visible white marks along the river in that canyon that can be seen on Google Earth. The valley upstream of the canyon is at 128 feet ASL and tidewater is at the mouth of the canyon, so there’s about 120 feet worth of loss taking place in there. Looks to me like two drops, then the river makes a 90 degree left turn and drops four more times back-to-back.
I do not expect getting in there will be very easy.”

A ‘forester’ person added, “From the west side, you’re looking at a 400′ change in elevation over about 700 feet of ground. Pretty steep. Nothing down there looks huge, so it had better be the prettiest small falls you’ve ever seen to make it worth the effort.”

Apparently, more of the falls were visible by satellite back in 2008.

A second result of the search yielded the 1894 book ‘The Oregonian’s Handbook of the Pacific Northwest.’  On page 318 there is an engraving of a photo by A. Gylfe of “THE FALLS OF THE PALIX RIVER NEAR SOUTH BEND.”  There is no text describing the falls, however, they were touting nearby South Bend; “This harbor has offers safe anchorage to the largest ships afloat, and has ample accommodations for all the shipping that will ever visit the state of Washington.” I then looked up Ilwaco, and 123 years ago the book declared on page 302 that, “This is a solid town as is entitled to the attention of all visitors to Washington’s coast .”  It still is.

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This book isn’t in the library system but looked like a good reference book.

Today I packed up the 9.5 foot pretty light ‘MaryBeth’ kayak to check out the North Fork of the Palix River. Earlier this year I traveled most of the South Fork of the Palix.

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The boat launch is on Highway 101 near the Rose Ranch and requires a Discover Pass.

A plus 4.2-foot incoming tide.

Maybe the smaller the boat, the more I like to carry. I packed a full lunch and cooler (I only ate half a sandwich), a spare set of clothes and shoes (untouched), and the electronics box.

A muddy beach and the western sky.

I headed east. This bay includes the entrance to the Canon River plus the South, Middle, and the North Forks of the Palix River.

One of the old pilings used for logging.

I thought this piling had a face with a small branch in its mouth.

The entrance of a small bay I explored. The river was now sheltered from the wind.

The entrance narrowed as I entered the North Palix River. It was noisy with birds.

First, a flock of geese flew off. As I got closer I saw the same little birds I had seen in October 2015 at the John Day River east of Astoria in Oregon. The cute little birds bob their heads and chatter through their long beaks as they feed along the bank. Here is a video I took on that trip.

Here is a different flock today.

One of the last birds leaving as I tried to quietly approach.

Branch tentacles to paddle around.

The tide was incoming at 1.5 feet per hour. It was enough to drift the boat upstream if I stopped paddling. The river water was salty.

I think this is a non-native blue spruce.

The air cooled as the sun was blocked out.

The sun was bright above the river valley where it has been logged on both sides.

The first log to hoik over. The tide was an incoming 7.0 feet.

It was time to get out and drag the boat upstream.

The paddle worked ok as a steadying stick.

Soon I pulled the boat onto a small gravel bar and continued walking up the stream using the phone’s MapMyTracks app to track the distance.

Looking back at the little boat on the bar.

The river bed was now fresh water and not muddy except near the shore.

Fall colors in calf deep water with a rising 7.7-foot incoming tide.

Logs to climb over.

No matter what the tide, a hike is required to get to these falls and being that the area is also logged, the public is probably not welcome above the valley.

A fernlike plant on a log.

Handholds helped climbing over this log.

A half-hour later the wind through the trees changed its character to more of a roar. Up ahead were the falls. I really had contemplated turning around several times by now.

Logs were everywhere as I waded a shallow route to an ‘island’ below the falls.

View to the right.

View to the left.

Here is a 360-degree video of the noise and the falls.

There were deep pools ahead and steep banks on either side. I figured this would be far enough.

A lower view

Here again is the old engraving from the Oregonian to compare.

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There might be a taller cataract above as it looks like the photographer crossed the pool to the green knoll on the left.

 

The panoramic view

These were taken with my little Sony waterproof camera as I couldn’t find the larger camera until I got back to the car. It had been caught in my waistband when it fell out of my shirt pocket while climbing the logs.

Something between a bird and a bear had left their fish meal here.

I scanned the area again wondering whether something bigger was watching me. I didn’t see anything and headed back. There was also a razor clam shell in the river which I figure some animal imported.

An unusual colony of fungi gave me a chance to rest on the way back.

The tide was still rising at 8.7 feet.

Now the water was more like knee deep plus in the middle.

The shore was thick with branches and rivulets which could have punctured my waders. The river route served ok except that several logs I had previously ducked under I now had to climb around or over.

Back after an hour. The boat would have drifted upstream had I not tied it to a log on the shore.

I didn’t double check if the distance to this point matched on both the GPS devices. Since I had taken the phone to the falls and left the Garmin in the boat, the difference should equal the riverbed walk. The result was that the falls are a half mile walk from the blocking logs.

A wet knot

The earlier log obstructions were now underwater as I headed back.

Back over the beach where the birds had been feeding.

The headwind returned as I more slowly worked my down the river.

The boat landing ahead.

A bull was there to greet me when I returned.

Salty sea beans (salicornia). I picked a few as Skyler likes them.

At a 9.0 foot tide, the muddy beach was gone. A pair of tourists arrived on a heavily loaded motorcycle, but I was a bit too tired and unsure if I should be the local greeter. I could have had them sample the sea beans or sent them off the main road towards the picturesque Bay Center but we pretty much minded our own business.

A sign on their trunk declared they were headed from Argentina to Alaska.

Sea beans ready to garnish the evening’s salad.

As ‘forester’ said in his or her thread “it had better be the prettiest small falls you’ve ever seen to make it worth the effort.” Well, I think it was. Now my video is in the google search.  I don’t think it will prove destructive to a long-preserved secret. The loggers protect the top and to visit it is a rough hybrid paddle and hike that I just happened to hit right with the tides.

 

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The phone app with the extra mile walked.

The little car GPS I keep waterproofed.

 

 

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