After a long summer of mostly-solo waterfall hikes (well, Logan) I was rather looking forward to the fall semester and hauling my college friends on waterfall adventures. When Labor Day rolled around I planned a long adventure out on the Yellow Dog Plains and Huron Mountains, an area that I was just getting into. However, both Steele and Faith had some commitments and only a few hours free. I rolled the scale back to stick to closer, more familiar locations.
The three of us (and Logan) headed south on US-41. The main destination was Upper Silver Falls near Herman. I figured we could hit up the Falls River Falls in L'Anse on the way, though. I parked up on the shoulder of 41 near the bridge and we headed down the riverside path.
To keep things quick we didn't head all the way down to Lower Falls. Sticking to the path we walked down to the bench overlooking Middle Falls and admired the waterfalls. Both Steele and Faith were impressed by the long chains of cascades and plunges, especially how close these drops were to a road we had all driven over dozens of times before. Falls River Falls was a much better destination than the Ontonagon hikes last week.
After climbing around the riverbed a bit to get some close views of the individual drops we made it back up to the bridges. Upper Falls was upstream, just past the bridges. To avoid the nasty orange sludge that tends to collect on the footings we jumped into the river and waded, knee-deep in the cool water, past the bridges. Along the way Steele rolled his ankle on a rock and took a tumble, splashing loudly into the water. Faith and I had a good laugh at wet Steele before we all continued on, sloshing to Upper Falls.
When we reached the large, flat rocks below the waterfall we sprawled out, drying out our legs (and Steele) in the hot afternoon sun. It was nice to rest for a bit before this pretty little waterfall and chat a bit. Even Logan took a break, getting up occasionally to get pets from someone different or lap up some river water.
After a half hour or so we decided to move on and climbed up the path back to my car. A brief stop at Subway and we were on our way south to Herman. Time was already a bit tight but I still hoped to hit up all five drops of Upper Silver Falls today. I had only been to the lower, largest drop, and was guessing that the other ones would be a quick hop upstream.
I drove down the two-track east of Herman to the path that led to the lower falls. We headed down the ATV trail through the hot, heavy woods, still munching on pieces of lunch. These falls never fail to impress, with the multiple channels and chutes forming a tall, multi-tiered waterfall. Even though we were running low on time it was fun to play around a little here, hopping up the huge boulders and rock formations. Steele, who was still quite damp from his earlier dousing, even jumped under a plunging chute for a quick mimed shower.
Everyone was wet by the time we reached the top of the waterfall so we decided just to wade up the river instead of push through the undergrowth on the banks. It was hot enough for the cool water to be a comfortable relief, anyways. Most of the river was shallow enough for us to easy walk through, even little Logan, and we only had to skirt around a deeper pool or difficult rapids via the riverbanks a few times. The woods were quiet, the river peaceful, and it was a lot of fun catching up while meandering up Silver River.
During the walk Faith started to get worried about getting back to Houghton. She and Steele had a meeting to attend, a meeting that she wanted to be cleaned and prepped for. I convinced her to stick to it until we reached at least one more drop. When we finally reached it I took a few quick photos and we doubled back. I had hoped to visit the other drops, knowing they couldn't be more than a mile aways, and was a bit bummed to turn around so close.
Hoping to cut out some time I led us into the woods, aiming for where I thought the car would be. I didn't realized that Silver River had made a large bend to the east during our hike, pushing my route off by a full ninety degrees. We wandered south for a while before hitting an overgrown logging road that headed in a better angle. Estimating our angles by the sun now we headed west towards the track we came in on when the logging road bent south. Frustrated by now we cut back into the thick woods, walking up and down deep little creeks, the heat and concerns about time wearing on us. Not only had we missed out on the upper drops… Now we were going to be late anyways. We were ankle deep in a boggy little swamp, trudging onwards with more determination than good sense, when I noticed a straight line through the branches not twenty feet to my left. Somehow we had actually made it back to the track.
My car was a quick five minute walk from here. After reaching it and gulping down some water we headed back to Houghton, getting Faith and Steele back to their responsibilities with minutes to spare. At least we had a fun afternoon, even if I had a totally messed up the schedule.