Breathing hard or hardly breathing – I’m not sure which, but as long as I could still see Sarah’s light blue tank top and red curly hair bouncing in front of me, I’d keep running.
Sarah and I have somehow fall into a bad curse of losing track of time. We just always think we can do more in less. But I guess the phrase is too true – time flies when you’re having fun.
The first day of our three day Oregon road trip started with a short list of stops. Leaving a little later than hoped (I had to unfortunately work until 5 p.m.), Sarah and I trimmed down our must sees for the Highway 126 portion out to Florence. Three stops, two covered bridges, one short hike, all bucket list items for the 46 mile trek. Our only stipulation for this day was to make it to Florence by 9 p.m. to check in at our hotel – so we set off with bags packed, cameras ready and excitement soaring for a weekend away.
Using the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Guide for directions (wine country and Hwys 126 & 36 pages) we drove off toward the dropping sun in the West.
First up on our trip was the Coyote Creek Covered Bridge. Located off of Territorial Road on Battle Creek, the 1922 erected bridge viewed like a gate to the beautiful countryside. Looking through the 60 foot bridge, the arches framed a beautiful golden field glistening in the hot sun. With my 10 second self-timer programmed, we set abounding to check off more of our jumping covered bridges tour photos. A little rusty on our jumping skills but quickly muscle memory took over.
Jumping Coyote Creek Bridge
Back onto Highway 126, the car swerved in and out of the long cast shadows of the Coast Mountain range around each corner as we popped down our sunglass – ahhh…its finally summer.
Between mile posts 26 and 27, we stopped for our second leap of the evening. Wildcat Covered Bridge, constructed in 1925 crosses the point where Wildcat Creek meets the Siuslaw River. With a hard rock river bed below, this bridge offers wonderful areas to stick your toes in the water and beautiful, unique views of the historic bridge from below.
Jumping Wildcat Bridge
Two down and only one more stop to go as the sun continued it’s decent toward the horizon. With the mountains bringing night fall quicker than we anticipated, Sarah and I boogied west on hwy 126 until we finally turned off on Sweet Creek Road around 8 p.m. near the town of Mapleton. Following the riverbank for ten miles to the Sweet Creek Falls trailhead, dusk set in and the realization that maybe we really didn’t have time for the hike hit.
Not willing to give up though, we gave ourselves 40 minutes to complete the two mile round trip hike. Carefully treading over the root crossed path and metal grated trail along the creek bed, we walked as fast as we could using our stealth like camera skills to snap shots of the slow moving waters. When the branches of the forest canopied over the trail, you could hardly see in front of you, but we were determined to make it to the end.
Sweet Creek Falls
Reaching the beautiful, classic waterfall at the end of the path in exactly 21 minutes, we took a breather and a few photos before turning back.
Sweet Creek Falls
With still 25 miles to drive before Florence and a mile walk back to the car, the pressure started to kick in. Will we actually reach our hotel before the owner closes up at 9pm. Both of us really didn’t want to sleep in the car. So we picked up the pace – running like wild women through the lush forest back to our car.
Wearing my salmon colored Marmot rain jacket with camera in one pocket and phone in the other, the weight bounced back and forth with every stride making it hard to stay balanced, but with long steps I hopped from rock to rock down the steeper sections and thudded across the cliff grated trail portions.
Laughing like little children the whole way down the trail from the pure silliness of the situation, we made the one mile back to the car in less than 12 minutes and sped off toward the winding road back to Florence.
With the last ounces of our luck, Sarah and I arrived at our hotel in Florence at 8:55. Throwing me out of the car to go check in as she found parking, the smiles never left our faces to have made it – we beat the clock for once.