Water | Ecotrope

Video: Camera Survives 177-Foot Waterfall

Ecotrope | July 11, 2011 7:11 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:37 p.m.

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South Falls stands 177 feet tall at Silver Falls State Park

South Falls stands 177 feet tall at Silver Falls State Park

Crazy ideas sometimes work. This one got half of what we wanted.

The idea was to send a camera over South Falls at Silver Falls State Park, a waterfall that’s taller than Niagara Falls. No one had ever attempted anything like it before.

Oregon Field Guide is doing a story on the beauty and origins of the park. Its annual Historic Days commemorates daredevil Al Faussett, who jumped the falls, and survived, back in 1928. These days they sell toy canoes for a race over the falls. What could be more fun than having a camera follow those canoes down that fateful plunge?

A home-built flotation device we hope will protect the camera in a drop down the waterfall.

A home-built flotation device we hope will protect the camera in a drop down the waterfall.

Our GoPro Hero has a waterproof case. But it would also sink like a rock. So videographer Todd Sonflieth fashioned a rafter out of plywood, extra flotation with sliced-up swimming pool noodles and mounted one of the toy canoes up front in the camera’s view.

There were no guarantees the camera would survive. Would the wood break apart? Were the foam noodles enough to keep the camera afloat? Would the waterproof case survive the impact or crack and douse the memory card with icy creek water?

As the canoe race began, our camera raft got hung up on a rock. Park ranger Carl carefully reached it and put it back in the current. But just as it reached the precipice, another rock snagged it just enough to turn the camera sideways. Down it tumbled, out of control. We have to concede, it didn’t capture much of a view. But Todd’s improvised handiwork did a great job. So the camera lives for another Field Guide adventure.

Watch the end result here in real time and again in super slo-mo:

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