Now I understand why the ancient Jews’ name for God was the unpronounceable YHVH: sometimes there are no nouns big enough to name a thing. (I know that’s not why God had an unpronounceable name, but it makes sense to me so I changed the reason.)
There are no nouns, or verbs or adjectives, to describe Spray Park. It’s More. More than everything. I think I’ve never seen so beautiful a place. The photos come no where near its grandeur.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Mishaps preceded my hours in paradise.
I wake up later than I wanted to, but I’m still on the road before 6, venture latte in hand. I get lost on the series of state highways in the small towns where the highways change direction. I have the sequence written down, but even as I wrote them they didn’t feel complete. I got confused the other two times I’ve been to Mowich Lake (last year to Tolmie Peak), why should this time be any different? And Siri, of course, wants to take me via the interstate. Even with my rudimentary understanding of geometry, I know the hypotenuse is shorter than the two sides—though in this case, not necessarily faster. Mostly I just want to stay off I-5.
After one quickly discovered wrong turn, I finally stop in Eatonville to see if I can get it right before I make a lengthy error. I was glad when the road construction truck that had been slowly lumbering ahead of me turned off the route. I was all too eager to move to another road, until I began suspecting I should have followed the truck.
I pop the clutch and kill the engine when I stop, and just leave it off while I search the Washington Trails website then Google Maps. Still not being sure, I decide to follow the long-gone truck. I know that won’t be wrong, just maybe not my preferred route. Except the battery is dead. I hadn’t turned off the ignition, or the lights, or the CD player, or unplugged the phone.
There is a guy smoking across the street. I ask if he could jump the battery. He would, he says, if only he had some cables. “I have cables,” I say. You don’t drive alone all over the country in an elderly car without battery cables, coolant, and a AAA-Plus membership, all of which I have used. (I really need to get a can of tire repair stuff. I’m lucky I haven’t needed it. Yet.)
When the car starts, I ask him which road goes to Mowich Lake. He looks blank. “No idea,” he says. I want to say, “Ever heard of Mt. Rainier?” but I don’t. “How about Buckley,” I ask. That he knew. The way the truck went. I drive off, only then realizing, eyes rolling to the heavens, I could have looked at a paper map.
There is no denying the 15 miles of washboard gravel road up to the lake. But there are no potholes, which makes it a super highway compared to forest service roads I’ve traveled off the beaten path. And it keeps the crowds down. Paradise may have a paved road, but winding up the snaking road behind a line of cars—often held up by inevitable road construction—hoping to arrive early enough for a spot in the parking lot, is no advantage. Then one must share the trails—some of it paved—with the hoards, some of whom hike in flip flops, some visitors never leaving the lodge. I’m such a snob. At least they are enjoying the view and, hopefully, the scent.
I’m on the trail at 9:30, not bad considering. The trail through the forest to the park is “only” three miles. The first 2.2 is up and down, the variety making the trek easier. I’ve done that much of the trail before, to Spray Falls, which is incredible. I don’t stop, eager to get to the park. Last time I was here I had to get home to fix dinner for my mother. Today I feel an expanse of time that stretches for hours.
The last .8 miles is all up. I’m grateful as always for my poles, and aware I am in better condition than I was when I moved across the country five years ago. Or maybe it’s just not the most difficult trail I’ve been on. I think that one belongs to Skyline Divide on Mt. Baker. (You can read about that adventure here.) And I’m in better shape, let’s just go with that.
At the two hour mark, the trail breaks out of the trees to a small meadow, which leads to a bigger meadow, which leads to another. On and on it goes to the edge of the world. I’m pretty sure every alpine wildflower that ever blooms in the Cascades is blooming. Every one. I don’t know all the names; I’ll quiz my mother, give her capacity for listing flowers a workout. Herself, the Mountain, in all her magnificence, takes a back seat.
I wander through the glory, greeting other hikers—many of them solo, some I meet and greet multiple times—but never staying near any of them. I am alone and not alone.
I wander a side trail to the edge and look way down into another park. I want to go there. I wonder what it is and if it’s accessible. I like imagining that it isn’t; that there’s only the view from here and it belongs to the wild creatures. Mt. Baker—Koma Kulshan—sits on the far horizon; but Herself hugely rules this piece of paradise. I eat my lunch on a rock overlooking the wonder.
I’m near the end of the park, but see no reason not to climb some more. I know what’s off the side to the northeast; I want to know, if I possibly can get there, what’s below me to the southwest.
I spy a marmot on the way up. My day is complete. I watch it a while until something startles it and it thunders across the trail in front of me, its magnificent tail flying behind. Who knew they could make so much noise, or move so fast? It pops up over a rock and looks around before returning to its foraging.
I cross well-traveled snowfields still on the trail and climb higher and higher, until I find what I’m looking for.
Then I go higher, until I’m satiated, finally ready to head for home. But first, back through the meadows of flowers, a lake I didn’t notice going up, and Herself going incognito, which she does when she tires of the attention.
The .8 down is not so fun. My knees start to ache. I decide to skip the falls on the return too. (You can see photos from two years ago here. It is magnificent.)
I’m really ready for the car, and wishing I had backed it into the parking space. I’m anxious about it starting. It does. I change my shoes and walk down to the lake, but skip the foot soak. My whole body is aching (the eight hours of yard work yesterday is making itself know too). I want to be home.
After I rattle down the 15 dusty miles, I miss a turn again somewhere and end up heading into Puyallup. I surrender and drive the interstate home, refusing to let the traffic ruin the day.
I won’t go so far to say that Spray Park will replace Paradise in my heart. High Skyline Trail is still the only hike I will return to again and again, if only because it has Base Camp’s salmon burger and a beer, al fresco dining, at its end, just outside the park. (And I can tell you, I am longing for it today. I have popcorn and a beer—and ibuprofen—for dinner; all I have energy for.) There are too many places to hike to go back to the same ones. I will take hardy guests to Spray Park though, especially in July.
I have made my peace with the likelihood that I will never see the Swiss Alps, the ruins of Rome, the English countryside (though there is some chance of that; I know people), but I have a never-ending—almost embarrassing—wealth of adventure and beauty outside my door. Next week: camping. Until then, body rest.
The day dawns yellow sun rising to cloudless blue. My destination sits at the end of the valley from my living room windows. I’ve picked my trail and can’t wait to get on the road. I enter I-5 south (I love not going north) at 6:30, adventure latte in hand (though not from my favorite kiosk, it’s not open this early on Sunday) a full half hour before I planned to leave the house.
I stop to use the facilities at Coldwater Lake and am the only one in the parking lot at the Hummocks trail head at 8:00. After donning the gel bunion guards that came in yesterday’s mail (who knew United Health Medicare supplemental insurance included $50 of over-the-counter health items a quarter?) and hiking shoes. Not knowing which knee will be bothersome, I put on both straps. Grabbing pack, water, and trekking poles, I’m on the trail at 8:15. I’m still the only one here as I head up the first half mile of the kid-friendly interpretive trail before branching off on the Boundary West trail toward Johnston Ridge Visitor Center.
It’s always been my policy not to hike anywhere I can drive to; if it’s not going to be easy for me, I don’t want it to be easy for anyone. But the visitor center is not my destination, it just happens to be a not-particularly-welcome feature on the route.
The trail zigzags through the North Fork Toutle River valley, the spoiled mountain at its end, through alder thickets that provide shade in this valley that was made a wasteland in May 1980 after 600 feet of debris filled it. It’s green now, and red and purple and white as I get higher. The red vines of wild strawberry network across the moss, connecting the once barren land back to its roots. Ants scurry across the trail. Birds sing in the trees.
I don’t like alder. I cut down two bushes in the sweet pea field below my house the other day. Here, though, I appreciate it. I hear my forester father explaining the succession of the forest after a fire, a clear cut, or a volcanic eruption. Not that anyone would have asked for the lecture. It’s why I cut it at home, though, I don’t want forest to take over the clearing and the brushy alder is the first step.
The valley is full of hummocks, the insides of the displaced mountain entombed beneath soil and vegetation now, and teeming with wildlife. Scientists, I read, have mapped each hummock to where it used to be on the mountain. That boggles my mind. It’s a graveyard, with tombstones and eulogies—at least in a computer somewhere.
Soon the trail starts upward and I leave the shade behind. I’m glad I’m early, it’s going to be hot this afternoon. Now, though, the breeze is almost alpine: cool, but without the high mountain alpine ambrosia of Mt. Rainier. I note that the noble fir are getting as tall as those at Paradise’s tree line.
As I ascend, the trail wanders through foxglove, lupine, daisies, paintbrush, pearly everlasting, penstemon, and prairie dandelion. Lots of prairie dandelion. In the wild, I wonder, are weeds distinguished from flowers as they are in the domestic garden, or are they all just wildflowers, of equal value and beauty? The blankets of yellow stretching across the acres at the higher elevations are just as much a wonder as the blankets of red paintbrush and of white daisies. In practice writing—writing in the wild—crap and brilliance is all just writing, of equal value. I make note of the flower varieties I see; my mother will ask.
The trail narrows as it heads horizontally up the side of a bare face, loose gravel underfoot. My aeroacrophobia kicks into gear. This must be the “sketchy” part I read about in a Washington Trails trip report, that thinking about disturbed my sleep last night. I plant my poles and take it slow. Slower than a turtle slow. I’m glad no one is behind me, watching. I would look terrified to them, because I am. But not panicked. I can do this if I watch where every footfall is going to land.
I lose the trail. WTF? It definitely isn’t the direction I’m going. I look to my left. There is some indication that it goes straight up. It seems odd, but then everything about a volcanic eruption site is odd. I’m not sure I can do it, but neither do I want to retrace my steps. If the loose gravel was difficult to walk on coming up, it will be worse on the downhill. I take a deep breath and tell myself others have done this and I can too. I make the 90º turn to face the slope with no handholds, then glance to my left again. There’s the trail. It’s a freaking switchback. I was concentrating so hard on my feet, I didn’t know what was coming. I nearly weep as relief floods my body. Sometimes the best path is not the one you are on. I make the course adjustment and keep moving.
Finally arriving at the top of the ridge, I stop to breathe. I did it. I reached the level. Far below me is another party. The tiny dots are the first humans I’ve seen since I left the perky teenager at the coffee kiosk.
The sky, along with the blankets of color, plays a starring role in the day. I can’t stop taking photos of it.
Snow-covered Mt. Adams peaks up briefly over a distant ridge, while nearly bare St. Helens sits actively sentinel. (Is that an oxymoron?) I see a plume of smoke rise from behind the dome in the crater. I learn from a park ranger later that there is a plume every day, and I saw it! (Also that the dome stopped growing in 2008; and there are actually two domes, one that formed through the 90s and the other in the early 2000s.) The mountain is smoldering beneath its dead, grey, dry, desecrated facade; biding its time until it returns to violence. Meanwhile everything around it is coming back to life in defiance of what was or what will be. All there is is now.
There are a few more sketchy spots in the trail, level now as I circle the ridge rather than scaling it. My heart races a bit with each one. I begin to hear road noises, out of sight over the edge of the ridge until I arrive at Loowit Viewpoint, where there are a couple of cars, a handful of fresh-looking observers. I don’t tarry; I’ve seen better views. Another 3/4 mile and I’m at the visitor center; 11:30.
I decided as I walked I would take in the movie at the observatory, because it is in my opinion, quite simply the best visitor center documentary in the country. Not that I’ve seen them all. And because I can get in free with my Senior Access Pass, which is, quite simply, the best deal going. When I arrive, it’s 24 minutes until the next showing. I talk to the ranger about the return trip, the signage confused me. He confirms what I had somehow missed: this is not a loop trail.
I sit in the new amphitheater and eat my lunch. It’s weird to be in civilization in the middle of a wilderness hike. I don’t like it much, though the flush toilets and water bottle refilling station are not unwelcome. While I eat, I try not to think about the new information: I have to go back across the scary place on the downhill after all. Maybe its good we don’t always know what’s ahead, or we would never get out of bed.
I watch the movie—it seems to have been updated with new footage of the recovering landscape and the same spectacular footage of the eruption, the same surprise ending—and head back to the trail at 12:45. Beyond Loowit Viewpoint there is a family ahead of me on the trail. Annoying. I don’t think they are through hikers though, for one thing they have no water. They join several other people at a promontory. I don’t stop.
I step aside before entering one of the scary narrow spots to let a party coming toward me pass. The young man in front is wearing flip flops. Are you freaking kidding me? He looks European, perhaps from a place with no mountains. His two companions, however, are clad in travel worn, dusty hiking boots. Apparently friends do let friends hike in flip flops. I’m reminded of the plant identification hike I took on my hill after it had been raining for weeks. A woman in flip flops slipped and fell on the muddy trail and said, “There should have been a dress code.” People astound me.
The vulture (I don’t know it’s a vulture until I get home and look at the pictures I took, none of them good) I had been watching glide back and forth up the trail, suddenly swoops over me from behind then dives into the valley, spiraling down, down, down on the draft, then back up, apparently finding no feast.
I’m nearly back to the valley floor when my shoe catches a piece of gravel and skids out in front of me. I’m glad for the lesson learned when I was learning to use my new poles: plant them wide, so when a foot moves without benefit of brain, you won’t trip over one. I’m also grateful it didn’t happen on the very scary part earlier, which wasn’t, by the way, as terrifying going down hill as I thought it would be. Things usually are scarier in the abstract than in reality. I wish I could remember that.
The third time my shoe skids, I flash back to learning to ride a full sized bike—a blue Schwinn handed down from my big sister when she won a brand new three speed for her grand prize entry in the Olympia pet parade. I was six or seven or maybe barely eight when I skidded into loose gravel on the shoulder of the downhill grade and went sprawling. I remember my mother picking embedded gravel out of my palms and knees.
I was hurrying when I skidded, trying to put distance between me and the chatty party of three behind me. They are too far back to wait and let them pass, but not too far to hear them. I try slowing down, but they don’t catch up. Finally they get close enough and I stop at a wide spot in the trail.
“Can you help me with my laptop? I keep getting a message that I have no security.”
“Do you have Windows 8.1?”
“I don’t know what I have.”
And then they are gone and I return to solitude. I see no one else until I get to the last half mile, the Hummocks trail, where I meet many people, including small children. I hope no one is heading to the top, it’s darn hot now.
I’m back on the road at 3:30. I stop at Coldwater Lake and soak my tired feet for a few minutes before heading home. A shower and a beer on the deck are calling my name, along with the view of a distant mountain.
Trip latte in hand, I left town at 6:30 Friday morning and turned CuRVy toward the Olympic Peninsula. The day had dawned with blue sky, but as I ate my homemade granola and yogurt breakfast, fog had sneaked into the valley and hung out up I-5 toward Olympia. I knew it was going to be a beautiful day, so I welcomed the fog. I thrill to leaving on an adventure closed into CuRVy’s womb and at some point breaking into sunshine and blue.
I was heading up Hwy 101 when the fog dissipated, and I drove along the sun sparkling water of Hood Canal. I crossed the Duckabush and Dosewalips rivers, curved around Lilliwaup Bay, and turned onto the Hamma Hamma River Road. Fourteen miles of paved road was a treat; few of my adventures are without bone-jarring potholed dusty gravel surfaces.
I was on the trail at 8:30, six cars in the parking lot. I know this hike is a popular one—partly due to easy access, and it’s an easy 7-mile RT hike—but it was Friday, so I was hopeful it wouldn’t be too crowded. One man and young boy passed me about halfway up, followed shortly after by a ranger. I saw no one else until I arrived at the lake at 10:30.
The trail broke out of the second-growth forest to a broad rock outcrop above the blue, blue lake. The rock was occupied by a chatty couple a bit older than I, so I didn’t dally there. I should have. I headed down the steep trail with them right behind me. When I stopped to let them pass—hoping to get the noise ahead of me—the man stopped to tighten his shoes laces. I pressed on with a sigh. Where is it written that where there are two or more people there must be talking?
At the lake I passed some of the 28 campsites, a few occupied. I decided to continue on the trail along Lena Creek a ways to see where it went. I knew there was a bridge out—a casualty of the wettest fall in Washington history—cutting off access to the north end of the lake. I thought I would check it out. The trail forked, one direction to the inaccessible Brothers Wilderness Area. A large log spanned the tumbling creek, a few feet above the water. There was no sign of a bridge. I was confused. The report I reread when I got home was posted in November. Maybe the bridge parts rolled on down the river and were among the many logs in the lake. (The couple at the outcropping did say to one another they had never seen so many logs in the lake.) Or maybe the not-a-bridge was somewhere else.
A hiker crossed on the log while I stood there debating. Well, I wasn’t really debating. I think I could have done it, it was a wide log and I had my poles, but while I am not afraid of hiking alone, I am always aware of the limits to my risk-taking. If I traverse a rocky or root-filled spot, I plant my poles and move with deliberate care. If I twist my ankle, there is no one there to help. I didn’t think I would fall off the log, but that I would get to the middle and panic. I could have sat down and scooted, but a man and young boy were setting up camp several yards down the creek and would have observed me. I have my pride.
I continued up another fork of the trail that turned out to be a spur meeting the main trail to Upper Lena Lake. I was tempted to keep going, but I had read in a trail guide that it’s a hike for masochists, and that I am not. And I hadn’t read anything else. (As I write this I read a trip report that there is still snow. Reading on, though I would love to go there, I know I will not. That one needs a back country permit is probably a clue that I am too old for some adventures.)
I turned back toward the lake and went down into a campsite that made me wish I was spending the night. Sweet! Sitting on a log by the lake, my feet in the chilly water, I ate my lunch, defending it from the camp robbers (grey jays). A bat made some lazy circles, I heard a toad. My mother warned me the day before not to get eaten by a bear. She was light-hearted, but I know she worries when I am out alone. Kudos to her for five years of mostly keeping her fear to herself. I could tell her I saw nothing larger than a single squirrel, and astoundingly only two slugs.
By 12:30, the campsites were filling up. I dried my feet, put my shoes back on, and headed up the hill, hoping to spend a few minutes at the outcrop. Now, I know there are people who like to hike in large groups—community, camaraderie, meet new people and all that, you know who you are. I am not one of them. A group of twenty-some people around my age, give or take 10 years, covered the rock, along with three dogs and, I kid you not, a parrot. (What is the line between eccentric and weird?)
They seemed to be getting ready to move on, so I stuck around snapping some photos. I caught some snatches of conversation. They weren’t going down to lake level, they were going my way. I stuffed my camera into my pocket, snatched my poles, and took off, just ahead of two dads and their two young boys, who had camped the night before. The seven-year-old was getting whiny, he missed his mom. I walked faster. The dads started playing movie trivia with them to distract them, calling out questions, answers, discussion. I was nearly flying down the trail. (All told I saw six groups of dads and sons. Did any of them have daughters at home? If they had a daughter, would they bring her? It irritated me.)
I came up short behind a young couple stopped in the middle of the trail in wild-animal-observation stance. “Goat and baby” the woman mouthed. I caught a glimpse then hustled back up the trail until I had the movie trivials in sight and put my finger to my lips, indicating that they should shut the f*** up. “Goats,” I said quietly. The dad in the rear must have gone back to the mega group with the message, they got quiet though the dogs were having none of it.
Now this was a bigger-than-a squirrel thrill. I’ve seen a mountain goat close up just one other time, and it was lying down. They were not much interesting in the thirty people behind them, most of whom couldn’t see them and had started talking again. They grazed, moved down the trail a bit, grazed, drank from water trickling across the trail.
A hiker came around the corner from the other direction and stopped dead, then retraced his steps. Trapping them was probably not a great idea. In front now, and ready to move on, I started walking slowly toward them. The young boys pulled up beside me in a wide spot, definitely distracted now. We waited again then moved on, forcing them around the corner where the man and his party, holding a dog, were pressed up against the bank at the edge of the trail.
Suddenly aware of stranger danger, Mama dashed passed them, her baby bounding behind her. They hurtled down the shortcuts between the switchbacks and found more intimate dining on a rock outcrop away from the trail.
And I was back to hiking with a crowd. The young couple galloped past me and I took off too, eventually putting distance behind me, only hearing the chatty boys and dads above me when there were switchbacks.
I was back in my car at 2:30—the parking lot was nearly full—ice cream in Hoodsport was calling my name.
I haven’t spent much time at Sunrise, the other side of Mt. Rainier National Park. For one thing it’s a longer drive. And it’s not Paradise. It’s also hotter. But I went there yesterday and hiked down into Berkeley Park. It’s not my new favorite place, but I love going into new territory—and around here there is a lifetime of it to explore.
It was foggy at 6:30, really foggy on Hwy 12. Until the yellow sun ball started burning it off. It was a magical start to a trip to Sunrise.
Hiking at Sunrise is very exposed. Lots of full-on sun and rocks. It’s hot, did I say that already? I chose Berkeley Park for my hike and was not sorry. It took a while to get there through the full-on sun and rocks, but oh my goodness. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen so many alpine flowers. Surely it was peak of the peak. I think every alpine flower (except avalanche lilies, they are first and long gone), was blooming.
Berekely Park is short on Rainier views, long on flowers and a babbling brook. The trail descends into a bowl and into trees.There’s a backpacking camp down there, but I didn’t go quite that far. I did talk to five women, forever friends about my age, who hike together a lot. They were headed to the camp for five days. They live a bit south of me on I-5. I almost asked them if they needed another friend; they looked like my people.
I took the “long way” home, via Paradise. Though I didn’t actually go to Paradise, next time. Stopped at Reflection Lake to stretch my legs, and take a photo of four young women who had backpacked from the other side—Day 6, 56 miles—then on to my favorite mountain food venue in Ashford—Base Camp Grill—for a salmon burger and a beer. Had to settle for Rainier beer, but it was a new pale ale and not half bad. Too bad I didn’t get one of the Rainier logo glasses.
Here’s the thing, though: I forgot FORGOT! my camera. My iPhone just didn’t measure up. Okay, my “real” camera is an albeit relatively expensive but still basically a point and shoot, but still, better than the phone. I’m also not sure it was possible to capture the expanse of grandeur and the gloriosity of the flowers. Here is what I got.
On the way down the mountain I meet four teenage girls with backpacks. Then three more and an adult. Then strung out along the trail for a mile four more, then three more. Snippets of conversation: “She’s nice and all that, but she’s not really my friend.”
Then four more. I lose track after that. Another group of eight, perhaps, with two adults carrying their own backpacks plus a knapsack on their fronts, presumably for the girl wearing a boot on her right foot. I imagine the angst of that accident, that she would miss the trip.
Good gawd. Are they all together? Whether or not, are they all going to camp at Lena Lake? Later I meet a pair of young adult women. I don’t warn them that their night might not be serene, or that there might not be enough campsites.
It reminds me of my own junior high backpacking adventures from Camp Kenneydell Girl Scout Camp. I looked into each of their faces and think, “My god, I was that young once.” Happy Birthday to me.
It was kind of a spur of the moment adventure. I had to take Elliot back to Seattle. Rebecca had just told me about a northern access to Mt. Rainier National Park she had been to years ago. I had been doing double caregiving duty for three days: the very old and the very young. I deserved a break, right? Well, one doesn’t have to deserve a trip to the mountains, one just needs to go when they call.
Mowich Lake is accessed from the north; and just two hours from the city, it is a popular destination for Seattlites. But I was coming from NW Seattle, so I had to leave either at 6am or wait until 9. Not that traffic is hugely better at 9 than at 7 or 8, but I waited. Clearly the optimistic two hours was from the south end.
After the 20 miles on a washboard, pot-holed Forest Service gravel road—that I had to return over—I didn’t figure there would be time to hike. I had promised Rebecca I would be home to cook dinner for Mama, and it was a three-hour drive.
Because I wasn’t going to hike, I had looked only at the directions to the lake on the Washington Trails Association website. And I hadn’t packed my trekking poles. (They are going to live in the car from now on.) So I started down the trail with no idea of the destination, without having seen photos or read trip reports. I set the timer on my phone for when I thought I needed to turn around in order to be home by 6:00.
I was disappointed that the mountain is not really visible from the lake, though there were beautiful views from road. So I was thrilled to come to a sign pointing the way to Eagle Cliff Viewpoint—surely a mountain view. And there she was. I could turn around and return happy. The little platform was populated by lunchers, though, and I wasn’t inclined to stay. I checked the timer. I still had 15 minutes.
I walked a little ways, and heard water. I checked my clock. Still seven minutes. It wasn’t so much a waterfall, as a tumbling stream with a little foot bridge over it. Lovely. I still had three minutes and I still heard water in the distance.
I arrived at the next faster running stream, still not really a waterfall, just as the timer went off. Two women who must have been 80 were just leaving. God, I hope I’m still doing this when I’m 80. The “falls” were beautiful, though not spectacular, but I wondered what was around the next curve. I wasn’t sure if this was “the waterfall”; the sign a tenth of a mile back just said “water.” A few more minutes wouldn’t hurt. I could haul ass when I got to paved road. And no more stopping to take pictures of bugs.
I’ll just go across that talus field, I told myself; maybe there was another view of the falls. There wasn’t, but I heard water again. I’ll just go to the top of that hill. Okay, one more curve. If I find this water, I won’t have to come back here to see it. There are so many places to go in this state, it’s hard to justify returning because I didn’t see it all the first time.
I was nine minutes past my drop-dead-must-turn-around deadline when the trail split: Spray Falls to the right, Spray Park to the left. I was pretty sure the trail to the left was serious upshit, and I didn’t have my poles—or any more time. 100 feet to the Falls. The sound was thunderous, but I had no idea what I would find. I hadn’t seen any photos.
I had no idea, no idea. I came to the end of trail and looked left. Looked up. Looked way, way up. Thunderstruck. Speechless. Blown away. This World, this Creation, is a flat-out wonder.
I kind of got lost going home, road signs were not clear and Siri was out of commission. I was an hour late. After dinner—which, in a misunderstanding, Rebecca had thought she was responsible for, so I didn’t even have to rush—I looked at the WTA description of the destination .8 of a mile (up) beyond the Falls. I have to go back.