The Washington waterfalls.
Wednesday was a three-waterfall day, though I had only planned on visiting two. First came a return to the exotically-named “Pool of the Winds,” which I had first hiked to on Tuesday. It’s unusual in that a vertical tree trunk fills the entire height of the waterfall, with a silky white sheet of water falling alongside the trunk. The hiking trail began in the campsite where I pitched my tent, in Beacon Rock State Park, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. What a great way to start the day: hiking to a waterfall! (I didn’t know about this waterfall until I’d already camped one night in the state park. I heard about it from a park ranger during a conversation the following morning.)
After this second visit to “Pool of the Winds,” I packed up my tent and drove towards another waterfall, one that a woman who works in the Stevenson, WA Visitors Information Center had told me about. I liked its redundant-sounding name: “Falls Creek Falls.” It’s in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I didn’t have a map that showed it, so I stopped a couple of times to ask locals for directions. Eventually I found myself driving along a bumpy dirt road. Mine was the only car on the road, and I thought: Great! I’ll have the waterfall all to myself. Just then two four-wheel drive vehicles with headlights shining came roaring up behind me. I got out of their way. When I finally arrived at the parking lot for the falls, 2 or 3 miles later, I found more than a dozen cars already parked there.
The hike to the waterfall was lovely, though I didn’t linger on the way there. That’s my usual m.o. for waterfalls: I hike fast to get there and stay as long as I feel the pull to remain at the falls. Then I mosey back, taking as long as I want. Falls Creek Falls is a gorgeous sight, one that you can long linger to gaze upon. And, like most waterfalls, it’s not just the sight that is intoxicating. It’s the sound as well.
On the walk back, I wandered down to the creek bed and stuck both bare feet in the icy cold water, though not for very long! I stayed down at the creek for quite a while, sitting on a rock in the sun, waiting for my feet to dry, gazing at the water, trying to fathom the incredible complexity of the water flow – over and around rock; rapids here, eddies there.
The third waterfall I visited yesterday was an unexpected delight. While driving along a back road in central Washington in the late afternoon, a sign suddenly appeared at the side of the road:
IRON CREEK FALLS
<-- 500 FT
What a great surprise! The water from the falls gushes straight out, horizontally, before falling into a pool below. It’s not a lofty waterfall. The walk there was easy and quick. But this waterfall had real power to it. . . and character.
Each waterfall is unique. Each has its own personality and distinct shape and sound – a life of its own.