Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hike of the Week : Boulder River

As this was a two-hike weekend, we hit the road early Sunday morning and headed north to Arlington and the Boulder River Trail. Another bumpy road to the trailhead, but nothing that Woody (and the other Subarus that were there when we headed out) couldn't handle!

We were, however, glad not to have been in the lot when this big tree went down...

We set out a little after 8am under cloudy skies.

I signed us in at the trail register -- I hold to this idea that the rangers can justify their funding if lots of people use the trails. And it can't hurt, right?

The trail started out as a wide, gradual climb -- a former forest road. See the big rock in the middle of the trail?

That big rock had broken off of this hillside. Let's just say we didn't linger long.

The day was perfect for hiking -- especially since it was early and we had the trail to ourselves.

A few hundred yards along we met this fallen fella:

There was plenty of room to walk underneath him, but what a big 'un!

Even outside the wilderness boundary, there were some big second-growth trees.

At about a mile in, we crossed over into the Boulder River Wilderness.

We could hear the Boulder River, but could only catch glimpses of it through the trees.

We passed a few tiny streams to cross, but nothing we *needed* our Gore-tex boots for.

I had read that this hike features a "beautiful unnamed double waterfall", and eventually the trees opened up enough for us to see this:

Don't get me wrong, it was pretty... and the fall was quite high. But given how many waterfalls we have in the northwest I wasn't surprised it wasn't named.

We had been asked for photos of our boots for our Kili training group, so Wil was getting a little artsy... notice just how muddy my trousers are, and we're only about a mile and a half in:

But then we went on for a few more yards and saw this... an actually surprisingly unnamed double waterfall:

Which prompted another artsy #bootie of Wil:

We continued along the trail, crossing an old-school log bridge (just slippery enough to make you nervous...)

The trail turned away from the river and started climbing. As the trail description said, "there are some rocky, rooty and muddy spots along this section".

We crossed a few downed trees, but nothing major.

We did come to a larger blowdown that, thankfully, had had a bit of attention in recent weeks so we could climb over it by bracing our feet against the bottom of the cut.

We kept moving along the trail, hitting a few more little creeks across the path:

And though the weather got cloudy, we still caught a few glimpses of snow-topped mountains nearby.

The path was a bit narrow through this stretch, and we stepped off to let a group of three hikers pass. One of them said, "Don't turn back now! You're almost at the next waterfall!" and then realized that we were just letting them pass, and said, "Oh! You're just polite!"

Today, Sasquatch wore a hat. Oh, no, Wil again.

Soon enough we reached the second big waterfall, just in time for it to start hailing. We had been on trail for 90 minutes, and our training schedule had us down for 90 - 120 minutes of hiking. So we decided to turn back rather than keep going. 

I was, apparently unimpressed by the waterfall...

We were faster on the way back -- possibly because the hail got a bit bigger and I was a little cold. (Too lazy to put my coat back on, mind you... One of my THREE coats I was carrying in my pack...) But I do love the way this trail looks.

We got back to the car in just over 2½ hours with some very muddy -- but happy boots.

Boulder River Trail

5.1 miles
937 feet elevation gain

Postscript: Oso Landslide

On Saturday, March 22, 2014 a major landslide occurred 4 miles east of Oso, Washington. a portion of an unstable hill collapsed, sending mud and debris down the hill, engulfing a rural neighborhood and covering approximately 1 square mile. 43 people were killed. After our hike we drove out to a memorial for the victims.

I hadn't been there before, and I was taken aback by just how the hillside looked -- I don't think these pictures do it justice.

And I was moved by the tributes left for the victims.

As the three-year anniversary had only recently passed, there were a lot of fresh flowers, notes, and signs on these memorial trees.


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