After 21 years in Western Washington, our family is still discovering hidden corners of beauty just a few miles from home. With a few days to enjoy Whitney at home, we looked for a short hike where we have never been. We wanted a place within an hour's drive and settled on Wallace Falls State Park just outside Gold Bar on Highway 2 east of Monroe. The drive in mid-morning was uneventful and easy - no gravel roads, no traffic. Only a few cars in the parking lot.
The trail follows the Wallace River into the Cascade foothills. Even through I have only been through God Bar a couple times before, I had never noticed the falls, which are easily seen from the valley floor a couple miles away. The trail was marked by the typical legal warnings which keep the government from being sued by ignorant people who have no judgments. In this case, McKenzie brought along a marker and changed the sign to make it more appropriate for the college boys she knows. The lower falls were interesting but not spectacular. It would be fun to see them when a raging torrent is boiling through the canyon.
At the middle falls, the scene opens up to a gorgeous view of the valley below. You can't buy this picture in Texas. You don't know how hard it was for McKenzie to sit for this shot. The smile disappeared as fast as it flashed.
This is the middle falls - a spectacular series of pools and cliffs. Hiking to this point is a small challenge but well worth the effort. In winter, this would be even more beautiful with the mist frozen on the rocks and trees. It is definitely on the list for a short winter jaunt.
At the upper falls is the end of the trial. One has to hike to the end, even though the view isn't nearly as rewarding as the middle falls. For a 2.7 mile hike to the top, it was satisfying. Knowing that we didn't quit was joy in itself. Being with my wife and kids brings me a lot of pleasure, more now that they are adults than before. I thought the teenage years were good - these are better.
Exploring the beauties around us should have been a bigger priority these past 21 years. There must still be hundreds of places near our home which we have yet to discover. Like this gem, it was hiding just a few miles from home, giving enjoymnet and recreation to anyone willing to seek it out.