Most people love sunny days. Sun is wonderful, but it’s not so great when you’re trudging through the humid rain forests of Cascadia.
Today we hiked up to High Falls. I’m not completely sure how it got it’s name but it does have a reputation for being dangerous. Many an experienced hiker have slipped and fell off the rocky exposed trail. This was our first time, so we expected some vertigo-inducing views. We were not disappointed at all.
The first scramble from the forest floor next to the creek was mossy and rocky and Izu the shiba inu had no problems with navigating the small cracks and crevasses despite her fear of heights. I took up the middle of our little marching order, grabbing damp branches inexplicably growing out of the granite. I’ve always wondered how the gnarled trees manage to hold on to these mountains, the earth they cling to is so thin.
We found ourselves teetering off the top of the scrambled after a few minutes. Now we’re starting to see why this is so dangerous. The trail weaves it’s way through the edge of a deep gully and surrounding fir. Roots and loose rocks make footing careful and deliberate. At points the trail just appears to drop off into the open void, only the tops of cedar visible between you and the sheer cliff on the far side of the gap.
It’s exhilarating, to be so close to such danger. It’s been raining lately and if you’re not paying attention, it would be so very easy to just slide off and never be heard from again.
Izu has done well so far, but we’ve finally found a scramble where she begins to balk at attempting to climb. Max and I encourage her gently, but finally we have to pick her up and pass her between us to get her onto the next part of the trail. We both smell like wet dog. We surmount it and look back and can see back towards Squamish river. The clouds are swirling on the other side of the river, above trees. I think it might rain.
After an hour or so we reach a larger flatter spot than the others we’ve passed. With the gorge to our right the whole time, it’s unnerving to finally reach an area were we can be more hasty in our steps.
The trail appears to split here. Another scramble up a steep cliff leads off to the left. To the right it continues flat, almost leaning into the valley. A large tree with branches hanging over the open has a small sign on it, “Viewpoint”. We pick our way through the mossy edge towards the outcropping.
We are not disappointed with the view from here. After hearing the water falling for the past while, it’s rewarding to see the falls throwing itself past the green mossy and purply granite walls. The clouds are moving closer. Perhaps today isn’t going to be the day we’ll visit the top of the falls.
While we’re prepared to weather rain and even a night out stuck in the woods, the thought of navigating the slippery rocks on the return trip is not inviting. We decide that heading back down is the best bet. These cliffs are not going anywhere soon.