I knew Fantastic Falls wasn't going to be the average walk in the park. At best, it'd be a walk through the Snoqualmie Tree Farm to an overlook where we'd be able to see the waterfall. Still, with a perfectly sunny, albeit a little chilly, Sunday free for the hiking I set out to find the falls and determine their fantasticity. Silly Daryl was suckered in, too, and brought Lex and Jack.
For as long as I've driven up the North Fork County Road through the Snoqualmie Tree Farm, and it's been a while, I've always wondered at what was down the first gated spur. There always seemed to be a car parked there and today was no exception. We parked and geared up, which seems to be more and more complicated each time I go out. Henry's in a front-pack, but I still had to carry a ton of extra diapers, wipes, and pull-ups just in case. (For the record, nothing bad happened after he took car of business just before leaving the car and immediately upon his return.)
The road climbs slowly past second growth forest littered with debris from less than ecologically minded folks. The crown jewel of the collection was a computer and monitor riddled with bullets. Classy. (I'll also point out it was a PC. Who could imagine doing that to a Mac?)
There are many forks off the road and a bunch of scratches of trails heading off into the woods. We followed the main track shown on the map and it seemed to be going in the right direction. Along the way we passed a neat outcropping that I'd love to go back to explore and numerous kid traps like puddles, maple leaves, and slugs. It's amazing how interesting some of these things are just because we were in the woods. At home they'd be no big deal, but here... ooh!
As the roads got smaller and more overgrown we could hear the river getting louder. The final push was through a stand of young alder, but in the end we weren't really that close. We were at the top of a gorge (Ernie's Gorge, to be specific) that was a few hundred feet deep. Unfortunately, it had been logged so there was no way we were getting down through the debris even if it had been just me and Daryl.
Instead, we spread out rain coats on the ground and got the kids to sit for snack. I warmed a bottle for Henry and leaned out over logs to try to get a view of where the river probably was. In the end we never saw any water. It was hidden in a stand of more mature trees that were left to shelter the river.
Looking at the GPS track back at home I can see where we were and that we should have probably taken a different road in. Still, two miles was a great walk for the four kids. I also saw a great development in Lilly who was able to problem solve and offer a solution to Clara's tears. As Lilly put her arm around Clara and explained that it would be ok and that they could start over I felt all warm inside knowing that in spite of the periodic fights at home they cared about each other at least a little.
And yes, Daryl and I will go bacl to find a better way in. I'm too stubborn for just one attempt.