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Fall-into-the-Wall Falls
posted by John : December 30, 2007

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Serious business

Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!

On the way up to Snoqualmie Pass the traffic advisory announced that almost 14 feet of snow had fallen in the month of December and that conditions were lousy on the freeway and expected to get worse.

Yowza. Should Papa and I really take the girls up to the Pass with such a forecast?

Sure! Why wouldn't you?

The plan was to snowshoe west on the old Snoqualmie Pass highway to find a tiny waterfall called Fall-into-the-Wall Falls. At just 22 feet high it wasn't a massive cascade, but did promise a worthy destination for the outing. Heck, we might even make it as far west as Franklin Falls, though that would make for a harder return.

The first challenge (other than getting all the gear and kids into the truck) was finding a way over the snow-wall. Plows had carved a nice spot along the side of the road, but had also created a sheer wall of snow. It wasn't even well consolidated so you couldn't kick steps into it. I did find a way up on my third attempt, though, so we unloaded the truck and transported everything (and everyone over the hump.

While Papa fiddled with his new snowshoes and the girls ate bars and hot chocolate sitting on the pulk I parked the truck in the Summit West lot and walked back along the road. It was only half a mile, but I didn't like the idea of walking with two little girls along a busy and icy road.

Reunited, we geared up and headed west. (Clara confirmed this with her new compass.) No one had been this way in ages so the snow was fresh and deep. Papa carved out a foot-deep trench in places even though he has 30-inch snowshoes. Of course, total weight might have something to do with it since the girls only sank an inch or two when they paralleled the trench.

The first stop was under the westbound lanes of I-90. We paused for a few minutes to remember what it was like to walk on solid ground and then headed back into the softly falling snow. (That very same snow tended to dampen the sound and at times we could hardly tell we were right between the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-90.)

As we continued down we looked for the stone wall on the right (yeah, good luck finding that in winter) and talked about what we'd do if we saw a plow coming up the road. (Cover the kids and ride out the wave of debris.) The need for the plan was brought to light when we saw a plow heading east spray the area we'd just been standing in with dirty snow and ice from the road above.

We couldn't find the waterfall in spite of its supposed proximity to the overpass so we kept heading west and down. Papa got out a ways ahead. I tried to alert him to the plow coming right toward him with little success. After 10 or more tries he finally did turn around and saw the rooster tail coming right for him. He did get out of the line of fire, but reported the wind from the falling snow was substantial.

Just beyond that point we turned around and headed back. Although Lilly had ridden most of the way down in the pulk with little space issue we had to rearrange some things and take off the girls' snowshoes before we could get them all in place. As I leaned into the harness I found that 50 pounds of girl and an extra 15-20 pounds in gear on my back made the climb up significantly more difficult than the trip down.

As the girls began melting down I asked Papa to swing over by the edge to make sure we didn't just happen to be right next to the Falls and found that indeed we were. We'd tacked on an extra half mile each way, but it was a quality half mile so I didn't mind too much.

The falls themselves are kind of weak, at least in winter. It was difficult to say exactly how big they were because we were up above them and the snow was built up all around the falls.

Back at the trailhead we found about 10 cars parked beneath the "No Parking Any Time" signs. Hmph. I stuck my snowshoes into the snow and trotted off to get the car. Papa kept the girls entertained with the last of the hot chocolate and some other snacks.

Had we not passed the waterfall without knowing it on the way down I don' think we would have gone beyond. So in the end it was good we had passed it up, though I think we could probably have done without the crying a mile from the car.

Totals: Two miles, 200 feet of gain.

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