Return to Lost Falls

Over the brinkI promised a while ago I’d go back to the hidden waterfall I found while snowshoeing with my buddy Dave Galvin at Snoqualmie Pass. Well, I did. And I got some more pretty pictures.

A couple weeks ago, while the high mountain snowpack was still melting and the Spring rains were still falling, I hiked up onto Sahalie Ski Club’s upper forty acres of wilderness and found the trail markers I had left on a couple of trees.

From there, it was a simple matter of diving off a steep hill slope into the gulch I’ve started calling the Lost Valley, because of the death-defying bushwhack it takes to get in there.

Forget walking down. You have to go the way apes go–by the use of all hands and feet–if you hope to survive. Well, there are no apes around this neck of the woods but maybe Sasquatch. This is not a family-friendly place. It’s all steep inclines coated underfoot with fir and hemlock needles that are slippery. It’s studded with brush everywhere. You’ve got to hang onto the brush for dear life on the way in and out.

Anyway, I got there. The picture above is a montage of photos I took while variously leaning, hanging, or teetering off the cliff. You can’t really see the falls if you don’t do that. I pasted a bunch of photos together to give an idea of how spectacular the falls are up close. Click the image for a larger view and use your imagination to add a thunderous roar. There you go, now you’re starting to get it. The picture doesn’t give the full sense of how awesome these falls are. To try to get a sense of scale, notice down in the lower right–that brown thumb-shaped object. That’s no thumb, that’s my foot, hanging off the precipice so I could get the shot.

The falls splits into twin streams, one large and thunderous and one thin and cute. After plunging about 50 feet into the pool, the stream immediately leaps off another ledge and plunges another 30 feet or so below what I’ve shown here.

After getting a dozen or so pictures and a couple bouts of “This twig I’m hanging onto better not snap or they’ll have to fish my bloated corpse out of there if they ever find me,” I decided I’d had enough.

It’s just a bit frustrating that I haven’t yet found a way to snap one good old tourist shot from some panorama point nearby and capture the whole she-bang in a single Kodak Moment. Maybe from somewhere way downstream. I took a look down that way and lo and behold, between jagged hillsides and below the plunge pool of the lower falls—there was the perfect spot!

Photo viewpointI snapped a photo, just so I would remember the place and try to go back there someday. See? It’s a fallen log that spans the stream. Just the right place to stand and snap that prize-winning photo. What’s that, you say? It looks slippery? And it looks like the whole raging torrent passes under it and would sweep a person into next Tuesday if they fell?

Well, if that’s the kind of faint-hearted, fair-weather falls photographer YOU are, then you can stay home and watch TV or cruise the internet while I go out and do what must be done.

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes medical thrillers, natural disaster novels, and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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2 Responses to Return to Lost Falls

  1. Randall Karstetter says:

    OK Tom, we have a spectacular natural site on our property. But it isn’t worth risking your life to photograph. But I agree it needs to be done. Next time you want to get that photo, call me and I’ll come with ropes and a harness to belay you and make sure you don’t slip and wind up as fish fertilizer. Also, a floating body in the creek would just spoil the ambiance.

  2. Tom Hopp says:

    Randy, you’re welcome to come along on my next trip. Just one thing. Bring a helicopter.

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