Monday, May 25, 2015

Raven Cliffs Falls

More backlog...

The girls and I hiked up at Raven Cliffs last weekend. I remember it being great, but it was too long ago to remember exactly what made it great. Maybe it'll all come back to me.

We intended to see the Dukes/Davis Creek Falls first, then continue on to Raven Cliffs, but as has happened several times before, I forgot that it costs $4 to park in the Dukes Creek lot. It turned out that I had about $2 in change in the car. No amount of scrounging could produce the $4 that we needed, so we spun around and figured we'd park on the forest road near the Raven Cliffs lot. Turned out though, that the Raven Cliffs lot had no fee. I guess that I'd forgotten about that too. Score!

Getting to Dukes from the Raven Cliffs lot required a little jaunt down the forest road and the crossing of Dukes Creek itself. The last time we were there it was a gentle little current an inch or two deep and the girls played in it for about an hour. That was probably 4 years ago though, and since then storms have really had their way with that crossing.

Storm Damage

Way back, the forest service fortified the southern side of the creek with all those rocks tied up in chicken wire. They held for a while, but it looks like trees got piled up behind them, water poured over, and that was that. Nature always wins, eventually.

It was feet deep where it was once inches, and the tangle of trees looked dangerous.

We crossed here instead.

Dukes Creek

This is actually crossing back, but you get the idea.

Crossing Dukes Creek

I tried to leap from rock to rock, but I ended up in the water. Turned out it was just as well though. The girls needed me in the water so they had an arm to hold on to when leaping from rock to rock themselves.

It took a while to get across, but once we did, things were a lot easier going. The trail to Dukes Creek Falls is really, really easy. So easy that both girls complained about how boring it was.

If boring, the trail was at least well decorated. There was a ton of Mountain Laurel blooming on either side. First time I'd seen it this year.

Mountain Laurel

I'd all but forgotten about its existence and seeing it was a nice surprise.

We made it to the falls quickly.

Dukes Creek Falls:

Dukes Creek Falls

And Davis Creek Falls:

Davis Creek Falls

Some guy was there taking pictures and he was all "They need to cut out some of these trees!" Sadly, most of the trees blocking his view were Hemlock, and riddled with adelgid. They'll be gone soon enough.

After enjoying the falls for a while, we headed back north. Having done it once, crossing the creek the other was faster and easier. Pretty soon we were on the Raven Cliffs Trail, heading toward that falls.

Crossing Dodd Creek

Right away on that trail though, there are a bunch of campsites, and the girls were already getting hungry, so we stopped for a quick break.

Taking a Break

There was a snail on the log that Iz sat on, so she moved it to one of the rocks that composed a nearby fire ring.

Billy the Snail

Then they found another snail and put it near that one. Since Sophie names all animals that she sees in the woods, she named them Billy and Mandy, from "The Grimm Tales of Billy and Mandy". They found another snail later and named it Grimm.

After the break we got going again. We passed the Heart Tree.

The Heart Tree

We clambered up over a bunch of roots and rocks. I'd forgotten how rocky the trail is. It kind-of follows an old rail bed, but the rail used to cross the creek over and over, and over the years, people wore in some reroutes. The rooty and rocky bits are mainly in those reroutes, but here and there, the old rail bed is a little bit rooty too.

Raven Cliffs Falls Trail

When the girls were little, Kathryn used to tell them that all the holes between rocks and in trees were fairie homes. Even when they got old enough to know better, they still liked to call them that. I figured that Kathryn had just made that up, but it seemed that somebody else had the same idea.

Fairie Home

Apparently somebody hauled all those little bits out there and spent time building that.


It's art.

After what the girls complained about being an interminable distance, we finally arrived at our destination.

Arriving at Our Destination

The Raven Cliffs Falls.

Raven Cliffs Falls

Which cut through the center of the Raven Cliffs.

Raven Cliffs

We sat there for a while and ate a bit. Sophie's batteries needed to recharge.

Taking Another Break

While we sat there, some guy and his girlfriend/wife showed up and climbed all over the rocks nearby. He had been drinking, as evidenced by his personal odor, and ended up stumbling and sliding down the face of one of the rocks he was climbing on. Not on purpose. He saved it, but man was it sketchy. They both had hula hoops too, and they didn't so much hike, as dance down the trail with the hoops. It reminded me of rhythmic gymnastics. I guess that's something people do? Not judging. Do your thing, it's not hurting anyone. They seemed to be having a good time.

When Sophie's batteries were back to good, we took off toward the car. She'd brought her iPod with her and she listened to Taylor Swift all the way back. She seemed to be motivated and moving with a purpose. Iz actually had to ask her to slow down a few times. Hmmm... Maybe I'll suggest that she bring her iPod next time too.

And then we were done. Woohoo, waterfalls!

We grabbed some dinner at the Troll Tavern. Fortunately we'd established earlier that I did have the $2 it takes to park in Helen. The food was good, but a lot more expensive than it used to be. I guess both girls graduated from the kids' menu since we were there last.

Re-reading all this, it doesn't strike me as being as good as I remember it. The words don't do the experience justice. Maybe the details just aren't fresh any more and I'm leaving stuff out. Maybe it's just how things always seem better when you think back on them. I don't know. I'll have to think about it, I guess.

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