Day 20/Saturday/April 26:
After a quiet night and a restful night’s sleep (no traffic on Wyeth, muted trains and the forest blocked the freeway sounds), we headed down 30 toward Cascade Locks where we would cross over the Bridge of the Gods bridge to Washington, paying our $1.00 toll to a gal who had a collection of gnomes in her booth. We were welcomed to Washington about half way over. We turned west on highway 14 toward Washougal to purchase fuel at the local Shell for $3.859 for diesel, less expensive than gasoline for a change. The restrooms were clean and the station was well-maintained.
We continued on Business 14 to Camas where we picked up 500 West which zigzagged northward and westward for an alternate to the sprawling mess that is the budding megalopolis of Vancouver, Washington. We passed through hobby farms and we noticed the beautiful soil that was turned. All the flowering trees and shrubs were brightly colored and in full bloom brightening up the grey gloom. We just skirted the creeping northward sprawl of Vancouver as it covers the countryside northward to Battle Ground. Somewhere when 500 makes up its mind to head north, it becomes 503.
Since we had around nine hours to arrive at our final night’s camping (Walmart in Tumwater), we headed into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to find Lower Lewis Falls, a very photogenic cascade of water on the Lewis River. We pass through Brush Prairie, pass by Battle Ground and wind our way through Amboy and Chelatchie until we turn right onto Forest Road 90.
It begins to rain (affirming that we are really back in Washington) but we can see faded patches of blue through the trees in thick colonies along the road. There are few cars, maybe a few good old boys in their trucks, and no semis. We stop at a rest area/boat launch for a break. Even though it is nicely landscaped, the vault toilets were gross although the building was nice. I am unsure if Yale Lake is a reservoir or a lake as it is a lake on the map but a reservoir on signs. I am thinking that the chain of three lakes on the Lewis River ate reservoirs as each has a dam at their western outlets. Lake Merwin is dammed but called a lake as is Yale but the easternmost is named Swift Reservoir.
We climb above Yale then Swift crossing many feeder streams and passing by quite a few waterfalls along the sometimes rocky cliffs. Occasionally, the sides of the road have sloughed off and there are not always guard rails or trees to block your fall.
Forest Service Road 90 loosely follows the Lewis River north. It is paved, but damaged until we arrive at about a 2 mile section that is ungraded and more suitable for a 4×4 high clearance vehicle like ours. Yet we saw low sedans pull into the day use parking lot for the Lower Lewis Falls Recreation Area.
The short 1/8 mile to the fall overlook is beautiful with fallen monarchs and big trees surrounded by a carpet of ferns and moss. Very primeval. The falls were thundering down creating a huge over spray. I tried for a few detail shots as shooting the falls in their entirety would have resulted in so much white space. A better time to visit and take the trail to the base of the falls would be in the fall. The falls would have less volume and a bonus would be fall color. And the campground would be open then as it was closed now.
Returning to 90 we began the long way to Woodland and the I5 corridor. I stopped along the way a fad shot a few mossy scenes of the woods and a creek with mossy boulders. I just didn’t want to come away with no images.
More sedans, small low cars were headed toward the falls or maybe just going north to Randle but if they drive on that bad section they will do some serious damage to their undercarriages.
Actually, the day gave us a mama elk, a dark winter coated deer and a ruffled grouse. And, the rain stopped allowing the sun to peak through the tree canopy.
I-5 was busy but we bravely took it on and arrived in Tumwater at around dinner time. We treated ourselves to a ready-made sandwich for Tony and a Greek salad for me. We parked at the local WalMart, a first for us. We can hear I-5 southbound but hopefully we are so tired that we will fall asleep. It was a long day, especially for my husband who had to drive interstates and forest back roads.
Tomorrow we will leave early, like about 6am to run the gauntlet through the Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Marysville, and Mount Vernon until we arrive home.
Just a few thoughts about this trip:
The further you are from big cities, the friendlier people are. This is a general rule and was broken several times by some very nice folks giving us directions.
The further from the Cascades you get, the drier and hotter it is. It may get colder at night but this generally holds true in the spring and fall which is when we travel.
There are collectors of scrap outside of the large towns and out in isolated pockets. The scrap is rusted machinery, vehicles, RVs, parts of the former and water tanks, plus things that were beyond description and use.
The further away from the bigger towns and small cities, the more interesting the landscapes and there is way less traffic.
I will think of more generalizations later but these are what come to mind.
A few highlights on this trip:
Watching the ospreys feed their young above Burney Falls
The beautiful falls themselves
The sun hitting the eastern Sierra with snow (but arriving too late to photograph)
The blue green color of Mono Lake as you drive in from Nevada on the north side
The amazing place that is called the Sump and the surrounding area
Being in the midst of two cattle drives
Finding a fist-sized agate
The rainbow that ended on an evening sunlit butte
The birds that cleaned our truck and camper
Finding some great boon docking locations
The petrified forest south of Gerlach, NV
Meeting a nice couple on the Washington coast who graciously are allowing us to shoot their daughter’s wedding
The nice people in the small towns