Boulder River

It's winter storm time. Not scattered showers. More like all day long rain. When it's that wet Boulder River is a great choice. Not too steep, some big waterfalls, and no viewpoint. No need to climb high when you are inside a cloud while getting soaked. The big trees are a nice bonus. I joined Janet and Gwen for this trip. We drove up the highway towards Darrington in  a steady rain. The French Creek Road has some pot holes but it was not too bad. There were no other cars at the trailhead. Rain jacket - check. Rain pants - check. Gaiters - check. Umbrella - why not? We were on  our way by about 8:55 am. The route starts out on an old road. The puddles were only about four or five inches deep here. The small unnamed lakes in the trail were farther along.

I've hiked Boulder River half a dozen times over the years. Usually in winter or spring. Often on a wet day though occasionally in the sunshine. The last two times I turned around before the river ford at the end of the route. The last time there were dozens of huge trees down. That has all been cleaned up. We found only two spots where trees have come down across the trail and neither were much of a problem. Even with all the rain I hoped we would continue to the end.

We did do a number of drainage fixes along the way. With so much water on the trail it was hard to make much of a dent but several spots are dry now. In short order we reached the falls. We dropped down to the river at the first falls and again at Feature Show Falls just a little farther along. I chose to bring an umbrella and not poles. I stayed drier but some of the many side creek crossings were more exciting than usual. The falls were full of water. That along made the trip well worth it.

I have hiked this trail on rainy days but I had never seen so much water on and crossing the route. Some of the puddles were deeper than my high top boots. It just added to the fun. The spot were the huge tree fell along the trail for 75'+ was completely clear. The tree was blown up with dynamite. Hard to believe it was completely gone. One tree fell across the trail and left many branches obscuring the way. On the way back we removed all the branches. It is much better now. The route goes near the river then climbs high above. Sometimes the river is far out of sight but it never out of sound. At least on this high water day. The rain never fell especially hard though it never entirely stopped either. The high winds forecast did not occur. It was a good rainy day for a hike.

In spots there are logs to walk across on land. Beside them the ground was deep much. They were slick but not too bad. Several log bridges have broken over the years and have not been replaced. On this day we had some rock hops across deep creeks. At one spot after crossing a creek the trail climbs a short way up a muddy slope. Boots sank very deep here. Early in the day I mentioned taking a photo on a trip a decade earlier of a hiker inside a hollowed out tree. I stopped for  moment and fell behind. When I caught up Gwen jumped out of that tree to scare me. Took me totally by surprise.  The trail seems to go on forever. Finally it began to descend. A few minutes later we dropped down to the trail end where there are several campsites. They all had one thing in common. Big puddles or small lakes.

We found a spot near the river that was a little out of the rain. While we were all warm on the hike in it did not take long for a chill to set in. About a 15 minute lunch is all we could take. It was strange to hike all the way in without seeing a single person. On the way out I stopped at one campsite. The campfire ring was like a basin. It held quite a bit of water. Cameras did not come out much on the way back. We did not make much of an effort to go around most of the big puddles. Dry socks were back at the car. When we were about 1.5 miles from the car we met two groups of hikers. Two folks heading back and four more heading out. There were nine people on the trail all day long and we all met in exactly the same spot. What are the odds? As mentioned we saw nobody else all the rest of the way back.

With stops down at the river near two of the falls plus a number of photos plus some trail work we took 2:35 hiking to the trail end. Coming back we chopped that down to about 1:50. I wore waterproof gear and carried an umbrella. My pans stayed try and by socks were nearly dry. My shirt was soaked. Not with rain, with sweat. I was glad to get into dry clothes for the drive home. This proved to be a classic Boulder River hike. Most folks were stay home while the rain came down. We chose to go for a hike. Boulder River looks like a rain forest with all the hanging moss. It's days like this that make that happen. For the day we hiked just under 9 miles with about 1100' of gain. Much of the gain is in small ups and downs. I'm glad to have spent the day on the trail.

Log Over Trail
Pretty Good Lighting
Roaring River
Green Everywhere
Falls Across River
Another Waterfall Shot
Janet Descends To River
Feature Show Falls
Base Of Falls
Many Tiers
Janet & Gwen By River
Falls & River
Crossing On Bridge
Big Tree
Gwen Hugs Tree
Janet's Turn
Group Hug
Big Log
Another Waterfall
Narrow Gorge
One Wet Trail
Fast Flowing Creek
Gwen Crosses Creek
Nearing Another Creek
End Of Trail
Looking Down River
Warming Hands
Trees Across Trail
More Creek Crossings
Broken Bridge
Flowing Fast
More Puddles
Passing Waterfall Again
Final Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012