On July 3rd we awoke at the Seasons Motel, located at the base of Mount Rainier, ready to hit the trails and do some hiking. I decided it might be a good idea to check the trail conditions before heading up the mountain as I had heard that the unseasonably cold winter, followed by a mild summer had led to slow melt off of the snow on the mountain resulting in quite a bit of washout on the hiking trails. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I not only discovered the trail I wanted to hike that day, Comet Falls, was closed, it was closed because of SNOW!! SNOW in JULY, I was in shock and terribly disappointed (although we did make the best of it with a quick snowball fight on our way up the mountain:)) I always believed the Comet Falls hike to be one of the most romantic and magical hikes I have ever been on and I so badly wanted to share it with John that day.
Not to be deterred by a little bump in the road I began investigating what trails we could actually hike that day without the need of snow shoes and it turned out there were very few options for us to chose from. I decided we would settle on hiking a trail I had never been on before that was at a low enough elevation we would not be trekking through snow, named Silver Falls. When we arrived at the trail head of Silver Falls it began to rain so we popped into the visitor center for a quick peek at their displays and to grab a trail map before starting out on our woodland adventure.
We headed outside to the trail-head and it took about a whole two seconds for me to forget all about us not being able to hike to Comet Falls, suddenly overcome by the unmatchable beauty of the Pacific North West. As John and I proceeded down the trail we stumbled upon a natural hot spring (which turned out to be his very first encounter with one) and then continued deeper and deeper into the forest, making our way along the Silver Falls trail. I felt as though the farther into the woods we went the younger I felt, with memories of the many days I spent in my youth hiking the trails of Mt. Rainier with my family and friends, suddenly rushing back incited by the fresh smell of pine and mossy ground beneath our feet. Although it was still raining a little as we hiked that day we stayed mostly dry, sheltered by the majestic and towering pine trees above us. After about an hour of hiking I was a child again, jumping over fallen branches, investigating every curiosity we came across, fearlessly running down steep embankments, catching raindrops with my tongue, it was awesome.
On our way to Silver Falls we came across many creeks and rivers, including the Laughingwater Creek and as we approached the half way mark of our hike we could hear in the distance the unmistakable roar of the Ohanapecosh River tumbling over Silver Falls. As we rounded the corner to the first viewing point, the site of Silver Falls literally took our breath away. We stood there, mesmerized by the rushing water, the cool aqua green color of the river, the overwhelming sound of the water crashing over the falls. As we made our way down the embankment, exploring the many viewing areas around the falls time stood still, the world melted away, and for that moment it was just us and the mountain and a feeling a peace came over me that I had not felt in a very long time.