After having failed to reach the legendary Hawthorne Falls last week, I was itching to go back and get the job done. So, after a meeting on Tuesday ended earlier than expected, I was able to race home and change, arriving at the Gale River trailhead by 4:30.
With only a few hours of daylight left, I was practically running up the trail with my small “whack-pack” and tripod in hand… got some strange looks from a few heavily-laden hikers!
Hit the first river crossing and a few minutes later veered off-trail and back across the river, picking up the well-trodden herd path and following it for a little less than a mile to where it ends at the large sunny slab and small waterfall. From this point, it was either bushwhack up the bank along the side of the stream, or just head straight up the stream bed itself. The water level was fairly low due to the lack of rain, so I opted for the latter option.
What a great choice! Close to a mile of beautiful cascades over smooth, chiseled slabs, large open pools, jagged steps, and mini-flumes. At each corner I stopped yet again and again to admire the next sight! If I hadn’t been in such a hurry, I could have spent hours photographing all these marvelous cascades! The slabs were fairly slippery, but with a careful step and the occasional branch for steadiness, I was able to rock-hop and step most of the way directly up the stream.
At one corner near a particularly rough blowdown, I circled up the steep bank to the left. I could hear the sound of rushing water, and through the trees could make out the great height of Hawthorne Falls beside and below me. Through the trees I could make out some great little ledges on the other side of the stream, so I pulled myself up via branches and trees to the top of the falls, where there was a great view down into the chasm from a slab at the top. I crossed over the stream and made my way down the other steep bank, trying to get a good vantage point for a photo.
On the way back to the trail, I decided to climb up to the top of the ridge on the east bank and follow it down. This was a faster option than walking the stream bed, going through a mixture of open woods and scruffy evergreens. 3 hours from my arrival I was back at the car with some daylight to spare!