Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Denny Creek, Franklin Falls

October 10, 2009

Denny Creek and Franklin Falls, October 10, 2009

This was a Mountaineer hike led by my friend Steve with me operating as co-leader. What this really means is that I “sweep” and that gives me a chance to focus on photography as well as my duties as co-leader.

Just about every hiker in the Pacific Northwest has been to the Denny Creek “bathing rocks” and/or Melakwa Lake. It has been – and remains – one of the most popular trails off the I-90 corridor.

Last winter floods took out the bridge that spans Denny Creek; this time of year it’s not a problem but when the rains begin (or snowmelt in the spring) that will be a different story. I don’t know what the Forest Service plans to do regarding the missing bridge but when I know more about that, I’ll clue you too.

Most of the hikers we met on the trail were continuing on from Denny Creek to Melakwa Lake. Our hike would be easier and with much less elevation gain. When we got to Denny Creek there wasn’t much water in the creek; it’s just an easy rock hop across a narrow channel as of this writing. Looking upstream we were amazed to see how small the waterfalls were; I’m used to seeing those waterfalls roaring, not trickling. In fact you can even walk up beside the waterfalls for a closer view. The “bathing rocks” are dry slabs, you couldn’t slide on these slabs no matter how hard you tried.

After taking a look at Denny Creek we backtracked to the Franklin Falls trailhead where we’d left the cars for Part II of this easy ramble. Last year at this time Steve and I led the same hike and there were tons of mushrooms (that hike turned into more of a photography trip than a hike) but this year there were fewer. The trail is in good condition – no problems as of this writing.

The last stretch of the trail to the waterfall can be dicey; the rocks are slippery and tilt to the downward side. Today the down-sloping rocks were drier than I had ever seen them; there has been so little rain to date. We got down to the base of the waterfall without difficulty save one hiker who elected to stay back and enjoy the view from a different perspective.

The waterfall is in a strange setting – above are the supports of I-90 though you can’t see the waterfall when you are ON I-90. Between I-90 and the waterfall is one of the most splendid fall color displays I’ve seen so far this year. This was our lunch spot; who could ask for a better view? A waterfall surrounded by fall color (you just have to ignore I-90 or perhaps pretend it’s an ancient structure left by aliens).

We made a loop back to the Franklin Falls trailhead via the Wagon Road; that’s a much less traveled trail. The trail crosses the forest service road 2-3 times before it returns to the trailhead where our hike to Franklin Falls began.

Since the hike was short we extended the day by a stop at IHOP in Issaquah for various treats and hot drinks.

Stats: Both hikes are short – perhaps 1-1/2 miles for Denny Creek round trip and 2 miles (max) for Franklin Falls. I didn’t take the GPS or my altimeter.

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