Blowdowns on Boulder River Trail

Blowdowns on Boulder River Trail

By: Shelby January 26, 2015 9:00 am 1 comment

Well, it was bound to happen. Sooner or later, after hiking all over Washington state, there had to be a hike that we just absolutely, positively, did not enjoy. And that hike was the Boulder River trail. Maybe it was just the mood we were in? Maybe it was the weather? No, that couldn’t be it. We were in perfect hiking mood and the weather was perfect hiking weather. This just simply wasn’t the hike for us.

Boulder River Trail Header

The Boulder River courses through the Boulder River Wilderness Area, which I had never actually heard of until just a few days ago. I was trail scouting on WTA.org, and maybe it was a trail report, or an offhand comment on a hiking group on Facebook, but I somehow latched onto this hike. (And now, looking back through my hiking groups, I see it’s been mentioned dozens of times as the perfect hike.) It seemed easy, beautiful, and, being only an hour and a half away, close to home. Even the road to the trailhead from the highway is short and sweet, and fairly smooth as far as roads to wilderness areas go…

So anyway, we turned onto French Creek Road from SR 503 at milepost 41, and then continued down the “fine” gravel road another four miles to the trailhead. WTA.org describes the road as fine, which I originally took to mean as fine like a fine wine, but fine in this case meant just barely okay. There’s a small parking area at the end of the road, with space for maybe 15 cars. We parked in the mud on the side of the road, geared up, and hiked towards the sound of the rushing river.

I remembered reading about how beautiful and ethereal people thought the forest was. And, it really was. The trail was a wide, flat thoroughfare, with only a bit of mud in a few places. It rose steeply in only a couple of places. Really quite gorgeous. There were lots of small groups coming and going on the holiday Monday, so it was a lively trail.

BRT-1

BRT-2

We quickly entered into the wilderness area and, until then, the hike had been pretty uneventful. Then, we came to two waterfalls streaming from the cliffs above, about a mile and a mile and a half in. They were dramatic and beautiful. Having just finished rereading The Two Towers for the umpteenth time (literally finished it as we parked at the trailhead), I almost felt like I was coming to the falls of Ithilien. But I often feel that way in Washington. There were a couple of families that stopped at the falls on the main trail and then down by the river on a little spur trail, but we continued on past them, hoping to get down closer to the river further on down the trail.

The first waterfall

The first waterfall

The second waterfall

The second waterfall

BRT-9

BRT-11

BRT-12

After we crossed over the nice log bridge the trail became less and less maintained and the forest lost its beautiful ethereal charm and just became shorter and scruffier. It followed alongside the river but the views of the steely grey, rushing water were never really that great. I’m not one to say that we should cut down the trees in the woods for a better view (though I have actually said that before…..), but sometimes when you’re hiking on a river trail, you do expect to see the river every now and then, I guess. After crossing through mud pit after mud pit, and hurdling over log after log, and through stream after stream, I had just about had it. We passed a couple of hikers on their way back to the trailhead and I asked how far we were from the finish. “Oh, not far,” one said, “the trail just sort of… fizzles out. But you’re not far.”

“Oh.” I love it when a trail just fizzles out. It’s what I live for. I yearn for the fizzly trails that fizzle to nowhere. I love to just walk to an arbitrary point and back. Cool.

I realize I’m sounding really negative, but this is what was going through my head at the time. It’s hard to be super positive when you’re tromping around in waterproof boots that are currently holding water.

The blowdowns got bigger and the million stream crossings were annoying. My socks were soaked and my feet were sad. Not even my wool socks could keep my toes warm. I was hopping daintily over a wet spot on the trail, and then I sank like almost knee-high into a mud pit. Ugh. Finally, as Spenser was awkwardly climbing over a fallen tree, I decided I had had enough. “I’m finished with this hike,” I said. “I’m okay with that,” he responded, and climbed back down. A few other people turned around with us as we passed. Apparently we weren’t the only ones not having an awesome time.

BRT-15

Even more waterfalls!

Even more waterfalls!

BRT-18

Ugh. Just why?

Ugh. Just why?

Uuugghh.

Uuugghh.

Really?! Come on.

Really?! Come on.

See if you can find the stupid log.

See if you can find the stupid log.

This was where we turned around.

This was where we turned around.

BRT-27

BRT-28

BRT-29

BRT-31

BRT-32

BRT-34

BRT-35

But of course, as we finished the hike, we came back to the beautiful waterfalls and lush, green forest, and I started to have good feelings about the place again. Hiking in the woods is, by nature, an enjoyable endeavor, especially when you spend all day in front of the computer like we do. I doubt I’ll ever be mad that I went outside and spent a whole day hiking, but I do know that there are some hikes I won’t be revisiting. That’s okay, right?

No pass or permit required.
Directions: From SR 503, turn onto French Creek Road right at milepost 41, near Oso. Follow the road 4 miles till its end at the trailhead. There’s a vault toilet 1 mile in on the road, but not at the trailhead.

Leave a reply