After sitting in the apartment from Wednesday until the following Monday, I was going a little bit stir crazy. My left ankle was still swollen like an egg, my right foot was still achey, but to hell with it, I’m going hiking. So I picked an easy hike. More of a walk than a hike. With almost no elevation or anything to worry about, and only two miles long. Hiked 12/8/2014, here is Franklin Falls, folks!
- Distance: 2 miles round trip
- Elevation: 400ft gain (didn’t even notice)
- Weather: 40’s and rainy
- Commute from Seattle: 1 hour
- Did I Trip: I wiped out in the parking lot.
I had just picked up my car from the mechanic. With my newly recovered freedom, I had to get out to the mountains. Franklin Falls was a hike to a waterfall (never would have guessed) and I expected a quick easy hour long hike. Getting out there was straightforward, but I forgot one thing: snow takes longer to melt in shade. And being in the bottom of a valley beneath i-90 means lots of shade. So the road that I expected to be clear was covered in ice. I parked a short walk from the trail head (my car didn’t have great traction) and walked the rest of the way. Once I was at the parking lot, I promptly wiped out. Was it worth putting on microspikes for the two mile hike? Ugh, I guess so.
There were no other cars when I got started, so I didn’t expect company. The river was surprisingly pretty, and I was glad to get fresh air. Despite the semi-limp I still had. I wore my trusty goretex wildhorses again since I couldn’t get my ankle into my hiking boots. Microspikes are not very comfortable on low-profile running shoes, as it turns out. And the trail was probably 60% straight ice, 40% completely clear, so I looked pretty awkward on some stretches.
Anyway, at the start of the trail, there are a bunch of log cabins. I still don’t know what they’re for. I know the Denny Campground is right nearby, so I’m guessing they’re part of that. The nice part. They were very cute if you ignore the fact that the entire trail and campground is directly beneath i90.
There are several places where you can get down right next to the water, and I figured since the hike was so short, I might as well check out all of them. There are a few mini-waterfalls, and the river is consistently a great shade of light green.
After around 30 minutes (I took it easy) I reached the falls. It honestly went by more quickly than I expected, but I guess I’m used to doing longer hikes. Just going a mile felt so short. The trail down to the fall was covered in ice. Like ice that was several inches thick. I had microspikes so I wasn’t concerned, but I imagine it’d have been slippery without them. What you can’t tell from the photo of the waterfall is that it is literally right beneath i-90. You can see the bridge above the falls when you reach the end. But like I said, I just needed to get out of the city.
On the way back out, I ran into a few hikers all taking dogs for walks. A few were in hiking boots, others were in casual shoes. I looked hilariously over-prepared for a two mile hike along i-90. Someone even called me out on my microspikes. Whatever, sir, at least I could get down to the waterfall. You have fun walking down that ice.
The hike out passed by quickly too. Refreshing, but not too much of a commitment. A long drive for just 2 miles, but I’d say it was worth it. By the time I got back to the parking lot the ice was more slush than ice, and a jetta had successfully made it to the trailhead. I walked back to my car, which was a trendsetter. Lots of cars parked behind it, so either people assumed I knew what I was doing or they had troubles on the ice too. I will have everyone know that just a few days later, my car went farther than a pick up truck (both with chains) going along icy mountain roads, which unfortunately will not get its own blog post because we had to bail on the hike and camp on the side of the road since no one wanted to hike the icy road. As for me, I’m ignoring winter for as long as possible.
Always wear microspikes if it’s below 50 degrees. Can’t be too careful.