I decided that I wanted to start the new year in a way that was both epic and picturesque with a hefty helping of adventure. Little did I know that our trek to Cathedral Falls via the Goat Creek Trail would be such an adventure.
My adventure buddy, Norma, picked me up from my house at 6:30 a.m. New Year’s Day and headed out for State Route 12. We stopped at the AM/PM near Spiffy’s for traditional pre-hike snacks and supplies — water, jerky, and deep-fried gas station goodies — and grabbed a #FirstDayHike coffee at the newest Lewis County Coffee Company stand right next door.
Our silver electric hybrid car slipped silently through the daybreak until we reached Kosmos Road. It had been nearly 5 years since I had been up to Cathedral Falls, but it’s hard to forget the way. We wound our way around Riffe Lake as wispy clouds on the surface whipped along the whitecaps by the brisk winter breeze. We followed signs to Taidnapam Park and crossed over the water between Riffe Lake and Lake Scanewa, along the fishing bridge past the campground.
We stopped a couple of times on the way up the well-graveled 5-mile gravel road to clear minor branches from our path — both as a courtesy to other hikers and our low-clearance Chevy Volt — and we continued to wind up above Taidnapam Park. We continued until we reached the end of the road and the subsequent narrow landing at the head of the Goat Creek Trail.
It was a windy and rainy day in Glenoma on the first, but the hike itself was pleasant. Aside from large drops from the tips of branches here and there, we remained mostly sheltered from the rain thanks to the tree cover overhead. We wove our way along the side of a hill, crossing a few creeks and traversing over one downed tree. We continued for a mile or so until we could hear the roar of the waterfall.
Cathedral Falls, energized by recent rain, was thundering over the cliff edge onto the rocks below. We continued along the path into the cavern behind the waterfall and set up for a break to enjoy the beauty of the well-known natural water feature. As we sat in the cavern, rising daylight highlighted the striations of color behind the falls, detailed within a blocky three-dimensional mosaic.
We were the first hikers to visit Cathedral Falls in the new year — and in the new decade.
After snapping a few photos, we headed back out along the same path back to the trailhead. After an uneventful walk back, we peeled off damp clothing and got back in the car to dry out. We headed back down the gravel road towards Taidnapam Park … only to encounter a downed tree in the road.
Although it hadn’t been particularly windy that day, sometime between the time we reached the trailhead, hiked, and headed back, a tree had broken off in about the middle and was laying completely across the gravel road — the only path back down. We laughed at our luck and tried a couple of different things in attempts to move the log ourselves without any luck or real progress. We hadn’t brought and real power tools with us, being that it wasn’t a remote area and it was supposed to be a quick day hike, so we sat and evaluated our options. We tried calling the office at Taidnapam Park and the Tacoma Power main line without any luck. So, we eventually settled on calling Lewis County 911 Communications non-emergency line to advise them of our location and situation.
But then, while we were waiting for LC911 to advise us on options, a pair of headlights began to appear between the trees and branches headed up towards us. It was another pair of women on their way to the Goat Creek trailhead. They got out to see if we were okay — we were, of course — and, after exchanging quick pleasantries, we proceeded to completely clear the roadway between the four of us. So, we got to call LC911 back and cancel our own rescue!
Having only been delayed by a half-hour or so, we thanked our new friends Ashley and Tammy (of Mossyrock, I believe they said), wished them a happy hike, and we happily headed down the gravel road towards the campground and highway. We stopped in Mossyrock on the way back for a Pioneer “Dam Burger” (Norma’s first Dam Burger and she’s hooked).
So, all said and done, it was a solid way to start a new decade: Lots of nature, a short hike, a great waterfall, and teamwork with strangers who became friends. All capped off with local lunch at the Pioneer, which is like coming home for a couple of homegrown Lewis County girls with roots in the east end.
Brittany Voie is a columnist for The Chronicle. She lives south of Chehalis with her husband and two young sons. She welcomes correspondence from the community at firstname.lastname@example.org.