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Little Mashel Falls Trail

If you can make it to Pack Forest in Eatonville, WA, then you’re almost there. In fact, your GPS will say you are there. It’ll even say you’re at the trailhead. Which is where you want to be. Only you’ll look north, south, east, west and even under your car and realize that there is no trailhead sign.

Just a sign like this that can’t seem to make up its mind either.

But it’s here that the trail begins. On the 1000 Rd. heading north.

And it’s a road all right. A road we’ll follow for 1.8 miles before we tip toe through the mud on the actual trail.

A road that looks like this at the beginning…

And then after a while, still looks like this.

It’s green on both sides of us. And with the sun…wow.

This is the triangular intersection where we’ll veer left down the 1070 Road while the 1000 Road continues to the right.

Then from the 1070 we’re looking for this rock–the one spray painted “Falls.”

It’s obvious with the new gravel in places that the trail crews have hauled rock in to reinforce the trail. But where they haven’t, the mud nearly eats our shoes alive.

Not far past the muddiest spots, the trail heads down. Down, as in, when we turn around, we’ll be panting UP.

This is the first glimpse of the Lower Falls through the trees.

Probably the place where thousands of cameras have clicked.

But it definitely gets better.

Posted every 100 yards or more are signs on trees reminding hikers of the two fatalities in 2016.

Which doesn’t mean that this is a dangerous hike. But it can be. In fact, the warnings are enough for me to have the kids crouch down a moment while I see what’s up ahead.

Up ahead is this. Stairs leading down to the Lower Falls. Something we wouldn’t hesitate to take in the summer.

But we don’t test them out. The view is enough from where we are.

And I can imagine it only gets more stunning through the summer months.

Back up the trail a little ways is a spot where left-over wood pieces are piled.

One of us makes himself a chair.

And together we have lunch…

With a bit of a view.

By trail comparison, this isn’t a hard hike, but it is steep in the places where it heads directly down to the falls.

We could continue to the Middle and Upper Falls, but we don’t. We hike back in the direction we came until we reach the stream we crossed on our way down.

And it always begins like this. With him knelt down to make a dam. And her watching.

Until a minute lapses, and she’s knelt down, too.

And then it’s the two of them. And it’s not just his dam; it’s their dam.

She hunts down the next rock.

And he arranges.

Until the thing is done.

Or rather, it’s time to be movin’.

Which is what we do…

We put our feet back in motion.

And head South on the 1000 Rd.

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