February 24, 2007.
4 miles | 2400′ elevation gain | 4 hours (?)
Thanks to the local hiking website I met up with Don Nelsen, his son Paul, and Bryan the waterfall guy for this adventure in the rain. Cable Falls is off the map, as far as I’m concerned, so the opportunity to ‘whack out there on a miserably wet and cold day was too hard to resist.
We started out from the trailhead at 10am, decked out in waterproof- breathable gear and warm layers. The temperature was just a few degrees above freezing for the duration of the hike, and a steady, soaking rain filled the air. Don had just been up here the week prior and offered to lead us out to the falls today. We briefly followed the dirt road and then took a left into the brush, traversed a meadow and ducked into the forest. A herd path led us right to the bottom of the first waterfall. We continued along the creek, crossing over it once or twice, and suddenly came to the bottom of a 200 foot sheet of water crashing into the basalt basin in front of us.
We stopped for quite some time as Bryan set up his tripod and camera under an umbrella and took several photographs. The rain had let up a little but the spray from the falls saturated the air with water anyways.
I was happy to get moving again to warm up. We scrambled back across the wet rocks and sloshed through the mud to pick up another steep herd path that followed a ridgeline where we’d get a distant view of the falls. I took the lead as we huffed and puffed up the path that was reminiscent of Mt. Defiance. There were some nice views to be had along the way, too bad there were so many clouds covering them up! There were also some nice spots that required a little bit of creative stretching and maneuvering to get up and around trees and boulders.
Near the top of the ridge, Don led the way as the trail became rather crowded with tree limbs bowing down under the weight of heavy snow. We muscled through stands of young trees with whip-like reflexes (I took a branch or three to the face today) and wet, pleasant-smelling evergreen needles blocking the path. After some route-finding, we made it to a nice overlook with views into a deep notch. Cable Falls was to our left; it looked so tiny from our high perch. As we stopped here to have a snack and discuss our plans, the rain slyly turned to snow and the scene became even prettier.
No one was getting any warmer, however, so we decided to return to the trailhead. There was considerable slipping and sliding on the wet, mucky path, as well as some careful side-stepping down the steeper and sketchier portions of the route. Don took a couple more photos along the way. I had given up on this today, since it was just so wet and my pictures were coming out lousy anyways.
What a fun excursion with a great group of guys… and a nice alternative to the well-graded switchbacks all too common in the Gorge.