Washington · USA
The mid-afternoon sun pierces through a tangled gauntlet of mixed evergreen and hardwood trees in the beautiful Gifford Pinchot of Southwest Washington, bathing me and the forest in welcome warmth and soul-replenishing light on a crisp autumn day. A quick off-trail scramble almost anywhere along the path is all it takes to get you creekside, and when the light beckons you as it did here with me, you have nothing to fear in following it.
The Falls Creek Falls Trail has to rank amongst my local all-time favorites...my go-to hike when I'm not feeling like doing anything too long or arduous but still allowing me to lose myself in the incomparable magic of a lush old-growth forest. And of course by now you're familiar with the spectacular 335-foot triple-tiered reward that awaits at the end of the trail, but the path is peppered with myriad delights, with 6-foot-plus-diameter Douglas-fir and western redcedar, a wonderful understory of vine maple, shrubs, and other low-growing plants, and an aurally and visually melodic creek to keep you company along the way.
Falls Creek is also my fallback destination when I'm 'hosting' visitors to the Pacific Northwest who may not be able to fully appreciate the enormity of Falls Creek Falls via photographs. I don't blame them, of course, since it's difficult to convey its true scale in an image, and there's nothing that will ever compare to actually being there. This time I had the honor of sharing the trail's delights with Chicagoan Bogdan Vasilic, who's taken a break from Facebook but still maintains a strong presence on 500px. The night before he seemed to balk a bit about going there, suggesting some bigger-named fare in the Columbia River Gorge or a run to the coast as alternatives, but it didn't take long for him at all to warm up to the scenery.
And after this day I'm sure he'd agree: For healing the cumulative insults upon soul and spirit inflicted by a 21st-Century life, this is far, far better than any phototherapy modern medicine has to offer.