Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Adventure to Doughty Falls

It rained like hell here late last week. What does that mean you ask? It means I went Waterfall hunting.

Many falls around here dry up or are just plain wimpy most months of the year. In the past I have gone to Coal Creek Waterfall in the Cougar Mountain Regional Park. This time I decided to trek up to another falls in the park – Doughty Falls.

This is my adventure. As with most hikes there are other exciting things along the way. Just sit back & enjoy this rather long post. It is the journey not the destination and as I say…

Serendipity is there for the taking. Just need to be present to recognize it.

Here we go!!!

Right out of the Parking Lot – Here is the first bridge of many.

Wilderness Creek was gushing & that spurred me on to see the falls. Little did I know how steep the trail would be at times. 1,200 foot elevation gain isn’t much but at times I swear it was straight up. My trekking pole was a huge help for balance and pulling me up or bracing on the down.

Mini Falls on Wilderness Creek at the base of the trail
Look close – there is the bridge way down there.

Upward I went and chatted with a fellow hiker for a bit along the way. He had passed me as I flirted with the ravine edge to get another photo of Wilderness Creeks heavy flow. I fell on my butt (don’t worry I was not that close to the edge).

Way down there is the creek rushing to the sound.

Then we started to see large boulders. This is where we parted as I took a few photos. I told him what is a blog without pictures?

First Boulder with the trail skirting it – more on this big rock on the way down.
Another Big Rock sitting in the forest

On the other side of the trail was a large tree stump with it’s fallen tree. Not sure why it was cut down to be left behind. Maybe just too hard to get it down out of the ravine 100 years ago.

Cedar Tree – was it cut down & left? or just a natural demise?

To give you some perspective to the size of this giant tree here is my trekking pole on the stump for reference.

Big stump huh?

Can you say… “More Bridges”? Well that is what came next after hiking up & up.

Back over Wilderness Creek we go!!

The creek was pretty loud here and it is exciting to cross over this log bridge with only one hand rail.  Oooooo Living on the edge. Well maybe not that dangerous but still fun.

Then there was a small bridge over a marshy/side trickle of the creek. Beyond that is the Y in the trail where one can take the Gombu Wilderness Cliff Trails.  This trail is named after the Sherpa that summited Mt Everest with Whittaker and it goes to Wilderness Peak.

A mini bridge with no rails and just a plank. It works!! – see the sign post on the right to Gombu Trail.

The map published by King County on the park has a small notation that there are Boulders in this area.  That is why I call this next piece…  “Boulders Galore”

The trail after the mini bridge wound between a bunch of really big rocks. Must be ice age activity that planted them here.  Gosh don’t mess with Mother Nature – she has the power!!

Thru the rocks we go
Where this goes I don’t know but I feel magic (this looks back from where we came).
They just keep coming.. more boulders!
They are so big the tree looks small.
Look up and see the creek flowing towards us and the big rocks
Can you imagine elves dancing on these boulders? Magic was in the air here.

Guess I have read too much of Lord of the Rings but it was other worldly. It was time to cross back over the creek and continue my climb to the top and the sirens of the waterfall were calling me.

The third bridge at the Boulders – exit back to reality
Up the rocky trail we go.
Looking back towards the magic rock glen.
I can’t help wondering when and how this little treasure was formed.
From way up the bluff I can even see the board bridge. Wave goodbye!

The magic did not stop there. This is a rocky place that is where fairies, elves and the gods played with big toys.

I was filled with wonder as you can tell from my voice on the video. In I went to investigate.

Do you not want to go look up close with me?
If one was cold and it was dark this would be a viable place. Sleeping with the fairies!
Above hiding in the trees was granite cliffs topped with ferns. Look close to see.
This is what the inner sanctum looks like. Dry and low hanging.

Off I went knowing I had a long way to go yet. The rock formations continued to distract me.

This is just one big boulder that has it’s own cliff face. Big as a shipping container.

When I turned about there was another boulder but with a creek flowing all around. A board walk was built to get over this area where the water has overtaken the trail. Imagine it is usually all mud but today it was all water.

Ferns love this wet swampy area and have taken over the boulder.
Here we are on the other side.
It just keeps going.
The end at last.

Then the trail continued upward but now had a creek flowing down it. That is how much water had gushed down during the deluge this week.

It is now getting high up on the mountain and continues to collect a rain shower or two. I came to a forest that is hiding in the clouds.

In the mist we go.
Cloudy forest all around us.

About this time I saw two Brown Creepers.  And as often happens with bird photography I am late to the game. No photo to share of this elusive tree climber bird.

I now was in an area that was going up and down.  Yes some relief from just straight up. It was time to make some time up from all my dawdling. Then I heard the ruffle of wings to my right.

What was that? It was a small woodpecker that I captured after he and I played peek-a-boo,

Black and White Woodpecker seeking bugs
This is a Hairy Woodpecker posing for me.

At the time I thought this guy was a Sapsucker but with my trusty bird guides – Sibley’s and Stoke’s I figured out what he is.  Pretty rare in the urban area but gosh serendipty plus a little magic sent him to me for these photos.

I am getting closer now and of course there is another bridge.

Bridge over Shy Bear Creek

Now this is a rustic bridge. It crosses over a pond formed by the creek.  Very calm and peaceful here. Not a sound except water, wind and my breath.

Over the bridge I go now. The Sirens are still calling me to the waterfall.

Two hours after crossing the first bridge I can hear the falls. And then they are in sight!!

I won’t tease you any more about the waterfall – here is my little video and then still photos for you to enjoy.

Full view of three streams off Doughty Falls
Full view of three streams off Doughty Falls
The main flow with it’s side channel

The side channel or middle stream is the one that this huge rain fall created. I reviewed some other photos of the falls online. They range from bone dry, just the main stream on the right or two streams without this middle one.

The left side of the falls top
The big deal & it’s pool at the bottom.
Looking downstream from Doughty Falls

I am standing behind this little rail fence on a very steep slope. The park people built us a viewing area but it is perilous to say the least.

This is the rail at the viewing area.
Looking behind me and the rail.
Some little stairs built to get one to the viewing area.

They look so easy but it is a bit un-nerving with the decent towards the falls view.  I did climb back up and ate lunch in the ferns.  I forgot to check if I had a plastic bag to sit on and ended up sitting on my waterproof National Geo Map.  Made me laugh but it worked better than a bag.

It was time to start back. Did not want to be in the forest when dusk started and the sun seemed to be dipping behind the mountains.  Plus, as you saw earlier it was cloudy and that makes it even darker in the forest. So, off I went making good time.

Till I came back thru a Devil’s Club forest. This is a plant that you would never want to grab if you were tumbling down a hill.  It is full of thorns of the nastiest type.

Devil’s Club thorns – Don’t TOUCH!!

Here is what the little glen of them looks like.  Now you have been warned to stay clear. They usually are in creek beds but this area is so wet and protected it made it’s home on this slope.

Stand of Devil’s Club
A tangle of Devil’s Club which is also called The Devil’s Walking Stick

Next are a few other natural things that you might find interesting.

Perfect Little Mushroom
Fungus on a tree
Looking up under one of the fungus. Or are they mushrooms?
Forest Magic Wand

About half way down the sun came out and the world started to sparkle.

Winter Sun brightening the forest
Sun making the brush sparkle – the left over leaves look like rubies in this diamond necklace.
The ferns were loving the rain drops that are now glistening.
Getting closer to moss and the dewy glow. Check out the droplets at the ends.
This almost looks like another world. Is it in the sea, the forest or the heavens?

I am almost off the mountain and what did I see? A face in the rock?  What is this?  Man-made or Nature-made?  You decide.

First here is what it looked like going up the trail.  You should recognize this as the first boulder I encountered.

First Boulder & the trail skirts this.

Here it is looking from above where you can see the face. I have to confess I did not see it going by the first time. As I came down I met a couple folks & they had never seen it either.  My goodness, surprises are everywhere.

Can you see the face?

I leave you with a close up of the guardian of the trail.  Hope you enjoyed my adventure. It was a bit long but has a lot to share. This is only a few of the 181 photos and 4 videos I took on my 4 plus hour 6 mile hike.  Who said Winter Hiking is boring?

The rock has a face – I leave it to your imagination of how.
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Gushing Coal Creek Waterfall

This week we had a big rain storm that put a lot of water up in the foothills. So much so several rivers had their first flood of the season. The news couldn’t get enough of that plus they had a video of Snoqualmie Falls at high flow. It was the 13th highest ever for that huge waterfall.

I had a revelation that Coal Creek Waterfall would also be a gusher. This is a waterfall within Cougar Mountain Regional Park that is only a half hour from my house to the parking lot. Then it is a 1 1/2 mile hike through the forest.  All so worth it when you see the photos and video.

The roar of her is the first signal you are getting close. Then you round a bend in the trail & BAM!!

There she is as you round the bend in the trail.

Check out the little bridge over the creek in this first picture. Almost everyone I see including myself has to take a photo from the foot of it.  Here is mine.

My photo from the footbridge of Coal Creek Waterfall

How about even closer?

Close up of Coal Creek Waterfall – October 2019

There is something missing. You can’t hear her roaring and gushing down the rock face. I can fix that up for you with these two videos.

This second video gets you right into the action for a close up of our lovely waterfall moment.

Ahhhh.. that was so good to see!!  But now how about a little tour of the area? Give you some perspective of how this waterfall sits in nature.

We will start with the bridge area. It is certainly part of the ambiance. Waterfall plus a creek with a bridge. Holy Moly!!

Coal Creek Bridge by waterfall from creek bank.

From the bridge you can get a good look downstream from the creek. It is lovely too.  It is a dog magnet and many can’t help but to jump in without any encouragement.

View downstream from bridge with trail entrance.

When you turn around from this downstream view you will see the fall in all her glory.

From Bridge looking up at waterfall. We all can’t help ourselves! (that log at the bottom right is the bridge rail)

From this position I took a couple of up close photos. Starting at the top and working down.. here we go!!

Wooded top of waterfall is mossy and very Pacific Northwest.

Moving right along – here is the top falls section.

The biggest section of Coal Creek Falls up close

Then there is this second fall section over a large boulder.

The second falls is just as special as the big one.

See that foamy stuff?  I wasn’t sure if it was foam, mushrooms or ice. I ruled out ice since it was in the upper 50s and no sleet had been reported in the last couple of days. I know of no fungus that looked like that so close to a moving creek. I still wasn’t 100% sure but upon closer inspection it is bubbles. That means the creek is getting pollution upstream.  UGGG…  check out this photo to see what I mean.

Foam forming at Coal Creek Falls. Not a place you want to see a bubble-bath.

Then I hiked up the trail to new adventures. I have three of those to share; fall splendor, moss galore and trees of yesterday.  We are going to start with Fall Splendor:

Golden Trail to adventure

Leaves with dots!!  Yes DOTS

Maple leaves hanging on till the bitter end

The fall sunlight had a special effect on the fall colors. It is was barely noon but it was low in the horizon to the south. It back-lite this tree for a glorious glow.

Glow is a tame word for this sun and leaves interaction

And a bit closer to the glow!

Glow accented by black trunks

Then there is this sun & tree interaction that looks like a magical forest of a science fiction book like Lord of the Rings.

Mystical forest winter sun

The mystical forest shot brings us to moss. There is lots of it here in the forest. First we have a tree close to the waterfall where it gathers so much moisture it almost drips moss.

Moss dripping from little dead tree – see how the sun makes even the moss glow?

Towards the end of my walk I found a spot I had to go off trail. I almost did not go. I started to plunge into the woods and then changed my mind. I had become hurried to get to the car. Then the forest drew me back and I found another mystical forest.

It started with cedar trees surrounded by older vine maple trunks.

The cedars were pasted with this grey green lichen from the dampness here. It overlooked the North Fork of Coal Creek which ran in a gully below.

Tangled up in moss
Sun trying to penetrate the moss alley

The Pacific Northwest was over 100 years ago an old growth evergreen wonderland. This park has it’s share of stumps and downed logs from these giants. It is hard to comprehend their size in a photo but in a couple of the following I have put my walking stick for reference. It is just shy of 4 feet.

First as one approaches the falls here are these two stumps.

Two old growth stumps – one each side of trail

They don’t seem very large do they from that angle?

Lovely old growth stump with walking stick reference.

She is a big one huh? imagine the stick horizontal – this baby must be over 8 feet across. The notches you see are from the loggers foot holds to do their deed.

Then we have this one in the forest.

Is this stump a natural end or was it logged?

I believe she had a natural end because of the “huge” downed logs near by. Again I used my walking stick for reference. Otherwise you would go… it is just more forest litter.

Down log near old stump

Here is another look at this old mammoth log.

Mammoth log buried in the forest

The forest is slowly consuming this old growth baby. Her branches are bigger than a lot of live trees today. What a tree!!

Then to end this tale of adventure here is an old stump that seems to be watching us.

See the stump hiding in the bushes watching?

He seems to have an open mouth, a nose and two eyes. Could he be the spirit of the woods protecting their own? What is really odd is the photo I found that followed this one. It is one of those accident photos or is it?

It’s me!! I am watching the forest so intent not knowing the camera clicked away.

Spooky!

Posted in Forests

Coal Creek Waterfall Visit

Between storms I went to visit the Coal Creek Waterfall.  With all the rain we had it surely would have a spectacular flow. During the summer it was a trickle so I wanted to see how it looked now. As you can see it was a gusher.

I could hear her before I even saw her and then one rounds the trails corner and there she is in the distance.

Coal Creek Waterfall rumbles away up in Cougar Mtn Natural Area

As you get closer the bridge across the creek comes in to view. Some other nature lovers give you a good perspective on the size of the area.

Bridge, hikers and falls treat those that hike a couple of miles.

Up onto the wooden bridge I went. From there I got this nice shot of the two falls. First the creek shoots off the top of the rock-wall and then it pours over the boulder. She is a pretty thing when you concentrate on the falls itself.

Double falls up-close from bridge

It was time to eat lunch after I mucked around a bit.  I went back up the trail and crawled up into the forest. There I found a flat and fairly dry spot under a large cedar tree. I could see and hear the falls from there plus anyone coming thru the trail would probably not see me. Here is a little shot of my view while I ate my ham sandwich.

View from lunch spot under cedar tree

That is the falls for you. But don’t go!!  I have two other topics to share with you about my visit.

The forest is not just the living trees that you see. It is a cosmos of the living and the remains of their ancestors.  Today’s forest is here at Cougar Mountain Park is certainly not old-growth. Some of the trees are approaching that age since they for some reason were passed up but the granddaddies of these trees were either logged a hundred years ago or fell naturally before man arrived.

Behind my lunch spot were a few mammoth old stumps and downed logs.  I am talking about a log that is huge laying on the hill-side. Next to that is a pretty huge stump. Since cedar has a slow rot rate they are here to show us what was.

Old Stump and downed log – they were really big old growth

This got me thinking about all the stumps around the falls and the logs lying around like littered tinker-toys. See how in this picture you have the two stumps. You can tell they were logged vs a natural end by the straight cut top and foot hold holes on the sides.

Coal Creek Falls and cedar trees cut a century ago. – The view in this perspective is a bit cluttered and not so pretty.

This next stump is across the bridge and it gives a clear view of how logging before chain saws was done. Plus these were big trees so they cut footholds to either stand in or put planking to stand on. Then they used a big manual saw and cut the tree down.

Old logging technique cutting foot holds to get the saw up high enough

Now that we have looked at the stumps let us move to the logs lying around. Around the falls were several larger trunks. Here is the one that lays close to the bottom of the first falls but behind the pool on the bank.

Huge log beside Coal Creek Falls
Close up of rotting log next to falls

What a magnificent tree it must have been when she lived. I could not triangulate her stump so maybe years ago she was pushed down the creek and over the falls.  That would be a ton of water to do that. or was she one of the cut trees and the men who fell them gave up getting them out of the wilderness?

More logs are around this special place to entice my imagination. Here is one that was laying over the ground where the trail was pushed through. The builders just cut through her and give us a glimpse at her size and how she is preserved for us.

Log cut thru on trail. She was a big one!

Then we have the really big log that is by the bridge. This log is so big that the side trail to get up closer to the falls one has to skirt her up a slippery muddy round about. Guess one could climb over but it would be a bit of an up and over.  The photo does not give you a true feel for size, but know it came to my thighs when I walked around her.

Downed cedar log next to Coal Creek Falls

Now my imagination went looking for the stump of this gigantic old growth tree trunk. I think I found it but then who would really know.  Here are two photos of that stump. She is a beauty!

Huge Stump on hill above falls – is this the tree that fell next to the bridge? (the stump is between the two small trees and is bright orange.)
Stump viewed from my lunch spot. She was a big one!

Last as I left there was this stump of a really really big tree that was cut down long ago. What is left of her was taller and wider than I am tall.

Clear cut cedar stump of old. She was over 6 feet wide and taller than me.

Now I leave you with the second cool thing I found at the falls. It was a wildlife moment. As I was standing on the bridge a small squirrel or chipmunk appeared at the creek on a log. Then he proceeded to run and jump across to the other side. He moved so fast he is a blur on my photos.  I have circled him so you can see his progress in the three photos.  Enjoy!!

Squirrel crossing log over Coal Creek.
Squirrel at Coal Creek Falls got across and is on the rock now
That little creature is about to disappear into the brush as he climbs the old stump.
Posted in History and other topics

Time – A Conundrum

In our world of today we are stuck in a now that moves us so fast into the future we lose sight of both the past and the present. The technology we use has sped up our daily cycle of information and the pace of our lives.

We have forgotten that mother nature is the one in charge. No matter that we are buried in social media of today, nature is busy putting things back the way she wants it.

You wonder what has made me go all philosophical on my Crow Blog. This moment of retrospect was brought about when I went back to Cougar Mountain Park and the remains of the Ford Slope Coal Mine.

For those that did not see my blog post about this historical place in Newcastle, Washington, here is a link for you to get caught up before you read my latest adventure: Newcastle Coal Mining History 

Let us start today with a picture where the Ford Slope Mine pictured above looks like now. It is just typical Northwest brush and swamp.

 

Looking back to Ford Slope Mine shaft entrance

Here is the mine entrance and a picture looking back to the Hoist House.  If the “big H” sign wasn’t there you would not have any clue to look for the foundation that remains.

See the “Big H”? We are going there

As I cut down a trail I ran straight into this viewpoint of the foundation of the huge Hoist machinery.  These steam-powered engines ran a huge coil of cable that pulled coal cars up out of that hole you see plugged above.

Trail edge overlooking where Hoist & Steam Plant were

Check out what it looked like right around World War I. Building 5 is the Hoist building that stood right here in front of us. Imagine the noise, smoke, bustle and energy that emitted from this little valley then. Today all I heard was the wrens and chickadees in the brambles.

Ford Slope Mine – #5 building is the Hoist

Here is what it looks like now. See the “Big H” sign? Connect that with the mineshaft opening. Barely the same place is it?

Hoist foundations – one of few things left of Mining

Imagine how this place was humming as it pulled coal up out of the mine which was 100s of feet deep.

Hoist Machinery ran a cable to pull up coal cars

I then meandered down the trail enjoying the greenery and the quiet. I was having trouble getting my head around what time had done to me. Part of me was in the valley that was scrapped clean and a beehive of activity and buildings.

Then I rounded a bend and more remnants were ahead. Right in the middle of the trail were building posts.  Take a peek at what I mean.

Sawmill foundations
Remains of sawmill that a fed the mine

The trail wound around on the edge of the swamp valley to my left. Then I found a place where the creek flowed and a little bridge was built for the trail. There I found more information signage about the area. These footings I had just seen were the remains of the company sawmill. Imagine the need for timber to shore up a mine? Or to support this good size town?

Coal Creek Company Sawmill
Sawmill info sign

There was also a good map of what the area looked like. This gave me an even better perspective of how much change this small area has experienced.

See where the Hoist House is? Now go back and compare how that looks in the photo of how it looks from the trail today. Hence my spinning head. What a conundrum of time and place!

See Hoist House and Sawmill B – that was how it looked long time ago
Valley of Ford Slope Mine – unrecognizable

I have one more thing I found to share with you. It is an old dump. Yes, mining creates a mess to be cleaned up or even maintained. That is what I had stumbled upon. Not exactly the dump since that has been sort of cleaned up and is covered in bramble. Rather the deserted gate that was used to enter it.

Gate going to nowhere
Deserted Entrance to Newcastle – Coal Creek Landfill

To my surprise only a few hundred feet away from this gate to nowhere is an elite new neighborhood. It has grown up around the Newcastle Golf Club. In the early 1990s this area was developed into a top-tier club. They had to clean up most of the landfill which was full of mine waste.

Newcastle Golf Club and homes built on Mine Landfill

Time does a big number on all things. What will our world look like in another 100 years? Will mother nature be reclaiming what we built? Will that gate still tell its story? Will the new homes be there? and lastly will the Ford Slope Coal Mine seem to outlast us all.  Gives one a perspective on the rush of life today!

 

Posted in History and other topics

Devil’s Club

Devil’s Club or Devil’s Walking Stick has an ominous ring to it. This tall tropical looking plant is described by wiki as:

Oplopanax horridus, Araliaceae; syn. Echinopanax horridus, Fatsia horrida is a large understory shrub endemic to the arboreal rainforests of the pacific northwest, but also disjunct on islands in Lake Superior. It is noted for its large palmate leaves and erect, woody stems covered in noxious and irritating spines.

Could not help seeing in the Latin name the word “horridus”.  From horreō (“stand on end, shiver”). It gets better with the adjectives associated with this word – rough, bristly, shaggy, rude, rough, uncouth, dreadful, horrid, frightful.

My first encounter with it was in my pre-teen years while thrashing around in the pacific northwest brush. I was sliding down a ravine and grabbed onto this tall plant.

OUCH!!  It was full of thorns and I never repeated that mistake again.

Thorny underside of Devil’s Club – don’t grab this plant!

Even though I still roam quite a bit in the woods, I have not seen this notorious plant in many years. Then this week while traipsing around Cougar Mtn Park I saw this stand down in a creek bed. Don’t get me wrong with the definition of this plant as it is quite pretty with its big leaves and tall stance.

Big Patch of Devil’s Club at Cougar Mtn

I got excited to see this PNW species.  It was a flash to my childhood.  Pain made the name stick in my head. Upon reading up on it at Wiki I realized it was getting scarcer not only because of habitat degradation but also because:

Devil’s club is related to American Ginseng, some think that the plant is an adaptogen. The plant has been harvested for this purpose and marketed widely as “Alaskan ginseng”, which may damage populations of Devil’s Club and its habitat.

It propagates itself not through berries or seeds but rather:

Devil’s club reproduces by forming clonal colonies through a layering process. What can appear to be several different plants may actually have all been one plant originally, with the clones detaching themselves after becoming established by laying down roots.

After seeing this first patch of giant leaves and prickly tall stems I started seeing more patches. This was a Devil’s Walking Stick aficionado’s bonanza.

Devil’s Club large leaves and berries on spiny tall stalk.
Posted in Birds and other fun topics

Woodpecker deep in the Woods

You never know what you will find while walking in the woods. On my return adventure to Cougar Mountain Park I took a trail to look at what are called Cave Holes. It was a pretty long way to get to them and then an even longer set of trails to get to Coal Creek waterfall.

Cave Hole that is flooded in Cougar Mtn Park – old coal mining area

Not long after I got through the cave hole area I saw a bird land high up on a tree.

To my delight it was a red-headed woodpecker. He or she was just pecking away. Little did I know he was a red breasted sapsucker. For me this was my first sapsucker sighting. After all these years of rambling around I had never clearly identified one.

Even cooler he was digging for sap not bugs as one would assume a normal woodpecker is doing. Learned a new thing!

Here is a short video

Posted in History and other topics

Coal Creek Mine Ruins – 100 years later

Nestled behind a busy city of townhouses, shopping and a mall is a park formed around a place that hundreds of people lived and worked mining coal. You are aghast! How can that be in the suburbs of Seattle a coal mine exists?

Truth be told the coal mine is now plugged up, the mill is gone and the many houses of the workers are erased like they never existed. This is Cougar Mountain Park. Come along on my adventure around the trails to discover how things can change in 100 years.

My first destination was Coal Creek Waterfall. I stopped in Renton and bought a breakfast sandwich and a cup of tea. My plan was to hike to the waterfall and have brunch while I inhaled nature.

I had printed my trail map and plotted a course. Don’t be fooled. This park is honeycombed with trails and sights. The waterfall is only one of many places to visit. Red Town trail-head is where I started. I left my car, put my gloves on and headed up the steady slope. Got to love the names of the trails. The next was Cave Hole Trail.  Have to go back and check out that destination. My course was half way up the hill I would take a right onto Coal Creek Falls Trail.

But before getting to the trail cutoff I found the first sign of mining. It was a deep depression off to the side of the trial. The sign and small fence tells it all.

I dare you to go down here!

Step back and this is what the small fence looks like. Not sure it really keeps the determined out but then again, do you want to sink into a mine shaft?

Not my idea of adventure to cross this fence!

Look close. This is what the bottom looks like. It does have a squishy appearance under all the logs and branches. God help he who thinks that might be a fun place to play.

Someone toiled here – hope they got rich

I resisted the temptation and moved on up the hill to the Y in the trail. Until then the trail was really a small dirt road and it made me think this had been a road for years before the park made it a trail. When I took the turnoff, it miraculously changed to a real woodland trail.

Now we are talking and I got excited that the waterfall would be as special as I had hoped. I sipped my tea and carried on down the trail. It was quiet except birds chirping.

Then I heard it and I looked down into a ravine thinking the babbling brook was it. One never knows when seeking woodland wonders. Would it be spectacular or not?

Can you hear it?

It was not a disappointment. A small bridge crossed the creek at the bottom of a lovely waterfall. The recent rainfall had made it full tilt!

Coal Creek Waterfall – March 2017

It just poured from the top of a flat rock face and rushed down another couple of stair steps. I crossed the little bridge and started a video. What the heck!!  My good camera’s battery died right off. What the heck was not my exact words!!

But this girl has a spare. Not only do I carry my Nikon but I also have a small Canon Elph and as a last resort my smart phone. I hate to say I prefer my real cameras to the phone. However, that last option would have done in a pinch.

Check out the difference in the clarity between the two cameras.  Now you know why I cussed a little when my Nikon’s battery failed.

I climbed off to the left. There I found a perch to eat my brunch and savor my tea. I watched a few folks wandered by and some seemed to dance in the joy of the sound and sight. My plan had paid off. I really did enjoy the place and time by sitting up on the side taking my time.

The trail’s bridge below the falls from my perch

Off to my left was the falls. I was up on the side of the ravine and could look down on the lower falls but still upward on the main view.

Falls in all its glory

Waiting and watching can bring a special moment. As I sat there inhaling the negative ions and the peace of the setting, the sun came out. It brought a glow of to the side of the falls and here is my attempt at capturing for you to behold.

Sun peeking out at me

Then it was time to go. I captured this parting sight of the area as I trekked up the trail. Oh.. I forgot to tell you how I cleaned up some obnoxious orange peels left at the side of the creek. I climbed up and buried them. Did not like how that orange looked so out-of-place in the sweet green wonderland.

One look back as I left the magic

Onward I walked up the hill and  I met a small family at another fork in the road (trail). They had two preschoolers and one of the was directing how to go. We joked at the sign post. They went north as I went Southwest on Quarry Trail.

Down I went on the trail following a small creek in a ravine. Got to the bottom and turned to the right onto the Indian Trail This is a small leg to get me back to Red Town Trail and my way back to civilization.

Blazing green greeted me as I wandered my way home. It was not just any green but glowing color contrasted against the grey cliff rocks. It appears the cliff fell down in huge chunks and created a place for fairies.

Vivid green moss rock tumble

How could I help but to investigate when I saw a natural entrance before me. It was like giants put two stones together just for me.

Shall we go through the door?

How can one resist thinking of the Lord of the Rings and pass into the fairy tale.

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I did go back through the hole and came back to the trail. I had places to go and things to see. The fairies couldn’t hold me even with the verdant green soothing all the world’s worries away.

Last look back

It is history time! I knew this was an old coal mine but did not really understand what that meant. Then I came to what is called the meadow. On my little map it calls it a restoration project. That made me think it was just a lovely place that was replanted with native plants.

Cross the creek to the meadow & discover history

Once I got across Coal Creek I saw a gated garden place and several information boards about it. The first one is where I realized that the meadow isn’t just an old cow pasture. I was where Red Town and the other local miner communities played baseball. In the above photo you can see that sign in the upper right corner. What got me the most was how it said I was standing on second base. That made my imagination take off to another time. How could that be? There is no town, no foundations, no signs of anything 100 years old here.

Meadow history board
If this land could tell it’s story
Looking back from 2nd base… gives you more perspective

It was time to start home and so I walked back along the creek. There was trail on both sides of it here. The side where the meadow is and then the original trail I had left to cross into the magic place. It gave me a lovely babbling brook moment with mossy rocks and rushing water soothing the soul.

Mossy trees along the trail home
Mossy trees and rushing creek

Then I was on the Red Town Trail again. It is more of a road than a trail. It did dawn on me that was probably due to it being a road long ago.  At least my imagination wanted to think that. Another sign board gave me history and geology. That sparked me to look from side to side as I walked back. Where could I see a foundation or a hint of an old house. Not to be. This place of many homes was gone.

This was a busy place long ago.
Today it is just trees and ferns

This next picture is of Coal Creek Mine. That sight is near where the parking lot is and the road to the park actually drives right over the closed opening. Most folks have no clue it is even there.

More industry that was.
Still searching for ruins! but none to be found

I continued walking back towards home looking at the trees for signs of the old. Then I saw a small section of old fence. That was all I ever saw up on Red Town Trail.

One small trace of old fencing.

There was a sign to Rainbow Town Trail. It said there was an exhibit called Ford Slope coal mining exhibit. No longer was I going directly home. I had to go see that.  So, off the main trail I turned. Immediately I started seeing vent pipes coming out of the ground. As I traveled down the hill there was a sign warning of cave ins and the load limit was 5,000 pounds.

Then I saw my first ruin. It is some cement and metal part of a building.

Ruins near Ford Slope Mine entrance
Does it have 1921 as a date?

Then ahead was the exhibit with that coal car you see at the top of the blog post.

Ford Slope Mine exhibit & entrance to coal mine

I am getting excited now. There is an information board and obviously something to see where that fence is.

Plugged entrance to Ford Slope Coal Mine

There it is!!  History at my boot tips. Imagination can take flight and time stands still. A sort of twilight zone comes upon me as I read the board and see the picture of the miners right where I stand.

I am standing right where they are in this photo. The mine entrance is to the left.
Info explaining the miner photo.
See the “H” mentioned above?

That “H’ is where a huge piece of machinery once stood. One would never know if they had not put the signage up for us.

Goose Bumps form up thinking of what was and what is now.

Ford Slope Mine

I had to walk away. Home was calling. I wanted to be in my comfortable 2017 life even more. So, I pulled myself out of my reverie and left the time warp.

Looking back onto the info board.

Down by the coal car were some pieces of pipe and cement. Just little tidbits of the past to tease us.

Some mining debris for us time travelers
Final look back at Ford Slope Mine

I walked away shaking my head, crossed the creek and noticed how it had eroded the area recently. Dangerous place for sure. The next trail I took was Bagley Seam Trail. It promises a visible coal seam.

So, upward I trekked back out of the depression the coal mine was in. This trail was in a gully which I figure was man-made to get at the coal.

Coal seam exposed here
Coal in the ground.

It was interesting but kind of anti climatical after my escaping the time warp.

I leave you with a map of Coal Creek 1928 plus the mines. Contemplate this piece of civilization gone with the photos of the water fall.

From here I traveled back to my car and drove away with a much greater appreciation of how nature and man can change the landscape. First to destroy it with heavy mining and then by removing all traces of that major activity. AMAZING!!