f/8 – and be there… The Silver Gulch Trail

South Fork of the Sauk River

It was a beautiful morning along the Mountain Loop Highway. Little patches of clouds were bumping into the mountains and pockets of fog were rising from the river. I was headed off for a solo hike up the Silver Gulch Trail. The trailhead, if you could call it that, was located just south of the old mining town of Silverton, WA.

Silverton - population: almost nobody

I’d found some driving directions on the WTA website: “Pass Verlot Ranger Station on the Mountain Loop Highway. Cross bridge at Silverton. Park near the two dilapidated trailers which are 300 yards up the road”. Apparently you drive to the end of the road, through the gate (closing it behind you) and strike out past the trailers.

Not Much of a Trailhead

I was headed up to have a look at some un-named waterfalls. The “trail” was really just a mountaineering approach route that contoured along a steep mountain valley and eventually opened up to some 4500-5000 foot peaks. The whole concept of “trail” was pretty much wasted on this route. Think billy goat path, avalanche chute, chest high devils club dancing… There, now you’ve got it.

Avalanche Chute - note the red ribbons

Chest High Devils Club - note the waterfalls luring me on...

Breaking Out of the Brush (finally)

Well, eventually my perseverance paid off with a brief glimpse of several waterfalls cascading down from the rocks 100’s of feet above me. The waterfalls seemed to all join up in the base of the valley and flow through some huge snow caves. I pressed on through the last of the brush and then scrambled down into the creek bed. As I approached the snow caves pieces of them were constantly crumbling away and large rocks were crashing down every few minutes. I wouldn’t be going inside these caves today!

The Snow Caves

Cow Parsnip

Sun cupped snow

Snow Cave

Snow Roof

I stayed and photographed the waterfalls and snow caves from every accessible angle and then started to make my way back down into the cloud forest.

Descending back into the forest

The clouds closed back in and everything was a deep rich green. This place was beautiful, and it was probably not visited by more that a dozen people a year. Once again I was reminded of the age old answer when someone says, “Wow, what a great photo. How did to get that shot?” The answer that is still as valid today as it was in Ansel Adams’ day:

f/8 – and be there!

Sometimes we have to endure a little thrash-fest to get to someplace really beautiful. Usually, just about the time that you are ready to “pop smoke, and call for an extract” something catches your eye and draws you on. Today was one of those days.

The Happy Hill Walker

When I popped out of the woods I was pleased that my car was still there, unmolested. I was pretty much wet from top to bottom, but otherwise delighted with whole adventure.

Fall colors are starting to change.


About Jeff Katzer

Welcome friends. I'm a cyclist, hiker, motorbike rider, kayaker, photographer, videographer, ukulele player, snowshoer, XC skier, and BEST of all - a grandpa. Somewhere in that list above you'll find the theme of the Adventure Journal.
This entry was posted in Hiking, Photography, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to f/8 – and be there… The Silver Gulch Trail

  1. Devils club is… well, the devil. Actually, it is like a mullet: All business on top and the party in the back. Only this party stings the skin and leaves you wishing that you didn’t get involved with it. Oh wait, there are some parties like that, too. We won’t get into those stories here.

  2. Can you confirm if the whole Mt Loop Highway is open?

  3. sppeeddy says:

    Did you know where you parked your car is private property

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