Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to get there

How to get there

If you get in your shiny new truck and drive 90 minutes southwest from Bellingham, you are heading the right direction.  If you take the state ferry across Admiralty Inlet to Port Townsend, then drive another hour south you will turn up alongside the Hood Canal.  If you get directions from the Ranger Station then you will know to look for milepost 310. If you turn right you will be on Duckabush Road and if you follow the Duckabush river on this two lane road and keep driving 6.3 miles you will end up driving on gravel. Then if you keep going 1.3 miles you will find the trailhead.  After you park your new truck, you can hike just under a mile, and you will be there: Merhut Falls.

130 feet of cascading water tumbles over cliffs and sprays from one glistening rock to another, wearing rocks smooth with its constant passing, then taking a sharp left and changing course for a new expression of cascading until the water heads into a final leap off the last cliff and falls unimpeded for the last 30 feet into a clear pool.  The pool holds the water only briefly before spilling it into the creek.

You watch from a wooden bench placed perfectly for absorbing this show: the perfect stage of the uncivilized forest and the perfect sounds of the unselfconscious falls. You can be there at the falls.

If years beforehand you met some friends and months before made a plan, if you all looked at your calendars and found an agreeable date, you can camp fifteen miles to the north and eat lunch on the beach at the Oyster Saloon before you drive down the state road to the gravel part to the trailhead and hike together.  Then, when you sit on the bench, your stomach still full of oysters, you have a friend to share the beauty with, the beauty reflected in your friend's face, her relaxed face, her eyes absorbing in the show, her quietness and peace, her stopping there to appreciate the scene.

If you've trained your dog to stay with you when you let her off the leash, when she proves her mettle and when the dog learns to like going for rides and hops right up in the back seat, you can have her along at that the perfect moment.  With you and your partner, your friend and your dog, you can hike to Merhut Falls.

If you found your life partner a really long time ago and you stay together 38 years, you can do all this with her. You can buy the truck together and bring your dog and be friends with other people and find a way to work well and play well together.

If you retire from full time work and move to a nurturing place like Bellingham, you can do all this on a Monday and get to this moment without a lot of other people around.

The falls shares its beauty ceaselessly. The water was falling when the guidebook was written five years ago; in fact, the falls were there before the author of the guidebook was born.   The trees that grow around the falls filled in after the first cut in this area, and now stand timelessly around the path.

You can pause on the trail and comment on the Maidenhair ferns amidst the sword and deer ferns, the bunch flower and banana slugs, and pause by the game trails that cross the path leading to mysterious places. You can listen to the Swainson's thrush and bring along water to drink and maybe some snacks.

You can do all this and then you have this moment, the moment of being with your friend, your life partner, your dog, and the trees, at Merhut Falls.

If you plan for a day in the spring when the temperature is mild you may be the only car at the trailhead. If you choose a day after recent rain, the woods live up to their rainforest lushness. Water droplets still rest on leaves and your steps are muffled in the soft earth as you walk.

You can invite your friend to ride along with you.  You can go from here to there and reach that place.  You can move forward to new memories.  And if you clear your desk and sit down and do it, you can share this memory with others.

1 comment:

  1. And if your partner is a southern cousin of the author's partner, then you are REALLY luck to have the gift of friendship with two of the most delightful and interesting people you know.