Monday, February 19, 2018

Traversing the Towell Falls Trail

Very early along on the trail
     I visited this area in Whitman County, Washington on Feb. 18, 2018 to make the trek from the main parking area and kiosk back to the waterfall.  The road approaching the area was basically flooded in many areas, but fortunately I had a vehicle that had a high enough clearance to make it through without much difficulty, although I had to go completely off road to bypass some pools of water.  Most vehicles could probably make the drive under dryer circumstances, but I would advise having a small SUV or something bigger, because the road is rather rough.  Also, references Day Hiking Eastern Washington by Rich Landers as saying the old ranch road back to the falls is open seasonally from April to June. 
     This trail is one that prospective hikers need to do some basic and minimal planning for.  Some things such as some food, drinks, first aid kit, etc should be packed because the entire hike is a little over 6 miles.  The trail is also dog friendly, but hikers should keep dogs leashed and keep in mind the local wildlife.  Having visited during a windy day with periodic snow flurries, the trip had an increased difficulty level from the start.  However, none of the factors swayed my immediate goal of making it to the waterfalls.
View looking back over the creek 
     Setting out without another person anywhere near, I realized how small I was compared to the immensity of the surrounding area.  And for what seemed like quite a long time, perhaps a third of the way to the waterfall, I was absolutely alone.  Strolling along through some of the mud and a little snow and sludge, I came to the top of a little rise and turned to gaze back at the trail behind me.  The view almost refreshed me, as I was starting to feel a bit of monotony in the first leg of the journey.  So I stopped, took a few photos, and breathed in some of the most refreshing air I can remember.  Then I turned and continued around a corner where I started to see some wildlife starting to appear.
Coyote walking down rocky slope
     After walking up the hill a bit and making a slow left turn, I saw a coyote in the distance.  Fortunately my camera was ready, and I was able to photograph the wild dog as it slowly walked down the hill, stopping only briefly to smell a couple spots.  Then, as silently as it had come into my view, it was gone, slinking off into the tall grass of the field below.  I then continued to follow the trail, not knowing how far I had gone, or how far I had to go.  Birds and hawks of some kind were soaring incredibly high over the rocky cliffs, and the weather made it extremely difficult to photograph them.  I was fortunate enough to see a solitary Northern Flicker as it danced from tree to tree, until it finally landed on a tree branch only 15 to 20 feet in front of me.
Northern Flicker in tree
       Beyond that, I walked a bit further and heard numerous coyotes start howling and calling a bit as I walked through a little valley area.  I simply continued down the trail, and it wasn't too long after that I came upon a little hillside that showed me the first glimpse of the waterfall.  I have to admit I was relatively fatigued at that point, but started nearly jogging down the hillside regardless.  The snow settled in as quickly as my excitement at that point, and the wind started gusting a bit harder as well.  At this point, it was time to basically set up the camera equipment and get as much footage as possible before the weather got any worse.  The rest of my day trip is a basic return hike that consisted of following the water rather than the road, and having to climb over a few rocks in going that direction.  I have some pretty basic video of the waterfall that I captured with my Sony a5100 mirrorless camera, and here is that link: Towell Falls 2/18/2018
     Some general information about the waterfall can be found at the World Waterfall Database, and this waterfall only drops around 14 feet or so, but there were 3 separate falls at the time of my visit.  In my opinion this area is obviously just as much about the hike and the area around the waterfall, as the waterfall itself is just the highlight to a great day trip!

My photos are either taken with a Sony a5100 mirrorless or a Canon Eos Rebel t3i