I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve driven past this unassuming trail-head. Nothing outstanding or unusual about it; identical to the hundreds, if not thousands, I’ve gone by every weekend here in the Pacific Northwest. But this one had a secret, a spectacular secret; Rocky Brook Falls.

plans made

The key to this secret started like so many others. It all started with an off hand remark about needing a ‘guys’ weekend after a long cold and dark winter. If memory serves, I believe I answer, “Count me in!”.

Grabbing coffee, calendars, and Google Maps  we soon had a plan; a long weekend based out of the Dosewallips State Park. This would give us access to both the Dosewallips drainage and, with a quick drive south the Hamma Hamma system.

Once the initial plans were laid, invites were sent to Jason, and Brad who both cleared their calendars to join. With so many players involved what could go wrong?

We were all anxious to get outdoors, clean camera lens and catch up around the fire.

rocky brook falls

So what’s the secret I alluded to?

Matt (he should have his photos posted here soon) and I left camp with the intention of heading up the Dosewallips Road which parallels the river. The road is only open for the first 8 miles or so. A particularly severe winter storm watched out multiple sections back in 2002.

As we made our way further down the road, I recalled that there was a waterfall near the beginning that was highly rated but I’d never stopped as there were always a number of cars near the trailhead. And it’s not like the Olympics are short on waterfalls.

Mistake. Walking up the short trail my eyes were drawn not towards the sound of the cascading water meeting the pool, but movement far overhead. Looking skyward I realized that I was looking at the head of this 285’ fall! How could you not see this monster from the road?

Lets just say that over the weekend we made multiple trips back to the falls looking for just the right light. Doubtful I’ll ever go by the Rocky Brook Falls without a quick stop. I’m already planning my next visit and looking for alternate approaches.

Hamma Hamma

The following day we turned south and headed toward the Hamma Hamma area. Matt had a good line on multiple waterfalls he wanted to check out, and I was anxious to see if I could find any boondocking areas. As mentioned early, we didn’t have to look long before we found stunning views of both the river and falls. Cameras in hand we were soon bushwhacking looking for a unique shot.

But the one waterfall we wanted was the Lower Hamma Hamma Falls, and the higher we got in elevation the more I became concerned with the snow. And, it didn’t take long for my concerns to be justified.

to the rescue

Matt and I had gone about a mile above the snowline when we saw a vehicle on the shoulder, or what should have passed as a shoulder, with a young lady and her dog standing next to it. I slowed and started to roll the window down but before I could even ask whether she need assistance, she made it quite clear she was stuck and had been stranded for over an hour.

We offered our help, along with the disclaimer that I was no expert. Still, ever since my own stranding in the snow, I now carry some recovery gear on my FJ’s rack. Specifically, a shovel and some traction mats.

It took multiple attempts but the gist of the process was; dig out tires, place the tracks under the tires, back up 6 feet, get stuck again. We had just started when we were joined by a young man coming off the trail.

We eventually got her free and down below the snowline but even with 4 of us it took nearly 4 hours. It certainly didn’t take long for the soreness to creep in!

Nevertheless, I’ll be going back for unfinished business soon.

Steve Weileman

I've been lucky enough to have some of my work featured on CNN, Outside TV and, National Geographic. Join me as I continue to both learn the art of film-making and document the exciting new modern world of citizen-science. His work has been featured on CNN, National Geographic, and OutsideTV, as well as numerous local outlets.

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