Hidden on Dog Mountain
Recently a couple of us got together for a ‘guys’ weekend and ended up finding the spectacular Cathedral Falls. I knew this was something that I wanted to share with Theresa, so we came back to the area for our own weekend. I knew she would be as excited about the falls as I was, but I wasn’t counting on us stumbling over stunning views of Riffe Lake from the summit of Dog Mountain.
Dog Mountain isn’t particularly high (my topo maps show a height of 2133’) but it is right on the east edge of Riffe Lake and it has a large flat meadow that borders the shoreline. This combination makes it very popular with the hang gliding and paragliding groups. In addition to the lake, you have a great view of Glenoma Valley to the north.
We hiked up the dirt track whose entrance is locked with a gate. This is private land but the owners make it accessible to members of the Cloudbase Country Club. Apparently, if you pay your fees and sign waivers you get a key to the gate. We’d rather walk. For those of you who might be interested in membership, you can find information here.
Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:
- COASST Beached Bird Surveys
- Wild and Scenic River Project
Creepy Night in Mossyrock
We decided to try and beat any ‘weekend’ camping crowds as there’s been a noticeable uptick in off-season camping this year. I needed to be able to work from the campsite so that meant picking a spot that had cellular connectivity. So we decided to use Tacoma Powers’ Mossyrock Campgrounds as our basecamp.
Pulling in on Thursday afternoon, I had a moment when I thought that perhaps I had made a terrible mistake. There was absolutely no one in the campground. The gate had been opened and checking one of the sites there was water and power so we went ahead a chose a site. The funny thing was that we’ve never been confronted with so many options and we had a hard time choosing that ‘one perfect spot.
I felt sure we’d have company before the sunset. That was not the case. It was wonderful sitting around the fire watching the mist form over the lake and hillsides, but as the evening wore on, it got decidedly creepy. I had to laugh at my reaction. It’s been some time since I’ve been spooked while camping!
all article photographs
Return to Cathedral Falls
As mentioned earlier, this was my second trip out to the falls, and I wrote about it here. What was different this time was the colder temperatures and snow on the ground. It gave everything quite a different feel. Even the drive up to the trailhead was much more gnarly. Bigger rocks had come down since last time, a few trees, snow patches on the trail, and a washout tree combination that had you committed to driving right on the cliff edge! Plenty of adventure even before you hit the trail.
We were joined by some friends, Erin and Connally, who were interested in seeing the falls. Due to our day jobs, we had all received our COVID-19 vaccinations so felt comfortable hiking together.
Once on the trail, we quickly made our way to falls and everyone’s jaw dropped; mine included. If you look at my previous articles photos you’ll see that the falls actually drop on a large granite boulder. Cool. This time it was very cool. That boulder was completely encased in layers of ice. It made for some interesting photos and a lot of excited conversation.
I’m already contemplating returning in the spring to see what the falls will look like with the spring melt coming over the edge.