Day 134: Tunnel Falls and Washington!

Mon. 9/2/13
12 miles (on the Eagle Creek Alternate Trail)
Eagle Creek Trail – Bridge of the Gods (PCT Mile 2155), WASHINGTON!

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Tunnel Falls.

Run your hands ‘cross the flanks of a horse, feel the pulse of blood, the heat and the force, it’s an antidote to a life spent on the beat.

The beat of concrete, the beat of machines, of mobile phones and plasma screens, how much junk in my life do I really need?

Under the waterfall,
Under the waterfall,
Under the waterfall,
it’s cool and cold and clear.

Waterfall by James

I played that song today as we stood underneath Tunnel Falls. It just seemed so appropriate, and it got me happy-dancin’ a little bit. Tunnel Falls was incredible. Tears and I woke up early and arrived at the falls early – good thing, too! We were there for about a half an hour by ourselves, so we were able to get a bunch of photos, really try to take it all in, and I even scrambled down to the base of the falls to play a bit. I almost went for a swim, but decided against it.

Once back on the trail, we passed probably 50 dayhikers headed toward that falls. I wondered what it might have been like if we were trying to navigate those narrow trails with our backpacks on and around so many people. It might’ve been a bit scary! The trail wasn’t as narrow as I imagined, but it was certainly not a place you’d want to fall – it was a really long way down.

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I almost got the whole falls in one frame.

Approaching Tunnel Falls was really cool. I came around a corner of trail, a rock wall rose straight up on my right, and straight down on my left, with just a couple feet of trail to walk on, and a cable that was bolted into the cliff wall – to hang on to, I suppose. There were ferns growing everywhere, and in between the ferns was moss. The terrain was damp and blanketed in greens. As I finally came right up to where the falls was, I peeked into the actual tunnel and not just mist, but huge drops of water came down on me. It was practically raining from the water pouring over the edge above. The force of the water crashing past was loud, and when I entered the tunnel the sound dimmed. Inside, or behind the falls, the path was damp, it was dark, and the openings on both ends were lined with hanging fern. It was quite a surreal experience to hike that section of trail and to literally walk underneath a waterfall!

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The tunnel entrance

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Inside looking out the other end

We had to hike on… I didn’t want to leave this magical place, but there were other huge things to happen today, and excitement pulled me on.

There were three ladies camped along the river that invited into their site for coffee. Hagas, Running Commentary and Boo Boo Kitty Softpaws were already there, so we joined them. Jae, Debbie and Karen gave us some VIA and boiled up some water for us. They were fun company, too, asking fun questions about the trail and some of our gear. Oh! They gave us each a piece of bacon, too! That was a pretty big deal! Thanks, ladies!

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Hangin' put for sevond breakfast and coffee

As we hiked the rest of the Eagle Creek Alternate Trail, we enjoyed a lot of lush, almost jungle-like forest, a wide, clear and well-used trail, and a series of smaller waterfalls along the river. By this time we were cruising pretty good, though. Town was calling. And not just town…

Washington. The state of Washington. We were headed to Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River. One last new state. 500 more miles. Just one more month… it’s unbelievable, and I already don’t have any idea how to feel. Happy-proud-sad-excited. I dunno. It’s getting hard to not think about, but there is Goat Rocks and some magical scenery ahead yet. I’m so excited to hike through Washington!

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Oregon side of the bridge

Future PCT hikers… maybe don’t cross this bridge on Labor Day! It was busy. However, the toll booth people were super-awesome (no charge if you’re walking across, by the way), all the traffic was very kind, and people were smiling and waving. I just wish I could’ve stopped a few times to snap some cool photos.

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Narrow!

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Bridge trail party!

Once we got across, Aloha was there with the Pickle Jar, our town hosts Anne Marie and Daniel were there, and a blog follower, Virginia just happened to be driving past when she saw the car! It was really cool that she happened upon us like that! So we had a great welcome to Washington, with a cheering section and eveything!

Anne Marie and Daniel brought us to a great spot for lunch right away with a great view of the Columbia gorge. They put us up in their home in a beautiful spot along a river… and there’s a hot tub! We didn’t get to it tonight, but maybe tomorrow. We ate pizza for dinner and watched our progression of weekly videos on a projection screen. It was a fun night. Tomorrow is chore day. We need to resupply for a seven-day stretch!


Tonight I love one-time unique experiences. Walking behind a waterfall might fall into that category.

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A cool falls before Tunnel Falls

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Tunnel Falls spray and moss

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Another angle

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A very damp shot at the bottom.

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Look at all the color in this forest!

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My sword and shield to fend off the giant cobwebs I kept running into on the gorge trail.

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Quick walking photo - Columbia River in the background

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Grated bridge surface

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The tunnel.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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9 thoughts on “Day 134: Tunnel Falls and Washington!

  1. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following you all on the PCT this summer… Toots,Tears, Muk Muk, Carrot, and everyone else generous enough to spend time blogging about their experiences. How exciting to see you’re all so close to the trail’s end.

    As a life long day hiker who’s stepping up to becoming a back packer, I started lurking on your blogs this past spring and had no problem admitting to myself that I didn’t think I had what it takes to be a thru-hiker. Now I’m starting to wonder if that’s really true. Good luck to you. You’re inspirations, all.

    • You already have it if you’re thinking about it! A thru hike is just a series of short section hikes. Hike 3-4 days, rest and resupply, hike another 3-4 days and repeat. :) The trickiest part is getting the time to make it happen.

  2. I’ve read many hiker blogs that talked about how scary it was to look down into the river through the grating while being on the bridge…..thanks for the photo to prove it!

  3. Hi Robin! I discovered your blog through the PCT Reader this morning. Thanks for sharing your adventure. We live in Bellingham and I was thinking about you today as the thunder rumbled. Hope you aren’t getting it too bad in the mountains.

    Happy Trails!

    Randy and Lori Jo

  4. Welcome back to Washington, Robin! Happy hiking! As always, Disco Pickle has a standing invitation to visit Whidbey Island. It would be a lovely place to visit once you’re done with the hike if you need to decompress from the trail for a day or two.
    Rebecca

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