Spirit Falls: The Big Announcement

Setting the Scene

Now that the whirlwind of our daughter’s high school graduation has passed, our recent impromptu announcement that “we have an announcement” has us thinking about an appropriate backdrop to drop our news.

The obvious choice: Spirit Falls on the Little White Salmon River in Skamania County, Washington.

The Challenge

The hike isn’t long, just .8 of a mile. But man, is it steep! The steepness and exposure (so few trees) make it a challenge. While several supposed trailheads descend from the roadside dirt parking, some of them cross private property. The true trail begins at the south end of the unmarked parking area.

Same falls, different day. Andy took this shot for his 2016 calendar.

The hike begins among trees and bushes before the steep descent into the ravine has us scrambling down what feels like a cliff face made of rocks and boulders with difficult-to-follow dirt trails. When we’re about halfway down, we begin to notice the sound of the falls, a sort of whooshing rumble.

Toward the bottom of the rocky hillside, there are more trees and bushes with trails. We have to be careful to keep on the path, because there’s unabated poison oak mixed in the greenery! Andy found out the hard way a year or two before.

Insert “Oo” and “Ahh” Here

Over a bent tree trunk, down a slippery trail, hopping over a small stream… and then we catch a glimpse of our reward: Spirit Falls!

Our first peek at the upper waterfall is from slightly above, across a kind of natural amphitheater surrounded with forest. But the waterfall — especially the left side — is a bright turquoise color that thunders over the 60-foot falls into a huge, boiling, turquoise pool! The aqua hue is due to “glacial milk,” minerals suspended in the water that come from runoff. In this case, the source is Mount Adams, about 30 miles to our north. After our recent snow and rain, these falls are raging!


Before lunch (and our official video), Andy tells me he wants to take me closer to the action. We climb deeper, down a slippery wet cliff, using a rope for support at one point. Water from the stream we hopped earlier cascades down the wall right next to us!

All this in an effort to get closer to the roaring water and shoot an exhilarating nature video.

Then we scamper back up the wet cliff with the rope, set up our picnic overlooking the main falls, and enjoy our lunch.

That’s about a 30-foot drop to the water below!

On the menu: Southwest Corn Salad with tortilla chips and Tamanawas Falls Sandwiches. Our wine selection is Oak Knoll‘s refreshing Niagra. Perfect!

We settle in for a relaxing afternoon, dining while we watch a mama waterfowl teach her babies to swim. And we marvel at how butterflies are able to fly so close to the falls without drowning. We take lots of photos to mark this special day.

And Then…

Time to make the announcement

No turning back now.

The big news? We are taking our adventure show on the road!

After much consideration, we have decided to turn our five-year plan into a six-month reality. We are closing up shop in Portland, Oregon and moving to the beach town I grew up in, Encinitas, California!

There are a lot of things to work out now. We are selling our home and closing my skin care business. Andy is wrapping up his job at a radio station.

Now that we’ve announced we’re leaving the PNW, we invite our friends, family, and fans to follow us on our relocation adventure. We know there will be twists, turns, nail-biting moments, and fun surprises along the way!