Friday, May 16, 2014

Granite Falls and Mountain Loop Highway

The interesting places closest to home are the ones we often neglect.  However, when we have out of town guests, we are always asked "is there really a Granite Falls?"  The falls are a few miles east of the town of the same name.
Alongside the river and the falls, a fairly impressive fish ladder helps fish navigate the waterway.
 Ron and I standing on the fish ladder below the falls.
The falls are pretty impressive right now with the high water in the river.

The walkway has a grate where you can look down and see the waterway for the fish - which looks just as swiftly moving as the main river right now.

The views at the river make the steep stairs worth the effort!
One of the most popular hiking trails on the Mt Loop Highway is the one to the ice caves on Big 4 Mountain. 
We stopped at the trailhead and took some pictures and walked a ways on the boardwalk through the swamp.  We continued on Mt Loop Highway to Barlow Pass, and then over the gravel portion of the road along the river until we reached pavement just outside Darrington.
We stopped at the ranger station in Darrington where we ate our picnic lunch.
We caught sight of the Oso slide from the gravel powerline road that serves as the one way detour for part of the road between Darrington and Arlington.

 
The pictures we've seen in the media in no way prepared us for the actual site of the slide.  We saw the remains of cars crushed so small we could barely identify them as cars.  The debris extended from the other side of the river - many hundred yards at least - all the way to the power line where we traveled.  The power line road sits well above Highway 530, but the entire valley had been filled with debris, making it nearly level all the way from the slide to where we drove.  There really is no way to describe how horrifying the sights are.