Mountain Top Waterfall in the Tumwater Canyon

Wenatchee River in Tumwater Canyon

 Stevens Pass on Highway 2 crossing the Cascade Mountains is a spectacular route for a roadtrip anytime, but particularly in early June. As we headed east toward Leavenworth to celebrate our anniversary, we watched for the changing vegetation to signal our crossing into Eastern Washington. Soon lodgepole pines infiltrated the Douglas firs and vistas became more open.

  We knew we were almost to our destination when we entered Tumwater canyon. Nineteen years ago, beginning in July, 1994, a raging wildfire had started on nearby Icicle Creek, destroying a number of homes near Leavenworth. It burned over the mountains and down to the tumbling waters of the Wenatchee River, leaving a blackened skeleton forest interspersed with untouched trees. Now the slopes were green again, though bleached and ghostly snags still stood along the ridges.

It was while I gazed up at some of those craggy ridges that I glimpsed a waterfall I’d not noticed before. It seemed to pour out of the very top of a mountain as if blasted from a fire hose. I saw it for only a minute before another mountain’s shoulder hid it from view, although we saw a large creek plunging down the rocky bank into the Wenatchee River.

Next morning we went back, hoping for pictures. Fortunately not too many people were on the road that early, because we had to drive back and forth several times before we found it again. We pulled off where the shoulder widened a bit and I shot the photo below. The waterfall looked much smaller than it had the afternoon before. I wondered if it came from snow melt which would increase as the day warmed. Perhaps it isn’t even there later in the summer. (Can you see it, next to the peak in the center?)

An east-side Cascade waterfall and snags burned in the 1994 Hatchery complex fires

Through a telephoto lens

From :

In 1994, about 180,000 acres of forested land in Chelan County burned. In Leavenworth two fires – “The Hatchery Complex” and “Rat Creek” – burned out of control and people were forced to evacuate.

• 2,400 firefighters from 24 different states worked to save the town.
• The fire traveled at speeds exceeding 50 mph.
• 950,000 gallons of retardant were dropped over Chelan County.
• 14 homes were destroyed in the Icicle Creek Canyon.
• The fires started July 24th and were out December 24, 1994

Eternal Mounts

Along Washington’s North Cascades Highway

I never see one of these mountain waterfalls without thinking of a story I heard years ago about Washington’s Cascade Mountains. A friend had been searching for an old mine he’d been told about when he stumbled across the rotted remains of a cabin. Nearby he spied a tunnel, like any other abandoned mine tunnel except for the twin watercourses plunging down the mountain on either side of the opening. 
Poking around, he found a few blacksmithing tools among the rotting logs. A rusted shovel leaned against the tunnel’s wall. As he prepared to leave, he noticed stones piled at the base of a sheer rock face as if someone had deliberately placed them there. Looking up, he saw these words painstakingly chiseled into the rock at about the height a person could reach if standing on the pile:
Eternal mounts, you have founts       

 Rolling down your rock-ribbed sides,

 Like one weeping in the keeping

 Of a watch that e’er abides.

Above the poem was etched the profile of the surrounding peaks.

I may never see that spot for myself, but whenever I gaze at one of our mountain waterfalls, I think of that unknown miner with a poet’s soul. I imagine him pecking away at the rock, leaving his words for someone to find, many years in the future.

My reality and his are starkly different, but streams continue to cascade down the sides of mountains. People still desire to leave behind something of themselves after they are gone. I feel connected.