Last weekend we explored our region again. Would you think that after eleven years of living around Western Washington, there are still new discoveries to be made? Indeed! A drive to an area a little beyond Enumclaw took us to the Green River and its incredibly romantic landscape. Luckily, we had decided to go early – because the destination seems to be kind of an insider tip for family outings.
There is a junction to the Green River Gorge off the road from Enumclaw to Black Diamond. We took it and soon found ourselves in a forested vale. If we’d known you could obtain fresh, purified spring water for a small donation down there, we’d surely have brought some empty vessels. There was a line of cars waiting their turn. But otherwise, the pools of crisp clear water lay soothingly peacefully.
Not a hundred yards past the bridge across the dramatic Green River Gorge, you find another parking lot (have a 5-dollar bill ready if you want to hike into the Gorge). It lies right at the trail head to the ghost town of Franklin.
Maybe it’s because there are quite a few relics of the formerly busy coal mining town that it touched me so deeply. Maybe it’s because I felt attached to the past immediately, as a grandfather of mine was a mining engineer, and I have been down mine shafts, know a bit about the history of mining, about the danger of underground gas, the life above. There is still a 1,300 feet deep shaft entrance, carefully covered, of course. There is an overgrown cemetery with warped iron fences and white tomb stones; people still place electric candles and artificial flowers on the graves of miners, a woman who died in her thirties, a one-year-old. At one time it must have been a Babel of languages and different cultures thrown together. A lively place with a school, a saloon, a post office, a train connection to the big cities on the coast. Now brambles and underbrush. Birdsong. Silence.
We went back towards where the Green River Gorge access is at the RV resort of the same name (have 5 dollars per person at hand). The descent behind the fence door was steep and mostly stairs. The best part was the cave under the waterfall which you can enter. It was quite a work-out to ascend again. A gaze into the Gorge from the aforementioned bridge put everything down there into even better perspective.
We left as more and more people flocked in around noon. A short drive northeast took us to the former coal mining town of Black Diamond. Lunch at one of the restaurants, buying some cake, pastry, or bread from the stunning vitrines of the Black Diamond Bakery or some freshly smoked goodies at the neighboring Smokehouse, exploring the antique stores and the historical museum – we had a wonderful time in the history-laden town. Round it off with a trip into the Flaming Geyser State Park with its gas geysers reminding us that we are living on top of the Ring of Fire – and you have a perfect dry-weather weekend outing for a family with members of lither condition.
A few miles drive through a landscape full of lush green, bubbling brooks, powerful rivers, sleepy towns, and rolling hillsides – sometimes some real jewels are to be found right under our noses. It might be just a glance at a map away.