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SultanHiker
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PostTue May 26, 2020 10:32 pm 
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Warning: just mute your speakers while watching the videos. The waterfalls are loud.

My friend Knoxville called me up one day in May 2020 and asked if I knew about a long skinny waterfall above Wallace Falls and north along the ridge. He had said it was quite prominent and visible from Highway 2, but he’d never noticed it before. I told him I hadn’t seen it before, either. But I like researching adventures, so I dug right in. I took pics and video from Gold Bar and became quite intrigued. I scoured maps and picked out an area where I believed it to be. I invited another friend, Ghetto Horse to join the endeavor. He quickly found Stickney Ridge Falls on waterfallsnorthwest.com. So we three decided to find it. It’s the only mention of the waterfall that was easy to find on the web.
Better in fullscreen and forced 1080p quality

WA state still had a stay home, stay healthy order in place. Hiking was allowed, but Wallace Falls State Park was still closed. So for this TR, let’s assume that we all drove separately and took an alternate super long route from Kellogg Lake road and stayed 6ft apart at all times wearing masks. It seems possible that the falls could also be accessed by someone violating the park closure by starting very early and parking on Ley RD, but I can’t condone that course of action. Rumor has it that the ranger will sometimes park on the access road in sight of the public road. But rumor also has it that the vehicle might be unoccupied, especially really early in the morning. Also for this TR, let’s assume that the narrative, pics, and GPS track were taken at a time other than during the park closure, possibly during the previous year’s spring.

There’s a road above upper falls that traverses the hillside in a northerly direction, and then bends NW towards Wallace Lake. Occasionally along this road, you might get glimpses of the falls. Once we were near the spot where we expected to head into the forest, we sent my drone up to get a better visual.

NOTE: I thought I was tech savvy, until I noticed the videos would not go fullscreen on desktop. If you want better resolution, click the upper right corner icon to open new tab/window, and then go full screen.

Drone view of the falls
Drone view of the falls



Filming a Turkey Vulture who turned out to be camera shy.

It seemed we were in the right spot, so we started the bushwhack. Ghetto Horse had refused my offer to borrow gaiters. He’s a glutton for punishment, probably asking for penance for some undisclosed sin. Knoxville opted for rain pants for protection, while choosing trail runners for footwear. The majority opinion in the end was that boots and gaiters were warranted. But i expected that from the beginning. This isn't rocket science... It wasn’t too bad at first. It wasn’t steep yet either. Eventually we noticed that there were a few streams coming down. They were either splits from the main falls, or some smaller parallel drainages. We stuck close to the largest stream. But we found it easier to stay on a spine most of the time. We stayed to the left of the main stream, as the climb got a little steeper. There is a lower smaller falls that was hard to see from the route we chose. Probably if we entered its gully, we would have had to back track to get above it.

Knoxville on point
Knoxville on point
Ghetto Horse flexin'
Ghetto Horse flexin'



Lower falls

We couldn’t see very far ahead, and eventually we saw some talus off to the left. We made our way over there and took a break to launch the drone again. This was the first outing that I’d used it for hiking recon. I’ve only had it 3 months. But it came in really handy. We were able to determine that we would eventually run into a cliff band that would force us to head to climber’s right of the creek. So we made our way in that direction. And headed for some talus higher up on the right side of the creek. This seemed to be the best way to get to the lower part of the main falls. None of the drone videos are edited. So feel free to watch them at double speed as a couple are longer than need be. But make sure they are in full quality to get the full benefit.




Me getting ready to grab the drone (watch those propellers!)
Me getting ready to grab the drone (watch those propellers!)




Crossing the main stream.



We arrived at the base of the falls, and we enjoyed the cool mist.

Ghetto Horse
Ghetto Horse
drone pic of the main two upper falls.
drone pic of the main two upper falls.
drone pic lower main falls
drone pic lower main falls

360 Panorama [don't be shy, click on it...]

I launched the drone one last time to figure out how much more of the falls was above us, and if there was any hope of reaching it. The left side was way too steep, and almost all rock. There was another rock face to the right, but there looked to be a possible route between the falls and this cliff. It turns out there was, but it consisted of lots of veggie belay and sapling hand holds.

The upper portion of the falls was even better. We had stayed only briefly, before heading down.

Upper most part of the falls
Upper most part of the falls
Knoxville and Ghetto Horse
Knoxville and Ghetto Horse

The down climb was definitely worse, as is always the case with sketchy terrain. But we made it down to the “easier” terrain. We took a slight detour when we got to the gentler slope, but continued down to the road nonetheless.  The way out from here was uneventful, and it felt good to get back our vehicle. I mean, our 3 separate vehicles… Take out burgers and brew on the way home to cap off the successful journey.


It’ll be interesting to see if the falls disappear in the summer. There’s no lake on the map to feed them. Just the broad ridge off of Mt Stickney. The snow is mostly melted off the ridge now that it’s late May.

Suggested GPX path when the park opens up.
Our time was 6 hours moving plus 2.25 hours of stopped time. 10 miles round trip in theory.
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SultanHiker
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PostThu May 28, 2020 10:41 pm 
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I had a couple people tell me some of the media was dead. I moved the videos to YouTube. So everything should be good now.
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Nancyann
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PostThu May 28, 2020 11:35 pm 
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That was a long roadwalk to get to the base of the falls! I like to go that way up to the ridge in winter, never see anyone. What a fun trip, good effort. What was your elevation gain?
I hope they don’t log right up to the falls like they are doing on the north end of Stickney Ridge by what I like to call Mystery Falls. It is hidden in a canyon and often dries up in the summer. It doesn’t seem to come out of any lake either, similarly to Stickney Ridge Falls.
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SultanHiker
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PostFri May 29, 2020 8:04 am 
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My tracker said ~3000 feet total ups/downs. The road is about 1800ft elev at the point we departed, and the final elev was 2700 at the base of the upper falls.
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SultanHiker
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PostFri May 29, 2020 8:07 am 
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Nancyann wrote:
Mystery Falls

Knoxville just sent me a poor quality image of what I can only assume is the same "Mystery Falls" he said it was NNW of Stickney Ridge Falls. I guess there's another one we need to explore now
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Schroder
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PostFri May 29, 2020 8:41 am 
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That brought back a memory of this very long discussion
Another seasonal, mystery falls
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puzzlr
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PostSat May 30, 2020 1:17 pm 
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Nice use of a drone to get a look at the falls that would be impossible otherwise. The bushwhacking looked pretty challenging!

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Kim Brown
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PostSat May 30, 2020 3:07 pm 
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Wow; it warms the cockles of my heart that folks like you just strike out & explore.  wub.gif

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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KurgansDad
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PostSat Jul 18, 2020 2:57 pm 
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Outstanding report and use of a drone for recon/nav.
Have you taken it over the ridge lately to check snow levels/extent of logging on the 'new' west side approach to Stickney?
I haven't been up there since last fall, and it's a bit of a slog up the rebuilt logging road to the saddle SSW of Cecilia Lake (Cecelia?) and W of Lake Stickney I'd love to see it from the drone perspective

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For too many years I gazed at the Cascades and other mountains as they taunted me and I said "...Someday..." Now I find I'm running out of somedays...
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PostSun Jul 19, 2020 3:28 pm 
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There's a recent (May 2020) WTA Mt Stickney report with links to his own site with more pics and details. Hike2Hike Mount Stickney Climb
I borrowed one of those pics and cropped and hacked it up a bit, with some research on GoogleEarth, Caltopo, and my notes. The original shows Sky Valley west from the summit but down in the lower right corner I found a view I've been looking for.
Skykomomish-River-Valley from Stickney cropped and labeled
Skykomomish-River-Valley from Stickney cropped and labeled

My pic shows the top of the new logging from the summit, and just a corner of what I like to call MY Valley. My little Shangri-La. I've got an entrance at the west end, and it's wet and mushy even in late September. There's tons of bear sign. Everywhere. Last time I was up there, I got close enough to interrupt Yogi stripping the bark and eating the underlayer(?).
We had a short rather terse conversation, and I left his dining room, and he got off my lawn.

With this pic, I can now try another route to the drier/higher east end (south and above Lake Stickney), and West and below Rose Lake.

It appears that the top of Stickney Ridge Falls (2900 ish) may be as close as 200 yds from one of the lower rebuilt logging roads @ 3200ish ft
I have a pic somewhere of the fork in the logging road, but it's not geotagged and I don't remember the elevation. I've only continued up the left (west) fork, and not the right (east)fork where most of the new logging happened in the last year.
Here's a snip of GoogleEarth showing the area of the fork, and the two possible logging roads that are just above the falls.
GoogleEarth top of Stickney Ridge Falls
GoogleEarth top of Stickney Ridge Falls

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For too many years I gazed at the Cascades and other mountains as they taunted me and I said "...Someday..." Now I find I'm running out of somedays...
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SultanHiker
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PostMon Jul 20, 2020 9:28 am 
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KurgansDad wrote:
Have you taken it over the ridge lately to check snow levels/extent of logging on the 'new' west side approach to Stickney?

My drone is smaller, lighter weight. It has runtime limitations and range limitations that would prevent me from getting the suggested footage. And FAA laws for recreational drones provide artificial limits.

I prefer the standard route up Olney Creek. I've looked at your alternate route. And if your aim is to explore alternative routes, then this would be my number 1 choice to explore. It has been on my mind in the past.
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KurgansDad
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 10:36 am 
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I spent the wknd exploring up there. The smoke in the air is from my quads and hip flexors getting smoked carrying too heavy a pack.
I went up through the clouds and to the top of the logging area. Clouds topped at 4000ft and the top of the ridge was at 4300. It was a gloriously sunny reward for a long trudge up the DNR and logging roads from the WF parking lot. All the surrounding mountains were like islands. If I had a decent camera I'd post the pics, but they're all less impressive than what I actually saw.

One thing about logging is that it clears a view that you would never be able to see. My Dad logged near the WA/BC border back in the late 40s and early 50s and he said that you see things most people will never see, but only after falling a bunch of trees.

That route gets you close to the west approach to Mt Stickney, but I don't recommend it. It's a decent short bushwhack to Rose Lake, but then you have to traverse to Stickney through heavy timber and undergrowth.

Way more deer than last year. Only saw 1 bear, but lots of sign. I probably make too much noise.
I also learned that bears are really noisy drinkers, especially at 0500ish.

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For too many years I gazed at the Cascades and other mountains as they taunted me and I said "...Someday..." Now I find I'm running out of somedays...
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